Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called the 2016 federal election for July 2.
Speaking from Parliament House in Canberra, Mr Turnbull formally announced that voters would choose the next Australian government after the Governor-General assented earlier on Sunday to dissolving both houses of parliament.
Mr Turnbull told reporters at Parliament House in Canberra the election would be a “clear choice” for voters.
“Australians will have a very clear choice – to keep the course, maintain the commitment to our national economic plan for growth and jobs, or go back to Labor, with its high-taxing, higher spending, debt and deficit agenda, which will stop our nation’s transition to the new economy dead in its tracks,” Mr Turnbull said.
His first pitch to voters in an election campaign that will span the next eight weeks also covered proposed changes to the tax system, superannuation and innovation.
The Coalition would deliver more jobs, a growing economy and a stable future. But on their opponents, he said their “
“The choice cannot be clearer at this election,” he said.
“We have an economic plan for growth and jobs. Every single element of it is designed, is calculated, determined, to deliver stronger economic growth and more jobs for Australians.”
Speaking from Beauty Point, Tasmania, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten also took aim at the Coalition’s policies, describing the Government as “dithering” and “dysfunctional”.
Labor was “united” and could be trusted – a point repeated more than a dozen times in his opening speech – to lead Australia into the future.
Climate change was a key battleground for Labor, he said, and he attacked Mr Turnbull for failing to mention the environmental issue in his maiden speech of the campaign.
“I frankly think it is amazing that in Mr Turnbull’s pitch to be re-elected, he did not even mention climate change,” he said.
“He famously said that he did not want to lead a party that was not interested in climate change. Now he has a brushed climate changed out of his presentation altogether.”
‘Everyone must have a fair go’
Mr Shorten contrasted his pitch against the Coalition’s plan that would “reward millionaires”.
Labor had previously dismissed notions they would engage in class warfare, despite this Mr Shorten emphasised his belief in giving everyone a fair go.
“Australia succeeds when we worked together with common endeavour and shared reward,” he said.
Mr Turnbull offered scathing commentary on Labor’s plan for negative gearing and the economy.
“Every measure we have laid out, every single one, will deliver stronger economic growth and more jobs,” he said.
“Everything Labor is doing is absolutely calculated to stop our economic progress in its tracks.
“And that is why we are asking the Australian people for the privilege of governing this country for three more years to secure our prosperity, to secure our future.”
Both leaders indicated they were open to engaging in multiple debates before the July 2 election.
First double dissolution election in decades
The announcement followed a visit to Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove in Canberra earlier on Sunday.
Both houses of parliament would be dissolved on Monday, allowing the first double dissolution election in decades. The election was triggered by a stalemate on two bills that failed on multiple occasions to pass the upper house.
It meant the entirety of the House of Representatives and the Senate would be up for election.
The opinion polls have the two major parties head into the election locked at 50-50 on a two party preferred basis.
The coalition government currently holds 90 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives while Labor has 55.
The government can afford to lose 14 seats, while Labor needs to win an extra 21 seats to claim victory.
– with AAP