The Australian Electoral Commission will resume the result count in a number of undecided seats on Monday.
The government is preparing to fall just short of the 77 seats needed to form a majority government after providing a Speaker.
Mr Abbott’s defeat has been welcomed by moderate MPs who believe it gives the Liberal Party and Prime Minister Scott Morrison a chance to move on without the presence of Mr Abbott and his long-time rival Malcolm Turnbull.
“We are still in the hunt for a 77th seat and we have missed that opportunity,» one Liberal said on Sunday. »[Mr Abbott is] treating the seat as a personal fiefdom rather than putting the party’s interests first.
«Basically Abbott was saying he knew he was going to lose the seat, and he has not put the interests of the party ahead of his own interests. Vanity and pride prevented him from doing that.»
NSW Liberal senator Arthur Sinodinos, an ally of Mr Turnbull, said the result in Warringah gave Mr Morrison “a clean slate to reshape the government and its agenda in his image”.
“While it’s sad that people of the calibre of Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott are no longer in the Parliament, the fact is we have a strong leader who is very committed to delivering for the Australian people and that should be the focus of all the Liberals now.”
Mr Abbott heaped praise on the Prime Minister for the shock defeat of Labor: «Scott Morrison will now, quite rightly, enter the Liberal pantheon forever.»
One former colleague said Mr Abbott’s departure from federal politics would give relief from «culture war shit» and elevate the standing of moderate forces.
“The removal of Abbott and [defeated conservative senator] Jim Molan and the election of other candidates like Dave Sharma [in Wentworth] and Fiona Martin [in Reid] means you’re getting more moderate people into the party room, with a contemporary outlook,” said one senior Liberal.
“There will be a much cleaner pathway on emissions reduction and energy policy. A lot of the new people elected have no interest in this culture war shit. It won’t be pushed by the new generation people.”
Jason Falinski, who holds the neighbouring seat of Mackellar, said Mr Abbott’s contribution to Parliament “will not be easily forgotten”.
“He was a major figure in our national life for 25 years and I know he will continue to contribute to his community out of Parliament as a lifesaver and a firefighter.”
In contrast to the huge swing in Warringah, Mr Falinksi gained a small swing in his favour.
He said that “undoubtedly” Mr Abbott would be making a contribution to national debate in the future.
Booths in some of Warringah’s most affluent suburbs turned against Mr Abbott on Saturday. In the Mosman booth, his primary vote plunged from 58 per cent at the 2016 election to just 40 per cent in 2019.
Ms Steggall claimed more than 50 per cent of the primary vote in seven booths.
Tasmanian Liberal senator Eric Abetz, a conservative ally of Mr Abbott, said the Warringah thrashing was “very disappointing”.
“The campaign was highly personal and ugly and I hope it will not be repeated in our body politic again,» he said.
Senator Abetz said Mr Abbott was “a deep thinker in relation to conservative politics in Australia” and would always be revered for his “thumping” 2013 victory, which resulted in a “rising tide washed a lot of people into the Parliament”.
One senior Liberal said the reason Mr Abbott seemed so upbeat on election night was “he knew for a while that this was one mountain too high”.
Jacqueline is a senior journalist, columnist and former Canberra press gallery sketch writer for The Sydney Morning Herald.