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Australia goes to polls on Saturday to elect new government

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Melbourne: Over 15 million people are expected to exercise their votes when Australia goes to polls
on Saturday with over 1600 candidates, including five of Indian-origin, contesting from over 55 political parities.

The main contest is between Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbul and opposition leader Bill Shorten who is vying to become the country's fifth prime minister in three years.

The polls will elect all 226 members including 150 members for the lower house of the 45th Parliament after an eight-week official campaign period following the double dissolution announced by Prime Minister Turnbull in April this year.

About 10 million people are expected to vote at 7000 polling booths whereas over 4.5 million people are said to be on track to vote in advance.

Representational image. AP

Representational image. AP

Major issues of economy, cost of living, education, climate change, Great Barrier Reef, health, house affordability, gay marriage and asylum seekers dominated the debate between Australia's two major political groups - the Australian Labor Party and Liberal/National coalition.

Liberal Party's Turnbull, a 61-year-old self-made multi- millionaire, focused on economy with more jobs and growth while Shorten, 49, of Labor party focused on health, education and climate change.

Turnbull has also promised to hold a plebiscite on the issue of allowing same-sex marriage if re-elected to the government.

Hours ahead of the election day, the two national survey revealed 'neck to neck' race but different results.

While the latest Fairfax-Ipsos poll has shown support for the coalition and Labor deadlocked at 50 per cent each and a possibility of a hung parliament, the third Galaxy poll showed the coalition ahead 51-49 on a two-party preferred basis.

The Fairfax-Ipsos poll of 1377 voters revealed an even split on a two-party preferred basis but when asked specifically which party would receive their second preference, voters gave Labor a 51-49 per cent lead.

Turnbull remained the preferred choice for prime minister, leading Opposition Leader Bill Shorten 49 to 35 per cent.

In the Galaxy poll, the coalition was ahead of Labor 51-49 on a two-party preferred basis.

It surveyed 1768 voters showing that the swing against the government was limited to 2.5 per cent.

More than 27 per cent of voters would support the Greens and other minor parties, according to the Fairfax-Ipsos poll, while the Galaxy poll revealed the same number of people claiming they would vote for independents.

Both main contestants Turnbull and Shorten are in Sydney on Friday on their last leg of election campaign to boost their chances of winning.

Five Indian-origin candidates are also contesting the federal election representing Liberal, Labor and Greens Party apart from few who are contesting as independent candidates.

First Published On : Jul 1, 2016 12:00 IST

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