Rudd calls Australia to the polls in wake of dramatic restoration

Australia’s leader seeks fresh mandate after Gillard ouster

Sydney

Voters will finally get their chance to deliver a verdict on one of the most bizarre and tumultuous periods in Australian political history, after prime minister Kevin Rudd today announced that a federal election will be held on 7 September.

Ending weeks of speculation about the date, Mr Rudd (pictured) said the election would be about whom Australians trusted to “chart a course through the choppy economic waters that lie ahead”. He contrasted his “positive plans” with what he called the “wall-to-wall negativity” and “old politics of division” of the conservative Coalition.

The past three years have been a turbulent time for Mr Rudd’s Labor Party, which has been in power since 2007. In June 2010, he was dumped by the party, and replaced by his deputy, Julia Gillard, who became the nation’s first female leader. She called an election, which resulted in the first hung parliament for nearly 70 years, with Ms Gillard cobbling together a minority government supported by the Greens and several independents.

Five weeks ago, amid dreadful poll ratings, she, too, was dumped, and Mr Rudd stepped back into his old shoes. Since then, Labor’s fortunes have surged – but possibly not enough to win the election. Although he is personally far more popular than the opposition leader, Tony Abbott, the latest poll – in today’s The Australian – puts the Coalition on 52 per cent, four points ahead of Labor.

That, though, is a huge improvement for Labor, which under Ms Gillard had been heading for a defeat of historic proportions. Mr Rudd’s return boosted the party’s ratings by five to seven points almost overnight, turning the election into a contest.

In a speech outside Parliament House in Canberra today, Mr Rudd – wearing a sober dark suit and crimson tie – alluded to the extraordinary twists and turns of recent years. “You, the Australian people … have seen me at my highest highs, and some of my lowest lows,” he said.

Those moments – which included him weeping during his farewell speech after being deposed by Ms Gillard – had “certainly made me a much stronger person”, he said. “I think, as a result, you, the Australian people, know me pretty well, warts and all.” He admitted that his government had made mistakes. “The key is to learn from experience.”

At a separate press conference, Mr Abbott declared that the election would be about “who is more fair dinkum [genuine]”. He asked: “Who can you rely on to build a better future? The people who have been stable and consistent for the last three years, or a government which has been wracked by division and dysfunction, and which promises more of the same if it’s re-elected?”

During the five weeks since he was reinstated, Mr Rudd has sought to address every issue damaging to Labor. He announced a tough new policy on boat people, who will be sent to Papua New Guinea or Nauru to be processed and then, if their asylum claims are upheld, wil lbe resettled in those countries – not in Australia.

He scrapped the hated “carbon tax”, which was designed to tax the biggest polluting companies, but which voters saw as adding to their cost of living. He suspended the party’s scandal-ridden New South Wales branch, and changed rules to ensure that leaders  cannot be removed so easily.

Yesterday, he reminded Australians that their country was almost unique among developed nations in having avoided a recession in recent years. Instead, nearly a million jobs had been created. Mr Abbott retorted that under Labor the budget deficit was growing by A$3bn (£1.75bn) a week.

KEY POLICY BATTLES

ASYLUM-SEEKERS

- Labor will send “boat people” to Papua New Guinea or Nauru, where they will be processed and resettled.

- The Coalition will turn back boats which enter Australian waters, if feasible to do so safely, and appoint a three-star military commander to oversee a taskforce.

CLIMATE CHANGE

- Labor will axe a fixed carbon price and move to an Emissions Trading Scheme next year.

- The Coalition’s policy – apart from abolishing the carbon tax, which Labor has pre-empted – is vague. Like Labor, it supports cutting emissions by 5 per cent by 2020.

THE ECONOMY

- Labor will pursue a “national competitiveness agenda” to broaden the economic base, now that the China-driven mining boom is over.

- The Coalition will cut red tape, particularly for small business, and return the budget to surplus.

COMMUNICATIONS

- Labor will continue rolling out its National Broadband Network, to provide cheap, high-speed broadband access.

- The Coalition will deliver a cheaper NBN, more quickly.

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
people
News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher (One day per week)

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Maths Teacher (one day per week) Gr...

EBD Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Manchester: Science Teacher Greater Manchester

Humanities Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Humanities teacher required for ...

English Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: ENGLISH TEACHER REQUIRED - Humbe...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits