ELECTION 2010: It's a hung Parliament

Swings against Labor means independents will have the final say and the Senate goes Green

Australia faces a period of political instability after voters turned on the Gillard government in Election 2010 but the fall of seats meant neither major party had a majority and independents will have the balance of power in the house.

In the Senate, the Greens have gained six senators for a total of nine and will hold the balance of power from July 2011.

The exact outcome of the election is unlikely to be known for up to a week due to the closeness of contest in several seats and the large number of postal and prepoll votes.

Late on Saturday, experts were tipping likely outcomes to be around 73 Liberal, 72 Labor, 5 independent with slight variations possible on this that could see Labor have 73 and Liberal 73 with the independents holding 4 or even an additional seat for the Coalition taking it to a distribution of 74-71-5.

As counting progressed in the key marginal seats over Sunday, however, opinions shifted and analysts began to say that Labor may be in the better position to form a minority government as it's position improved on Sunday, to the extent it may now gain 73 seats, the Coalition 72 and independents 5 - however, that could change several times again over the next few days as seats such as Brisbane and Hasluck are incredibly close.

Labor has also won the two-party preferred vote - a significant factor when negotiating with the independents for support to form a minority government.

The Greens also won its first seat in the lower house when it took out the seat of Melbourne convincingly.

Labor suffered worst in Queensland and to a lesser degree New South Wales but picked up two seats in Victoria - the only good news on a bleak day.

And while the Coalition might have had cause to celebrate, the swing against Labor of more than 5 per cent mostly went to the Greens which picked up 3.7 per cent while the Coalition only picked up 1.6 per cent, showing just how disillusioned voters had become with both political parties.

As Greens leader, Bob Brown, pointed out: If Australia had seats awarded by proportional representation then the Greens - which received nearly 12 per cent of the primary vote - would have had 17 seats in the House of Representatives - not one.

But it was also the Greens that hurt Labor most as it was in direct combination with Labor's Left and took its votes directly from there thus making the Coalition's job of winning back seats it lost in the 2007 Ruddslide much easier.

What is most likely is that Australians will be going back to the polls well before the three-year term of whoever governs is up.