Abbott on track to win as Australia votes
Portriats of the election contestants are seen in front of a pre-poll voting centre in Sydney, on September 6, 2013.
Some 14.7 million people will cast votes across the huge country from 8:00 am (2200 GMT Friday) in a mandatory ballot, which opinion polls say will be won by Abbott, ending six years of Labor rule.
The most recent poll on Friday showed centre-left Labor trailing Abbott's Liberal/Nationals 47 to 53 percent on a two-party basis, with the newspaper saying the coalition could pick up an extra 20 to 25 seats in the 150-member lower House of Representatives.
The latest predictions point to him taking a landslide 87 seats to Labor's 60.
Rudd has struggled for traction after toppling Julia Gillard, Australia's first female prime minister, as Labor leader just weeks before calling the election and despite intense campaigning he appears destined to at least three years in opposition.
"For the future, my priority is jobs, more jobs, and jobs, health, hospital and broadband and to keep support for cost of living pressures," said Rudd in a last ditch pitch for votes.
Despite what the polls are saying, he remains upbeat, saying Friday he believes he only needs to pick up "somewhere between 300,000 and 400,000" undecided votes to win.
"Knocking around some of these local communities in recent days, amongst our candidates, there's been a bit of a spring in their step," he said.
The prime minister, 55, has campaigned on his administration's success in keeping Australia out of a recession during the global financial crisis.
He has also promised to scrap the carbon tax brought in by Labor after the 2010 election and move to a carbon emissions trading scheme by July 2014.
Other key policies include a plan to introduce a bill in parliament to legalise gay marriage and the adoption of tough measures to halt asylum-seeker boats.
Abbott, also 55, has made a paid parental leave scheme his "signature" policy, while pledging to scrap the carbon tax and make billions of dollars of savings to bring debt down.
"It's like being in a grand final, five minutes to go, only a goal or two in it, anything could happen," Abbott said, refusing to get ahead of himself.
But with the opposition only releasing its policy costings on Thursday, the campaign has lacked debate on substantial issues and was largely dominated by slogans and picture opportunities.
As well as Labor and the conservatives, more than 50 other parties are registered, more than contested the poll in 2010.
They include ones headed by Wikileaks' Julian Assange and colourful billionaire Clive Palmer, along with far-right fringe groups and everything from the Animal Justice Party to the Smokers' Rights Party and The No Carbon Tax Climate Sceptics Party.
Most polls close at 6:00 pm (0800 GMT) Sydney time with the remainder two hours later due to time differences, with the elections deciding the make-up of the lower house and half the 76-seat Senate.
Despite the logistical difficulties in such a large country, Australians overwhelmingly abide by their obligation to vote, turnout never falling below 90 percent since the compulsory element was introduced in 1924.
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