PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd has seized on two new polls to again call for the Coalition to reveal its policy costings, at the same time trying to generate voter fear around Tony Abbott replacing him in The Lodge.
Speaking on Sunday morning ahead of the first leaders' debate, Mr Rudd continued to ramp up Labor's scare campaign around what the Coalition might do in government, including raising the GST - a claim senior Opposition figures strenuously deny.
"Based on today's polls, if an election was held yesterday Mr Abbott would be prime minister today and therefore he can't be evasive tonight about where his $70 billion in cuts will fall," Mr Rudd said.
Mr Rudd was referring to the Galaxy and Nielsen polls published during the weekend, which showed Labor trailing the Coalition 51-49% and 52-48% respectively.
The polls also showed Mr Rudd's personal popularity with voters, cited by Labor as one of the key reasons for his return to The Lodge, was waning.
Of even more concern to Labor strategists was a Queensland Galaxy poll, which showed the Coalition leading 56-44% in the pivotal state.
Labor had been hopeful of picking up as many as six seats in Mr Rudd's home state, but based on the Galaxy poll it would be lucky to retain the eight it currently holds.
The polls came on a terrible weekend for Mr Rudd after he was forced to sack two candidates, including the man vying to replace Simon Crean in the safe Labor seat of Hotham.
Mr Rudd issued a statement on Saturday revealing Geoff Lake had been disendorsed in Hotham, which Labor has held since 1980.
"Earlier today, I asked the national secretary (George Wright) to report on a range of allegations concerning Mr Lake's conduct in his previous career in local government - in particular his conduct in relation to fellow councillors at the City of Monash Council," the statement read.
"The national secretary has informed me that he is not satisfied that there has been full disclosure about these previous matters."
The other candidate to get his marching orders was Ken Robertson, who was standing in the Bob Katter-held seat of Kennedy, after it emerged he had described Mr Abbott as a "racist" in an interview last week.
Mr Rudd was unapologetic about the sackings on Sunday, adding it was not unusual to lose candidates in the middle of a campaign.
"The decisions taken yesterday were hard decisions but they were the right decisions. When I talk about a new way in politics I mean a new way in politics and I stand by those decisions," Mr Rudd said in Queanbeyan.
"Problems always emerge on all sides of politics during a campaign. And that's just based on having been around this business for quite a while."
Mr Rudd revealed the national executive would decide the replacement candidates and he would "depend on their good wisdom".
The Opposition Leader would not be drawn on the controversy during a press conference at Bondi.
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