Australia goes to the polls to vote for representatives in the lower house and Senate.
After an eight-week election campaign, polling booths in Australia’s general election opened Saturday at 8:00 a.m. local time.
Millions of Australians will cast their vote for both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
According to the latest poll by Newspoll, published by The Weekend Australian, the incumbent coalition, led by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, has a narrow lead over the Labour Party, led by opposition leader Bill Shorten.
The poll puts the coalition ahead at 50.5 per cent to Labour’s 49.5 per cent in two-party preferred terms.
Of the 150 seats in the lower house, either side needs to win 76 to form a majority government.
The election campaign has focused on the state of the public health care system, the economy, and the environment.
The Labor party claims that the coalition will erode Australia’s universal health system, leading to higher costs and longer waiting lists.
The coalition, in response, has argued the Labour party is inexperienced and ill-equipped to manage the country’s struggling economy.
Both have pledged to invest in restoring the Great Barrier Reef, one-third of which has destroyed by mass bleaching.
But many voters are disillusioned with the rhetoric of the major parties. Independence parties, including the Greens, are expected to win a significant number of seats, particularly in the Senate.
Given voting is compulsory in Australia, those who object to the political process or candidates often cast a donkey vote, meaning each box on the ballot is numbered in the order that the candidates appear. Polls will close at 6 p.m. local time.