Day 21: Dealing with the ex

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Ms Gillard will meet the man she cut down six weeks ago, when Mr Rudd was unceremoniously dumped as Labor leader.

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It will be the first time they have come face to face since Ms Gillard took over as prime minister.

100,000 more may vote

The rollercoaster election campaign was thrown another surprise on Friday in the form of a High Court decision that will give an extra 100,000 mostly young Australians an opportunity to vote.

It could have a significant impact in a tight election where a handful of marginal seats will determine the outcome.

The decision could also be important for the Australian Greens as they attempt to gain the balance of power in the Senate.

For Labor, it’s Mr Rudd who could turn out to be a saviour after he emerged from his sick bed this week to urge voters not to turf out the government because of their concern over how he was treated.

He has agreed to join Labor’s national campaign and is expected to hit the hustings on Sunday.

His presence could make a significant difference in his home state of Queensland, where the party is facing a drubbing.

Abbott: It’s just a show

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, who was visiting the marginal Labor seats of Bass and Braddon in Tasmania, believes the facade of Labor unity only highlights the problems of Ms Gillard’s campaign.

“Six weeks ago Kevin Rudd was so toxic to the Labor Party … that he had to be politically assassinated,” he told reporters.

“Now it seems Julia Gillard is so toxic to the Labor Party’s political prospects that she has to be assisted by the man who she assassinated.”

Ms Gillard will get the first indication this weekend of whether Mr Rudd’s intervention and her attempts to break free from Labor’s campaign machine and show the “real Julia” have paid dividends.

Polls out

On Saturday, Fairfax newspapers will publish a Nielsen poll of voters canvassed between Tuesday and Thursday nights.

Ms Gillard will be seeking some good news after she spent much of Friday defending her economic credentials following the release of an interim report into Labor’s school building program.

BER review finds irregularities

A taskforce examining the Building the Education Revolution (BER) program found costs were inflated by up to 12 per cent.

But Ms Gillard, who was education minister when the scheme was hastily rolled out, is standing by her decision to invest $16 billion in school halls, libraries and upgrades.

“We supported jobs, we saved this country from recession,” she told reporters.

“You’ve got a choice here … do you want an extra 200,000 Australians on the dole queue, do you want to see the country in recession, Mr Abbott picked that.

“(Or do you) roll out economic stimulus, do it urgently, keep the nation working, make sure the economy keeps growing, keep Australians in jobs? That’s a judgment, I made that judgment.”

The coalition is pressing the point that the BER program is a serious indictment of Labor’s economic capability.

“Julia Gillard is not fit to be a minister, let alone the prime minister,” Mr Abbott said.

“If you can’t be trusted to manage a $16 billion program properly, you certainly can’t be trusted to manage the $350 billion a year budget of the commonwealth properly.

“If you can’t manage a school hall program properly, you can’t be trusted to manage a $1.1 trillion economy properly.”

Mr Abbott headed to Melbourne on Friday night before moving on to Brisbane over the weekend, where the Liberal Party will officially launch its campaign on Sunday.