Latham concedes defeat

“A short time ago I spoke to Mr Howard and I congratulated him, his family and the coalition parties on their election victory this evening,” he said.

Mr Latham said Labor had run a positive campaign and is proud of the options it put forward on education, security, the economy and the environment.

“I’m glad we did that because I know for a fact that so many Labor supporters, Labor voters today felt good about supporting our cause because of the choices and alternatives we put forward,” he said.

“We ran on principle, we ran on our positive beliefs about opportunity in this country and I want to thank the many, many people who voted Labor today … supporting our policies and supporting us into the future.”

Mr Latham thanked his family, his staff and his mentor Gough Whitlam for the support they had provided during the campaign and over the years.

The 43-year-old politician said he has come a long way from his working-class roots in suburban Sydney, as he thanked Labor Party candidates and workers for their campaign effort.

And he expressed optimism in Labor’s opposition role for the coming years.

“I have had a lot of people say that we have made the opposition strong and when there is a strong opposition, Australian democracy is so much stronger,” he said.

“We’ll continue to do that in the coming parliamentary term, we’ll make sure the government is held to account.”

“Our democracy is strong because the people were engaged,” he said.

“Tonight is not our night, it was not the night that we were hoping for. But I’ve certainly found that the democratic experience is something we all should be grateful for in this country.”

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