Reporters: Liz Hayes, Tara Brown, Peter Overton
Producers: Stephen Rice, Lincoln Howes, Howard Sacre, Nick Greenaway
Yesterday, Australia well and truly sent a message to John Howard. Goodbye. Kicked out as Prime Minister and probably no longer the member for Bennelong. After 33 years, it's a humiliating exit from federal politics.
For the Coalition, it's now time for the post mortems. But for Kevin Rudd and his Labor team, power! Government after 11 years in Opposition.
The victory was emphatic, and has made heroes out of even novice candidates. None more so than Maxine McKew, poised to take John Howard's seat.
Tonight, as we all get used to saying 'Prime Minister Kevin Rudd', his challenge is to show Australia if he really has what it takes.
TARA BROWN: JOHN HOWARD: Thank you, please, please. My fellow Australians, a few moments ago I telephoned Mr Kevin Rudd and I congratulated him and the Australian Labor Party on a very emphatic victory.
TARA BROWN: The end of an era.
JOHN HOWARD: This is a great democracy, and I want to wish Mr Rudd well he assumes the mantle of the 26th Prime Minister of Australia.
TARA BROWN: And the beginning of the new.
KEVIN RUDD: Today, Australia has looked to the future.
TARA BROWN: And what a victory it is, Kevin Rudd, the rookie Labor leader pulls off, perhaps, the greatest win in Australian political history. Gone is the Coalition Government, gone too, the Prime Minister. All of Kevin Rudd's prayers had been answered.
LIZ HAYES: Did you pinch yourself this morning, when you woke up?
KEVIN RUDD: Oh no, it's umm, it's um, it's another day. A lot of things to think about today, and work our way through. But we had a wonderful time as a family last night ...
THERESE REIN: We did.
KEVIN RUDD: … and it was terrific to have the whole gang at home.
TARA BROWN: Today, as the enormity of the win sinks in, Kevin Rudd reflects on his stunning victory. How does that title of PM sit with you?
KEVIN RUDD: I think I'm not sworn in, so that's how I feel.
LIZ HAYES: How will it feel you now know you will be.
KEVIN RUDD: One step at a time, make some practical preparations today, and we need to head off home.
JOHN HOWARD: It has been an immense privilege every day of my life, over the last 11.5 years, to have been the prime minister of this beautiful country. And I want to thank ...
TARA BROWN: For John Winston Howard, no matter how dignified the exit, it's a disaster.
RAY MARTIN: With Maxine McKew arriving at her headquarters at Bennelong.
TARA BROWN: Not only is John Howard swept out of office, but in all likelihood, he's about to be booted out of Bennelong by format ABC journalist Maxine McKew. There had been talk of it, but who really thought that the result could be so personally devastating for John Howard that the Prime Minister could lose his own seat and to a complete political novice, no less. Maxine McKew had the toughest job of this campaign and it looked like she might have just pulled it off.
MAXINE McKEW: But you know what, I do know one thing, Bennelong will never ever be taken for granted again.
TARA BROWN: With postal votes still to be counted, it will be a few days before we know if John Howard has suffered the ultimate political humiliation. What's remarkable about Kevin Rudd's win is that he has been party leader for less than 12 months, and as Liz Hayes discovered earlier this year he is a bookish, God-fearing, family man, very much like John Howard.
LIZ HAYES: Look, I get a sense that you have had to spend some time de-nerding yourself.
KEVIN RUDD: He says rapidly adjusting his glasses.
LIZ HAYES: It is this true? Do you feel as though you do have that image of being fairly straight?
KEVIN RUDD: This is the time for the revenge of the nerds.
LIZ HAYES: Come on, it's about time ... I mean it have you had to make some conscious effort to ...?
KEVIN RUDD: I don't know. Look, I reckon the Australian people spot a phoney at 50 paces.
LIZ HAYES: You don't care if you think you're a nerd?
KEVIN RUDD: I couldn't care less. I me, you know.
TARA BROWN: What sort of Prime Minister do you think Kevin Rudd's going to make?
