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Australia goes to the polls

ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: After nearly five weeks of intense campaigning Australians are going to the polls on Saturday (September 7) to decide who will form the government for the next three years. Opinion polls throughout the campaign point to a comfortable victory for the Liberal National Coalition, ending a tumultuous six years in power for the Australian Labor Party. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the Coalition leader Tony Abbott have argued over how to tackle Australia's budget deficit and both have pledged to stop asylum seekers arriving by boat. Rudd returned as prime minister after challenging Julia Gillard in June and the party initially enjoyed a boost in the polls, an improvement that has slipped away as the election neared. Voting is compulsory for more than 14 million people over the age of 18. Polls opened at 8am (2200GMT) and close at 6pm (0800GMT).

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