8 Sep 2013

Australia's PM-elect hits the ground running

10:02 pm on 8 September 2013

Australia's Prime Minister elect Tony Abbott says his top priorities in office are to scrap the carbon tax and to stop asylum-seekers arriving by boat.

Mr Abbott on Sunday met with public service chiefs to discuss the coalition government's policy agenda and the economy, a day after his decisive win over Labor.

"My team will hit the ground running and deliver the stronger Australia and better future that you voted for," Mr Abbott said in an open letter to voters, released on Sunday.

AAP reports the Liberal leader met in Sydney with three key department chiefs, before taking briefings from defence and intelligence agencies, including an update on the Syrian crisis.

Mr Abbott told the chiefs his first item of business was scrapping the carbon tax, along with other agendas.

"There's border security, there's economic security and the people expect, quite rightly, that the incoming government will build a strong and prosperous economy for a safe and secure Australia," Mr Abbott said.

The Liberal-National coalition is expected to hold between 85 and 93 seats in the 150-seat parliament after Saturday's electoral drubbing of the outgoing Rudd Labor government.

Labor could hold about 57 seats, about seven seats more than expected earlier in the year when Julia Gillard was struggling in the polls.

Despite picking up a clear majority in the lower house, the new coalition government won't hold the balance of power in the Senate.

But Mr Abbott said the Senate should respect the mandate of the incoming government.

The Greens currently hold the balance of power in the Senate and will share the balance with other minor parties when new Senators take their places from 1 July next year.

Greens leader Christine Milne said Mr Abbott's negotiation skills would be tested.

"It's clear that people didn't want Tony Abbott to have control of the entire parliament," she said.

"Now Tony Abbott's going to have to negotiate with an extraordinary array of people whose policies nobody's got any idea about."

The coalition faces negotiating with independents, Greens, the Palmer United Party, Democratic Labour Party, Liberal Democrats, the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party and the Australian Sports Party.

The Australian Election Commission said on its website on Sunday that the Liberal-National coalition had won 86 seats in the House of Representatives, and Labor 57.