Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced Australians will go to the polls on May 18, telling voters "now is not the time to turn back" to Labor.
Opinion polls are pointing to the Liberal-National coalition losing power to Labor after five-and-a-half years in office.
But Mr Morrison said there was much at stake at the election and only the coalition could deliver a strong economy and the dividends of that.
"It's taken us more than five years to turn around Labor's budget mess," Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.
"Now is not the time to turn back. Keeping our economy strong is how we secure your future and your family's future."
Labor leader Bill Shorten told reporters on his morning run that he was prepared for the campaign ahead.
"I'm ready for the election, I'm ready for government," he said in Melbourne.
"I've got a more united, experienced team. This election will be a choice, it will be a choice about more cuts or better health care for your family."
Mr Morrison channelled former Liberal prime minister John Howard's 2004 campaign theme by asking voters: "Who do you trust to deliver that strong economy which your essential services rely on?"
Neither major party is expected to win majority control of the Senate, with half of the 76-seat upper house up for grabs.
After a national redrawing of seat boundaries, the coalition starts with a notional 73 seats (down from 74) with Labor on 72 (up from 69).
Mr Morrison became prime minister in August after the Liberal Party dumped Malcolm Turnbull amid a failed leadership coup by Peter Dutton.
Asked about the chaos that installed him in the top job, Mr Morrison said: "This election is about the future."
Australian Associated Press
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