4 Aug 2013

Rudd sets election date

8:06 pm on 4 August 2013

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has called a general election for 7 September, six weeks after he toppled former leader Julia Gillard in a party-room vote.

Mr Rudd has generated a spike in public support since he returned to the top job but conservative opposition leader Tony Abbott is still favourite to win power.

Reuters reports the Labor government could fall with the loss of just one of the 150 seats in parliament.

It currently holds 71 seats, the opposition 72, with one Green and six independent cross benchers.

Mr Abbott's opposition has promised to scrap a 30% tax on coal and iron ore mine profits, and scrap the carbon tax, if he wins power.

Mr Rudd returned as prime minister on 26 June after he toppled Ms Gillard, with a third of Gillard's cabinet also stepping down.

His party has been in power since late 2007 and helped Australia's $A1.4 trillion economy avoid recession following the 2008 global financial crisis, aided by a prolonged mining boom fuelled by resources demand from China and India.

Mr Rudd announced the election date in an email to his supporters, telling them "it's on", after visiting Governor-General Quentin Bryce, who is Australia's head of state, to dissolve the current parliament.

"We've got one hell of a fight on our hands," Mr Rudd said.

The latest polls show Kevin Rudd has lifted Labor's support to give the government a chance of victory, although the respected Newspoll in late July still had Mr Rudd's Labor Party trailing the opposition by four percentage points, 48% to 52%.