News Election 2016 Leaders hit booths in last-gasp plea for votes
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Leaders hit booths in last-gasp plea for votes

PM in Wentworth
ABC.
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Polls have opened around the country as the eight-week federal election campaign finally reaches its conclusion today.

Australians will flock to more than 7,000 booths — but about 2.5 million people have already cast their ballots in pre-poll voting.

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Both major party leaders started their days in Sydney, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull casting his vote at the Double Bay Public School in his seat of Wentworth.

Shorten votes
Bill Shorten cops a mouthful at North Strathfield Public School, Sydney. Photo: ABC.

Mr Turnbull and his wife Lucy were joined by a large media contingent as they met with voters and he repeated his call for voters to choose the Coalition and avoid a hung parliament.

“As I said there’s never been a more exciting time to vote for a stable majority Coalition government, an economic plan that secures our future,” he said.

“What’s the biggest issue in the seat of Wentworth? Security of our economy, the future for our children and grandchildren.”

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will spend the morning campaigning in the key marginal seats of Reid, Lindsay and Macquarie in western Sydney before flying to Melbourne to cast his vote in his electorate of Maribyrnong.

Mr Shorten told ABC News Breakfast he was confident Labor could win.

“Labor is very competitive,” he said.

“I know that some of the conservative political papers have run their drum beat and whatever happens, the Liberals will win.

“The fact of the matter is that Labor’s agenda has been speaking to the daily lives and experiences of Australians.”

Government ‘not taking anything for granted’

The latest opinion polls have the Coalition and Labor neck and neck, with the Coalition ahead by a slender margin.

voters Brunswick
Voters line up outside the St Ambrose Church in Brunswick, Melbourne. Photo: ABC.

Today’s Newspoll, published in the Weekend Australian, shows the Coalition leading by 50.5 per cent to 49.5 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.

It also shows support for minor parties and independents could be at its highest level since the 1930s.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the Government was not “taking anything for granted”.

“This is a close election,” he told ABC News Breakfast.

“Every single vote today will matter.

Labor needs to gain 21 seats to take government from the Coalition, but the Coalition only needs to lose 15 to raise the possibility of a hung parliament.

Australian Electoral Commission spokesman Phil Diak reminded voters to fill out their ballots correctly, in line with recent changes to the Senate voting rules.

“If you’re going above the line [on the white Senate paper], instructions are to number at least six parties of your choice — one to six — you can do more,” he said.

“Or, number at least 12 individual candidates of your choice below the line and you can do more there too.”

Plibersek casts vote
Tanya Plibersek casts her vote at Darlo Public School, Sydney. Photo: ABC.

Greens, Xenophon hoping to pick up extra seats

The prospect of a higher vote for minor parties and independents has buoyed the hopes of The Greens.

The party is targeting a number of seats across the country, with a particular focus on suburban Melbourne and the Labor-held seat of Batman.

Greens leader Richard Di Natale was out early, talking to voters as they lined up in the Victorian electorate of Reservoir.

He said he was confident of his party’s chances in Batman.

“If we don’t make that breakthrough at this election, we’ll certainly make it at the next, we take a long-term view,” Senator Di Natale said.

“But look, the mood is very, very positive so I’ve got a sneaking suspicion we’ll get over the line.”

He said the Greens were also looking to make “huge inroads” in the Victorian seats of Higgins, Melbourne Ports and Wills, as well as Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese’s NSW seat of Grayndler.

 

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