Australia's PM-elect Abbott vows quick action on asylum

Tony Abbott began his first day in his new post with an early morning bicycle ride

Australia's PM-elect Tony Abbott has said his top priorities are to abolish a tax on carbon emissions and to stop asylum-seekers arriving by boat.

Mr Abbott's Liberal-National coalition ended the Labor party's six-year rule in a landslide victory on Saturday.

His government would "swiftly implement Operation Sovereign Borders" aimed at "intercepting vessels and turning them around", Mr Abbott told the Herald Sun.

Outgoing PM Kevin Rudd has said he will not stand again for Labor leadership.

The Australian Election Commission confirmed on its website that the Liberal-National coalition had won 88 seats in the House of Representatives, and Labor 57.

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Speaking to voters in the run-up to this election you get the sense that the election result was not so much a ringing endorsement for Mr Abbott and his policies as a rejection of Labor”

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Mr Rudd had called the election after defeating Julia Gillard in a leadership challenge in June, amid dismal polling figures.

Under Mr Rudd, Labor initially saw its figures improve. But Mr Abbott, who enjoyed the strident support of Rupert Murdoch's newspapers, then widened the gap again.

The main election issues were how to tackle an expected economic slowdown, whether to keep the Labor-introduced carbon tax, and how to reduce the number of migrants arriving from Asia by boat.

'Nature of the job'

Mr Abbott told the Herald Sun his government was poised to "deliver on our commitments, starting from day one".

He said he would be receiving his first briefings from public servants on Sunday, in order to begin implementing policy changes.

"Scrapping the carbon tax and stopping the boats are the two most urgent priorities," Mr Abbott said.

Tony Abbott: "From today I declare that Australia is under new management"

"Obviously, we will swiftly implement Operation Sovereign Borders and one component is a much more active programme of intercepting vessels and where possible turning them around - rather than escorting them to Christmas Island."

But the new leader also insisted he intended to be a "consultative, collegiate prime minister".

"You have to govern for everyone including the people that didn't vote for you and the people who probably won't ever support you - that's the nature of the job," he said.

He has also vowed to reduce the foreign aid budget by A$4.5bn ($4bn; £2.6bn).

But New Zealand Prime Minister John Key warned the cuts would strain small Pacific island nations, a major beneficiary of Australian aid.

"These are countries that need a lot of support and help, so if there is less money coming their way, they'll obviously feel that over time," he said.

Party crashed

Mr Abbott's election victory party on Saturday night was briefly disrupted when a protester gained access to the venue wearing a fake security wristband.

Fregmonto Stokes carried away by security personnel Security officers carried protester Fregmonto Stokes off the stage where he had been posing for photos with Mr Abbott and his daughters, seen here

Fregmonto Stokes, 25, mingled with guests for more than an hour and posed for photos with Mr Abbott and his family, before security personnel eventually detected the intruder and took him away.

Mr Abbott, a Rhodes scholar who once wanted to be a Roman Catholic priest, took on the leadership of the flagging Liberal-National coalition in 2009.

Australia largely avoided the recession that hit the UK and other Western nations thanks to a natural resources boom.

But the boom is coming to an end, and Mr Abbott will be charged with managing the transition.

More than 14 million people were registered to vote in Saturday's election. Voting is compulsory in Australia.

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