Canberra, July 1 (IANS) As around 15 million Australians get ready to vote to choose a new parliament in the federal elections on Saturday, opinion polls have not been able to indicate a clear winner so far.
Since Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the dissolution of the two legislative houses in May, his Liberal-National Coalition and the opposition Labour Party were running practically neck-to-neck in opinion poll forecasts, EFE news reported.
The latest Fairfax-Ipsos poll showed both Labour and Coalition enjoy 50 per cent backing each, although a Galaxy poll, published by media group News, placed the ruling formation ahead of opposition Labour at 51 per cent, with the latter at 49 per cent.
At stake in the elections are 150 seats in the lower house — with a three-year tenure for members — from among 994 candidates, besides 76 upper House seats — with a six-year tenure — with 661 candidates in the running.
“What will we get if we vote in sufficient numbers? We will get a stable Coalition majority government, delivering on our national economic plan, which was brought together in the budget, fully costed, fully funded, clearly explained and set out and already delivering,” Turnbull said on Friday.
During the campaign, Turnbull has highlighted his job creation and economic growth plan, besides tax incentives for small enterprises and transition from a raw material-based economy to one founded on innovation and strict border controls.
The country’s economy, beginning to slow down after 25 years of sustained growth, is set to advance by 2.5 per cent in the 2016-17 fiscal, with an underlying fiscal deficit of $27.65 billion or 2.2 per cent of the GDP.
These estimates have led credit agency Standard and Poor’s to warn Australia could lose its current AAA rating if it fails to reach a surplus, setting off alarm bells in the country following a manufacturing sector crisis and the end of the mining boom.
Meanwhile, the Labour Party has promised a budget surplus by 2020-21, with emphasis on health, education and workers’ rights, although its admission that the deficit would worsen in the short term before public accounts recover, has not been well-received, especially in the wake of Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU).
Besides economic challenges, concerns over government stability are also doing the rounds, with a string of both Labour as well as Coalition prime ministers having fallen victim to leadership crises in the country since 2010.