ELECTION 2013: PM names day for the fight of his life

Who you do trust?: Prime Minister Kevin Rudd asks the nation who they believe would best manage the economy. Photo: ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN
Who you do trust?: Prime Minister Kevin Rudd asks the nation who they believe would best manage the economy. Photo: ALEX ELLINGHAUSEN
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra on Sunday, August 4, 2013. Picture: Alex Ellinghausen

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra on Sunday, August 4, 2013. Picture: Alex Ellinghausen

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott speaks to the media at Parliament House on Sunday.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott speaks to the media at Parliament House on Sunday.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd arrives at government house to speak with the Governor-General on Sunday, August 4, 2013. Picture: Jay Cronan

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd arrives at government house to speak with the Governor-General on Sunday, August 4, 2013. Picture: Jay Cronan

The press pack follows Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his wife Therese Rein on the way to church in Brisbane on Sunday, August 4, 2013.

The press pack follows Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his wife Therese Rein on the way to church in Brisbane on Sunday, August 4, 2013.

The press pack follows Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his wife Therese Rein on the way to church in Brisbane on Sunday, August 4, 2013.

The press pack follows Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his wife Therese Rein on the way to church in Brisbane on Sunday, August 4, 2013.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott attended the opening of the Ben Chifley Building as the new ASIO headquaters in Canberra on Tuesday July 23. Photo: Andrew Meares

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott attended the opening of the Ben Chifley Building as the new ASIO headquaters in Canberra on Tuesday July 23. Photo: Andrew Meares

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott attended the opening of the Ben Chifley Building as the new ASIO headquaters in Canberra on Tuesday July 23. Photo: Andrew Meares

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott attended the opening of the Ben Chifley Building as the new ASIO headquaters in Canberra on Tuesday July 23. Photo: Andrew Meares

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott speaks with guests prior to a news conference at St Vincent's Private Hospital on July 20, 2013 in Brisbane. hoto by Matt Roberts/Getty Images.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott speaks with guests prior to a news conference at St Vincent's Private Hospital on July 20, 2013 in Brisbane. hoto by Matt Roberts/Getty Images.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott acknowledges delegates during an LNP State Convention at the Royal International Centre on July 20. Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott acknowledges delegates during an LNP State Convention at the Royal International Centre on July 20. Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd arrives at a West Perth office to meet with the Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett on Friday June 26.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd arrives at a West Perth office to meet with the Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett on Friday June 26.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott Leaves the media conference after unveiling the Coalition Border Protection Policy with Shadow Minister for Immigration Scott Morrison and retired Australian Army Major-General, Jim Molan at the Hilton Hotel on July 25, in Brisbane. Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott Leaves the media conference after unveiling the Coalition Border Protection Policy with Shadow Minister for Immigration Scott Morrison and retired Australian Army Major-General, Jim Molan at the Hilton Hotel on July 25, in Brisbane. Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images.

 Opposition Leader Tony Abbott addresses the Council of Small Business of Australia forum at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre on July 25. Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott addresses the Council of Small Business of Australia forum at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre on July 25. Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is greeted by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at Istana Bogor (Bogor Palace) in Indonesia, on Friday July 5. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is greeted by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono at Istana Bogor (Bogor Palace) in Indonesia, on Friday July 5. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott shakes hands with delegates during an LNP State Convention at the Royal International Centre on July 20,  in Brisbane, Australia. Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Image

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott shakes hands with delegates during an LNP State Convention at the Royal International Centre on July 20, in Brisbane, Australia. Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Image

Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has questioned why no asylum seekers have been sent to Papua New Guinea since the government's new policy was announced. Photo: Penny Stephens

Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has questioned why no asylum seekers have been sent to Papua New Guinea since the government's new policy was announced. Photo: Penny Stephens

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd with senior cabinet members, held a press conference on July 22, when the Labor party federal caucus gathered in Sydney to change how the party elects it's parliamentary leader. Photo by Cole Bennetts/Getty Images.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd with senior cabinet members, held a press conference on July 22, when the Labor party federal caucus gathered in Sydney to change how the party elects it's parliamentary leader. Photo by Cole Bennetts/Getty Images.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Tanya Plibersek walk the streets of Balmain after caucus met at the Town Hall on July 22, in Sydney. Photo: Getty Images.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Tanya Plibersek walk the streets of Balmain after caucus met at the Town Hall on July 22, in Sydney. Photo: Getty Images.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is congratulated by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott while greeting Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey after he returned to the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday June 27.  Photo: Andrew Meares.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is congratulated by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott while greeting Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey after he returned to the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday June 27. Photo: Andrew Meares.

