SYDNEY (AFP) – Australia's next prime minister Tony Abbott celebrated winning the job he has prepared all his life for with an early morning bike ride Sunday awaiting the final tally on his decisive election victory.
The election commission halted the count in the early hours with more than 90 percent of votes counted and Abbott's Liberal/National coalition leading in 88 seats and the ruling Labor Party on 57.
The count for the 150-member House of Representatives and half the seats in the Senate or upper house was expected to resume later in the day.
Just hours after declaring Australia was "under new management and ... open for business," prime minister-elect Abbott donned his sky blue and purple lycra shorts and yellow helmet for a ride with his mates in Sydney.
"It was a very big night but this is just the start of another normal day and there's going to be a fair bit of solid work this morning," he told reporters.
In what the Herald Sun billed as his first interview as prime minister-elect, Abbott said he was ready to take on the responsibility that he had been preparing for "my whole life".
He vowed to push ahead with his agenda to stop asylum-seeker boats and abolish the carbon tax from "Day One" and added that he wanted to govern for all Australians.
"I am very conscious of the fact that opposition leaders are tribal chiefs but prime ministers have to be national leaders," Abbott said.
"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.
"While I certainly can't promise that everyone is going to agree with everything an incoming government does, I certainly intend to be a consultative, collegiate prime minister."
"I guess my whole life, particularly the last 20 years in the parliament, has been a preparation for this moment."
Abbott is expected to be sworn in officially by Governor General Quentin Bryce next week.
Labor's defeat was not the wipeout some pollsters predicted but it led Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to announce he was standing down as party leader after six years of tumultuous Labor rule that turned voters away.
Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten was installed in the media as an early favourite to take over as the party seeks to heals internal divisions.
However Shorten was cautious.
"I'm certainly not resolved about what should happen," he told ABC television. "I'm genuinely undecided."
Others cited as possible Labor leaders are deputy leader Anthony Albanese, Treasurer Chris Bowen and Immigration Minister Tony Burke.