Labor ready for dirty campaign

Labor ready for dirty campaign

MPs and senators are departing Canberra after what many expect to be the last sitting day of parliament.

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Pundits are tipping Prime Minister John Howard will call the federal poll before parliament returns on October 15.

Ugly display

But if it was to be their last hurrah, MPs did little to cover themselves in glory as accusations and insults were traded across the chamber after Labor accused the government of hiring private investigators to dig up dirt on Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd.

Question time was suspended and insults were thrown across the House of Representatives for more than an hour as the government denied mounting a smear campaign against Labor MPs.

Deputy Labor Leader Julia Gillard admitted the display wasn't "good for politics".

But she expects things may only get worse.

"We've said for months this will be a very dirty campaign," she told ABC television last night.

"All this government has left now is the politics of fear, they are going to be out there every day saying 'be very scared of change, be very scared of Labor'.

"They've got the politics of personal attack. What they don't have is they don't have any plans for the future."

Ms Gillard revived claims that staff were working out of Attorney-General Philip Ruddock's office monitoring what Labor was saying and doing.

"We know that there are staff attached to Philip Ruddock's office who appear to be running monitoring of media and perhaps more beyond," she said.

Mr Ruddock has previously denied claims that a "dirt unit" was operating out of his Sydney office.

Coalition gains ground

Another opinion poll shows a further improvement for the coalition in regional areas, Queensland and among older voters.

Today's Newspoll in The Australian newspaper shows the opposition falling by two points in Queensland to 52 percent on a two-party preferred vote, compared to the Government on 48 percent.

In Western Australia, the coalition's edged ahead by one point, securing 51 per cent of the vote after preferences.

Labor has dropped one point in South Australia, but remains well ahead on 55 per cent.

In New South Wales, the coalition is up three percent, but still trails on just 42 per cent of the vote after preferences.

Newspoll shows the two-party-preferred vote in non-capital cities has improved for the government, rising from 44 to 48 percent.