Howard hails Abbott revival

6:53 am on 22 August 2010

Former Liberal prime minister John Howard has hailed Tony Abbott for bringing the party back from the dead and to the brink of power in Australia.

The Coalition looks set to be the largest party after voters deserted Julia Gillard's Labor Party in Saturday's federal election.

The Coalition, which looked doomed to at least two terms in Opposition after the 'Ruddslide' of 2007 swept Mr Howard from power after nearly 12 years in The Lodge.

"Whatever the final outcome it can truly be said that this has been a magnificent campaign and a great personal triumph for Tony Abbott," Mr Howard said.

"Tony Abbott bought this party back from the dead a few months ago. He has undermined and potentially destroyed a first-term Labor Government.

Mr Howard also congratulated John Alexander, who ousted Labor MP Maxine McKew in his former seat of Bennelong.

"John Alexander... fought a great campaign," he said. "I wish him well. I'm very glad to see Bennelong back in the Liberal fold."

Mr Howard said any deals between the Coalition and other parties will be up to Mr Abbott to work out.