“And particularly over the course of this week with the important meetings that are taking place, I think it is vitally important that there is a very clear understanding about the government of this country,” he added.
Opposition leader Anthony Albanese will take over as prime minister after his Labor party won its first election victory since 2007.
Labor promised more financial assistance and a strong social safety net as Australia grapples with the highest inflation since 2001 and rising house prices.
The party also plans to raise minimum wages and, on the foreign policy front, has proposed establishing a Pacific defense school to train neighboring armies in response to a possible Chinese military presence in the Solomon Islands, on the doorstep of Australia.
It also wants to tackle climate change with a more ambitious 43 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
Morrison’s Liberal Party-led coalition was seeking a fourth three-year term. It has the narrowest majority: 76 seats in the 151-member House of Representatives, where parties need a majority to form a government.
In Saturday’s early count, the coalition was on course to win 38 seats, Labor 71, seven were non-aligned lawmakers and 23 were too close to call.
Minor parties and independents appeared to be taking votes from the major parties, increasing the likelihood of a hung parliament and a minority government.
Australia’s most recent hung parliaments were from 2010-13 and during World War II.
A record proportion of mail-in votes due to the pandemic, which won’t be added to the count until Sunday, adds to the uncertainty in the early count.
As well as campaigning against Labour, Morrison’s Conservative Liberals faced a fresh challenge from so-called Teal Independent candidates for re-election of key government lawmakers in party strongholds.
At least four Liberal lawmakers appeared to have lost their seats to teal independents, including the Liberal Party’s deputy leader, Josh Frydenberg, who had been considered Morrison’s most likely successor.
“What we’ve accomplished here is extraordinary,” Teal candidate and former foreign correspondent Zoe Daniels said in her victory speech. “Liberal seat safe. Holder of two mandates. Independent,” she added.
Teal independents market themselves as a shade greener than the Liberal Party’s traditional blue color and want stronger government action to cut Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions than is proposed by the government or Labor.
The leader of the government in the Senate, Simon Birmingham, was worried about the big swings towards several teal candidates.
“It is a clear problem that we are losing seats that are core seats, that have defined the Liberal Party for generations,” Birmingham said.
“If we lose those seats, it’s not certain that we will, but there is clearly a big movement against us and there is clearly a big message in it,” Birmingham added.
Due to the pandemic, around half of Australia’s 17 million voters have cast ballots early or requested mail-in ballots, which is likely to slow down the count.
Voting is compulsory for adult citizens, and 92 percent of registered voters cast ballots in the last election.
Early voting for travel or work reasons began two weeks ago and the Australian Electoral Commission will continue to collect postal votes for another two weeks.
The government changed regulations on Friday to allow people recently infected with Covid-19 to vote by phone.
Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers said more than 7,000 polling stations opened as planned and on time in Australia despite 15% of polling staff falling ill this week with Covid-19 and the flu.
Albanese said he had thought Morrison would have called an election last weekend because Australia’s prime minister was expected to attend a summit in Tokyo on Tuesday with US President Joe Biden, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and Indian Prime Minister. Narendra Modi.
“If we get a clear result today, whoever is the prime minister will be on a plane to Tokyo on Monday, which is not ideal, I must say, right after a campaign,” Albanese said.
Analysts have said Morrison left the election until the last available date to give himself more time to reduce Labor’s lead in opinion polls.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.