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Polls open in Australia's national elections


Portriats of the election contestants are seen in front of a pre-poll voting centre in Sydney, on September 6, 2013. (AFP)

Australians began voting in national elections Saturday with conservative challenger Tony Abbott heading for a thumping victory over Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Polls opened at 8:00 am (2200 GMT) with some 14.7 million electors taking part in a mandatory ballot across the huge country, with last-minute opinion polls showing Abbott on track for a landslide win.

A Newspoll published in The Australian Saturday put his Liberal/National coalition ahead 54 to 46 percent on a two-party basis, the same as a Nielson poll in the Sydney Morning Herald.

This represents a four percentage point swing since the last election in 2010.

The latest predictions have Labor losing anything from 14 to 32 seats in the 150-member lower House of Representatives with the conservatives set to claim a comfortable majority of over 90 seats.