2019 Australia election: Ballots cast in ‘generational’ vote


Canberra:     Australians are voting in the first general election since political infighting ousted the nation’s fourth leader in a decade.
PM Scott Morrison says he has united his conservative government in the nine months since he replaced Malcolm Turnbull.
But Labor opposition leader Bill Shorten has pressed his case with stark policy alternatives.
Australia has mandatory voting and a record 16.4 million enrolled voters.
Both leaders were out early at polling booths on Saturday, in a last-ditch pitch for votes.
The nation holds elections every three years, but no prime minister has succeeded in serving a full term since 2007.
The poll comes just two days after the death of Bob Hawke, a long-serving former prime minister whose achievements have been hailed across the political spectrum.
Surveys have shown that the economy, cost of living, environment and health are central concerns for voters.
It is in many ways a generational issue election, experts say, with younger people in particular voicing frustration about climate change and a lack of affordable housing.
Others have argued that older Australians would be most affected by tax reform proposals that have dominated much of the campaign.
It follows fierce debates in the past year about the rolling leadership turmoil, formal recognition of indigenous Australians, and the treatment of female MPs in parliament.
As the Liberal-National government seeks its third term, Mr Morrison claims to have healed bitter internal divisions that brought down Mr Turnbull.
He has campaigned primarily on economic issues, often doing so alone while painting the election as a choice between himself and Mr Shorten.
Mr Shorten, who has led Labor for six years, has instead emphasised his team’s stability and policies on climate change, cost of living and health.
Also vying for support are minor parties including the Greens, One Nation and the United Australia Party, as well as a raft of independents.