Sun, Sep 01, 2013 - Page 4 News List

Australian election closer than polls suggest: Rudd

RHETORIC:People who vote for ‘their old mate the celebrity’ could end up with ‘another bad Labor-Green government,’ Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said

AFP, SYDNEY

The only registered voter at the outstation of Artekerre, about 50km north of Alice Springs in Australia’s Northern Territory, walks to the mobile polling station on Monday. According to local media, in the lead-up to the federal election on Sept. 7, 18 teams made up of staff from the Australian Electoral Commission and the Australian Federal Department of Human Services will set up mobile polling stations in over 200 remote Aboriginal communities and outstations in the Northern Territory. With no postal service or public transport, the mobile polling stations offer the only chance for people living in these remote communities to cast their vote.

Photo: Reuters

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd yesterday said he believed the upcoming election would be closer than polls suggest, after a survey showed the government faced a wipeout in crucial seats.

The Labor leader is trailing conservative opposition leader Tony Abbott ahead of Sept. 7 national polls, and a Newspoll published in the Weekend Australian indicated he would likely lose key marginal seats in New South Wales and Victoria.

“I believe that the Australian people in the course of the last week and 10 days of this campaign, will begin to lock on to their choices,” Rudd said yesterday as he campaigned in the northern city of Darwin.

“I’ve seen a range of polls both public and private which suggest to me this election will end up a little closer than people think,” the prime minister said.

The polling of 2,700 people in electorates in Labor’s traditional heartland of western Sydney as well as on the New South Wales coast and in three marginal electorates in Victoria all put Labor behind Abbott’s Liberal-National coalition.

In the five western Sydney electorates Abbott’s coalition was ahead on 57 percent to Labor’s 43 percent once minor parties were stripped out, and in the other five New South Wales seats polled and the Victoria seats it was ahead on 53 percent to 47 percent.

The Newspoll results indicated that the Liberal-National coalition could add an extra 20 to 26 seats to the more than 70 the coalition already holds in the 150-seat lower House of Representatives, giving them a clear majority, the Weekend Australian said.

However, Abbott, campaigning in Queensland, downplayed the polling.

“This is a very close election,” Abbott said, adding that he expected the polls to tighten ahead of the vote next weekend.

“People should not think for a second that they can risk voting for their old mate the independent, their old mate the celebrity, their old mate the Labor candidate, because if you do that you’re likely to end up with another bad Labor-Green government.”

Australians voted Labor into government in a landslide in 2007, but it only scraped back into power at the 2010 election after the vote resulted in a hung parliament, forcing then-Labor leader Julia Gillard to cobble together a majority with the help of several independents and a Greens MP.

“Ultimately elections are about choices,” Rudd said yesterday. “I respect the wisdom of the Australian people to make their judgements in a seasoned and proper way and I’m sure they will do so.”

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