3.12pm: With votes still being counted the Coalition is slightly ahead after second preferences have been counted:
1.07pm ABC prediction:
"As of 1pm London time, it is almost certain that Australia will have a hung parliament. This is a stunning repudiation of Labor's mismanagement and waste. When you consider that Australia has not voted out a one term government in 80 years, we have our first female prime minister and Labor was a mile ahead in the polls only six months ago, this a great result for Tony Abbott. At the moment we are looking at the Liberal/National Coalition falling three seats short of a majority. However, three former National Party members have been re-elected as Independents. Voters in these very conservative constituencies would not take kindly to their MPs propping up a tired Labor government. The next few days will be reminiscent of the aftermath of the election here earlier this year. But we have reason to be hopeful. There is one more thing to say about this result: what a great vindication for John Howard. Australians have said today that they do not want 11 years of great government destroyed by Labor incompetence."
12.33pm: ABC now predicting Coalition (73) will have more seats than Labor (72) but still short of majority in 150 seat chamber.
By Jonathan Isaby and Tim Montgomerie
Jonathan is spending the day at the election "night" party of the London branch of the Australian Liberals, and we are following the results courtesy of ABC. (Our host is Alex Deane of BigBrotherWatch and he and his wife Felicity (featured in the pictures below) have provided a superb home-made buffet!)
The exit polls suggested that it was all in the balance, with Labor slightly ahead, but with the margin of error meaning that it could go either way, with a hung parliament being a serious possibility. If it were hung, the balance of power would be held by just three or four Independent MPs and one Green, after they won Melbourne on second preferences.
Most constituencies are showing a swing to the Liberals and the biggest cheer of the morning here so far was when the party regained Bennelong – former Prime Minister John Howard's seat, which he lost in 2007.
David Alexander, former adviser to the Howard Government and occasional ConHome author now here in London, observes that it's still too close to call:
"There is a swing to the Coalition but it's still uncertain as to whether it will be enough to form a government. It's still to close to call – and there are still no votes in from Western Australia due to time differences. They could be significant because of the impact of the Government's proposed mining tax."
At noon, ABC's
election expert has just predicted 73 Labor, 72 Liberal / Coalition, 1
Green, 4 independent. 76 is needed for a majority. This would be a
remarkable result for Tony Abbott if true. He will have overturned a
massive Labor advantage in the polls since he became Liberal leader
late last year and Labor's ousting of Kevin Rudd will not have saved
their majority. Labor is doing particularly badly in the state of
Queensland, which is Rudd's home state. Watch ABC live.
Below are some snaps from the party…