Kevin Rudd reckons the valley of death is going to be crossed under Labor.

But the prime minister wasn't talking about the election chances on September 7.

He was promising to keep manufacturing jobs going in Australia, in particular ensuring that a looming gap in work for naval shipbuilders, dubbed the valley of death, was going to be filled and jobs saved.

"My job is to protect manufacturing jobs," he told workers after inspecting the BAE Systems shipyard at Williamstown, in Melbourne.

"The valley of death will be crossed and crossed well."

Mr Rudd committed to bringing forward a project to replace two Navy supply ships, HMAS Success and HMAS Sirius to ensure that continuity of work.

He argued the move would ensure Australia maintained a world-class naval shipbuilding industry and would support skilled jobs as the economy transitions beyond the mining boom.

Mr Rudd said the acquisition of the two supply vessels was already funded at $1.5 billion and extra money to bring forward the project would be prioritised "from existing resources out of the budget".

Mr Rudd reiterated that he didn't want to lead a country that didn't make things anymore.

"I'm at my heart of hearts an Australian economic nationalist who believes that we need manufacturing for the future," he said.

He'd started his day in Canberra, where he left off campaigning for a briefing on the Syrian crisis before heading to Melbourne to spread Labor's economic message.

He questioned the honesty of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott after unveiling an analysis of the coalition's costings and proposed $31 billion in savings.

"It is quite clear that there is now a massive $10 billion hole in the $30 billion they are claiming," Mr Rudd told reporters on Thursday pointing to what he said were inconsistencies in the numbers.

"This is a $10 billion fraud on the Australian people."

He brushed off news that a betting agency had declared the federal election over, and paid out $1.5 million in bets on the coalition.

Since the Melbourne Cup began in the 1860s, the favourite had only won about 35 times, Mr Rudd said.

Former Liberal leader John Hewson led in the polls in 1993 and was regarded as a "shoo-in", but went on to lose, he added.

 

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