- Title: AUSTRALIA: POLITICS - Candidates enter last day of campaigning
- Date: 21st August 2010
- Summary: SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA (AUGUST 20, 2010) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (English) ANALYST FROM UNIVERSITY OF NEW SOUTH WALES' SCHOOL OF POLITICS, DOCTOR MARK ROLFE, SAYING "At this stage a win is a win, and I think they will be happy given the considerable errors they made over the last eight, nine months. I think the Labor party will be happy if they can get back into power given the way things have gone, so even the bare majority of one or two at this stage, would probably be looking good."
- Embargoed: 5th September 2010 13:00
- Location: Australia
- Country: Australia
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAC20X5N9CDF7R5LOVCU73CWSUL
- Story Text: Australia entered its last day of campaigning on Friday (August 20) ahead of a federal election on Saturday (August 21) with various opinion polls predicting a very close finish to the race.
Australian Electoral Commission workers have also started setting up polling booths across Sydney.
More than 14 million voters will go to the polls to elect 150 members for the House of Representatives and 76 senators.
Voting is compulsory and a preferential voting system is being used.
In the closing days of a five-week campaign, voter disillusionment with Labor and the conservatives have left the poll forecasts unclear.
Doctor Mark Rolfe from the School of Politics in the University of New South Wales says dissatisfaction among voters is rife.
"A general dissatisfaction with both parties at the moment and an invidious choice they have to make, do they stay with Gillard or do they make a leap of faith with Tony Abbott, and both are damaged goods in some respects," he said.
Gillard and Abbott embarked on a hectic final day of campaigning for key marginal seats that will decide the result, with Abbott campaigning a marathon 36 hours without a break.
Without a clear winner, the next government would have to rely on a handful of independent or Green MPs to form a government, leaving policies such as Labor's new mining tax in limbo and creating market uncertainty.
Even a razor-thin win by Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard would diminish her mandate to introduce the 30 percent resource tax, the cornerstone policy of her campaign, and leave her weakened as she seeks to have a hostile Senate pass the tax.
"At this stage a win is a win, and I think they will be happy given the considerable errors they made over the last eight, nine months. I think the Labor party will be happy if they can get back into power given the way things have gone, so even the bare majority of one or two at this stage, would probably be looking good," Rolfe said.
No Australian government has lost its grip on power in only one term since World War I.
The looming prospect of the repetition of history is a result of Kevin Rudd's failure to sell his policies, Rolfe added. A controversial tax proposal on mining and a carbon reduction scheme led to loss of support for the former prime minister.
A Reuters Poll Trend published on Wednesday (August 18) showed Labor was poised for a narrow win, while published polls show Gillard well in front of opposition leader Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister, which could give Gillard the edge with up to 1.4 million undecided voters.
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