Gillard announces Aug 21 polls, seeks mandate 'to move Australia forward'

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Canberra (Australia), July 17 (ANI): Australians will go to the polls on August 21, and Prime MInister Julia Gillard has asked the people to give her a mandate to move the nation forward.

Just three weeks after deposing Kevin Rudd, Gillard arrived at the Government House here at 10.40 a.m. to seek permission from the Governor-General, Quentin Bryce, to dissolve Parliament.

She left 30 minutes later and addressing a press conference, said: "I seek a mandate from the Australian people to move Australia forward. This election presents Australians with a very clear choice...whether we move Australia forward or go back."

Gillard had earlier said that the government had ''lost its way'', and added that under her stewardship, it was now moving in several new directions.

She had committed to a sustainable population, announced plans for a regional asylum-seeker processing center, and resolved the mining tax standoff.

''Through doing those things, I've demonstrated to the Australian people the kind of way I which I will lead the nation. Talking to people, working with people, making decisions, moving forward, embracing new solutions and changing,'' Gillard said.

Gillard is due to visit Brisbane later today to deliver her first major campaign speech tomorrow morning at the Eidos Institute, a public policy think-tank.

Queensland and New South Wales are the battleground states for this election. A sizeable swing away from Labor in either State could result in it being the first one-term government thrown out of office since 1931.

Labor actually holds 81 seats and 76 are needed to govern. A uniform swing away from Labor of 1.7 per cent will see it lose.

The last winter election was in 1987 and they are deemed risky for governments because voters are generally sullen over the winter.

Opposition leader Tony Abbott was already in Brisbane when Gillard called the election. He said the election would be won or lost in the sunshine state.

At a speech to the Liberal-National Party this morning, Abbott declared: "We are ready to govern."

The last Herald/Nielsen poll, taken a week ago, shows Labor with its nose ahead on a two-party-preferred basis, leading by 52 per cent to 48 per cent.

It was behind on the primary vote by 39 per cent to 42 per cent.

Gillard had a 21 percentage point lead over Abbott as preferred prime minister.

Her approval rating is a strong 54 per cent and her disapproval rating 32 per cent, whereas Abbott's approval rating is 43 per cent and disapproval rating 51 per cent. (ANI)

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