Kevin Rudd addresses the media after being elected Labor leader on Wednesday, June 26, 2013.

Kevin Rudd addresses the media after being elected Labor leader on Wednesday, June 26, 2013.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd returns the House of Representatives with Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Photo: Andrew Meares.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd returns the House of Representatives with Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese. Photo: Andrew Meares.

Kevin Rudd after announcing he will contest the Labor leadership ballot on Wednesday June 26. Photo: ANDREW MEARES.

Kevin Rudd after announcing he will contest the Labor leadership ballot on Wednesday June 26. Photo: ANDREW MEARES.

Kevin Rudd and colleagues leave the Caucus meeting at Parliament House in Canberra on March 21, 2013.. Photo: Fairfax Media

Kevin Rudd and colleagues leave the Caucus meeting at Parliament House in Canberra on March 21, 2013.. Photo: Fairfax Media

After much speculation, Kevin Rudd announced that he would not challenge the Prime Minister Julia Gillard after a leadershilp spill was called on March 21. Photo: Fairfax Media

After much speculation, Kevin Rudd announced that he would not challenge the Prime Minister Julia Gillard after a leadershilp spill was called on March 21. Photo: Fairfax Media

Kevin Rudd has called an election for September 7, declaring himself the underdog in a poll that would offer voters a choice between his positivity and economic prowess and the Coalition's ''wall-to-wall negativity'' and ''three word slogans''.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott responded by saying only his party could provide stability and unity, and laying down a bold early gambit that he would accept government only if the Coalition won a clear majority.

Kicking off his re-election bid two days after unveiling new taxes and a massive budget blow-out, Mr Rudd borrowed John Howard's successful 2004 approach of turning a weakness into a strength by asking voters whom they trusted on the economy.

He said voters would decide the election based on who was best equipped to manage a transition from the end of the China-fuelled boom, and who would deliver in a range of key policy areas vital to jobs and families, such as the national broadband network, disability care, and education.

''This election will be about who the Australian people trust to best lead them through the difficult new economic challenges which now lie ahead,'' he said.

''The new challenges facing our economy will require new ways of thinking, new ways of acting, new ways of planning.''

Labor's campaign will be based strongly on its economic record, with Mr Rudd reminding voters who was in charge when Australia avoided a recession through the global financial crisis.

Mr Abbott told voters they had watched politics for the past three years and ''seen the unity'' in the Coalition under his leadership, declaring ''I am ready''.

The Opposition Leader accused Labor of dishing up three years of internal division and instability, promising instead that a Coalition government would restore order and re-establish the bonds of trust with voters broken under Labor.

He said the budget had lost $3 billion a week in the 10 weeks since the budget was delivered in May.

''In the end, if you can't manage the budget, you can't manage the country,'' he said.

Mr Rudd addressed reporters just after 4pm on Sunday fresh from a visit to the Governor-General's residence, setting a date with electoral destiny that meant missing the G20 summit, and forfeiting the opportunity to stage the previously planned local government referendum which could not be run before September 14.

But in a sign of the increasingly digital dimension of the coming campaign, reporters gathered in the Prime Minister's courtyard at

Parliament House had already read the formal announcement via an email sent by Mr Rudd to supporters from his car.

''It's on,'' the email began. ''Right now the only thing standing between Australia and an Abbott-led government is you, me, and as many Australians as we can rally to fight for the kind of nation we all want to live in.''

According to a source at Labor's campaign headquarters in Melbourne, Labor had signed up more than 1000 volunteers by 6pm following Mr Rudd's email and Twitter appeals for donations and activists.

With polls showing the two sides virtually level on the two-party-preferred vote, the election could go either way, with another hung parliament also possible.

However, Mr Abbott pledged not to negotiate for power in any circumstances. ''There's a commitment that I want to give you. There will not be a minority government led by me. There will not be deals done with independents and minor parties under any political movement that I lead,'' he said.

With the economy the agreed battleground, Mr Rudd railed against negativity, while warning that Mr Abbott planned ''a $70 billion slash-and-burn austerity drive which will cut jobs and cut deeply into basic services and health and education''.

Greens leader Christine Milne said it was clear the two parties had shifted strongly to the right and were no longer offering a real choice.

''Australians will have the choice between the compassion offered by the Greens and the cruelty of the old parties,'' she said, referring mainly to the asylum seeker issue.

''We live in a society, not an economy.''