Australians begin voting for parliamentary elections

Canberra, Sep 7 (IANS) Voting booths opened Saturday morning in the eastern states of Australia for voters to decide which party will lead the country in the next three years, Xinhua reported.

Figures from the Australian Election Commission (AEC) showed that some 14.7 million Australian voters will go to nearly 8,000 polling stations across the country to cast their ballots.

In fact, there have already been about three million votes coming from all over the world as early voting has been made available since Aug 20 for people who are not able to vote on ballot day for a range of reasons, including work, illness, travel and religious belief.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has vowed to campaign till the last minute, saying Friday that it's not over until the booths close at 6 p.m.

According to media reports, voters were queuing outside polling booths across the eastern states of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and the capital territory before the voting stations opened.

Commentators said the long queues demonstrate that a lot of voters have already made up their minds.

The ruling Labor Party, under the leadership of Rudd, is lagging behind the opposition Liberal-National Coalition in various opinion polls. The final Fairfax/Nielsen poll, released Friday night, put the Coalition on track to win 54 percent of the vote to Labor's 46 percent.

Rudd will cast his own vote in his hometown Brisbane, the state capital of Queensland, where his seat of Griffith is at risk.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott, who is still playing down the coalition's chances despite good polls, will vote in Sydney.

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