Australian Prime Minister to call snap election

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The Independent Online

The Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, is expected to call an election today, taking advantage of a rebound in support for her Labor party – narrowly ahead in opinion polls – and a robust economy.

Australia’s first woman prime minister is expected to call an August 28 poll, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation said, giving voters stark choices over a new mine tax and climate policy but little difference in economic management. “I’m not engaging in election speculation,” she told reporters yesterday, but media pundits expect her to call anAugust 21 or 28 poll today or next weekend.

“But whenever the election is called, there will be a very clear choice about whether Australia moves forward or back,” she said. Ms Gillard’s office declined to comment on the ABC report, but news outlets said Labor staff had been told to man campaign headquarters this weekend.

Economists said the impact of the election campaign on markets would be minimal as both the Labor government and Liberal-National opposition were economically conservative. The main focus is the government’s new 30 per cent mining tax. Ms Gillard has pledged to introduce a new resource rent tax if elected, raising A$10.5bn (£5.9bn) from 2012, but the Opposition has vowed to dump the tax, even though it has the approval of global miners BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Xstrata.