CANBERRA (APP) – Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Sunday that the nation would go to the polls on July 2 as he sought to affirm his electoral mandate just eight months after deposing predecessor Tony Abbott in a party coup.
The widely expected announcement was the latest chapter in the turbulent world of Australian politics, where a revolving door of leaders saw multi-millionaire former banker Turnbull, 61, become the fourth prime minister in just over two years when he ousted Abbott in September.
“The governor-general has accepted my advice to dissolve both houses of parliament effective tomorrow morning, and call an election for both houses, a double dissolution, on 2 July,” Turnbull said at a press conference in Canberra.
“Australians will have a very clear choice — to keep the course, maintain the commitment to our national economic plan for growth and jobs, or go back to Labor, with its high-taxing, higher spending, debt and deficit agenda.”
Labor opposition leader Bill Shorten, a 48-year-old ambitious former union chief, is aiming to add his name to the prime ministerial list when he takes on the Liberal Party’s Turnbull in what is tipped to be a tightly contested vote.
The latest opinion polls published by News Limited newspapers on Sunday showed the coalition and Labor neck-and-neck at 50-50.
Since Labor’s Kevin Rudd become prime minister in 2007 after conservative leader John Howard’s decade in power, the two parties have played musical chairs with the nation’s highest political office.
Rudd was toppled by Julia Gillard — the country’s first female prime minister — in 2010, before being restored to power in 2013 amid bitter party infighting.
Just a few months later, he lost the elections to Abbott, who was then unseated by Turnbull last year.