Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott have hit the Australian election campaign trail in a final push for votes ahead of Saturday’s poll.
Opinion polls place the opposition coalition, led by Tony Abbott, ahead of the ruling Labor party.
But PM Kevin Rudd appealed to undecided voters, saying they could close the gap.
The economy, asylum policy and carbon tax are amongst the key issues concerning voters.
Latest polls suggest the opposition Liberal-National coalition will take 53% of the vote to Labor’s 47%. All the major papers, except newspaper The Age, are backing the coalition.
On Friday Kevin Rudd was campaigning in the New South Wales Central Coast, while Tony Abbott spoke at a guitar factory in Melbourne.
Kevin Rudd emphasized the Labor government’s economic record and said his priority was “jobs, more jobs and jobs, health, hospitals and broadband, and to keep support for cost of living pressures”.
He also criticized the coalition’s U-turn on internet policy as a “debacle”.
The opposition on Thursday announced a policy to filter adult content from the internet, with customers having to opt-out for access. The policy was retracted a few hours later.
Tony Abbott said a failure of “quality control” was to blame for the fact that the policy was “poorly worded”.
More than 14 million Australian people are expected to vote in Saturday’s election
“We don’t support filtering the internet,” he said.
Tony Abbott said the coalition would “end the waste, stop the boats, and build roads of the 21st Century”.
He also warned voters against “another hung parliament, and a weak and divided Labor-Green government”.
“[The] only way to have a new way is to choose a new government,” he said.
The opposition released more of its planned cuts and policy costings on Thursday, including a A$4.5 billion ($4 billion) cut in foreign aid over three years that would be diverted to domestic infrastructure projects.
The proposed cut has been criticized by NGOs and rights groups.
The election comes after Kevin Rudd toppled his predecessor Julia Gillard in a leadership ballot in June, amid dismal polling figures. Julia Gillard had herself ousted Kevin Rudd as prime minister in 2010.
The Labor party experienced a brief poll bounce after Kevin Rudd’s reinstatement, and several polls subsequently showed that Australian voters preferred Kevin Rudd to Tony Abbott as prime minister.
However, the latest opinion polls give the opposition coalition a clear lead.
The economy has been a major issue, as Australia prepares to adjust to the end of the mining and resources boom amid slowing demand from China.
The election rivals have also both sought to tighten asylum policy amid a spike in the number of people arriving by boat.
Under a Labor plan, asylum seekers arriving by boat will be sent to Papua New Guinea and resettled there if found to be refugees.
Tony Abbott, meanwhile, says he will appoint a military commander to lead operations tackling people smugglers, and that asylum seekers granted refugee status would be limited to temporary renewable visas.
Both policies have been criticized by refugee rights groups. The UN has described Kevin Rudd’s policy as “troubling”, while Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young described the coalition’s policy as “cruelty and punishment for the sake of Tony Abbott looking tough”.
More than 14 million people are expected to vote in Saturday’s election, Australian media say.
There was a reported 94% voter turnout in the last federal election.
Every Australian citizen aged 18 or older is required by law to vote, with penalties for failure to vote without a valid reason.
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are heading into the final two days of campaigning with the outcome still too close to call.
Republican Mitt Romney will campaign in Iowa, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia, while Barack Obama heads for New Hampshire, Florida, Ohio and Colorado.
Both candidates addressed large rallies on Saturday in key swing states.
The latest ABC News/Washington Post survey suggests the pair are level with 48% of support.
Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are showing signs of exhaustion as they continue their daily, multiple-state visits to attract any undecided voters in the marginal battleground states that will determine the winner.
Former President Bill Clinton was also suffering as he joined Barack Obama in Virginia, addressing the rally in hoarse tones, saying he had “given my voice in the service of my president”.
Barack Obama told the 24,000 people in Bristow, Virginia, that the planning and organization of his campaign now no longer mattered.
“The power is not with us anymore, the planning, everything we do, it doesn’t matter. It’s all up to you, it’s up to the volunteers… you have got the power. That’s how democracy is supposed to be.”
At Barack Obama’s rally in Milwaukee, pop star Katy Perry, wearing a dress emblazoned with the Democratic slogan “Forward”, helped warm up a 20,000 crowd.
Barack Obama told them not to allow Mitt Romney to return the US to a time when Wall St had “free rein to do whatever” it liked.
Campaigning in New Hampshire on Saturday, Mitt Romney criticized Barack Obama for saying that voting would be their “best revenge” on the Republicans.
“Vote for revenge? Let me tell you what I’d like to tell you: Vote for love of country. It is time we lead America to a better place.”
The latest ABC News-Washington Post survey suggests Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are both level with 48 percent of support
Later, in Colorado Springs, the Republican challenger told supporters that Tuesday’s election would be “a moment to look into the future, and imagine what we can do to put the past four years behind us”.
“We’re that close right now,” he said.
“The door to a brighter future is there.”
The campaigning there has been at its fiercest. No Republican has ever been elected president without first winning Ohio.
But when there has been so much pressure on people to vote early and when all but a tiny fraction of likely voters have made up their mind, how much difference will all this frantic last-minute campaigning have?
An opinion poll on Sunday for ABC News and the Washington Post put the two candidates at 48%, with even voters who term themselves independents split evenly on 46%.
Mitt Romney remains favored in the whites, seniors and evangelical groups; Barack Obama in women, non-whites and young adults.
Barack Obama remains slightly ahead in most of the nine-or-so swing states that will determine the election.
Opinion polls published on Saturday showed him well-placed in Iowa, Nevada and Ohio, but most remain within the polls’ own margins of error.
The election is run using an electoral college. Each state is given a number of votes based on its population. The candidate who wins 270 electoral college votes becomes president.
President Barack Obama came out swinging in the second debate with Mitt Romney, according to the latest polls, although who actually won was open to interpretation.
According to a national survey, 46% of those watching the town hall on Tuesday night believed that Barack Obama had won – while 39% sided with Mitt Romney.
In the second of their three debates, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney attacked each other viciously at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.
The figures gathered by CNN/ORC showed that the majority believed Barack Obama’s performance was superior (73%) compared to 37% who held the opinion about Mitt Romney.
The poll is a dramatic turn of events for the candidates face-off on October 3 in Denver when 67% of registered voters said the debate was won by Mitt Romney and only 25% opting for Barack Obama.
Barack Obama came out swinging in the second debate with Mitt Romney, according to the latest polls
When it came to the most likeable, Barack Obama beat Mitt Romney 47-41%.
However, on big issues such as the economy, Mitt Romney soared ahead with an 18-point lead on the President.
Almost half of viewers (49%) believed that Barack Obama was more on the offensive than his opponent (35%). However, Mitt Romney had the edge on who was the stronger leader at 49-46%.
Some 457 registered voters were interviewed by CNN on Tuesday night after the end of the 90-minute showdown. Of those interview, 33% were Republicans and the same percentage Democrats.
In another poll by CBS, 37% of those surveyed said Barack Obama won with Mitt Romney trailing at 30%. A third (33%) said the debate was a tie.