UPDATE 1-Australian PM set to call poll for late August

(Adds PM quotes, media comment on election, details)

By Michael Perry

CANBERRA, July 17 (BestGrowthStock) – Australian Prime Minister
Julia Gillard is set to call an election on Saturday for late
August, with the poll set to be fought over policies on
economic management, climate and border protection.

Television footage showed Gillard’s plane landing in
Canberra after she had flown in from her home in the southern
city of Melbourne to announce the election.

An official at the prime minister’s office said Gillard
would meet Governor-General Quentin Bryce at 1030 a.m. (0030
GMT), when she is expected to seek permission to call a poll.

“It’s the right of every Australian to choose their prime
minister,” Gillard said on Friday, hinting an election was
imminent.

Australia’s first female prime minister was appointed after
a June 24 Labor party coup that saw her topple elected prime
minister Kevin Rudd.

The Labor government was facing electoral defeat after just
one term in office before Gillard was appointed, but she has
since resurrected voter support to put Labor in a narrow lead
in opinion polls. Conservative opposition leader Tony Abbott
needs to win only nine seats from the government to take
office.

Australia’s robust economy, which dodged recession in 2009
and emerged strong from the global financial crisis, will be
key to the 2010 election. And Gillard has said she will seek
re-election on a platform of creating jobs.

But while the government has said it will return a budget
surplus by 2013, opinion polls show voters view the opposition
as better economic managers, despite Labor steering the economy
through the global financial crisis and avoiding recession.

The opposition has also vowed to return to a budget surplus
and keep a cap on government spending.

“Racing for the centre,” said the headline of a story in
The Australian newspaper comparing Gillard and Abbott.

Yet, voters will be given stark choices:

* Gillard plans to introduce a 30 percent mining tax,
raising A$10.5 billion ($9.12 billion) from 2012, and Abbott
has vowed to dump it.

* Gillard believes a carbon price to fight climate change
is inevitable, with a emissions trading scheme possibly brought
in after 2012-13, Abbott does not.

* Gillard has proposed a possible East Timor regional
asylum processing centre to stop boatpeople arriving in
Australia, Abbott plans to reopen Pacific island detention
camps.

“Gillard’s moment of truth,” said the frontpage headline of
The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper on Saturday.

Newspaper’s editorial did not endorse either Labor or the
Liberal-National opposition, but the Sydney Morning Herald
called Gillard the “hollow woman” who in three weeks as leader
has given little indication of where she would take Australia.

“Voters deserve to pass judgment not just on her as prime
minister, but on the tumultuous events that saw her grab the
job…,” said the Herald.

While voters will be given policy choices, they will also
face two contrasting personalities in Abbott and Gillard.

Abbott is a pugnacious and socially conservative Catholic,
who once trained for the priesthood, and is opposed to same sex
marriages and abortions.

Gillard in contrast does not believe in God, is unmarried
but has a long-time partner, and is childless.

But both Gillard and Abbott are highly skilled, intelligent
politicians, whose campaign skills may prove the key to who
wins the election.
(Editing by Ed Davies)

UPDATE 1-Australian PM set to call poll for late August