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Let the games begin – Australian PM Julia Gillard has made the surprise announcement that she will take the nation to the polls on September 14 kicking off what some experts are calling the longest election campaign in history.

Gillard will be aiming to form her own government rather than the hung one she’s led with the support of independents and a Green.

In what thought to be an address to the National Press Club in Canberra, Gillard explained her desire to give Australia certaintly.

"Announcing the election date now enables individuals, investors and consumers to plan their year," she said. "It gives shape and order to their year.

"I do this not to start the nation's longest election campaign: quite the opposite. It should be clear to all which are the days of governing and which are the days of campaigning."
The way Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott have been at each other’s throats has been almost like an election campaign, but Gillard insisted the long notice period means the year will be "not of fevered campaigning but of cool and reasoned deliberation".

Parliament will be dissolved on August 12 ahead of the run up to the polls.

The long campaign is also expected to force Tony Abbott into announcing detailed policies, not platitudes to get cheap votes in the days ahead of the election.

It will give her opponent "no excuses".

"Australians are not interested in campaigns without content, [in] platitudes devoid of purpose," she said. 
Abbott welcomed the announcement and said his party was "so ready".
"This election will be about trust," he said. "Who do you trust to reduce the cost of living pressures? Who do you trust to boost small business security?  And who do you trust to secure our borders?"
 Polls are suggesting a tight race: Newspoll has the opposition marginally ahead 51 per cent to 49 per cent.

Both leaders aren’t especially popular, although Gillard leads Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister by 45 per cent to 33 per cent.

Image via Getty


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Australian PM Julia Gillard set for long campaign after declaring general election for September 14
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