A confident but cautious Anthony Albanese is tipped to become Australia’s next prime minister, as the ‘underdog’ coalition warns of potential chaos should a hung parliament emerge.
More than eight million Australians are due to attend ballot boxes across the nation on Saturday, following a surge in early and postal voting.
With polls suggesting the nation is likely to get its sixth prime minister in nine years, Mr Albanese told the ABC outside Melbourne’s iconic MCG Labor is kicking with the wind at its back.
“The fourth quarter is what matters and I hope to finish ahead when the siren sounds,” he said, urging Australians to “give Labor a crack”.
The opposition leader says he is aiming to form a majority government, with a minimum target as low as the coalition’s thin 76-seat grasp on Parliament House during its term.
Mr Albanese says his party has a plan for a “better future”, including action on climate change, bolstering secure work and reinvigorating local manufacturing.
Labor starts with 68 seats, plus notionally the new Victorian seat of Hawke. The major parties will need 76 seats for a majority in the lower house.
Scott Morrison’s Liberal-National government came to the election holding 75 seats, having lost Stirling in WA in a redistribution.
The prime minister is promising “different gears” to his bulldozer approach if re-elected but says tough tactics were needed as he steered Australia through the COVID-19 pandemic.
He warned voters against supporting independent candidates which increased the chances of a hung parliament.
“A vote for an independent is a vote for chaos and governments having to negotiate their existence every single day at a time of great uncertainty,” the prime minister told ABC TV on Saturday.
On Sydney’s northern beaches, Liberal Jason Falinski told Sky News there is “no doubt” his party is the underdog.
Across the harbour, Labor’s Matt Thistlethwaite says the race will go down to the wire but he is confident.
Closely watched will be the success of the teal independents, who have run a well-funded campaign on climate change, integrity and women’s safety across a number of Liberal-held seats.
Kylea Tink, running to usurp moderate Liberal Trent Zimmerman in North Sydney, says her volunteers are outnumbering those of mainstream parties.
“I’m really excited people in North Sydney want politics done differently,” she told Nine.
Allegra Spender, who is facing off against Liberal Dave Sharma in Wentworth, promised to be a voice for her electorate’s values “every single time”.
Opinion polls are averaging 53.5 per cent to Labor on a two-party preferred basis, according to The Poll Bludger website, which if reflected at the ballot box would result in 83 seats for the ALP.
The latest Newspoll in the Australian shows Labor 53-47 despite a two point drop in its primary vote to 36 per cent.
The campaign has focused on cost of living, economic management, national security, a federal integrity commission, climate and equality, and safety for women.
Votes will be cast for 1203 House of Representatives candidates across 151 seats. In the Senate, there are 421 candidates vying for 40 seats across the states and territories.
When 6pm rolls around, the ballots of more than 17 million voters will start to be counted, including those of more than 5.5 million who voted early.