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Article: Gillard readies for poll as new boatload arrives

Started by ozbob, July 04, 2010, 09:07:40 AM

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From the Brisbanetimes click here!

Gillard readies for poll as new boatload arrives

Gillard readies for poll as new boatload arrives
July 4, 2010

JULIA Gillard last night was preparing to clear the decks before announcing an election date, with plans to reveal new measures to harden Labor's border protection policies later this week.

With Ms Gillard nominating tackling the asylum seeker issue as her next priority in the lead up to the poll, another new boatload of asylum seekers reached Christmas Island last night. Locals reported the boat sailed into their harbour with no sign of any naval interception.

Authorities confirmed the boat, pictured below, contained 34 people from Afghanistan, with two Indonesian crew. They were being processed overnight.

In the marginal Queensland seat of Dawson to sell  the mining tax overhaul, Ms Gillard said she would turn her attention to the contentious issue of border protection, which has shown up as a problem for Labor in private opinion polling.

She said Labor's policies on the issue would be about ''effective measures, not chest beating''. ''I do understand the anxiety of Australians about this issue,'' she said.

''I feel that anxiety. I understand when people see boats on our horizon that it worries them. And so I will be working through this issue.''

Ms Gillard will be forced to make at least one announcement about border protection this week, with a deadline to review a three-month moratorium on the processing of asylum seekers from Sri Lanka to be reached on Thursday.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said it was incumbent on Ms Gillard to ''stop the boats''. ''The best way to stop the boats would be for her to accept that she got it wrong and adopt the Coalition's policy,'' he said.

With election speculation swirling, bookmaker Centrebet yesterday suspended betting after getting ''heavy mail'' that the campaign could be called as early as today for an August 14 election.

Ms Gillard, who last night flew back to her home in Altona for what could be a final stopover before the official campaign, has a marathon schedule over the next few days as she sells Labor's mining tax overhaul and tackles voter concerns about boat arrivals.

This morning, she travels to Marysville with Premier John Brumby to witness the rebuilding process after last year's bushfires.

Her schedule then includes visits to Sydney marginal electorates and Western Australia, where support for Labor has collapsed in recent months, largely over the mining tax.

Next Saturday she is expected to attend the funeral of Private  Scott Palmer, one of the three Australians killed last month in a  helicopter accident in Afghanistan.

A senior  government source dismissed suggestions the election could be called today, saying ''anyone betting the election will be called on Sunday will be losing their money''.

But preparations for an election are under way, with newspapers being warned by the  government to get ready to suspend any  government advertising, which is illegal once the campaign begins.

Centrebet senior analyst Neil Evans said there had been a sudden surge in bets for an August 14 election, including several large wagers from Canberra  late on Friday.

''We are obligated to suspend betting until we know more, but what is very interesting was there was a real rush of smart money for August 14,'' Mr Evans said. He said in the space of six hours, August 14 had firmed as an election date from $5 to $3.50, although it was still behind August 28, which is paying $1.90.

Ms Gillard appeared to hose down speculation, saying she still had some major issues to deal with.

Source: The Age
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