Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed a double dissolution election for July 2 after visiting Governor-General Peter Cosgrove at Government House on Sunday.
"The Governor-General has accepted my advice to dissolve both houses of Parliament effective tomorrow morning, and call an election for both houses, a double dissolution, on 2 July," Turnbull said.
"At this election, Australians will have a very clear choice -- to keep the course, maintain the commitment to our national economic plan for growth and jobs, or go back to Labor.
"These are times for confidence, for optimism, for a clear plan, and we will be seeking a mandate from the Australian people on the 2 July."
Turnbull said the coalition's plan for the nation was fair, saying "every lever" of its administration was aimed at boosting jobs and growth.
He said he had not discussed how many debates there would be with opposition leader Bill Shorten before polling day.
The PM's progress from Sydney to the national capital was closely followed by media throughout the day in the lead up to the much-anticipated announcement.
#BREAKING: Malcolm Turnbull has landed in Canberra where he will visit the governor-general to clear the way for a July 2 election.— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) May 8, 2016
The call makes the election campaign the longest since the 1960s.
While speaking in Launceston shortly after Turnbull's announcement, Shorten said that both he and Labor were ready for an election fight.
"I will fight this election on issues vital to millions of Australians," he said.
"This election is much more than a choice between parties and personalities.
"It is very important that Australians understand that my opponent's views and those of his party are a real risk to the living standards of all Australians."
The announcement comes on the eve of the 10 year anniversary marking the rescue of Brant Webb and Todd Russel from the Beaconsfield mine collapse, which Shorten described as a story of "defiant Aussie spirit".
"People working together, looking after their mates and winning through," he said.
"It reminds me, even today, that Australia succeeds when we work together with common endeavour and shared reward. It is an Australia where everyone gets a fair go."
Greens leader Richard Di Natale also spoke to the media in Newcastle on Sunday, affirming his commitment to “transition [Australia] to a 21st century clean economy” while kicking off his election campaign.
“Let’s get this country moving in a direction that is more sustainable, more prosperous and more caring,” he said.
“No more new coal, because more coal means more dangerous global warming, it means losing the Great Barrier Reef, it means holding this country back from making the clean energy transition it so desperately needs.”
The government has used a stalemate in the senate over industrial relations to dissolve parliament and enable the Prime Minister to call the election.
All 150 House of Representatives seats and 76 Senate seats will be up for election on July 2.
Sunday's announcement comes after the coalition, which regained power in 2013, lost its lead against Labor in recent polling, with the two sides now neck-and-neck.
According to a recent Seven-ReachTel poll, Labor and the Coalition are running even at 50-50.
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce also addressed reporters in Canberra after Turnbull's announcement.
"We have proven ourselves but we are merely at the start," he said.
"We have only one place that all of us will live - it is in the future, and that's why we believe strongly in delivering for that future."