CANBERRA    -    Bill Shorten conceded Labor’s defeat in the Australian federal election on Saturday evening. He also stepped down as leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP).

Before the announcement, chief election analyst of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Antony Green had predicted that the Liberal-National Party Coalition (LNP), led by Prime Minister Scott Morrison, would win the election. “Without wanting to hold out any false hope, while there are still millions of votes to count and important seats yet to be finalized, it is obvious that Labor will not be able to form the next government,” said Shorten as ABC live report showed that about 68 percent of the votes were counted. “This has been a tough campaign. Toxic at times. But now that the contest is over, all of us have a responsibility to respect the result, respect the wishes of the Australian people and to bring our nation together,” he said.

“I wish we could have formed a government for these Australians on this evening. I wish we could have won for the true believers, for our brothers and sisters in the mighty trade union movement. I wish we could have done it for Bob,” he added.

Bob Hawke, Shorten’s political hero and the longest-serving Labor PM in history, passed away only two days before Saturday’s election, aged 89.

For Shorten himself, however, the road was bumpy. Chosen to lead the ALP after the party lost the 2013 election in a landslide, he was defeated three years later when Malcolm Turnbull claimed victory.

“I leave the stage tonight but I encourage all Australians, particularly young Australians, never lose faith in the power of individuals to make a difference. Never give up. Never give up aiming for better,” he said.

Speaking in Melbourne, where earlier in the day he said he was “quietly confident” of victory, Shorten said “Labor’s next victory will belong to our next leader and I’m confident that victory will come at the next election.”

For many, Saturday was considered the “unloseable election” for Labor and party leader Bill Shorten, who built his campaign on promising action on climate change and significant investment in healthcare, education and infrastructure.

Morrison, who became Australia’s 30th PM in August 2018 when he was chosen to replace Malcolm Turnbull as leader of the LNP, campaigned on a message of stability, promising fiscal stability and tax cuts across the board.

Every opinion poll suggested that Labor was set for victory on the back of strong swings towards the party in electorates in Victoria and Queensland.

However, the LNP was able to mitigate its losses in Victoria, considered the most progressive state in Australia, while also winning seats from Labor in Queensland.