Australia's ballot goes to the wire


JF-Expert Member
Feb 11, 2007
Australia's ballot goes to the wire

Barbara McMahon in Sydney
Sunday November 18, 2007
The Observer

As Australia's federal election campaign enters its tense, final week, Labor challenger Kevin Rudd, ahead in the opinion polls, warned his team this weekend to keep knocking on the doors of voters 'until their knuckles bleed'.
The fight to unseat Prime Minister John Howard remains extremely close for Rudd who compared the closing stages of the campaign to the final quarter of a motor race. 'A lot of things can change. I believe that this will be a very tight, difficult fight in this last week,' he said. 'We've been travelling in top gear and now we'll be putting that gear stick into overdrive for the remaining five to six days.'

The former diplomat is wisely avoiding any possibility of hubris and Labor, with power within its grasp after 11 long years in opposition, remains nervous that things could go wrong at the last minute in a campaign it has dominated from the start. There are still swing voters who will be feted by both parties this week with the management of the economy the focus of the hard sell.
Latest polls show Howard, seeking a record fifth term in office, is trailing by eight percentage points. Although his Liberal Coalition has closed the gap considerably, making up ground in most states, it seems unlikely to be enough to stave off defeat unless something exceptional happens.

The premier, 68, a veteran campaigner, has insisted that the result is not a foregone conclusion and says he will using the remaining days to get his message across that he remains the right man to lead Australia for the next two years. Because of his age and length of time in office he has promised to hand over to his deputy Treasurer Peter Costello halfway through the next term.

'This election is very winnable for the Coalition,' he said. 'I have growing confidence that as we come to election day on 24 November there will be a focus more and more on economic management and the Australian people, knowing the track record of this government, will support us and return us to government.'

After five weeks of relentless jousting, many Australians now seem bored by the whole campaign. But as well as the possibility of a Ruddslide, there is the chance Howard could become the first Australian premier to lose his seat since Stanley Bruce in 1929. Because of Australia's complicated preferential voting system, Labor will need 51 per cent or even 52 per cent to win.
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