Gillard looks on course for election in late August

By Greg Ansley

Gillard has made it clear she does not intend to move on the emissions trading scheme sidelined by Rudd. Photo / Getty Images
Gillard has made it clear she does not intend to move on the emissions trading scheme sidelined by Rudd. Photo / Getty Images

Prime Minister Julia Gillard's Cabinet meets today to lock in the final framework for an election widely tipped for August 28.

Although there can be no certainty about the date until her announcement, encouraging poll trends and the arguments for capitalising on them as fast as possible - and the legal mechanics involved - have heightened speculation about a late-August vote.

Gillard also pointed yesterday to another major policy announcement this week, and stepped up her appeal to the values of suburban voters.

"In the days to come I will be putting forward more detailed arguments about some of the biggest challenges our nation faces," she told an Adelaide thinktank.

"I will be explaining the steps I think we need to take and asking for people's consideration of those steps. I will ask the Australian people for their trust to move forward."

Although not naming the issues she intends addressing, climate change remains the last of the three policies at the top of her list of priorities after she deposed predecessor Kevin Rudd. All were issues on which Rudd foundered, and which Gillard needed to deal with by distancing herself from them.

She has reached agreement with miners on resources taxation, and announced a tougher policy on asylum seekers, including a proposal to open a detention centre in East Timor.

Both have backfired to some degree - especially through Timorese opposition to a camp there - but Gillard still appears to have gained sufficient traction to successfully start her election juggernaut rolling.

The last policy - on climate change - will be discussed by the Cabinet today and is likely to set the scene for an election announcement.

Gillard has made it clear she does not intend to move on the emissions trading scheme sidelined by Rudd in a backflip that precipitated his decline.

There had been speculation she might propose some form of interim carbon pricing, but warnings from business and green groups against a hasty stopgap are likely to firm the Government's inclination for a co-ordinated package to boost renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Gillard's line has been to move towards carbon pricing only after extensive consultation and broad consensus, a preference repeated during yesterday's speech.

She is already talking in election mode, speaking directly to voters about the values she sees as Australia's strengths, and those she intends to invoke for her Government. In Adelaide she emphasised the role of education and hard work, and the importance of social equality.

Three polls yesterday indicated that her message is getting through.

Although falling from the euphoric heights recorded immediately after Rudd's ousting, Fairfax/Nielsen and News Ltd/Galaxy polls both said Labor now led the Coalition by 52 per cent to 48 per cent in the two-party preferred vote that decides Australian elections.

The Sydney Morning Herald said this represented a swing against Labor of 0.7 per cent since the last election which, if repeated uniformly on voting day, would return the Government with a reduced - but workable - majority of seven seats.

A Morgan poll found stronger support for Gillard - 55 per cent to the Opposition's 45 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.

And she continues to soar above Opposition leader Tony Abbott. She led her rival 56 per cent to 36 per cent as preferred prime minister in the Nielsen poll, and her approval rating remained at 54 per cent - well ahead of Abbott's 43 per cent.

- NZ Herald

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