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Asia-Pacific

Gillard sets August election date

media Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard talks at a news conference in … Photo: Reuters

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Saturday called for a 21 August election, three weeks after deposing former prime minister Kevin Rudd in a party coup. She said she would “seek a mandate from the Australian people to move Australia forward”. Gillard, Australia’s first woman prime minister, hopes to secure re-election on policy issues such asylum seekers, economic management and climate change.

"This election, I believe, presents Australians with a very clear choice - whether we move Australia forward or go back," Gillard said.

Her main opponent in the federal election will be conservative Tony Abbott, a former student boxer and head of the Liberal-National coalition.

Abbott described Gillard as "ruthless" and questioned how voters could trust her "when even Kevin Rudd couldn't", in reference to the way in which she ended Rudd's tenture as prime minister.

A "backward looking leadership" is how Gillard, the country's first female prime minister, portrayed Abbott's party, trying contrast her centre-left Labor party with their traditional centre-right rivals.

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