SYDNEY • Australia's ruling Liberal-National coalition suffered a crushing defeat in the Victoria state election yesterday, according to local media reports.
Early results indicated that the Labor Party had clinched at least 55 of the state Parliament's 88 Lower House seats, with big swings in state capital Melbourne, reported the ABC news channel.
Local media said the party was on track to secure as many as 61.
Early results showed the coalition losing half of its seats, winning only around 20.
The election outcome has put the Scott Morrison government on course for a crushing defeat at next year's federal polls, reported the Sydney Morning Herald.
The re-election of Labor's Premier Daniel Andrews to a second four-year term in the state with an increase in majority would mark a significant setback for the coalition and the Australian Greens party.
"I am surprised at the degree of the swing out in the eastern suburbs," the state's Health Minister Jill Hennessy was quoted as saying.
The Sydney Morning Herald said leadership instability in Canberra was a significant factor in yesterday's electoral outcome, with worrying implications for next year's federal election and the New South Wales state polls in March.
The Labor Party had capitalised on the coalition's shock ouster in August of Mr Malcolm Turnbull as prime minister, a move which political commentators say damaged the coalition's image.
In a swipe at the coalition's campaign that crime was "out of control", Mr Andrews said last night that Victorians had "rejected the low road of fear and division".
The vote came three weeks after a terror attack in the centre of Melbourne killed one person.