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Australia Will Hold Early Election in July

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull holds his hand out as he speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, May 8, 2016.

Australia's prime minister has called for an early election to be held on July 2.

In announcing the date on Sunday, Malcolm Turnbull said, "At this election, Australians will have a very clear choice: to keep the course, maintain the commitment to our national economic plan for growth and jobs or go back to Labor with its high-taxing, higher spending, debt-and-deficit agenda which will stop our nation's transition to the new economy dead in its tracks."

Turnbull is looking to win a second three-year term for his Liberal-National coalition.

He replaced Tony Abbott as leader of the Liberal Party last September, just two years after the coalition government came to power.

Opinion polls indicate the election could be a close contest between the opposition Labor Party and the ruling coalition led by Turnbull's Liberal Party.

The Senate's refusal to pass legislation that would allow the government to create a building industry watchdog is at the core of the prime minister's call for the vote.

The upcoming election is significant because the ruling Liberal Party is staking its political future on the hopes that voters will support the party's goal of establishing the construction watchdog.

The early vote is also a "double dissolution" election, dissolving both the upper and the lower houses of parliament. It is rarely called and is used to end a deadlock between the two houses.

Labor leader Bill Shorten said Sunday he would "fight this election to make Australia a fairer place where the needs of families, small businesses – the great bulk of Australians – are placed at the top of the priority list."