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Australian prime minister urges stability after Brexit vote

Australia's prime minister used his official campaign launch to warn against a change of government during the economic fallout from Britain's decision to leave the European Union.

Polls are projecting a win for Malcolm Turnbull's conservative coalition next Saturday for a second three-year term with a reduced majority.

Mr Turnbull said on Sunday at the Sydney launch that his government was better placed to strike vital new trade deals with the EU and Britain after the separation forced by a British referendum.

He said Australia has struck free trade deals with major trade partners China, Japan and South Korea and renegotiated a pact with Singapore during the government's first term.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten said the government is divided.

Mr Turnbull said: "The shockwaves of the past 48 hours from Britain's vote to leave the European Union are a sharp reminder of the volatility in the global economy. Always expect the unexpected.

"Our clear economic plan is more essential than ever as we enter this period of uncertainty in global markets following the British vote to leave the European Union."

Australia's only two surviving conservative prime ministers - John Howard and Tony Abbott - were given front row seats at the launch.

Mr Howard is Australia's second longest serving PM, lasting almost 12 years before his government was defeated at 2007 elections.

Mr Abbott was in office for only two years before he was overthrown by Mr Turnbull in an internal government showdown in September.

Mr Turnbull became the fifth prime minister since Mr Howard in an extraordinarily volatile period of Australian politics.

Mr Shorten said the government was divided between Mr Turnbull's supporters and those who back Mr Abbott.

He said: "Mr Turnbull says this is the time for stability. You cannot have stability without unity."

An opinion poll published in Sydney's The Sunday Telegraph newspaper found the government and the centre-left Labor Party opposition running neck and neck with each supported by 50% of respondents.


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