LAURIE OAKES: Well, I think he might be okay. I mean Kevin Rudd is a moderate person, a very disciplined person.
TARA BROWN: Nine's veteran political commentator Laurie Oakes believes Kevin Rudd will be a very hands-on prime minister.
LAURIE OAKES: It is going to be, I think, a very business-like but very active government. And you'll find that Rudd as prime minister will have his finger in every pie. He is going to want to micro-manage this. He will want to know what all his ministers are up to.
TARA BROWN: Do you think he's taken some of the colour out of the Labor Party? Do you think that he is a bit dull, a bit grey?
LAURIE OAKES: Well, he's not a Mark Latham. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief about that. And he's not a Paul Keating. Paul Keating was brilliant but erratic. Now from what I've seen from Kevin Rudd there is nothing erratic about him, he is pretty steady.
TARA BROWN: Election day is the end of almost any year of relentless campaigning, and yesterday morning both leaders said they were relaxed and comfortable.
LIZ HAYES: Are you a nervous man today?
KEVIN RUDD: No, I slept really well last night.
LIZ HAYES: He's not nervous at all?
THERESE REIN: He slept like a log.
KEVIN RUDD: I slept like a log.
LIZ HAYES: Oh, get out!
THERESE REIN: He slept like a log.
LIZ HAYES: Did you sleep like log?
THERESE REIN: And I woke up a ...
KEVIN REIN: I think I was snoring.
PETER OVERTON: How did you sleep well last night, on the eve of perhaps your toughest election?
JOHN HOWARD: Because I had done everything I could yesterday and I felt like a that I'd just done what I could have done and I normally sleep well.
TARA BROWN: But the truth is after months of poor polls no-one in the Liberal Party was resting easy. They feared the worst, and for good reason.
JOHN HOWARD: Can I change my mind?
RAY MARTIN: Here's the shredder.
LAURIE OAKES: Well, the computer's consigning John Howard to the shredder. Stewart McArthur consigned to the shredder, Phil Barresi from Deacon into the shredder.
RAY MARTIN: Peter, can you hear me? Are you prepared to call it yet?
PETER VAN ONSELEN: I am. I'm a prepared to call this election. The Labor Party have enough, have got enough of a lead that even if the Liberal Party do as well as they can in the West they cannot win this election. They are too far behind. I suspect that's what the cheering is about.
TARA BROWN: By 10.30pm, it is all over. The man who could have retired a Liberal Party hero instead presides over one of its worst defeats.
JOHN HOWARD: I accept full responsibility for the Liberal Party campaign and I therefore accept full responsibility for the Coalitions' defeat in this election campaign.
LAURIE OAKES: It is very historical, the swing is six percent, I think. It's a bigger swing than John Howard got to throw out the Keating government. Labor now has more than half the seats in Queensland and NSW, and that been a very long time since that has happened. It is a really big win this is not just a falling-over-the-line win, this is a big win.
TARA BROWN: So for John Howard today, even if it still to sink in completely he will be hurting badly, won't he?
LAURIE OAKES: Yes, he will. At least he has got a pretty good legacy. It is not as if he was in office for 11.5 years and did nothing. He achieved a lot, he knows that, and that will give him satisfaction. But this is not the way he would have wanted to go. And the truth is if he'd stood aside last year and handed over to Peter Costello John Howard would have gone out as a bigger hero than Sir Robert Menzies.
TARA BROWN: And this afternoon another shock for the battered Coalition. Former treasurer, Peter Costello, John Howard's anointed successor, drops a bombshell one that could see them in the political wilderness for years.
PETER COSTELLO: Time has come for me to open a new chapter in my life. I will be looking to build a career post-politics in the commercial world. As a consequence of that I will not seek, nor will I accept the leadership or the deputy leadership of the Liberal Party.
TARA BROWN: And so to the future, enter our new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
KEVIN RUDD: It is time friends, for us together, as a nation, to bind together to write this new page in our great nation's history, I thank the nation.