Campaign on hold for digger

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott have called off campaigning in honour of a fallen digger but the electioneering is continuing on the fringes.


Both Ms Gillard and Mr Abbott will attend the funeral of Private Nathan Bewes in Murwillumbah today.

Private Bewes, the latest Australian casualty in the Afghanistan conflict, was killed by an improvised explosive device on July 9 in Oruzgan province while on a foot patrol.

Both leaders have suspended campaigning out of respect for Pte Bewes and his family.

In the background, day Kevin Rudd was again making headlines with speculation he is set to score a United Nations job advising on climate change.

Mr Rudd, who visited New York last week, was staying tight lipped on the speculation and his office was refusing to comment on the possible move.

Labor’s election campaign spokesman Chris Bowen hosed down the claims.

“I’m aware that Kevin Rudd has said he is recontesting the seat of Griffith and wants to remain a member of the house of representatives,” Mr Bowen told ABC Radio.

Mr Rudd was well respected in international circles and the speculation was not entirely surprising however, Mr Bowen said.

Mr Bowen was also leading the attack against the coalition over its education tax rebate policy announced on Wednesday.

The coalition has costed its policy, which includes an expanded range of rebates at $760 million.

But Mr Bowen said the Liberals have their sums hopelessly wrong.

“They are saying that they would expand the number of things that people could claim under the education tax rebate but they are not expecting any increase in the number of people who would claim the rebate as a result,” Mr Bowen told ABC Television on Thursday.

Opposition families spokesman Kevin Andrews said the coalition stood by its numbers.

“We are fully confident of our costings,” Mr Andrews told ABC Television.

“This is just a cheap shot when they have got nothing better to say about what is a very attractive policy.”

Mr Andrews tried to turn the attention to asylum seekers, aided by the interception of two more boats on Wednesday.

“The reality is the white flag has been put up and there is a trade by the people smugglers. We had stopped that trade virtually and now it has started up again,” he said.