Ms Gillard announced the election at a press conference at noon today.
Both (Labor) Prime Minister Julia Gillard, and Opposition (Liberal) Leader, Tony Abbott, will be able to score political points, similar to those below:
Tone Abbott will score "points" on: Labor's mistakes made in spending to avoid the global recession, particularly in school buildings and badly-installed home insulation; the compromised mining super-profits tax; and he will certainly play on xenophobic right-wing fears about refugees arriving by boat. (It seems nothing has changed since the 1970's when Vietnamese refugees arrived by boat - politicians still want to run a scare campaign); and Labor's inability to act on climate change, even though the Liberal/National parties do not want to act!
Julia Gillard will score "points" on: the Liberal/National Coalition's desire to resurrect at least some parts of WorkChoices - a Howard policy they ALL voted for, but which was manifestly unjust in its objectives, and which Tony Abbott, (Deputy)Julie Bishop, Eric Abetz and a string of other Liberals still want; she will claim a "tie" on refugee policy, while trying desperately to ameliorate social justice concerns about the treatment of refugees arriving by boat; she will also score points on Tony Abbott's "great big new tax" - his term- on business.
So, where does the average voter look? Truepolitik's analysis of the Australian political spectrum for the major parties is shown below. the National Party is largely right-wing, but has a distinct socialist policy: to socialize losses from agriculture (but countered by a policy to privatize the profits)
This election will lack the myriad promises of personal tax cuts and spending initiatives as both sides seek to position themselves as 'economically responsible'. The fact is both Labor and the Liberal & National Parties are conservative. The Greens are the only party that could properly be labeled "Left", and Labor, while conservative, is more centrist, and more environmentally aware that the Liberals.
It's now up to Australians. Many will vote for a particular party, "because that's how we've always voted". It's us swinging voters that the parties will try to target.