Australians on Saturday voted in a general election billed as one of the tightest in decades in which their first woman Prime Minister Julia Gillard is pitted against her Conservative rival Tony Abbott. Polling stations, set up at 7700 locations across the country, opened at 8 a.m. local time (0330 hrs IST) and more than 14 million people were enrolled to vote, with last- minute opinion polls showing only a small gap between Ms. Gillard and Mr. Abbott. Voting booths had stockpiled 43 million ballot papers and were being supervised by some 70,000 temporary electoral staff. A final opinion poll indicated that 48-year-old Gillards Australian Labour Party (ALP) was leading by a small margin, with the fate of the candidates resting on regional swings. According to the poll for The Age, Ms. Gillards two-month-old Prime Ministership was hanging in balance. Her Labour party was leading at 52 per cent in the Age/Nielsen poll, down a point in a week, while the opposition Coalition was at 48 per cent. There has been a swing of about 1 per cent against the Labour since 2007, the report said. Nearly one in five people were somewhat likely or very likely to change their mind before voting. However, Ms. Gillard still held a healthy lead as preferred Prime Minister even if her approval had fallen in the campaigns last week. Pollster John Stirton said Labour would need to perform well in its marginals to hang on. Taking into account the margin for error, the figures suggest the result could range from a comfortable Labour win to a narrow win for Coalition led by 52-year-old Conservative leader Mr. Abbott. A very narrow Labour win is the most likely outcome, but it all depends on whether incumbency can tip the ALP over the line in the marginals, Mr. Stirton said. In the poll of 2040 people taken between Tuesday and Thursday, Labours primary vote was on 39 per cent, down 1 point, while the Coalitions vote was 41.5 per cent, up 0.5. The Greens were polling 13 per cent, up a point. When the three Nielsen polls since August three were combined, they indicated Labour doing less well in Queensland, New South Wales and Western Australia but better in Victoria, the report said. In the current poll, the Coalition was ahead in Queensland while Labour had a narrow lead in NSW.