Roundup: Australian opposition maintains poll lead ahead of general election

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CANBERRA, April 15 (Xinhua) -- The Australian opposition remains on track for a possible victory in May's general election, a poll has revealed.

The latest Newspoll, published by The Australian on Monday, found that the Australian Labor Party (ALP) leads the incumbent Liberal-National party coalition (LNP) 52-48 on a two-party-preferred basis.

If that result is translated in the election on May 18, the ALP would win up to 82 out of 151 seats in the House of Representatives, the lower house of the Australian parliament, leaving the LNP with as few as 63 seats and minor parties or independents with six.

According to Newspoll, both major parties can expect to receive 39 percent of first preference votes on May 18 but the ALP will benefit from preference flows.

By comparison, in the 2016 election, in which the LNP won 76 out of 150 seats to form government with the slimmest possible margin of victory, the ALP received only 34.7 percent of first preferences compared to 42 percent for the LNP.

The poll was released as Prime Minister Scott Morrison and ALP leader Bill Shorten took the election campaign to Victoria.

Morrison on Monday committed 154 million Australian dollars (110.4 million U.S. dollars) for "congestion busting" road projects in Melbourne's southeastern suburbs, an area of the city that has traditionally been LNP heartland.

"Busting congestion is especially important for residents in Melbourne's east and these projects will help people get home sooner and safer and fix local traffic headaches," he told reporters on the campaign trail.

He said the investment would be on top of 6.2 billion Australian dollars (4.4 billion U.S. dollars) for road and rail upgrades in Victoria included in the government's Federal Budget for financial year 2019-20.

Speaking to Macquarie Media radio earlier on Monday, Morrison warned that Shorten can not be trusted to manage the Australian economy.

"What it is about, at the end of the day, is who can Australians trust to manage money," he said.

"Because if you can't manage money, which I think Australians think Labor can't and that is their record, if you can't manage money you can't run the country; you can't run a health system.

"People matter. And that is why managing money matters. That is why we are so focused on achieving that and that's what we have done by bringing the budget back to surplus."

Shorten visited Casey Hospital in the LNP-held electorate of La Trobe in Melbourne's northeast to announce 250 million Australian dollars (179.2 million U.S. dollars) to cut the waiting lists for elective surgeries.

The average waiting time for surgery in Australia's public hospitals has grown from 36 to 40 days since 2015, a figure the ALP said would continue to grow if the LNP wins a third term in government.

"Labor's 250-million-Australian dollar ­investment could pay for more than 62,000 cataract procedures or 9,800 knee replacements or 9,400 hip replacements," opposition health spokeswoman Catherine King said, according to The Australian.

"The average wait time for elective surgery has increased by more than 10 percent since the Liberals were elected in 2013." Enditem

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