'We're returning fire'
Kevin Rudd has defended Labor's run of assault ads claiming the latest video is based on policies while the Coalition is outspending the government on negative advertising.PT1M33S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2s63g 620 349 August 19, 2013
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has defended Labor's latest round of negative advertisements as ''returning fire based on policy facts'' amid more signs the government is on track for a heavy election defeat.
Targeting Opposition Leader Tony Abbott with the line ''if he wins, you lose'', the new TV ads warn the Coalition would cut the bonus for parents of schoolchildren, rein in school funding, axe 12,000 jobs and slash low-income earners' super contributions.
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has defended negative advertising as 'returning fire'. Photo: Andrew Meares
The campaign comes as the latest Newspoll survey shows Mr Abbott's Coalition has increased its commanding lead over Labor, 54 per cent to 46 per cent after preferences.
Mr Rudd's narrow lead as preferred prime minister has also sunk.
The poll published in The Australian newspaper shows Mr Rudd is favoured by 43 per cent of voters, down three points since the last survey, while those preferring Mr Abbott rose four points to 41 per cent.
Mr Rudd, who returned as leader promising to end the ''wall to wall negativity'' in politics, said Labor's new ads were consistent with his pledge to focus on policy.
''You might say say it's negative,'' he told the Seven Network on Monday.
''We say it's putting the spotlight on what Australia would be like if Mr Abbott became prime minister and I think that's a very fair and accountable question when their political strategy essentially is just to evade the detail of that, sneak through to the election, and afterwards say 'our commission of audit says cut, cut cut, sorry about that'.''
According to Newspoll, Labor's national primary vote has fallen one percentage point to 34 per cent while the Coalition's support rose one point to 47 per cent. Primary support for the Greens fell two points to 9 per cent.
After a week in which Labor attacked Mr Abbott over his comments about a candidate's sex appeal, the Opposition Leader's satisfaction rating rose three points to 41 per cent, while dissatisfaction with his performance dropped 1 point to 51 per cent.
At the same time Mr Rudd's approval rating dropped 4 points to 35 per cent while his disapproval rating surged six points to 54 per cent.
However, a senior Labor source said the message from the party's first round of ads about cuts had started to gain traction.
Internal party polling in marginal seats indicates a turnaround from the first week of the campaign despite newspaper polls at the weekend spelling dire news for the Rudd re-election effort.
''We've been picking up a point a night. By the middle of the week we think the complexion of this election will be different, much closer,'' an ALP source said.
Labor believes the longer the campaign goes on, voters will realise how stage-managed the Abbott campaign is.
''We're chancing our arm with him [Rudd], he's out there in the public, Abbott has been put in cotton wool,'' a strategist said.
Mr Rudd acknowledged on Monday that the Coalition's campaign was biting but declared he was a fighter and his political career had been written off before.
''Our opponents are out-spending us in this campaign in ads 10 to one on negative ads and you asked before about polls and the rest,'' he said.
''If you were in the firing line for two weeks of wall-to-wall negative attacks on yourself, you know something? It would probably have an impact on what people thought of you. Now we're returning fire – returning fire based on policy facts.''
Mr Abbott said the negative ads may backfire on Labor because of Mr Rudd's pledge to be positive when he became Prime Minister again.
''He can't open his mouth without attacking the Coalition and attacking me,'' Mr Abbott told 2SM radio in Sydney on Monday.
Coalition frontbencher Christopher Pyne said the latest poll showed people were ''looking at Kevin Rudd again and remembering why they didn't want him to continue as prime minister in 2010''.
''We're seeing the Kevin Rudd of old making all sorts of announcements without consultation,'' Mr Pyne told Sky News on Monday.
''The next three weeks is a long way to go. We are going to work every single day to put out our positive plan for the future.''
Mr Rudd also took a swipe at the Liberal Party for not preferencing the Greens last on all its how-to-vote cards.
Last week, Mr Abbott made a ''captain's call'' and directed the Liberal Party to preference the Greens last in the 150 lower house seats, but the Australian Electoral Commission website shows many Coalition group voting tickets for the Senate - which are used to distribute preferences for voters who cast their Senate ballot above the line - do not put the Greens last.
Mr Rudd seized on news saying on Monday that: ''You'll find the Greens are not last on every how-to-vote card.''
He also defended his party's decision not to put disgraced former Labor MP Craig Thomson last on its how-to-vote card for the NSW Central Coast seat of Dobell.
The former Labor turned independent MP comes fifth on Labor's line-up of the nine candidates.
''He's way down the ticket,'' Mr Rudd said of Mr Thomson. He said the ALP's ''universal practice'' was to preference only the top three candidates.
Education Minister Bill Shorten on Monday stood by his decision to switch his support to Mr Rudd just before the leadership change in June, saying the election was always going to be tough but Mr Rudd had made it competitive.
Speaking to the Nine Network, Mr Shorten intensified the attack on Mr Abbott: ''If he's elected to prime minister he'll make Edward Scissorhands look like an amateur with all the cuts he does.''
Both Mr Rudd and Mr Abbott began their day in Sydney. Mr Abbott, who will announce a crackdown on gun crime, made a pitch to small businesses on Monday morning with a pledge to reduce red tape.
Mr Rudd will visit northern NSW and is expected to continue his focus on health this week.
Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey derided Mr Rudd for claiming he wanted to be ''Mr Positive'' and then running a negative campaign.
''I provide this warning: Kevin Rudd is going to get nasty,'' Mr Hockey said on Saturday.
''The Labor party are going to get nasty. They are going to be nasty towards Tony Abbott, they are going to get nasty towards the Coalition. They are going to run the most negative campaign we have ever seen in Australian politics from now on.''
with Heath Aston