6 Aug 2010

Howard and Rudd enter Australian election

10:56 am on 6 August 2010

The Australian election campaign has taken a new turn, with former prime ministers John Howard and Kevin Rudd joining the political fray.

Mr Howard, who has kept a low profile so far, launched a stinging attack on Prime Minister Julia Gillard at a Chinese-Liberal Party fundraiser held in the Sydney seat of Bradfield on Thursday night.

While introducing Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, Mr Howard spent much of the time criticising the Government and Ms Gillard.

"I thought that she was meant to fix the boat people issue, I thought that she was meant to fix the mining tax and I thought that she was going to respond to the greatest moral challenge of our generation and that is climate change," he said.

"She has been a total failure and in my view an even bigger failure than her predecessor on any of those three issues.

Joining Mr Abbott publicly for the first time since the campaign, Mr Howard said the Government "wastes money" and "falsely claims credit for saving Australia" from recession.

Mr Howard also said the justification for installing Ms Gillard as Labor leader had come unstuck.

The ABC reports Mr Rudd was also in attack mode on Thursday afternoon while backing his leader in Brisbane.

"There is a real danger at present because of the rolling political controversy about myself that Mr Abbott is simply able to slide quietly into the office of the prime ministership," he said.

"I honestly do not believe that he is up to the job of being prime minister of Australia," he said.

The election is on 21 August.