The work is meant to form the government, roughly

Labor is well on its way to forming the government in some way, despite having a primary vote of just 31%.

This means that while it was a bloodbath for the Coalition across the country tonight, it was hardly a definitive victory for the opposition. Western Australia has been a huge success for the opposition that has surpassed all expectations, but the rest of the country has definitely not switched to Labor.

Labor may still not reach the 76 seats needed to form full-fledged government, with the pre-election predictions of a clear majority appearing uncertain. But re-election of the Morrison government is impossible – and for Labor that’s all that matters.

“A victory is a victory is a victory,” Opposition Education Minister Tanya Plibersek said as the night unfolded.

The night began with a sense of deja vu, as the Liberals retained key seats in Bass and Braddon in northern Tasmania. Early results also saw Liberal challenger Andrew Constance gain momentum at Gilmore, a key target of the Liberals.

But the Labor nightmares of a 2019 repeat soon began to fade. The key fringes in Reid and Robertson fell quickly. Bennelong still looks very close, and there was a muffled feeling of “no way we couldn’t, right?” as the results showed Peter Dutton running neck and neck in Dickson.

“He’s an asshole,” said Sharon, a Labor member.

“A lot of shit!”

In Victoria, with the rise of teals, Labor have recaptured Chisholm and Higgins, the latter not considered in the game until the last few weeks.

But it was WA, for so long a liberal stronghold, that brought it home to Labor. So far, there has been a strong 9.9% swing west, offering the Swan, Pearce and Hasluck party – (with Tangney and Moore also looking close).

In recent weeks, insiders have been trying to mitigate expectations in the state. Now, it looks like a tremendous outperformance in McGowan’s land.

“Western Australia has behaved completely differently from the rest of the country,” ABC election guru Antony Green said.

But failure to reach a majority would be an entirely Labor situation. At the moment, Kristina Keneally is well on her way to losing Fowler’s secure job to independent Dai Le. Like the moderate liberals at the heart of the party, Labor is paying the price for taking its base for granted by parachuting into an outsider in front of one of the most diverse voters in the country.

In inner Brisbane, the Greens could snatch Griffith, previously held by Kevin Rudd, from Terri Butler. These two losses could hinder the path to the majority.

But for a contented opposition to break into the government, none of these losses will count too much. The Liberal Party was demolished, particularly in the capitals, where their base was ripped apart by teals and where the marginals went to Labor. Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s desperate strategy of taking over the outer suburbs has gone nowhere.

The historically large cross stall will make the 47th Parliament a potentially strange place. As long as Anthony Albanese is the next prime minister, Labor won’t care.

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