Prime Minister Scott Morrison is preparing to convene the nation's MPs as soon as possible to legislate the Coalition's $158 billion income tax cut package, as he waits on fresh seat results to determine whether he will form majority government or have to negotiate for power in a hung Parliament.
Mr Morrison intends to put the tax cut forward as a "priority" once the numbers in Parliament become clear, amid concerns on Sunday that the Coalition lost ground in key seats after earlier appearing on track to govern in its own right following Saturday's shock election outcome.
Mr Morrison would remain Prime Minister in a hung Parliament through the expected support on confidence and supply from Queensland maverick Bob Katter and independent Zali Steggall, who defeated former prime minister Tony Abbott in Warringah.
But Mr Morrison is yet to open formal talks with crossbenchers while he and colleagues wait for the Australian Electoral Commission to determine a handful of seats that remain in doubt following the significant swing to the Coalition on Saturday.
Ms Steggall said the Coalition had earned the right to govern whether it secured a majority or not, but also said she wanted to talk to Mr Morrison about climate change policy.
"I think there's clearly a mandate there [for the Coalition] and I have indicated that was my preference anyway during the campaign," she said, making clear she would support Mr Morrison's government.
The Coalition has gained 73 of the 151 seats in the House of Representatives in counting late on Sunday, but it remained short of a majority with at least seven seats in doubt.
ABC election analyst Antony Green listed the seats of Bass, Boothby, Chisholm, Cowan, Lilley, Macquarie and Wentworth as too close to call, but the Coalition was ahead in four of those seats.
The Australian Electoral Commission estimated the Coalition was leading in 77 electorates in an update at 5.27pm on Sunday.
Labor began the campaign with 69 seats. The AEC estimated Labor was leading in 68 seats late on Sunday.
The Coalition was leading Labor 51.06 per cent to 48.94 per cent on a two-party preferred basis as of 6.45pm Sunday.
With the counting still underway, Mr Morrison attended church with his family on Sunday morning and spent Sunday afternoon in his electorate of Cook at a football game between the Cronulla Sharks and the Manly Sea Eagles.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg set out the government's plan to legislate its tax cuts, as pledged in the April 2 budget, so that the gains could flow to workers from July 1.
"Obviously that is our priority piece of legislation, to provide the tax cuts for more than 13 million Australians as outlined in the budget," Mr Frydenberg said on Sunday.
"And we will see up to $1080 into the pockets of Australians earning up to $126,000 in just a matter of weeks.
"We want to bring Parliament together, the Labour Party have already said they will support that legislation, so it will have bipartisan support, so let's get this legislation passed so that the Australian people get their tax cuts."
The tax plan depends in part on the speed of the election count, with the government prepared to legislate the tax cuts after July 1 if it cannot hold the first meeting of the new Parliament in June.
Senators have been preparing for sittings in the final week of June in order to give the tax cuts their final approval.
Bill Shorten, who has stepped down from the Labor leadership following the party's poor result on Saturday, will act as interim leader while senior figures including Anthony Albanese and Tanya Plibersek contest a leadership ballot of grassroots members and caucus.
Labor president Wayne Swan said the party would examine its policies and campaign strategies after the drubbing on Saturday.
"The result is deeply disappointing and our party has a responsibility to analyse the result and to respond maturely," Mr Swan said.
"The party has got to dust itself off, rethink and reorganise."
- SMH/The Age