Mon, August 23, 2010
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Australia economy key election issue

2010-08-19 09:14:41 GMT2010-08-19 17:14:41 (Beijing Time)

Concerns about the economy and illegal immigration are top concerns at a town hall meeting in the leadup to Australia's August 21st elections.

Australians expressed concerns about the economy and illegal immigration at a town hall meeting in Brisbane on Wednesday.

The meeting was hosted by Prime Minister Julia Gillard and conservative opposition leader Tony Abbott.

Australians will go to polls on August 21st to vote in a new leader - or stick with the incumbent.

At the meeting, several hundred undecided voters were given the opportunity to drill the candidates on important issues.

Tony Abbott focused on clamping down on illegal immigration -- specifically those who arrive by boat -- as a means of improving the job market, and hence the economy.

"I have no desire to talk about boat people and I would not talk about boat people except for the fact that the boats keep coming…. I think people are right to feel that we are not doing ourselves justice when people can just rock up on our shores from anywhere and when they feel that people smugglers have taken over a component of our immigration program."

Labor's Julia Gillard focused on keeping up with the recovery from the financial crisis and - well - boat people.

"We don't want people risking their lives on a boat at sea and I don't want people smugglers, people who seek to profit on someone else's misery making a buck out of it. So what is the best way of dealing with this, well to stop those boats ever leaving foreign shores…"

Recent polls show that Labor leads by three points, which could result in a 4-seat majority win for Gillard.

But the possibility remains that the election will result in a hung parliament, where neither party wins enough votes to form a government.

In such a case, the support of three independent candidates would decide which party forms the next government.

Travis Brecher, Reuters

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