Three years ago, China was at the forefront of the Australian general election with Labor contender Kevin Rudd wowing local Chinese Australians and impressing outside observers by sometimes electioneering in fluent Putonghua. It didn't hurt either that his daughter Jessica was married to Hong Kong-born Albert Tse. The young couple joined Rudd on the campaign trail, and focused their efforts on the Sydney electorate of Bennelong, held by the long-standing conservative prime minister John Howard. The newlyweds campaigned hard, notably at a joint appearance at the Eastwood Chinese Senior Citizens Club, where Jessica Rudd gave a speech in Putonghua, and Tse spoke in his native Cantonese. Team Rudd's affinity with China, China-related foreign policy, Chinese language and Chinese-Australian voters was a clear theme of the national campaign. Fast-forward to 2010, and things are very different in Bennelong, now held by Labor's Maxine McKew. Hugh Lee, president of the Eastwood Chinese Senior Citizens Club, says he will base his voting decision in today's general election on the merits of his local candidate rather than the merits of the federal parties and their foreign policies. Lee says he misses Kevin Rudd, deposed as prime minister in a party-room coup in June. 'I think he's a good leader and I respected him a lot when he was prime minister. It doesn't matter what position he's in, he's still fighting for his future and that makes him a good role model in Chinese philosophy.' Lee added: 'We are minorities here [in Bennelong]; Chinese, Korean, Indonesian, Indian and Sri Lankans. Based on my encounters with the candidates, I have a feeling Ms McKew is more accommodating of minorities, and she listens. 'She has a very good track record so we can trust she would be a good representative. We don't know whether Mr Alexander would do a good job or not,' he said, referring to John Alexander, the tennis player-turned-commentator who is running for the Liberals in Bennelong. Asked what she was offering Chinese-Australian voters, McKew said: 'What I'm offering is openness, accessibility and an appreciation of what everyone who comes to Australia offers. This is a culturally diverse community, as you know. Multiculturalism works here because everyone works hard to create a harmonious, cohesive society. 'Right across the electorate, whether they're from China, Korea, India or Sri Lanka or fifth-generation Anglo-Australians, what is common here is that people are ambitious about their futures. They want their children to have a great education and a future in a prosperous, fair Australia.' Alexander said he was offering the same thing he offered all Australians: sound economic management. 'We have to get away from the reckless spending and the waste of the last three years,' he said. Foreign policy likely won't be a factor for many Australians when they go to the polls today, facing the prospect of the first hung parliament since 1940. Neither Labor Prime Minister Julia Gillard nor conservative leader Tony Abbott have had much to say about Australia's relationship with the rest of the world, except to argue about sites for an offshore centre to process asylum seekers. With regard to China, the biggest foreign policy change has already taken place with the removal of Rudd as prime minister, observers say. Rudd has been campaigning for Labor in this election and there is a possibility he could be foreign minister in a re-elected Gillard government. Malcolm Cook, programme director for East Asia at the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney, said Rudd was a very active prime minister in foreign affairs and had a strong focus on what the rise of China meant for the region. 'Neither Abbott nor Gillard will have such a dominating effect on foreign policy, especially with regard to China,' Cook said. 'Neither will be a foreign policy prime minister and foreign policy will go back to being run by bureaucracies.'