John Howard has admitted that he’s lost the Australian general election to the the Labour leader Kevin Rudd. Mr Howard became only the second Prime Minister in Australian history to lose his own Parliamentary seat.

He said he had telephoned Mr Rudd “to congratulate him on an emphatic victory”.

Mr Rudd said the country had “looked to the future” he said he will be a Prime Minister “for all Australians.”

“I want to put aside the old battles of the past, the old battles between business and unions, the old battles between growth and the environment…,” he said. “It’s time for a new chapter in our nation’s history to begin.”

Liberal Party Environment Minister Malcolm Turnbull successfully defended the Sydney seat of Wentworth, which after boundary changes now includes gay districts such as Darlinghurst and Kings Cross.

Gay rights have been a theme in this race.

The announcement of a general election prompted evangelical groups in the country to begin campaigning against gay equality.

The Labour party took the line that marriage is for heterosexuals only, and would grant legal concessions to homosexuals, but not the legal status of marriage.

“On the institution of marriage itself, our view is between a man and woman and it’s just been our traditional, continuing view,” Mr Rudd said in October.

When asked if in the future this position would look as closed-minded as racist beliefs of the past, Mr Rudd said it was what he believed in.

However, Labour will support changes to the law to remove inequities in the tax and benefits system that discriminate against same-sex couples.

A report in June by Australia’s Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) recommended that 58 laws need to be changed to grant gay, bisexual and lesbian Australians equal rights.