The Latest: Australian party leader vows action on climate

In this June 19, 2016, file photo, Australia's opposition Labor Party leader Bill Shorten speaks in Sydney. Shorten, an outspoken critic of U.S. President Donald Trump, is the favorite to become Australian prime minister. Shorten’s party, the center-left Labor Party, has led the conservative coalition in most opinion polls in the last three years. (Mick Tsikas/Pool Photo via AP, File)

CANBERRA, Australia — The Latest on Australia's upcoming elections in May (all times local):

12:20 p.m.

Australia's opposition leader says his government will take "real action on climate change" and reduce inequality in Australian society if his party wins elections on May 18.

Center-left Labor Party leader Bill Shorten is the favorite to win the election called earlier Thursday by conservative Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Shorten told reporters in his first news conference since the election was called that his government would also deliver better health and education services as well as more jobs.

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8:20 a.m.

Australia's prime minister has announced the nation will go to the polls to elect a new government on May 18.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison's announcement came after he advised Governor-General Peter Cosgrove as representative of Australia's head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, to set the election date.

Morrison's conservative coalition is seeking a third three-year term. But Morrison is the third prime minister to lead a divided government in that time and only took the helm in late August.

Opinion polls suggest his reign will become one of the shortest in the 118-year history of Australian prime ministers on election day. The polls suggest center-left opposition leader Bill Shorten will become the eighth prime minister since the country plunged into an extraordinary period of political instability in 2007.

The election pits Shorten, a former labor union leader who has presented himself as the alternative prime minister for the past six years, and Morrison, a leader who the Australian public is still getting to know.

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7:53 a.m.

Australia's prime minister has called for a May election that will be fought on issues including climate change, asylum seekers and economic management

Prime Minister Scott Morrison advised Governor-General Peter Cosgrove as representative of Australia's head of state, Queen Elizabeth II, to set the election date.

Morrison is expected to announce later Thursday that Australia will go to the polls on May 18.

Morrison's conservative coalition is seeking a third three-year term. But Morrison is the third prime minister to lead a divided government in that time and only took the helm in late August.

Opinion polls suggest his reign will become one of the shortest in the 118-year history of Australian prime ministers on election day. The polls suggest center-left opposition leader Bill Shorten will become the eighth prime minister since the country plunged into an extraordinary period of political instability in 2007.

The election pits Shorten, a former labor union leader who has presented himself as the alternative prime minister for the past six years, and Morrison, a leader who the Australian public is still getting to know.

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