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In quiet contrast to former Prime Minister Gillard’s decision to call the election eight months early – to the background noise of thousands of groans of voters and campaigners nation-wide, pre-empting the exhaustion the campaign-but-not-really-a-campaign would deliver – Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced the election as September 7, just five weeks away.
Despite speculation that this was purely to indulge Mr Rudd’s fetish for rhyming slogans, it appears to be a strategic capitalisation on Labor’s current bounce in the polls and has also come after Labor has recently brokered two key deals and seems to have cleared the deck to fight the election on clear-cut policies and the “positivity” angle.
Two of these deals are big steps forward for Labor’s progressive plans for education and healthcare, with Victoria signing up to the Commonwealth’s school funding overhaul – an agreement worth more than $12 billion over six years – and Western Australia joining Disability Care, the national disability insurance scheme.
On Saturday, the Government struck another offshore settlement deal for asylum seekers with Nauru. Similar to the controversial agreement struck with Papua New Guinea a fortnight ago, asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat can be processed on the Pacific island and, if found to be genuine refugees, can be resettled there.
In his own reaction to the election date announcement, Mr Abbott stated that he feels the choice couldn’t be clearer, and in a sudden re-direction of the Coalitions campaign has taken on a new “positive” vibe with the brand new television advertisement New Hope following up a pamphlet, entitled Real Solutions, outlining their idea of Australians futures.
This and the Labor party’s A New Way campaign ad offers Australians a buffet of short and simple sayings for the next five weeks of heavy campaigning – we just have to remember to look at the substance beneath the slogans as well.