Some prominent political players as Australia goes to the polls on July 2

Early voters in Australia's July 2 general election walk to a polling centre at Sydney's Town Hall on June 29, 2016.
Early voters in Australia's July 2 general election walk to a polling centre at Sydney's Town Hall on June 29, 2016.PHOTO: REUTERS
People handing out how-to-vote pamphlets behind political placards outside a polling station in Sydney's central business district on June 27, 2016.
People handing out how-to-vote pamphlets behind political placards outside a polling station in Sydney's central business district on June 27, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

Australia heads into early elections on Saturday (July 2), as candidates from the various parties kick their campaigns into high gear. Here are the leaders of the country's most prominent parties:

1. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (Liberal Party)


PHOTO: EPA

The incumbent is the leader of the Liberal Party and has been prime minister for less than a year, after ousting predeccessor Tony Abbott.

As it was Mr Abbott who led the party to win the last elections in 2013, this is Mr Turnbull's first election as prime minister.

He has staked his political future on a pledge to lower taxes, cut spending and reshape the nation's economy as its mining boom ends. He has been campaigning under the banner of the "Coalition Team", which comprises his Liberal Party and the National Party.

While his popularity was high when he first took on the position, it has been waning in recent months. However, he is still being tipped to win the election.

2. Opposition leader Bill Shorten (Labor Party)


PHOTO: EPA

Mr Shorten became leader of Labor Party after it lost the 2013 election under former prime minister Kevin Rudd, conceeding the government to the Liberals.

A lifelong Labor supporter, he completed a combined arts and law degree at Monash University and then began steadily making his way from lawyer to union leader - a traditional path for future Labor politicians.

He has overseen a dramatic turnaround and led Labor to a slight lead in the opinion polls. He remains at long odds to win the election and trails Mr Turnbull as preferred prime minister, but his approval ratings have gradually risen from 33 per cent to 43 per cent since March.

3. Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce (National Party)


PHOTO: AFP

Previously minister for agriculture and water resources, Mr Joyce was appointed deputy prime minister in February after being elected leader of the National Party, which forms a coalition government with the Liberals. He is now in a fierce contest for his seat in New South Wales.

He is known for his feud with Hollywood stars and former couple Johnny Depp and Amber Heard over the stars' failure to declare their dogs upon arriving in Queensland. Mr Joyce had threatened to put down the hounds, resulting in a war with words with Depp.

Depp had said on a talk show that Mr Joyce "looks somehow, like, inbred with a tomato".

4. Pauline Hanson (One Nation)


PHOTO: REUTERS

The founder and leader of far-right party One Nation is one of Australia's most notorious politicians.

The former MP from the state of Queensland, who rose to fame with her attacks on multiculturalism, aboriginal welfare and Asian immigration, has long tried to make a return to Parliament since her controversial stint in Canberra from 1996 to 1998.

She made a controversial in Parliament in 1996 that Australia was "in danger of being swamped by Asians".

This time, the right-wing firebrand is concentrating her anti-immigration focus on Muslims rather than Asians.

She is believed to have a strong chance of winning an Upper House seat in Queensland.

Sources: BBC, Agence France-Presse, Straits Times archives