By Kunle Adedoyin
Australians have begun voting on Saturday in the first general election since political infighting ousted the country’s fourth leader in a decade.
Also, analysts see today’s voting in many ways a generational issue election, with younger people in particular voicing frustration about climate change and a lack of affordable housing.
Likewise, the older voters would be most influenced by tax reform proposals that have dominated much of the campaign.
However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says he has united his conservative government in the nine months since he replaced Malcolm Turnbull.
On the other hand, Labor opposition leader Bill Shorten has pressed his case with stark policy alternatives.
Surveys have shown that the economy, cost of living, environment and health are central concerns for voters.
Australia has mandatory voting and a record 16.4 million enrolled voters.
The nation holds elections every three years, but no prime minister has succeeded in serving a full term since 2007.
The poll takes place just two days after the death of Bob Hawke, a long-serving former prime minister whose achievements have been hailed across the political spectrum.
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, Morrison claims to have healed bitter internal divisions that brought down Turnbull, and is promising stable leadership after years of turmoil
He has campaigned primarily on economic issues, often doing so alone while painting the election as a choice between himself and Mr Ben Shorten.
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.
Australians follow the maxim often attributed to Al Capone: “Vote early – and vote often.”
The rapid cycle of state and federal elections means it is never too long before people have to head back to the polling booths.
And given that it is compulsory to take part, many like to get voting out of the way nice and early so that they can get on with their weekend.
This time around the campaign has been fierce, but it has produced few surprises – even an attempt to egg the prime minister didn’t reveal any cracks.
If Scott Morrison does survive the vote, he’ll be revered as a one-man election-winning machine, who fought and won largely on his own.
If he loses, Australia will have its fourth prime minister in just four years.
Australian elections always take place on Saturdays. This time about 7,000 polling stations have been set up across the nation, the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) says.
One of these candidates is expected to make history in Australia’s upcoming election.
But people can vote early at pre-polling stations, and a record number – more than four million people – have elected to do so in 2019.
Because voting is compulsory, anyone aged over 18 faces a A$20 (£11; $14) fine for not taking part.
At the last election, 95% of Australians voted – a much higher proportion than the most recent US (55%) and UK (69%) polls.
Opinion polls have consistently put Labor in front on a two-party preferred basis, but the gap has narrowed closer to the election.
This is despite the same measures showing that Mr Shorten trails Mr Morrison as preferred prime minister.
Voting closes on Saturday at 1800 local time in each Australian state and territory – the first results will be expected soon afterwards.