Australia Politics


Rudd announces 7 September vote, Labor Party trails in polls

On 4 August, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd set 7 September as the date for the next presidential elections. The vote will come less than two months after his appointment as prime minister. Polls appear to show the Liberal/National coalition, led by Tony Abbott, in the lead against Rudd's Labor Party. That said, elections are still three weeks away and the potential outcome is too close to call.

The economy appears to be the main theme of the election. Challenger Tony Abbott has promised that he will cut the 30% tax on corporate profits in order to foster investment and boost competitiveness if he wins the elections. Abbott plans to scrap an unpopular tax on carbon emissions, which contributed to an increase in households' energy bills. He also plans to do away with a levy on mining companies' "super profits", which Abbott says contributed to the end of a decade-long boom in the mining industry.

In an attempt to recover the gap in the polls, Rudd is trying to gain support outside Labor constituencies and among more conservative voters. Rudd has proposed a reform of the carbon tax and is taking a harder stance on immigration. In addition, he warned that the country will face a recession if Abbott's proposed plans to slash government spending materialize.

The elections come at a decisive moment for Australia; the economy is gradually loosing momentum amid the end of the mining boom due in part to weaker demand from China for Australia's commodities. FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast panellists see the economy expanding 2.5% in 2013, which is down 0.1 percentage points from last month's forecast. For 2014, the panel expects economic growth to accelerate to 2.9%.

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