Austrialian PM calls elections six weeks after party vote

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Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd

SYDNEY — Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has called an election for September 7, six weeks after defeating former PM Julia Gillard in a Labour party vote.

The date was announced after he visited the governor-general, a formality preceding an election announcement.

The head of the centre-left party faces stiff competition from conservative opposition leader Tony Abbott, who is favourite to win.

The economy, asylum seekers and climate change are among the key issues.

“It’s on. A few moments ago I saw the governor-general and asked that she dissolve this parliament and call the federal election for 7 September,” Rudd said in an email to Labour supporters.

Rudd returned to lead Australia’s government three years after he was toppled in a similar Labour leadership contest by Gillard.

Since taking office on 26 June, Rudd has changed several key policy positions and opinion polls suggest his party is narrowing the conservative opposition’s lead.

“This election will be about who the Australian people trust to best lead them through the difficult new economic challenges which now lie ahead,” Rudd said, speaking at a press conference after the announcement.

“New challenges have been brought about by the end of the China resources boom,” he added, referring to Australia’s declining finances due to a dwindling mining sector. (BBC)

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