Veteran Liberal senator Bill Heffernan has compared the mood in the coalition camp to that in 1996, when John Howard became prime minister.

Speaking 30 minutes after the end of voting in eastern Australia, Senator Heffernan said the feeling was reminiscent of that historic landslide win.

"I recall at this stage in 1996 there was a wistful expectation or a hope that we were going into government," Senator Heffernan told AAP at the Liberals' election night function in Sydney.

"I well recall being with prime minister Howard before he became prime minister at the Intercontinental Hotel, quite nervous.

"I guess Tony Abbott would be in the same position now."

Senator Heffernan said the opposition leader would be with his family watching the results come in.

"And watching the exit polls which seem to say that there is going to be a change of government," he said.

"Now of course, the great challenge is to live up to the expectations of what the people want, and I think the hardest work is ahead of us."

The coalition election function is being held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Sydney.

Mr Howard arrived at the function about 8.30pm (AEST).

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is expected to soon address the ALP election function at the Gabba cricket ground in Brisbane.

Meanwhile, Joe Hockey, the man likely to be Australia's next treasurer, has claimed victory in his seat of North Sydney and effectively called the election for the coalition.

"I think we are going to get over the line right across Australia tonight," he told the Seven Network.

He said it was the worst result for Labor since 1910.

"It has also been a catastrophe for the Greens as well," Mr Hockey added.

"Australia has emphatically rejected minority government, and Australia has supported a strong, stable, alternative coalition government, led by an outstanding leader in Tony Abbott."

He said "it's not my place to be in the business of claiming victory", but went on to say Australia could expect stability and a strong new government in the coalition.

Mr Abbott's sister, Christine Forster, she was proud of her older brother.

"He has done a terrific job and I think he is going to be an absolutely cracking prime minister if he is elected," she told reporters as she entered the Four Seasons Hotel.

Ms Forster, who is openly gay, also said she would continue to talk to her brother about supporting same-sex marriage.

"It's something we do talk about and we do have a difference of opinion," she said.

"I won't stop talking about it."

Mr Howard also praised Mr Abbott, saying he would lead a united government that governed in the "interests of everybody".

"I can't speak too highly of what a wonderful job Tony Abbott has done," he told reporters.

"He's been a splendid leader of my party, and all those ridiculous people who said he was unelectable will understand how foolish they were to underestimate him."

Liberal Senator and campaign spokesman Mathias Cormann described the election as "a great victory for Tony Abbott".

"It's a great new beginning for the country," he told reporters at the function.

"The Labor party had been in chaos and disjunction for a very long time.

"And the campaign was really just a continuation of that."

"Tony Abbott has done an outstanding job forging a strong and united team over the last three and a half years."