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Article: Odds-on Gillard clears decks

Started by ozbob, June 29, 2010, 06:12:15 AM

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From the Brisbanetimes click here!

Odds-on Gillard clears decks

QuoteOdds-on Gillard clears decks
June 29, 2010

Speculation grew yesterday that Julia Gillard would go to the polls sooner rather than later as Kevin Rudd and the factional plotters who dumped him learnt they would have to wait until after the election for frontbench positions and the mining industry warned it could break its shaky truce with the government.

Ms Gillard stressed the need for maximum stability when she announced a minimal cabinet reshuffle and in doing so ignored Mr Rudd's desire to have a cabinet post.

Her ascension to the leadership has turbocharged Labor's poll standings and led to speculation that if she can tackle the government's shortfalls, there could be an election in August.

A Westpoll to be published in The West Australian today shows Labor has bounced back in that most hostile of states, where it was facing a rout under Mr Rudd.

The poll shows those intending to cast their primary vote for Labor has risen from 28 per cent to 36 and it now trails the Coalition in the state 45.5 per cent to 54.5 per cent, enough for Labor to hold its seats there.

Mr Rudd put out a terse statement about his omission from cabinet, saying he told Ms Gillard he had wanted to keep serving the government but ''ultimately, decisions on cabinet appointments are a matter for the Prime Minister''.

Ms Gillard gave her portfolios of education, workplace relations, employment and social inclusion to Simon Crean. His trade portfolio was added to the duties of the Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith.

Sources said Ms Gillard was keen to resolve the mining tax imbroglio by the end of the week. The matter will be discussed in cabinet today. The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, who has spent three days in Toronto, will attend.

The government has ready a compromise package to appease the coal seam-gas industry and is banking on further proposals to soothe the minerals giants BHP Billiton, Xstrata and Rio Tinto. But with both sides having agreed to suspend their advertising, the industry warned that it would not be strung along throughout the election campaign.

''There should be a definitive resolution to the tax debate before the next federal election,'' said Mitch Hooke, the chief executive off the Minerals Council of Australia.

Implying that the advertising would resume unless the industry's demands were met, he said the ''resolution'' must deal with the tax's 40 per cent rate, its application to existing projects, the rate that defines a super profit, and the tax base.

Concessions on the rate and the application to existing projects would go further than the government was prepared to under Mr Rudd. While Ms Gillard and Mr Swan have hinted these areas are now negotiable, this created problems yesterday with the Greens, who are likely to hold the balance of power in the Senate after the election.

The Greens leader, Bob Brown, supports the tax in its present form and yesterday said his party would oppose it if watered down, especially if the 40 per cent rate were changed.

''We have given support for the package as it stands. But that support is for the package as it stands and will not apply to any new package with fundamental change,'' he said.

A Labor source said the government had two openings for an election - August and October. September was difficult because of football finals and November would clash with the Victorian election. He said it would take time to determine how enduring the poll bounce was and that would influence the timing.

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald
Half baked projects, have long term consequences ...
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