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Aussie politicians make last pitch before federal election

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SYDNEY Australia's political leaders yesterday made their last big pitch to voters ahead of tomorrow's federal election.

In contrasting campaigns, Labor leader Bill Shorten offered voters an egalitarian dream and reform agenda, saying "It's Time" for a change, while Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned that a change to Labor would risk the nation's long-held economic prosperity. While Mr Morrison's re-election prospects have been lifted by tightening polls after early fears he would lose decisively, Labor is still on track to end six years of conservative rule. An Essential Poll for The Guardian newspaper yesterday showed Labor ahead of Mr Morrison's coalition government by a margin of 51.5 to 48.5.

Both Mr Morrison and Mr Shorten have campaigned urgently since the election was called last month, squeezing in trips to the outback north and island south, along with obligatory big city tours. Yesterday, Mr Morrison delivered his last major campaign speech in Canberra, while Mr Shorten gave his in Sydney. The opposing candidates begged voters to see tomorrow's ballot as essentially a fight between Mr Morrison's aspirations and Mr Shorten's reforms.

"I will burn for you every day, every single day, so you can achieve your ambitions, your aspirations, your desires. That is what is at the top of my agenda," said Mr Morrison.

While Mr Morrison promised stability, Mr Shorten promised "real change", reducing inequality through tax reform, higher wages and better public infrastructure.

Climate change policy has consistently polled as one of the most significant issues this election, prompting a movement in marginal seats to remove government hard-right politicians who champion coal-fired power.

"I promise that we will send a message to the world, that when it comes to climate change, Australia is back in the fight," said Mr Shorten. We will take this emergency seriously, and we will not just leave it to other countries or to the next generation."

If Labor wins, it plans to cut carbon emissions by 45 per cent from 2005 levels by 2030 and reach 50 per cent renewable power by 2030. Mr Morrison's coalition has committed to a 26 per cent reduction in emissions by 2030 under the Paris accord, but some in his government question the need for that and the coalition remains staunchly in favour of coal-fired power in Australia. - REUTERS