Australian PM Turnbull formally calls July 2 election

Australia will go to the polls on July 2 after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called an election that will likely focus on the flagging economy and hot-button issues like the country's tough asylum seeker policy.

Turnbull, whose Liberal-National coalition is running neck-and-neck in opinion polls with the centre-left Labor opposition, visited Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove in the capital, Canberra, to seek the dissolution of both houses of parliament.

He told a media conference Australians faced a clear choice:"To stay the course, maintain the commitment to our national economic plan for growth and jobs, or go back to Labor with its higher taxing, higher spending, debt-and-deficit agenda."