Australian PM faces voters in pre-polls forum | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, August 19, 2010 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, August 19, 2010

Australian PM faces voters in pre-polls forum

Australia's first woman prime minister faced questions on her sudden rise to power yesterday as she and her conservative challenger met voters at a town hall forum ahead of weekend polls.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who deposed elected leader Kevin Rudd in a Labor Party coup just eight weeks ago, agreed to the showdown with opposition chief Tony Abbott in Brisbane after lengthy squabbling over its format.
Gillard and Abbott, who declared himself "ready to govern", were grilled separately by voters at the Brisbane Broncos rugby league club's headquarters.
Both candidates faced questions on the economy, plans for a national broadband network, legalising same-sex marriage and boatpeople seeking asylum in Australia.
But Gillard, who is narrowly ahead in polls, also faced scepticism from the audience in Rudd's home state of Queensland, who questioned whether they could trust her and asked her to again explain why she removed him as she did.
"These are things that weigh heavily on my mind," the 48-year-old former lawyer told the audience, but she added that she and her Labor colleagues had overwhelmingly decided that a change in leadership was needed.

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