Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd set an election for Sept. 7, saying his governing Labor party is offering a “positive plan” for the nation’s future.
Rudd, who is scheduled to hold a 4 p.m. news conference in Canberra, said on his Twitter Inc. feed he was making some “final touches to my speech about the choice Australians will make on Sept. 7.”
Rudd, 55, who met earlier with Governor-General Quentin Bryce, is betting he can maintain a honeymoon with voters that’s seen Labor close the gap with Tony Abbott’s opposition in polls. Since ousting the nation’s first female prime minister, Julia Gillard, in their third leadership showdown, Rudd has sought to neutralize opposition attacks with plans to scrap the world’s highest carbon price, curb the number of asylum seekers arriving by sea and reform his party’s leadership rules.
The government announced two days ago that Australia’s budget deficit will blow out to A$30.1 billion ($26.8 billion) this fiscal year. Rudd’s Labor party is framing the looming election as a battle between David Cameron-style austerity from the opposition and its own program that allows the deficit to widen as it prioritizes jobs and economic growth.
Surveys show the switch back to Rudd has boosted Labor. A Newspoll published July 23 had Labor trailing the opposition 48 percent to 52 percent on a two-party preferred basis, designed to gauge which of them is most likely to form a government, compared with a 14 percentage point gap under Gillard. The two parties are split 50-50, according to a Galaxy poll published in the Sunday Telegraph newspaper on July 28.
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