Millions of Australians are casting their vote in an election tipped to be the closest in almost 50 years.
An extensive Nielsen poll in Fairfax newspapers puts Labor just ahead on 52 points to the Coalition’s 48 – but that might not be enough to ensure a victory for Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
An updated Newspoll in The Australian newspaper has the major parties locked at 50-50.
Fourteen million voters will have the final say on who becomes prime minister – but they have until 6pm Saturday only to make it.
Meanwhile, a pall has been cast over the day with news of an incident in Afghanistan in which Australian soldiers are believed to have taken casualties.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott appeared confident about the election on Saturday morning, saying the Coalition was “finishing strongly”.
“If the Coalition is elected today, well obviously, I’ve got a lot of work to do tomorrow,” he told the Nine Network.
Mr Abbott responded to the polls by expressing gratitude to his colleagues for the “magnificent campaign” they had run.
He’s been helping cook snags at a polling day barbecue at a surf club in his northern Sydney electorate, and has voted, with his wife and daughters accompanying him to the polling booth.
Ms Gillard told the Seven Network she was not concerned about any blame game if Labor lost.
“Oh, I’m not going engage in any of that. My focus is on election day,” she said.
The prime minister also declined to comment on snatching the leadership from her predecessor Kevin Rudd.
“My focus is really on the choice today,” Ms Gillard said.
She has been campaigning in the marginal seat of Lindsay in western Sydney on Saturday, and is expected to head to Melbourne to vote.
The Coalition needs 17 Labor seats to win the election by garnering a uniform swing of 2.3 per cent across the country.
But the government can lose its absolute majority if it loses 13 seats.