PM and Shorten urge people against voting for outsiders
VOTERS disillusioned with Australia's two major political parties are expected to back minor parties and independent candidates in droves when they head to polling booths today.
In this long, long election campaign, three polls released on Friday showed Labor and the Coalition either 50-50 or 51-49 in the government's favour.
That is basically the same position they were at, on the two-party preferred measure, when it all began a week after the government released its budget in May.
But the underlying trend in this campaign has been an increasing move by voters towards the outsiders of the system.
On Friday, the Newspoll, Fairfax-Ipsos and Essential polls put the "other" category - the Greens, independents and Nick Xenophon Team - at a collective 21-27% of the overall primary vote.
Taken on face value, that means between one in five voting Australians and one in four plan to vote first for someone other than the majors.
It is one reason why Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull on Friday again asked people to "stick with us", given "it is close, it is very close".
"This is not a time to make a protest vote. This is a time to treat your vote as though that is the single vote that will determine the next government," he said.
Labor Leader Bill Shorten - despite bringing the Opposition from almost certain defeat in September last year to an even footing - has also urged against voting for other people.
Mr Shorten said people should not take "the long way around to a better Australia", instead insisting they "just vote Labor".
After the reforms to the Senate voting system - which may yet work against the government - Mr Shorten said he hoped Mr Turnbull "hasn't got it wrong", because "he and the Greens cooked up this new system".
Fought on the traditional perceived strengths of each party - the economy for the government; and health and education for Labor - there have been few surprises.
That is, if police raids and candidates on both sides being cast aside mid-race can be, well, cast aside.
But the proof will be in the ballot box, with an enthralling set of local electoral races that will be closely watched by pundits, if largely ignored by most voters.
After Kevin Rudd's rise and fall, Julia Gillard's minority government and the Tony Abbott experiment, this election could re-write the rulebook on Australian politics.
Or it could be just another poll, even if it is the one that matters most to the politicians.