SYDNEY – After a two-month campaign, Australians headed to the polls on Saturday to vote in a national election. The contest pits Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's conservative coalition, which is seeking a second three-year term, against the center-left Labor Party, which is trying to snatch back power after an extraordinarily volatile period in the nation's political history. Should Labor win, party leader Bill Shorten will become Australia's fifth prime minister in just over three years.
Here's a look at where the major parties stand on the key election issues:
Coalition: The government has called for stimulus measures including income tax cuts for middle- and high-income earners and a gradual reduction of the company tax rate over a decade from 30 to 25 percent.
Labor: Labor agrees with cutting taxes for small businesses, but largely opposes the rest of the government's proposed cuts. The party would spend the revenue from higher tax rates on hospitals and schools.
Coalition: The government has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent of 2005 levels by 2030.
Labor: Labor wants to cut emissions by 45 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030.
RISING HOUSE PRICES:
Coalition: Although most analysts agree that housing is so overpriced in the nation's major cities that the number of Australians who can afford to buy their own homes is shrinking, the government does not want to change the rules on real estate-related tax breaks.
Labor: Labor does want to change the rules by reducing tax deductions for real estate, including capital gains tax breaks, in a bid to make housing a less attractive investment for landlords.
Coalition: The government plans to maintain Australia's controversial policy of sending asylum seekers to offshore detention camps while their claims are processed, and refusing to settle them in Australia. The coalition also plans to continue turning back boats carrying asylum seekers that are intercepted at sea, and wants to increase the country's humanitarian intake of refugees to 18,750 by 2018-19.
Labor: Labor agrees with both the offshore detention and boat turnback policies, and wants to increase Australia's humanitarian intake of refugees to 27,000 by 2025. Labor also wants to abolish the government's temporary refugee visas, and instead give the 30,000 asylum seekers already in Australia permanent refugee visas.
Coalition: Turnbull personally supports gay marriage, but his party does not. The government says it will hold a national poll known as a plebiscite this year that would ask voters whether the nation should allow same-sex marriage. But governments are not bound by the results of plebiscites, and some conservative lawmakers have said they would vote down a gay marriage bill even if most Australians supported marriage equality.
Labor: Labor believes a plebiscite is a waste of taxpayers' money. The party instead promises that the first legislation it introduces to parliament will be a bill legalizing same-sex marriage.