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Australia is almost certainly headed for a hung parliament after the closest election since World War II saw no result returned by midnight Saturday Sydney time.
With 77.7% of the vote, there was NO clear winner.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott fell short of winning a majority in their own right. Both leaders signalled they would fight to win the support of the five independents who are likely to decide their fate.
The final result may not be known for up to 10 days as pre-poll and postal votes are counted.
A hung parliament has emerged as the most likely scenario after Labor's majority was smashed by big swings in Queensland and NSW that cost it a swag of seats.
The Greens emerged as the big winners in the reshaping of the political landscape, taking the balance of power in the Senate as well as the lower house seat of Melbourne.
To take power, a party needs 76 seats , and both parties will now be looking to form coalitions with the Greens and Independents, but even this could result in an even split, which could see another election called in a matter of weeks.
As counting finished on the east coast, the Coalition appeared to have won 73 seats, with Labor on 72.
With 76 per cent of the vote counted Labor looks to have lost 15 seats, taking its representation to 70 and the Coalition has gained 13 seats taking it to 72 seats.
The Coalition had won 50.3 per cent of the two-party preferred vote and Labor 49.7 per cent, suffering a three per cent swing against it.
On primary votes the government has suffered a 5.4 per cent swing, while the Coalition has gained a swing of 1.7 per cent.
Labor's failure to win a majority has reopened the wounds of Kevin Rudd's dumping as prime minister, with defeated star Labor candidate Maxine McKew criticising the national campaign.
She also conceded that the removal of Mr Rudd had been a factor in Labor's losses. “Clearly you can't have the removal of a Labor leader as prime minister and two months later have an election and not have that playing into the outcome,” she said.