Australians will go to the polls on May 18 after Scott Morrison ended speculation and called for a federal election.
The Prime Minister revealed the date after seeing Governor-General Peter Cosgrove, on Thursday morning asking him to dissolve Parliament.
“Earlier this morning, I visited the Governor-General here in Canberra and he accepted my advice for an election to be held on 18 May,” Mr Morrison said, speaking at Parliament House.
Mr Morrison said that there was “so much at stake” for the nation in the election.
“We live in the best country in the world. But to secure your future, the road ahead depends on a strong economy,” he said.
He said there was only one choice for voters, rejecting suggestions that his government was unstable.
“At this election there is a clear choice. It is a choice that will determine the economy that Australians live in, not just for the next three years but for the next decade,” Mr Morrison said.
“Who do you trust to deliver the strong economy which your essential services rely on? Who do you trust to deliver the strong economy and the budget management that these services can be funded?”
Mr Morrison commended his government for delivering the first budget surplus in a decade, stating that the Liberal Party would keep unemployment low, secure borders and pledge funding for schools, hospitals and infrastructure.
However, he explained that he would be there for the long haul if he was re-elected, rejecting the idea that he could be replaced following the party’s history of dumping leaders.
“After I became Prime Minister we changed the rules in the Liberal Party,” Mr Morrison said.
“Those rules say that if I’m re-elected as PM, then I will serve as your PM because the rules have been changed to prevent the things that have happened in the past.”
He targeted the Opposition, calling leader Bill Shorten untrustworthy.
“You will have the choice between a government that is delivering a strong economy and will continue to do so, or Bill Shorten’s Labor Party, whose policies would weaken our economy,” Mr Morrison said.
“It’s taken us more than five years to turn around Labor’s mess. Now is not the time to turn back. Keeping our economy strong is how we secure your future, and your family’s future.”
He criticised Labor of turning the country’s $20 billion surplus into a $27 billion deficit and “turning strong borders into weak borders.”
Mr Shorten will address the media this morning.
Mr Morrison faces an uphill battle, with opinion polls revealing Labor remaining ahead despite narrowing.
The government currently holds 74 seats in the lower house while Labor holds 69, but redrawing the electoral boundaries will give the Coalition a one seat margin at 73 to Labor’s 72.
It will mean both parties will need to gain seats to win a majority in the expanded 151 seat House of Representatives and form government.
The election campaign will run for about five weeks before voters head to polling booths.