PM weighs up new poll date
June 28, 2013
Kevin Rudd has dumped Julia Gillard's proposed September 14 election date and is weighing up whether to go earlier or delay the poll to maximise his chances of rebuilding public confidence in the Labor government.
As he prepares for a cabinet reshuffle to cover seven departures after he defeated Ms Gillard in a caucus ballot on Wednesday, the Prime Minister announced he would follow the practice of prime ministers from Menzies to Howard and call the date at a time of his choosing.
He also challenged Tony Abbott to debate the economy at the National Press Club and used the final day of Parliament to push the case for ''the politics of hope'' above ''the old politics of negativity''.
Although some are urging Mr Rudd to go earlier to capitalise on a bounce in the polls - including a Morgan poll showing Labor trailing by just 49.5 to 50.5 in two-party terms - Mr Rudd is weighing up a slightly later date.
As Mr Rudd and Mr Abbott had their first parliamentary faceoff, Defence Minister Stephen Smith announced he would quit politics at the election after two decades in the Parliament. Former cabinet ministers Craig Emerson and Peter Garrett had already announced their retirements.
In a gesture of healing, Mr Rudd attended Mr Garrett's heartfelt valedictory speech, along with Ms Gillard, and paid tribute to the former minister. Mr Rudd highlighted the clash of the September 14 date nominated by Ms Gillard with a G20 leaders' summit the previous week and the Jewish holy day of Yom Kippur.
He also signalled that going earlier would mean dumping the planned referendum to recognise local government.
Despite the temptation to capitalise on any honeymoon period and go early, recent history - including Ms Gillard's experience in 2010 - suggests this can be risky.
Former ministers Simon Crean and Kim Carr appear poised for a cabinet recall and Ed Husic is set for promotion, though Mr Rudd is likely to keep changes to a minimum and opt for what, in effect, would be a caretaker cabinet.
Senator Carr is tipped to replace Climate Change Minister Greg Combet. If appointed, he would be the fourth big winner from Mr Rudd's victory after Mr Rudd himself, new Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Treasurer Chris Bowen. New deputy Senate leader Jacinta Collins is tipped to replace Mr Garrett as school education minister.
With Mr Bowen, Mr Rudd will receive briefings from bureaucrats on the weekend that could incline him to going later and bringing back Parliament, especially if he decides to legislate to move more quickly for a floating price on carbon, which would require the return of Parliament before the poll.