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Rudd in final major campaign pitch

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has made his final major campaign pitch to revive his Labour Party's chances at elections this week, promising tax breaks for small businesses and more work for local contractors on infrastructure projects if his government is re-elected for a third term.

Mr Rudd officially launched his centre-left party's campaign in his hometown of Brisbane on Sunday. It is the capital of Queensland, a battleground state for swing seats that will decide the election on September. 7.

Mr Rudd - who was dumped as prime minister by his own government colleagues in 2010, only to regain the top job in a similar leadership wrangle in June - dismissed opinion polls that show opposition leader Tony Abbott's conservative coalition is headed for a clear victory.

"I've been in tougher spots than this and have come from behind before," Mr Rudd told his audience of party faithful.

"For those who say the fight is up, I say: 'You haven't seen anything yet,'" he added.

The opposition has framed the election as a referendum on the carbon tax paid by Australia's worst greenhouse-gas polluters, which Mr Abbot has promised to abolish.

Mr Rudd's government argues the election is about the "wrong priorities" a conservative government would implement, including a policy of paying mothers up to 75,000 Australian dollars (£43,000) for six months' maternity leave regardless of how wealthy they are.

Labour has ruled for almost six years under the leaderships of Mr Rudd and the deputy who replaced him for three years, Julia Gillard. He said the end of an Australian mining boom, bankrolled by China, demands new policies that only Labour can provide to diversify the slowing economy.

Among election promises announced on Sunday, Mr Rudd said a Labour government would increase tax deductions that 3.2 million small businesses could claim on equipment investment. The pledge would cost the government 200 million dollars (£114.9 million) over four years in lost tax revenue.

The government would also create up to 624 million dollars (£358.4 million) in additional work for Australian industry a year by legislating to ensure that infrastructure projects worth more than 300 million dollars (£172 million) engage more local contractors.


From Belfast Telegraph