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Australians vote for new Parliament

08-21-2010 11:24 BJT

CANBERRA, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- Australians are casting their votes on Saturday in Parliament elections to select the nation's next prime minister from the Julia Gillard-led Labor Party and Tony Abbott-led Leberal/National Coalition.

Polls opened at 8 a.m. (2200 GMT Friday) and will close at 6 p. m. (0800 GMT) on Saturday.

Polling stations have been set up at 7,700 locations which have stockpiled 43 million ballot papers and will be supervised by some 70,000 temporary electoral staff.

About 14 million voters will choose from 1,198 candidates for all the 150 seats in the House of Representatives and 40 of the 76- member Senate.

The political party which has the most members in the House of Representatives becomes the governing party. Its leader becomes prime minister and other ministers are appointed from among the party's members and Senators.

As voters are heading to polling stations around the country, Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) New South Wales state manager Doug Orr said Sydney's Central Business District is expected to record about 8,000 votes, the most for any New South Wales polling station, where voters will be overwhelmed in the area.

Opposition Leader Abbott cast his vote at a polling booth in his electorate on Sydney's north shore Saturday morning, and called on voters to vote out a bad Labor government.

Abbott waited in line for 20 minutes to vote at the Queenscliff Surf Life Saving Club, where he also serves as a volunteer, in his safe seat of Warringah.

"This is a big day for our country, and it is a day when we can vote out a bad government," he said confidently after 36-hour continuous campaign till Saturday morning.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard is expected in Melbourne about lunchtime at Seabrook Primary School in her electorate of Labor, where she will cast her vote.

Gillard on the last day of election campaign repeatedly labeled Abbott a risk to voters, warning them he will bring back Work Choices, make cuts to health and education, scrap the National Broadband Network and push up prices.

Over 100 voters have been waiting outside the Seabrook Primary School of state Victoria, before the federal election polling booth that opened.

Up to 3,562,802 registered voters in Victoria's 37 electorates are expected to cast their vote.

On a warm and beautiful Saturday, increasing number of families, as well as individual voters have been arriving to polling booth in Victoria to cast their votes to decide on whether the Labor Party led by Julia Gillard, or Coalition led by Tony Abbott should become Prime Minister.

One of the voters outside Seabrook Primary School, Harry Linden, 52, said he has voted for the Liberal Party.

"(The Labor governing period) was a really bad experiment, we got a hugh overseas debt," Linden told Xinhua reporter during an interview on Saturday.

"The Labor Party has been a big spender, if we kept the same government for another three years, if would stuck the whole country,

"On the other hand, Liberal is very tight on spending, if they don't win, I think we are going further backwards."

About 1.8 million people have already cast their early ballots in a pre-polling process held two weeks ago.

This will be only the second August election in 109 years of Australian Federation. The last time on August 21 was exactly 67 years ago in 1943, when former prime minister John Curtin was elected during World War II.

According to Australian Associated Press, this year's election has been the tightest one in decades.

A Nielsen poll, published in News Ltd papers on Saturday, showed Prime Minister Julia Gillard's Labor government ahead of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott's coalition on a two-party-preferred basis by 50.2 percent to 49.8 percent.

The opposition party needs to win 17 additional seats in the House of Representatives to beat the Labor Party and form a majority government.

A Labor victory would see a 30 percent mining tax on big iron ore and coal mines, a possible carbon trading scheme to combat climate change after 2012, and a 38 billion dollars (34 billion U. S. dollars) national high-speed broadband network.

Australia under a Coalition government would scrap the mining tax, not introduce a carbon price, and introduce tougher border security by reopening South Pacific detention camps for asylum seekers.


Editor:Zhang Pengfei |Source: Xinhua

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