The two main political parties in Australia are accusing each other of dirty tricks and smear campaigns in the run-up to a federal general election later this year.

The governing Liberal party has accused their Labour rivals of producing a “fact sheet” about a married minister that claims he has sexually harassed male staff and regularly visits gay bath houses in Sydney.

The Labour leader Kevin Rudd rejected allegations that his party was behind the “fact sheet” and claimed the government is running a dirty tricks campaign against him.

Details of a heart operation on Mr Rudd several years ago emerged on TV news, and the Labour leader blamed the government “dirt unit.”

Prime Minister John Howard rejected the allegation that his government is running a dirty tricks campaign.

The “fact sheet” allegations of a minister’s homosexual conduct have been seen by Australian journalists.

The sheet also refer to his wife as well known in Liberal party circles as a “beard,” namely a wife who knows her husband is gay but stays with him and covers up his homosexuality.

The allegations of dirty tricks by the Labour party are particularly damaging as they are seen as more “gay friendly” than the government.

However, both parties reject gay marriage.