Australian Financial Review
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has confirmed the federal election will be held on September 7.
At a press conference held in Parliament House on Sunday afternoon, Rudd said: “The time has come for the Australian people to decide on our nation’s future. Ours is a truly great country.
“Australia is too open and positive a nation to retreat into a tight little ball of negativity. This election will be about who the Australian people trust to best lead them through the difficult economic challenges that lie ahead.”
Rudd framed the election as a question of trust, and which party was best to manage the “economic challenges ahead”. “Managing the big economic transition that lies ahead will be difficult but is definitely doable,” he said.
He also decried the focus on “debt and deficit” in the country’s economic commentary, saying it was a “false premise” since all three credit rating agencies were still confident enough to give the country an AAA credit rating.
$70 billion ‘slash and burn austerity drive’ if Abbott wins
Highlighting the Labor Party’s recent policy achievements on DisabilityCare and the Better Schools plan, as well as his government’s economic track record, Mr Rudd tried to frame Opposition Leader Tony Abbott as a “negative” campaigner, saying Australians had a choice between “bringing the nation together with a positive plan as opposed to an approach which intends to rip the country apart and polarise it”.
He warned of a $70 billion “slash and burn austerity drive” if Abbott were elected on September 7, and pointed to the tough fiscal measures implemented by Campbell Newman’s LNP government in Queensland.
Rudd challenged Abbott to a policy debate “every Sunday of the election campaign”.
In an unusual move, Rudd made a direct call for donations to the party’s election coffers, saying: “The Liberal Party, funded by a whole bunch of companies, some of which include vested interests and I find amazingly and appallingly still tobacco companies, is going to outspend the Labor Party massively in this campaign.”
Rudd calls on supporters to donate funds
Rudd explained the decision to hold the election on September 7 as a result of “a number of difficult considerations”, including completing unfinished policy business such as asylum seeker and carbon pricing policy.
An email confirming the election date entitled “It’s On” was sent to Labor supporters shortly after Rudd left the Governor-General’s residence in Canberra this afternoon.
“A few moments ago I saw the Governor-General and asked that she dissolve this parliament and call the Federal Election for September 7,” the email reads.
“Right now the only thing standing between Australia and an Abbott-led government is you, me, and as many Australians as we can rally to fight for the kind of nation we all want to live in.”
Rudd calls on supporters to donate $5 to “get us off to a strong start”.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott was also on his way to Canberra and was expected to respond to Rudd’s announcement later on Sunday afternoon.
Rudd returned to Canberra unexpectedly with his wife Therese Rein on Sunday afternoon, after abandoning plans to travel to Melbourne.
Rudd has said he wants to go to the G20 meeting in Russia in early September – which would be just days before a September 7 election. But he has also said this would have to be balanced by other matters facing the government.
The Prime Minister returned to Canberra from Brisbane after he reached an early morning agreement with Victorian Premier Dennis Napthine for the state to sign up to the federal government’s education funding reforms.
Queensland expected to sign education deal
Queensland was also expected to agree to sign up to the deal on Sunday and a deal has been reached with Western Australia to hold a joint trial of Disability Care in that state.
Rudd had earlier cited getting an agreement with Victoria and WA on these funding arrangements as necessary before he was prepared to go to the polls.
The Prime Minister returned to Canberra from Brisbane after he reached an early morning agreement with Victorian Premier Denis Napthine for the state to sign up to the federal government’s education funding reforms.
Rudd enjoys a strong personal lead over Abbott in polling, but on a two-party basis polls have shown an election result that is too close to call. Betting markets have favoured a Coalition win.
The election would come against the backdrop of a worsening budget position and expectations of tougher times for the Australian economy as the heat comes off the mining investment boom.
On Friday, the Rudd government unveiled $17.4 billion in new taxes and spending cuts or re-allocations to try to offset more than $30 billion in revenue that has been lost to the budget since May.