Australia’s Gillard insists she can win another term

SEASONED SURVIVOR::The prime minister has survived two votes of confidence and said she can win because ‘Australians are smart people’ and will make the ‘right’ choice


Mon, May 06, 2013 - Page 5

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard yesterday insisted she can win another term in office at September elections, giving a fiery defense of her chances when the “white noise” of politics falls away.

She was responding to newspaper reports citing unnamed lawmakers from her Labor Party saying they expected a drubbing, with recent opinion polls showing Gillard was headed for a crushing defeat to leader of the opposition Tony Abbott.

The country’s first female leader admitted it had been “politically tough” in the face of what she called “a relentlessly negative opposition,” but she remained confident that when it comes to the crunch, Labor can retain office.

“When people vote in September a lot of the white noise that is politics and has been in politics over the last few years will fall away,” she told Australian Broadcasting Corp television.

“People will be there in a polling place with a ballot paper in front of them and it will be a very clear choice: Do I want me as prime minister, Julia Gillard, a majority Labor government, a focus on jobs and on the services my family needs, a clear plan for the future? Or do I want the leader of the opposition, Mr Abbott, with his very clear plan for cutbacks?” Gillard said.

“I believe we can win because at the end of the day Australians are a smart people, the facts matter, the policies matter and there we are with the right answers,” she added.

Labor scraped into office in 2010 with a minority coalition, but is now unpopular with voters mistrustful of the factional warring that delivered Gillard to power and has seen two challenges to her leadership in as many years.

Abbott has been campaigning ahead of the Sept. 14 polls on issues of trust after Gillard reneged on a pre-election promise not to impose a carbon emissions tax.

She was also forced in December last year to abandon a long-held vow to bring the budget back to surplus this year after plunging commodity prices caused by a slowdown in China hit government coffers.

Gillard said she listened to the negative commentary, but insisted the decisions she has made were in Australia’s best interests.

“I’m pretty used to the negative chit-chat and I’m pretty used to prevailing against that negative chit-chat, and I’ll do that again in September,” she said. “My job’s to lead by example and I will be doing that. I’m doing it here and I’ll do it every day.”