BEFORE the sun had set, an army of blue shirts was making its way to the grand ballroom of Sydney's Four Seasons hotel where the next Prime Minister was headed to declare victory.
Straight from polling booths, weary campaign trail blazers clinked champagne glasses and hugged the cocktail clad party faithful who were gathered around television screens and cheering as more and more Labor seats were lost began to appear in the foyer.
It wasn't even 7pm when trolleys loaded, with what everyone knew was celebratory champagne, were rolled into the lobby.
For the first few hours, the reporter to politician ratio was about 10, which was unfortunate for the high profile guests who tried to slip through the back door.
The media pack pounced on Abbott's openly gay sister Christine Forster who arrived hand and hand with her partner Virginia Edwards.
Former Prime Minister John Howard received a rock star reception.
Before heading upstairs to offer his congratulations to his former minister in person, Mr Howard offered a few words of encouragement on camera.
He said this election had sent a message to the "stupid people" who thought Mr Abbott wouldn't be able to lead the Liberal Party to victory.
Tony Abbott will do a fantastic job -he'll look after the security of this country, he will look after the public money and he'll lead a united government," Mr Howard said
"That's what people want of a government…they want someone who will govern in the interest of everybody…and they worry about our borders and they worry about the security of our country.
"I can't speak to highly of the wonderful job Tony has done…he's been a splendid leader of my party."
As Kevin Rudd's concession speech was beamed across the screens, the crowd hissed, put their thumbs down and willed him off the stage.
The reception was somewhat different for their leader, who just after 10pm arrived at the ballroom to thank his supporters and announce it was time to celebrate the biggest Labor defeat in more than 100 years.
The man who will be Australia's 28th prime minister took to the stage not long after Kevin Rudd conceded defeat and stood down as Labor leader.
"And from today, I declare that Australia is under new management and that Australia is once more open for business," Mr Abbott said.
In one of the shocks of the night, Clive Palmer is on course to become the MP for the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax after his party grabbed more than 11 per cent of the vote in Queensland.
Abbott becomes Australia's 28th prime minister
TONY Abbott will be Australia's 28th prime minister after a huge win for the Coalition - and a surge in support for newcomer Clive Palmer.
An hour into the vote count, respected ABC analyst Antony Green called the federal election for the Coalition, ending Labor's tumultuous six years in power.
The Government faced strong swings against it in NSW, Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania, with a number of high-profile MPs fighting for their political survival.
Clive Palmer has polled more than 30% of the vote in the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax and could win on preferences, despite the LNP's Ted O'Brien being ahead on the two party preferred vote.
In the neighbouring seat of Fisher, former Speaker Peter Slipper failed to achieve 2% of the vote.
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