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Gillard Sets Australia Poll Date

30 Jan 2013

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Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard


BBC

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has called a general election for September 14.

Ms Gillard said that she would ask Governor-General Quentin Bryce to order that parliament be dissolved on August 12.

She said the announcement, eight months in advance, was "not to start the nation's longest election campaign" but to give "shape and order" to the year.

Ms Gillard leads a minority government that relies on independents.

In a lunchtime speech before the National Press Club in Canberra, the prime minister said the rare long run-up to the election would allow individuals, businesses and investors to plan ahead.

Polls suggest repeatedly that her Labour minority government will be removed from office, even though Abbott has struggled to win the affection of voters. As for a long, drawn-out election battle, Canberra has been in campaign mode pretty much since 2010's inconclusive federal election.

The deadline for the election to be held was November 30.

In determining which Saturday to choose in September, Ms Gillard also admitted that avoiding a clash with the Aussie rules grand final in Melbourne, one of the biggest sporting events of the year, was a major consideration, reports the BBC's Nick Bryant in Sydney.

The date clashes, though, with Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar.

The previous election was held in August 2010, two months after Ms Gillard ousted Prime Minister Kevin Rudd in a leadership challenge, becoming Australia's first female leader.

The election left both main parties short of a parliamentary majority. Ms Gillard, who leads the Labour Party, formed a coalition government with the support of the Greens and independent legislators.

But she has struggled to win public support from an electorate with whom Kevin Rudd remains popular. When he launched a leadership challenge early in 2012, however, she secured a convincing win.

Opinion polls suggest that the opposition, led by Liberal Party leader Tony Abbott, would win an election if the polls were held now.

Ms Gillard said that with the poll date fixed, the opposition would be able to release full costings of its campaign pledges.

Tags: Politics, World, Julia Gillard

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