Australian polls split as campaign starts

Asked yesterday about the polls, Turnbull noted that his Government had eight weeks to make its case to the Australian people. Photo / AP
Asked yesterday about the polls, Turnbull noted that his Government had eight weeks to make its case to the Australian people. Photo / AP

Australia's election is set to be a nailbiter, with two polls published yesterday suggesting it is too close to call as the first full day of campaigning got under way.

Conservative Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in the top job for less than a year, on Sunday called the national vote for July 2, saying there was a "clear choice" between him and Labor opposition leader Bill Shorten.

But opinion polls indicate a tight race, with an Ipsos one in the Sydney Morning Herald showing Turnbull's Liberal/National coalition winning 51 to 49 per cent but a Newspoll in the Australian having Labor ahead by the same margin.

Australian elections, where voting is mandatory, are traditionally close, and the conservatives - then led by Tony Abbott - won the last one in September 2013 by 53.5 per cent to 46.5 per cent.

As Parliament was officially dissolved in Canberra yesterday, the Ipsos poll of 1410 voters taken after last week's national Budget put Turnbull ahead as preferred prime minister but with his personal rating sliding.

He was in front by 51 per cent to Shorten's 29 per cent as preferred PM, but down on his 54 per cent standing of last month.

The Newspoll of 1739 people taken over the same time frame also found Turnbull was seen as the better prime minister - by 49 per cent to Shorten's 27 per cent. But it had the Labor Party ahead 51-49 in an election.

Asked yesterday about the polls, Turnbull noted that his Government had eight weeks to make its case to the Australian people.

"We will be talking about our national economic plan every single day," he told reporters in Queensland, on one of the nation's longest-ever election campaigns.

"Jobs and growth. Confidence. Australia - its future. That's what this election is about."

Australia is charting a rocky path away from mining dependence after an unprecedented resources investment boom that has helped the nation avoid a recession for 25 years.

This is the first election campaign as the head of their parties for both Shorten and Turnbull, who ousted colleague Abbott in a Liberal Party caucus vote last September.

- AFP

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 02 Oct 2016 01:14:28 Processing Time: 367ms