August 31st has been increasingly mentioned in the past fortnight as the likely date for Australia’s federal election, but today there’s the strongest indication yet that it will more likely be towards the end of the year.
Dennis Shanahan at The Australian reports Kevin Rudd has told colleagues “not to expect” an election announcement this weekend, and that the PM is instead favouring a date in October or November.
This would give Rudd time to continue pursuing education reform and border protection changes, giving him some visible achievements to point to when taking his case to the electorate. Labor stunningly drew level with the Coalition in the first Newspoll taken after Rudd’s return, but the latest has the Coalition ahead 52-42 on the two-party preferred, hinting that voters may only be prepared to give Rudd a very short honeymoon so there remains a huge task to convince voters the ALP deserves another term in government.
Rudd’s plan to send asylum seekers arriving by boat to PNG, a policy weapon for neutralising one of the oppositions main lines of attack on Labor’s competence, is under mounting pressure with boats continuing to arrive at Christmas Island and another boat sinking off Indonesia, killing up to 48 people. There are now over 500 people on Christmas Island in detention and most of them arrived after Rudd’s announcement late last Friday.
The PM was on the Today show this morning defending the policy in a forceful exchange with host Lisa Wilkinson. It’s unsurprising his back is up on this – the attacks on the plan keep coming, with former prime minister Malcolm Fraser has likening the proposed PNG facilities to Australian “gulags” and Fairfax papers saying the plan is in “tatters”.
There’s more at The Oz.
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