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Australia PM Malcolm Turnbull calls early election

Australia PM Malcolm Turnbull calls early election
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Australia’s conservative Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has called a surprise early election on July 2.

He used a rare political tool to dissolve parliament after the upper house, the Senate, repeatedly blocked legislation.

It kicks off a two-month campaign – one of the longest in the country’s history – that is expected to focus on the flagging economy following the end of the mining boom.

Other issues likely to feature include health, education, and the heated debate over asylum seekers.

The election raises the prospect of more political instability where infighting among the leading parties has seen several politicians occupy the top job in recent years.

Turnbull, who ousted his predecessor Tony Abbott in a leadership challenge last September, is considered a moderate in the conservative Liberal Party-led coalition.

There has been some disappointment with Turnbull among people who expected him to distance himself from Abbott’s right wing policies on issues such as immigration and climate change.

Opposition centre-left Labor leader Bill Shorten has painted Turnbull, a multi-millionaire lawyer and former tech entrepreneur, and the coalition as friends of big business.

Opinion polls suggest the government and Labor are running neck-and-neck.