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Cathy Harper

Election Watch

KEVIN RUDD has announced an election date of September 7, after a five week election campaign.


He flew from Brisbane to Canberra this afternoon to ask the Governor General to dissolve parliament.


Mr Rudd claimed underdog status, in a speech at Parliament House which emphasised the importance of the economy and properly managing it through transition away from the mining boom.


He emphasised Labor's past record in keeping the economy out of recession through the global financial crisis and said Australia's triple-A credit rating was evidence of its success.


"This election will be about ... trust" -    Kevin Rudd


Mr Rudd also emphasised that voters have a "stark" choice between what he termed a "new way for the future" versus the "negative politics" and "three word slogans" of the Coalition.


In a speech which hardly mentioned the Labor Party but which did canvass his own personal journey, Mr Rudd said he would protect jobs, as well as deliver better schools, hospitals and a national broadband network.


A September 7 election means the referendum on local government can't be held.

Mr Rudd again challenged the Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to debate him during the campaign as early as tomorrow night, and every Sunday of the campaign.


"At last the choice is yours" -    Tony Abbott


A short time after Mr Rudd's announcement, the Oppoosition leader Tony Abbott said voters had a clear choice, with the Coalition delivering a "better Australia" with a stronger economy, better infrastructure and a promise to "stop the boats".


Mr Rudd didn't mention asylum seeker issues until he was asked by a reporter, but Mr Abbott emphasised it saying the Coalition won't "rely on another country doing the job" in a reference to Labor's plan to send asylum seeker boats to Papua New Guinea and Nauru for processing and settlement.


Where Mr Rudd emphasised trust, Mr Abbott said voters had the choice between who was "more fair dinkum" and better placed to build a better future.


In a reference to the Labor Party's leadership changes, Mr Abbott said Australians will finally have the opportunity to make their own choice, rather than accept the decision of the Labor party caucus and what he called "faceless" men.


Mr Abbott claimed the Coalition offered a team that was stable and unchanged for the last three years, compared with Labor's "division and dysfunction".


Debate discussion       

UPDATE by Ryan Sheales


Kevin Rudd used his opening campaign press conference to challange Mr Abbott to a series of leaders' debates. The first debate, Mr Rudd said, could be tomorrow night (Monday 5/8/2013) and subsequent debates should be held each Sunday until the election. The National Press Club was nominated as the debate organiser.


Mr Abbott previoulsy dismissed debate invitations from Mr Rudd, demanding the Prime Minister first call an election.


But although the leaders now seemingly share a desire to lock horns, they may stuggle to agree on the debate format. The Liberal Party Director, Brian Loughnane, has already written to his Labor counterpart, George Wright, suggesting debates be held in Canberra, western Sydney (a 'town hall' style event in front of voters) and Brisbane.


You can read the full letter here and, below, Mr Wright's response which he posted to Twitter.

Via Latika M Bourke