Julia Gillard Launches Labor Campaign Five Days Before Australian Election

by
staphni
The Australian prime minister, Julia Gillard, officially launched her party's election campaign today, five days ahead of Saturday's vote. Gillard's speech was delivered to a few hundred Labor party supporters in a convention centre in Brisbane, with the emphasis on a stronger economy, schools and hospitals. She closed her speech with her new, Obama-like motto: "Yes, we will," imploring people to vote for her on Saturday. Gillard chose Kevin Rudd's electorate in Queensland for the low-key launch. Her predecessor, who was ousted from office two months ago, looked on from the audience as Gillard described him as a "man of great achievements". Polls show voters have largely responded negatively to the treatment of Rudd. Her unspoken message was that Labor had moved beyond the bloodshed of his ousting and that the country should, too. Labor hopes that by leaving its official campaign launch so late, it will capture the momentum on polling day. There is also a funding argument, as until the campaign is officially launched, the taxpayer meets a sizeable part of the daily allowances for politicians and their staffers, including accommodation and travel. The Liberal party officially launched its campaign just a week ago. Both Labor and the Liberal opposition have promised little so far, with both parties determined to paint themselves as prudent economic managers. Gillard focused on Labor's track record on the economy, and claimed credit for the country's robust economic position. "When the global financial crisis threatened this country, we said we were for jobs and I'm proud of it," she said. "We emerged from it stronger than any other major economy in the world." Australia has stayed out of recession, unemployment is low, at 5.2%, and the government predicts the budget will be back in surplus within three years. Gillard targeted her Liberal opponent, Tony Abbott, presenting him as a weak economic manager. "Mr Abbott is the risk to our budget surplus and to the future of