Chief Correspondent, Sydney
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Jul 19, 2010

Australian PM extends lead in election race

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s chances of winning an August 21 election were boosted on Monday with an opinion poll showing voters overwhelmingly preferred her as prime minister.

The country’s first woman prime minister, appointed in a Labor party coup last month, held a commanding 57-27 lead over conservative leader Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister, according to the Newspoll survey in The Australian newspaper.

Jul 17, 2010

Australian PM calls election

CANBERRA (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard called an election on Saturday for August 21, with the tightly-fought poll to be decided over policies on economic management, climate and border protection.

Australia’s first female prime minister was appointed three weeks ago by the ruling Labor party as the government faced electoral defeat. Since then Gillard has resurrected support, putting Labor narrowly ahead in opinion polls. But conservative opposition leader Tony Abbott needs to win only nine seats to form a government with four independents, or 13 seats to take office outright.

Jul 17, 2010

Australian PM calls election for August 21

CANBERRA (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard called an election on Saturday for August 21, with the poll to be fought over policies on economic management, climate and border protection.

Australia’s first female prime minister was appointed three weeks ago by the ruling Labor party as the government faced electoral defeat and has resurrected voter support to put Labor narrowly ahead in opinion polls. Conservative opposition leader Tony Abbott needs to win only nine seats to form government with four independents or 13 seats to take office outright.

Jul 17, 2010

Australian PM set to call poll for late August

CANBERRA (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is set to call an election on Saturday for late August, with the poll to be fought over policies on economic management, climate and border protection.

Australia’s first female prime minister was appointed three weeks ago by the ruling Labor party as the government faced electoral defeat and has resurrected voter support to put Labor narrowly ahead in opinion polls. Conservative opposition leader Tony Abbott needs to win only nine seats from the government to take office.

Jul 16, 2010

Australia faces election as economy hums

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australians will go to the polls to decide whether to re-elect a centrist Labor government for a second-term or a move back to a conservative government which ruled for 12 years until 2007.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard is likely to call an election on Saturday for Aug. 28, state broadcaster ABC said on Friday. Recent polls indicate that the government is headed for a narrow victory.

Jul 16, 2010

Australian PM set to call election for August 28: report

CANBERRA (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is likely to call an election on Saturday, broadcaster ABC said, taking advantage of a rebound in support for her party as it struggles to sell policies on the economy, resources, climate and asylum seekers.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said Gillard would visit Governor-General Quentin Bryce in Canberra on Saturday morning to seek permission to call an election for August 28.

Jul 16, 2010

Snap Analysis: Australia faces election as economy hums

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australians will go to the polls to decide whether to re-elect a centrist Labor government for a second-term or a move back to a conservative government which ruled for 12 years until 2007.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard is likely to call an election on Saturday for August 28, state broadcaster ABC said on Friday. [ID:nSGE66F02P] Recent polls indicate that the government is headed for a narrow victory.

Jul 16, 2010

Australia PM heads to polls after reviving party

SYDNEY (Reuters) – New Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has turned around the ruling Labor party’s fortunes in just a few weeks and could now lead the government into a second term at an upcoming election.

Gillard is likely to pick Aug. 28 as the poll date, Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported on Friday, citing party sources.

Jul 16, 2010

Australian PM set to call election for Aug 28 -ABC

CANBERRA, July 16 (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is likely to call an election on Saturday, broadcaster ABC said, taking advantage of a rebound in support for her party as it struggles to sell policies on the economy, resources, climate and asylum seekers.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation said Gillard would visit Governor-General Quentin Bryce in Canberra on Saturday morning to seek permission to call an election for August 28.

"I’m not speculating on election day," Gillard said in a radio interview earlier on Friday, but media speculation subsequently grew that she would call a late August poll on Saturday or next weekend.

Australia’s first woman prime minister has resurrected the Labor party’s standing with voters after an party coup saw her topple Kevin Rudd on June 24, but opposition leader Tony Abbott needs to win only nine seats from the government to take office.

Gillard has pledged to introduce a new 30 percent mining tax if elected, raising A$10.5 billion from 2012, but the conservative opposition has vowed to dump the tax, even though it has been agreed by global miners BHP Billiton (BLT.AX: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz)(BLT.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz), Rio Tinto (RIO.AX: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz)(RIO.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) and Xstrata (XTA.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz).

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For TAKE A LOOK on the Australian election [nSGE66FO4C]

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The government has said it will return a budget surplus by 2013, but opinion polls show voters view the Liberal-National opposition as better economic managers, despite Labor steering the economy through the global financial crisis and avoiding recession.

"We’re coming back to surplus in 2013 and I’m not going to have an old-fashioned election spendathon," said Gillard, pitching herself as an economic conservative.

"Any new spending we announce in the election campaign will be offset by savings to keep that all-important budget surplus."

The opposition has also promised a return to surplus and tight controls on spending.

Gillard said she planned to fight the election on a platform of creating jobs. "The election is largely going to be fought on whether or not you believe it’s important for the government to support jobs," she said.

Financial markets showed no reaction to the report of an election with the Australian dollar steady $0.87/85.

Michael Blythe, chief economist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, said there would be very little market impact regardless of who wins the election.

"It is very difficult to see any real impact on the economy or markets due to election uncertainty. The broad thrust of policy is going to be the same whatever the outcome," he said.

Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital Investors, said: "Historically, during an election campaign, the markets have moved sideways. So I reckon we will be range-bound for the next few weeks".

GREENS KINGMAKERS

Many voters have deserted the major parties for the small Greens party, which is set to be the kingmaker in the upper house Senate and influence policy of the next government.

The Greens have said they will be constructive in the Senate and point to their backing of a A$52 billion ($45.90 billion) stimulus package in 2009. They have not rejected the government’s mining tax, but want to scrutinise the legislation and want tax revenue put into a sovereign fund for infrastructure building.

The government has said it would use the revenue to lower corporate tax and boost pension savings.

The Greens’ major demand on the next government is for the introduction of an interim carbon price ahead of a market-based emissions trading scheme.

The Labor government lost voter support in the past year over its failure to introduce a carbon trading scheme to fight climate change and business has warned that a lack of a clear climate policy is now hindering investment in the power sector.

Gillard has said it is inevitable Australia will adopt a carbon price, but her government will not make a decision on a carbon trading scheme until 2012-13. In contrast, the opposition is opposed to a carbon price or a trading scheme.

On the issue of asylum seekers and border protection, which is resonating in key marginal seats, Gillard has proposed a regional asylum processing centre, possibly in East Timor, as a way to stop boatpeople arrivals.

But the scheme has received little support in Asia and at home, while the opposition has said it would turn the boats back and reopen Pacific island detention centres.

Boatpeople arrivals are tiny by international comparisons and compared with people who overstay visas, but border protection is a "hot button" issue in outer Sydney and Melbourne where population pressures are stretching infrastructure.

Australia’s election will be decided on the eastern seaboard, in the most populous states of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, where local "bread and butter" issues are expected to determine key marginal seats.

(Editing by Ed Davies and John Chalmers)






Jul 15, 2010

Australia PM puts economy at heart of re-election

CANBERRA, July 15 (Reuters) – Australian Prime Minister
Julia Gillard sought to sell her Labor government’s economic
credentials on Thursday, warning that the conservative
opposition’s policies could risk a robust economy.

In her first major economic speech since becoming prime
minister on June 24, Gillard set out her platform for
re-election at polls expected within months, centering on job
creation.