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BEN MCKAY says: Prime Minister Kevin Rudd touched down with the full press pack in tow this morning to Hobart, set for a full day's campaigning in Tasmania.
Tasmania is full of bad news for Mr Rudd - with expectations low on retaining Bass and Braddon, the possibility of losing Lyons if ReachTEL polling is correct and with a long shot chance to unseat popular independent Andrew Wilkie in Denison.
Mr Rudd arrived 90 minutes late, missing the bright spot of weather and arriving in the middle of a rainstorm, which blew out umbrellas and haircuts without discrimination.
Welcome to life following Kevin 747 on the campaign trail.
Mr Rudd came prepared with a funding announcement: $5m will be spent, if re-elected, towards ``fast-tracking'' plans to redevelop the Hobart Showground into a ``modern, flexible community activities centre''.
The Showground, 190-years-old, is in desperate need of a do-over, with two junior soccer matches inside the track providing the only sign of life in the aged facility.
And in an economy starved of employment opportunities, it promises to provide 140 jobs for Hobart's northern suburbs.
Mr Rudd stopped to take questions of the day from the travelling Canberra gallery journos: his GST scare campaign, Warren Mundine's role on Liberal indigenous policy, the latest polls, unflattering descriptions of two Labor candidates.
However, on Tasmanian matters, he was on unsteady ground, deflecting answers on his $100 million ``Jobs and Growth Plan'' which has been tied to the forest peace deal regional economic diversification funding.
Asked why the $100m funding was dependant on the forestry deal, Mr Rudd instead discussed funding to the Royal Hobart Hospital, the Tasmanian University, the road and rail infrastructure, schools funding.
``We have a strong record of achievement, not just a bit of an abstract plan for the future,'' Mr Rudd said.
And while Liberal Leader Tony Abbott was lampooned for not knowing his candidate in Denison (that's Tanya Denison), Mr Rudd's knowledge of Labor candidate Jane Austin didn't extend far beyond her name.
When asked about Ms Austin's chances in Denison, Mr Rudd declined to criticise Mr Wilkie and then looked down and read from prepared notes of Ms Austin's background.
Seeing as Mr Rudd had previously had Denison on a target seats list, if he had the sense and sensibility to remember even a line about Ms Austin it would have done more to convince journalists that the leader was taking the seat seriously.
A full 30 minutes of questions and Mr Rudd had to zip - not up the Midland Highway but back to Hobart Airport to make his Launceston press date.