Tight Australian election race enters final week

* Labor says opposition policy costings have A$30 bln hole

* Latest poll shows narrow lead for opposition

SYDNEY, Aug 15 (BestGrowthStock) – A poll published on Sunday
pointed to a close result in next Saturday’s election with the
chance of a narrow opposition victory as Australia entered the
final week of its tightest election race in many years.

The Aug. 21 vote will decide the fate of the government’s 30
percent mining tax on big iron ore and coal projects, and the
future of government plans for a $33 billion national broadband
network. The opposition has promised to abandon both.

Polls have shown the lead changing hands frequently. A
Nielsen poll issued on Saturday showed Prime Minister Julia
Gillard’s Labor party regaining the lead.

But a poll taken in marginal seats by Galaxy and published
on Sunday suggested the opposite.

Gillard said on Saturday that she expected a “photo finish”
and in an interview on Sunday she remained upbeat, accusing the
opposition of a A$30 billion hole in its policy costings.

“I am feeling fine. I am feeling full of enthusiasm for the
final week of the campaign,” she told Channel Nine.

For poll trend results, click on [[ID:nSGE67A04F]

For full Australian election cover [ID:nAUVOTE]

For key policy differences, click on [ID:nSGE677014]

For key risks in Australia, click on [ID:nRISKAU]

The Galaxy poll of 4,000 voters, published in Sydney’s
Sunday Telegraph, was conducted in 20 marginal seats. It put the
opposition coalition ahead overall by 51.4 percent to Labor’s
48.6 percent on a ‘two-party’ basis, eliminating minor parties
under Australia’s system of transferable voting.

It also showed the conservative opposition might win the 17
seats it needs to take power, or the 14 that would give it a
chance of forming a minority government.

On Wednesday, the latest Reuters Poll Trend showed Labor
marginally ahead with 50.1 percent support, against 49.9 percent
for the opposition, as the tightest race since 1998 pointed to
the possibility no single party will form a government after
next Saturday’s election.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott has declared himself the
underdog but has fought a disciplined campaign.

Labor is struggling to hang on to marginal seats in several
areas, particularly Queensland, a key resource state where plans
to increase taxes on mining and Kevin Rudd’s ousting as party
leader and prime minister have damaged the ruling party.

Gillard paid tribute to Rudd, who she ousted in a party coup
in June, describing him as “brave” for returning to the campaign
trail last week after a gall bladder operation to support her.

“I am very grateful for it,” she said.
(Sydney Newsroom +612 6273 2730; editing by Tim Pearce)

For Reuters online coverage of Australia 2010 Election

Tight Australian election race enters final week