Australians will go to the polls on September 7 after Kevin Rudd today fired the starting gun on a five-week election campaign.
Mr Rudd said voters faced a stark choice.
”This election will be about who the Australian people trust to best lead them through the economic challenges ahead,” the Prime Minister said.
”This will be about who the Australian people best judge can get the balance right by keeping our economy strong while at the same time protecting jobs, ensuring we have fair wages and fair conditions, continuing to invest in health and education, and above all ensuring there is a fair go for all.”
He said the choice was about ”a new way for the future” versus ”the old negative politics of the past”.
He sought to head off a ”debt and deficit” attack on Labor by the Coalition, saying: “If there is a debt and deficit crisis requiring an immediate return to surplus, why do the ratings agencies give us a triple A credit ratings?”
Mr Rudd called for media scrutiny on the Coalition’s costings, saying it had a $70 billion budget blackhole that it was yet to account for.
Mr Rudd said he went into the election campaign as the underdog, and warned the Coalition was poised to unleash a barrage of negative advertising funded by a huge election warchest.
He said Labor would mount a positive advertising campaign avoid negative campaign advertising.
The Prime Minister accepted an invitation from Sky News to attend an election debate tomorrow night, and challenged Mr Abbott to attend.
He said he wanted to debate Mr Abbott on a different network every Sunday night.
Mr Rudd said Labor had not always made all the right calls, but it had learned from its mistakes.
He said Australians knew him ”warts and all”, having seen him at his highest highs and lowest lows.
Mr Rudd said he was worthy of voters’ trust in leading Australia forward, given his leadership during the GFC.
The Prime Minister informed supporters of the date via email, after visiting Governor-General Quentin Bryce this afternoon.
He said Labor had “one hell of a fight on our hand”, and urged supporters to “chip in $5 to get us off to a strong start”.
He said Mr Abbott ”and a few millionaire” would out-spend Labor during the campaign.
But he said Labor could win the election”if we work together”.
The September 7 election date means a planned referendum on local government recognition in the constitution cannot go ahead, as the earliest it could have been held was September 14.
It also means Mr Rudd will be unable to attend the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Russia on September 5-6.
He said Foreign Minister Bob Carr would attend the summit in his place.
Earlier, Mr Rudd had announced a blitz of decisions and agreements with Nauru on asylum seekers and resettlement, Victorian Premier, Denis Napthine, on the Gonski school education funding and with Western Australian Premier, Colin Barnett, on a national disability scheme.
Greens leader Christine Milne welcomed the announcement of the election date, saying her party offered an alternative to the “race to the bottom” approach of the major parties on issues like climate change and asylum-seekers.
”The Australian Greens will be calling on people to vote for a caring and sustainable Australia and to vote against cruelty and environmental destruction,” she said.
”We have our eyes firmly fixed on the big issues that matter to everyone protecting the environment, building a caring Australia and creating a new diversified, innovative and low-carbon economy.
”Unlike the old parties, we care about what life will be like in 50 years, not just the next three.”
The election announcement comes about seven weeks after Mr Rudd was reinstalled as Prime Minister in a ballot against Julia Gillard.
Labor goes into the race as underdogs. The last Newspoll, on July 23, had Labor trailing the Coalition 48 per cent to 52 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.
Labor currently holds 71 seats to the Coalition’s 75, meaning Tony Abbott only needs to secure a net one seat gain to govern in his own right.
Labor, having governed with the support of the Greens and independents, needs to win a net five seats to be returned.
Bookmakers Sportingbet Australia have Coalition as the $1.28 favourite to win the election. The bookie is offering $3.65 for a Labor win.Source: The Australian – Rudd calls September 7 election
- Rudd Calls Sept. 7 Vote in Australia Showdown With Abbott (bloomberg.com)
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