Australians will go to the polls on August 21, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced.
"This election, I believe, presents Australians with a very clear choice," Ms Gillard told reporters in Canberra today.
"This election is about the choice as to whether we move Australia forward or go back."
Ms Gillard said moving forward required conviction and confidence.
It also required a willingness to embrace new ways of thinking, acceptance of new challenges, listening and learning, and to embrace new solutions.
"Moving forward with confidence also requires a strong set of convictions and a clear set of values," she said.
John Key is predicting a close race in Australia, and told Newstalk ZB Ms Gillard has made the right move in heading to the polls early.
Ms Gillard said she had been driven through her adult life by a clear set of values.
"And over the last few weeks I have had the opportunity to share those values with the nation," she said.
"I believe in hard work. I believe in the benefits and dignity of work. I believe in what comes as an individual when you do your best and you earn your keep."
Ms Gillard said there was no challenge Australia could not conquer if the country worked together.
"So in this, the forthcoming election campaign, I'll be asking the Australian people for their trust," she said.
"I'll be asking Australians for their trust so that we can move forward together."
Ms Gillard said moving forward meant plans to build a sustainable Australia, "not a big Australia".
"Moving forward means making record investments in solar power and other renewable energies to help us combat climate change and protect our quality of life," she said.
Ms Gillard said budget surpluses and a stronger economy would offer Australians the chance "to get a job, keep a job, learn new skills, get a better job and start your own business".
Ms Gillard said she would protect the budget's return to surplus in 2013 during the campaign by not going on an "election spendathon".
"By making sure that any promise we make to spend money is offset by a promise to save money," she said.
"By making sure that the budget bottom line doesn't change by one cent during the election campaign."
Ms Gillard said she had been driven by a clear set of values.
"I believe in hard work ... in the importance of respect and valuing other people," she said.
"Most importantly (I believe in) the transformative power of a high-quality education."
Ms Gillard said she learnt those values from her parents.
"And like millions of other Australians (they) worked unbelievably hard so that their children could have opportunities that they could never have dreamed for themselves."
Ms Gillard said she wanted to build what Australia achieved working together in the face of the global financial crisis and global economic uncertainty.
"The uncertainty is not behind us yet, and economic challenges are still very much with us and hard working Australian families who are doing it tough can attest to that," she said. The prime minister said that "moving forward" also meant stronger protection for the nation's borders.
"And a strong plan, a real plan that takes away from people smugglers the product that they sell."
Ms Gillard noted that Labor had increased expenditure on hospitals by 50 per cent in its first term.
Moving forward on health meant training 3000 nurses and 1300 GPs during the next three years "all the while as we expand our GP super clinics and implement our health reforms".