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Australia's general election called for May 18 - Xinhua | Eng

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CANBERRA, April 11 (Xinhua) -- Australian voters will go to the polls for a general election on May 18, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

Morrison visited Governor-General Peter Cosgrove in the early hours of Thursday morning to ask him to dissolve the 45th Parliament and trigger the election.

Addressing a press conference shortly afterwards, Morrison said that the election would offer a "clear choice" between his incumbent Liberal-National Party Coalition (LNP) and the Opposition Australian Labor Party (ALP) led by Bill Shorten.

The LNP's campaign will be built largely on a foundation of economic stability after the Federal Budget for 2019/20, which was delivered by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg earlier in April, projected Australia's first budget surplus in over a decade.

"Now is not the time to turn back," Morrison said.

"Keeping our economy strong is how we secure your future and your family's future," Morrison said.

"Keeping our economy strong ensures that we can secure your wage, your job, your business and, importantly, the business you are going to work for today," Morrison said.

"So the choice to be made by Australians on May 18 is like it always is at every election, and that is, who do you trust to deliver that strong economy which your essential services rely on," Morrison said.

"Who do you trust to deliver the strong economy and the budget management that these services can be funded, that the business that you work for will be there in three years, in five years, in 10 years," Morrison said.

"If you vote Labor, you pay for it for a decade," Morrison added.

The ALP's campaign will instead focus on bigger tax cuts for Australians earning low incomes, boosting wage growth and greater investment in healthcare, education and infrastructure.

Speaking to reporters ahead of officially launching his campaign in Melbourne at 11:30 a.m. local time, Shorten said that he was ready to deliver a "fair go" for Australia.

"We are ready for the election, we are ready for government," Shorten said.

"I have got a more united and experienced team. The election will be a choice between more cuts and better healthcare for your family," Shorten said.

Shorten will also emphasize Labor's leadership stability and seek to capitalize on the leadership turmoil that has plagued the LNP.

Since winning power in the 2013 election, the LNP has had three leaders, Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and Morrison.

Abbott was deposed in September 2015, almost exactly two years after he led the party to success in 2013, and replaced by Turnbull whose downfall came in August 2018.

Conversely, Shorten has served as leader of the ALP since October 2013.

According to opinion polls, the LNP trails the ALP on a two-party preferred basis despite Morrison being the preferred Prime Minister of most voters.

Because of redistribution, the House of Representatives in the 46th Parliament will consist of 151 members, up from the traditional 150.

All 151 lower house seats will be up for grabs in May, as will half the seats in the Senate. The party that wins 76 seats in the House of Representatives will form government. If no party achieves that number, they can form a minority government with the support of minor parties and independents.

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