The Australian Prime Minister has called on the Governor-General to request a 2 July election.
Malcolm Turnbull has now left Government House in Yarralumla, where he was expected to request a double dissolution election for 2 July. Only the Governor-General can order Parliament to be dissolved.
The dissolution is to to resolve a legislative deadlock. As soon as the Prime Minister asks for the dissolution, the election has officially started. It will be the longest election campaign in Australia in nearly 50 years.
The difference to a normal election is that more politicians need to be elected. Normally, half of the Senators are up for re-election because they have six year terms, and elections normally happen every three years. This time, with a double dissolution, all the Senators' seats will be contested.
The public service goes into caretaker mode once Parliament is officially dissolved. The Prime Minister can only make major decisions in consultation with the opposition. Parliament will not sit again until after the election.
Mr Turnbull is expected to hold a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra later this afternoon.
The policy divide is stark, with the government arguing it is best able to defend Australia's economic and national security, while Labor promises to use the nation's wealth to deliver better services.
The opposition said the poll would be a referendum on schools, jobs and the future of Medicare.