PM: flipperty gibbet politics

Date

4BC News: Prime Minister Julia Gillard has denied the decision to announce the election early is about shoring up her leadership against Kevin Rudd.

Ms Gillard has made the bold and unprecedented decision to call an election eight months ahead of time.

The decision was aimed focusing debate on costed policies, she said.

In the meantime she's focused on the "serious business of governing" and will be visiting flood victims in Bundaberg on Thursday.

"Relax, relax, relax, this is not day one of the election campaign," she told the Nine Network.

Ms Gillard said she had wanted to get rid of all the "silly nonsense" that comes with speculation.

She dismissed accusations from Rudd supporters that this move was about shoring up her leadership.

"Whatever to the flipperty gibbet politics that goes on," she said.

"Nothing about this decision is in any way related to that (Kevin Rudd). We decided that last year."

She defended telling the independent crossbenchers, but not members of her party, about her decision, as a matter of courtesy, before she made the public announcement.

"This is a prime minister's decision," she said of the election announcement.

"It's always been the prime minister's call when the election date is," she told the Seven Network.

"Whether I announced it in the traditional manner and went to the governor-general's one day and came out and announced the election with people chasing the car as I did (in 2010), or whether I did it in the way I chose to yesterday, the date is my decision and I made it."

Asked if her decision to announce the date early in the year was a strategy to flush out the opposition, she said, "I think when people vote on the 14th of September they are entitled to everybody's fully detailed costed plans."

Shadow treasurer Joe Hockey said Ms Gillard had done the opposition a favour because people would now focus on the coalition's policies.

"It will give us a bit more air time and the opportunity to get our message out there," he told ABC radio.

Most of the criticism about the move was coming from within the ALP, he said.

The opposition would start releasing its costed policies after the budget in May, Mr Hockey said.

"We will not cop a sanctimonious lecture from Labor about numbers," he said.

"They have gotten every single number wrong over the last five years."

Opposition finance spokesman Andrew Robb said the coalition would follow its own timetable for releasing costings.

"The government's got eight months to go. Even after the budget they'll have another four months to go," Mr Robb told ABC radio.

He said it was "a serious amount of time to compound the financial mess that they've already created".

It would effectively be the first budget in history to fall in the middle of an election campaign, Mr Robb said.

"We need to see what the treasury and finance put before us in the pre-election fiscal outlook and then we can close the books, put out all the detail and the costings."

Assistant Treasurer David Bradbury, who holds the marginal western Sydney seat of Lindsay, said jobs and cost of living pressures were huge issues in his electorate.

Labor would be campaigning hard on its record and achievements in government and plans for the future, he said..

Labor's sitting members in western Sydney were passionate about their communities, Mr Bradbury said.

"Frankly, I think we're getting sick of hearing the likes of Joe Hockey and other north shore types talking about what's going on in western Sydney," he told ABC radio.

"The only bit of western Sydney they've ever seen is through the windows of their Comcars."

That's why Mr Hockey was talking about building an airport at Badgerys Creek, he said.

Asked why the arrival of asylum seeker boats was such a big issue in western Sydney, Mr Bradbury said it was an issue all around the country.

"These are challenges we face as a modern nation," he said.

Labor frontbencher Nicola Roxon praised the prime minister for doing something "without political precedent" by calling an election eight months in advance.

The move would leave the opposition no option but to engage properly with the community, she said.

"I think that's in her nature, to be strong and bold and determined to do things in the best interests of the country," Ms Roxon told ABC radio.

"She no doubt ... feels that there has been a one-sided campaign almost for this whole period of government, where we have been getting on with delivering government."

Independent Tony Windsor said the prime minister had agreed to consult with the crossbenchers about a 2013 poll date as part of their post-2010 election agreement with Ms Gillard.

He said he agreed with the date.

"I was a little bit surprised that she announced it so early. That's her prerogative to do so," he told ABC television.

Questioned about whether he was surprised the prime minister had not consulted her own caucus about Wednesday's announcement, Mr Windsor said, "That's none of my business."

Education Minister Peter Garrett said Ms Gillard's decision to announce the election without first telling all of her cabinet colleagues was not an issue of distrust.

The prime minister had "absolutely" made the right call, he said.

"What I would say is that this is actually a refreshing initiative because it means that we can concentrate on policy," he told Sky News.

"And it means that Tony Abbott has got to open his empty closet and come up with something."

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