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AUSTRALIAN PM RUDD A BAD BET?
Can Australian PM Kevin Rudd salvage his prime ministership?
By Michael Perry
Chief Correspondent, Australia
Australians love to gamble, in fact they say Aussies would bet on two flies crawling up a wall.
But even the most hardened Aussie gambler would be shocked at the recent blowout in odds for Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
Australia’s Centrebet online bookmaker recorded the biggest single day’s surge in political betting in May, with a rush of money against Rudd’s Labor government in favour of the conservative Liberal-National opposition.
For the past two years Rudd, elected in 2007, has been unbackable to win the next election, expected this October. But voter support for his government has nosedived in the first half of 2010 and Rudd is at risk of becoming the first, one-term prime minister since 1932, according to the latest Reuters Poll Trend.
The election will be that close, Australians could have a hung parliament like Britain.
Rudd came to power offering generational change, a bit like U.S. President Barack Obama. Like his American counterpart, Rudd promised to tackle climate change but has so far failed, postponing his key carbon emissions trading scheme until 2012, unable to convince parliament to pass his legislation.
He also promised to end the divisions in Australian society brought about by wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the detention of asylum-seeking boatpeople, but these fissures remain.
Rudd’s one success has been avoiding recession during the global financial crisis, thanks to China’s insatiable appetite for Aussie minerals and a hefty government stimulus package.
The opposition has been ineffectual during Rudd’s first term. Initially battered by internal leadership divisions, it is now united under arch-conservative Tony Abbott, but seemingly unable to gain the support of voters disserting Rudd.
Voters are not being wooed by the conservative side of politics, but are just fed up with Rudd. Voters are turning to the Greens party, which backed Rudd’s election in 2007, promising to make them kingmakers in the next upper house Senate.
In an effort to salvage his prime ministership, Rudd in May launched his re-election platform, a 40 percent mining “super profits” tax which would benefit workers by boosting national savings. But Rudd is again having trouble selling the policy, with thousands protesting against it, fearing job losses and a weakening of the mining industry, vital to the national economy.
Voters feel that the Rudd they were sold at the 2007 election, a decisive leader, has not materialised.
The latest Centrebet odds on Rudd winning the election would see a pay-out of A$1.49 for a A$1 bet, with the opposition returning A$2.53.
What was once the unloseable election for Rudd has now become a bet any self-respecting Aussie gambler would have second thoughts about laying.
Can Rudd salvage his prime ministership?