31 Jul 2010

Rudd, Gillard make up: he'll campaign nationally

7:56 am on 31 July 2010

Deposed Australian Labor leader Kevin Rudd has offered to campaign on the national stage for the re-election of Prime Minister Julia Gillard once he recovers from surgery.

Ms Gillard immediately accepted the offer from Mr Rudd, who was admitted to hospital on Friday for an operation to remove his gall bladder.

Mr Rudd, who was toppled by Ms Gillard in June, has limited his campaign involvement to local appearances in his suburban Brisbane electorate of Griffith.

Labour strategists reportedly want Mr Rudd to play a prominent campaign role in Queensland, where the government is especially vulnerable to a resurgent coalition.

His offer is a sign relations between Mr Rudd and Ms Gillard may be on the mend three weeks out from election day.

Polls diverge

The latest opinion poll in Australia suggests the Coalition is leading Labor.

The Nielson poll, published in the Sydney Morning Herald, has the Coalition leading Labor 52 points to 48, on a two-party preferred basis.

However, 69% of those surveyed still believe Labor will win against 21% picking the Coalition.

An earlier Reuters Poll Trend survey at the end of the second week's campaigning has Labour 7.8% ahead of the Opposition - up marginally from a week earlier - with 53.9% to 46.1%.

Ms Gillard continued to outpoll Opposition Leader Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister, although her lead fell by three points in a week.

She now has 54% compared to Mr Abbott's 33%.