Fri, August 20, 2010
World > Asia-Pacific > Australia federal elections

Australian leaders neck-and-neck ahead of poll

2010-08-20 03:16:32 GMT2010-08-20 11:16:32 (Beijing Time)  SINA.com

Australian opposition leader Tony Abbott (pictured on August 18) campaigned through the night as a key opinion poll Friday raised his hopes of a shock election win over the country's first woman prime minister.(AFP/File/Eddie Safarik)

Australian opposition leader Tony Abbott campaigned through the night as a key opinion poll Friday raised his hopes of a shock election win over the country's first woman prime minister.

Fitness fanatic Abbott, known as the "Mad Monk", ditched his night's sleep to visit a Sydney pub, police station and a flower market, as Prime Minister Julia Gillard started the last day of campaigning with a flurry of interviews.

"There are always undecided voters, and if I can get to a few undecided voters through an all-nighter, isn't that a good thing," Abbott said.

"I won't be going without sleep all the time forever. But I think to miss a bit of sleep on just one night in the build-up to an election, well I think people expect a lot of those they might make prime minister."

The frenetic final day of campaigning was given extra urgency as the respected Newspoll showed a 50-50 split between Gillard's Labor party and the Liberal/National coalition, erasing the government's slender lead.

A Galaxy survey showed Labor had maintained its 52-48 percent advantage heading into Saturday's election, a compulsory vote for some 14 million electors.

Welsh-born Gillard has struggled to dispel voter unease over her June party coup of elected leader Kevin Rudd, while Abbott, who once trained as a priest, has tempered his image as a colourful maverick in a tightly run campaign.

Defeat on Saturday would make Gillard's Labor Party the first single-term government since World War II, and return the Liberal/National Coalition to power after less than three years.

(Agencies)

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