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Australia Finally Has A Prime Minister... So What Happens Now?

Back to work Monday.

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UPDATE The ABC's election guru, Antony Green, says the Coalition has now won 76 seats, enough to form government in its own right.

The Coalition has inched ahead of Labor in the Queensland seats of Flynn and Capricornia, meaning it now has enough seats to form majority government and will not have to rely on crossbenchers to govern.

Malcolm Turnbull returned back to work as prime minister on Monday after declaring victory in the federal election.

Lukas Coch / AAPIMAGE

After an eight week campaign, and one week of chaos while no one was in charge, Malcolm Turnbull has finally taken back the nation's reins.

Turnbull said the swearing in of his government would take place some time in the next week because governor general Peter Cosgrove is currently in France. The Coalition party room will meet on Monday next week, and after that, a cabinet reshuffle is expected.

But his first day didn't go exactly to plan. Things got a little awkward in the PM's Parliament House office when this little girl brought up Tony Abbott.

Prime Minister @TurnbullMalcolm returned to Canberra today - then things got awkward. #auspol

The Coalition is projected to win 76 seats and Labor 69, with five crossbenchers - the Greens' Adam Bandt, Nick Xenophon Team's Rebekha Sharkie, Bob Katter, Andrew Wilkie and Cathy McGowan.


Meanwhile, five seats remain in doubt.

Anna Mendoza / BuzzFeed News

As of Monday the ABC seat count shows the Coalition at 74 and Labor at 66, with five crossbenchers and five seats yet to be determined.

Cowan (WA), Hindmarsh (SA), Herbert (QLD), Capricornia (QLD) and Flynn (QLD) are still in doubt.

And we also don't know what's happening with the Senate. It will take a few weeks to figure out which of the smaller parties will win the final seats on the crossbench.

When is Parliament back?

Parliament doesn't return until two weeks after we get a final result in the Senate.

Counting is going quite slowly, which means it won't be until mid or late August until our highly paid representatives get to yell at each other again.

And there are some changes on the horizon. Both sides will reshuffle their frontbenches, which means new ministers and shadow ministers.

Stefan Postles / Getty Images

Malcolm Turnbull needs to replace three junior ministers who lost their seats - Peter Hendy, Richard Colbeck, and Wyatt Roy.

There are rumours that health minister Sussan Ley might get moved into a new portfolio.

The Nationals won an extra seat in the election (Damian Drum picked up Murray in Victoria), taking them to 22 seats. They have to renegotiate their Coalition agreement with the Liberals and are expected to ask for another seat on the frontbench.

The conservatives are also putting their hand up for more responsibility in the government, which means backbenchers Zed Seselja and Michael Sukkar could be up for a promotion.

Turnbull is expected to announce the changes to his frontbench on Sunday ahead of the first party room meeting on Monday.

Bill Shorten will also make a few changes to his team in the next few weeks.

What does this mean for the marriage equality plebiscite?

Lisa Maree Williams / Getty Images

The details of a plebiscite, including the question, public funding and timeframe, haven't been confirmed.

Innovation minister Christopher Pyne said on Monday that the government was still committed to holding the plebiscite by the end of the year, but “no one should feel hidebound by the month in which a plebiscite is held”.

Liberal backbencher Warren Entsch has called on the prime minister to hold a plebiscite as soon as possible to prevent “extreme views” dominating the campaign.

But conservative Cory Bernardi disagrees, he thinks the Coalition should “take a deep breath” and not rush into another nationwide public vote.

With the election so close, the Coalition might not have the votes to pass a plebiscite bill in Parliament.

Advocates hope Turnbull’s failure to win a decisive majority could see the plebiscite fail to get through the parliament, meaning a free vote could be held on marriage equality instead.

Australian Marriage Equality has claimed this election has seen more supporters for marriage equality enter the parliament.

Other government policies, such as the future of partial university fee deregulation are also up in the air, with the comments closing on the government's discussion paper Driving Innovation, Fairness and Excellence in Australian Higher Education due by 25th July.

Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

Contact Alice Workman at

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