Australians voting in general elections, focus on economy

Australians voting in general elections, focus on economy

Australians voted in large numbers Saturday in a close federal election where the country is deciding whether minor parties will overthrow the incumbent government.

While climate change, immigration and education are key issues, it is the economy that is likely to decide who wins.

Britain’s decision to leave the European Union has created great anxiety in Australia, and political leaders have put economic security at the heart of their election campaigns.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has told voters the country needs the stability his center-right coalition government can provide.

But opposition Labor leader Bill Shorten says the prime minister is a weak leader, just like his besieged British counterpart.

This election has been shaken by a number of minor parties, including a candidate from the Greens and other independent parties named after their candidates. But all of them must convince voters they have the safe hands the economy needs.

Voting in Australia is compulsory, so turnout is high, and so are the stakes.

Opinion polls had both major parties neck-and-neck as eight weeks of campaigning comes to an end with Saturday’s election.