This is the text of a media release by the Prime Minister, John Howard, accompanying his announcement of an October 9 election.
The Choice Of October 9
Today the Governor-General has accepted my advice for an election to be held on Saturday 9 October.
This election will be about trust. It will be about who is best able to shoulder the huge responsibility of keeping Australia prosperous, strong and secure.
Who do you trust to keep the Australian economy strong and to protect family living standards? Who do you trust to keep interest rates low? Who do you trust to lead Australia in the fight against international terrorism? Who do you trust to keep the budget strong so we can afford to spend more on health and education?
This election will decide the future of the nation over the next ten years. In the weeks ahead, I will be unveiling detailed plans that address Australia’s major challenges over this period. As always, those plans will be fully funded, fully costed and affordable given our record of managing one of the strongest, most resilient economies in the world.
Managing an $800 billion economy and protecting Australia’s security in an uncertain world are large, complex tasks. They demand steady leadership, experience, focus and good judgement.
My Government has kept Australia’s economy growing strongly for eight and a half years. Australian families have greater economic security and they can plan for the future with confidence.
We have created 1.3 million new jobs. We have kept interest rates low and stable by delivering seven budget surpluses and repaying $70 billion of Labor’s debt. Australian workers have seen real wages rise by 14 per cent.
Economic strength is the basis for realising our other hopes and aspirations for Australia.
It has allowed us to commit the resources needed to protect our country in recent years. It has allowed us to help Australian families with the costs of raising children and to assist the more vulnerable in our community. It has allowed us to strengthen Medicare through the new Safety Net – the most important structural improvement to Medicare in 20 years – one which Labor, for ideological reasons, is committed to abolishing.
But there is more to do to protect, secure and build Australia’s future. Our future plans will reflect the things I’ve always believed in – helping Australian families get ahead, rewarding hard work, encouraging small business, giving Australians peace of mind and real choice in health and education, ensuring rural and regional Australia gets a fair go, and protecting the environment with policies that do not harm our economic security.
I’ll also be identifying the risks from Labor whose leader has so far failed to release detailed policies or to explain to the Australian people what he stands for.
What we do know is that in two crucial areas a Latham Labor government would represent a real threat to the living standards of the Australian people.
The first is the area of interest rates. It is an historic fact that interest rates have always gone up under Labor Governments over the last 30 years, because Labor governments spend more than they collect and drive budgets into deficit. So it will be with a Latham Labor government.
Labor would also hand back control of industrial relations to the trade union movement, at a time when only 17.5 per cent of the Australian private sector workforce belongs to a union. They would abolish Australian Workplace Agreements, they would weaken small business protection in the Trade Practices Act, and they would increase the role of unions in workplaces where there are no union members.
Australia has come a long way in the past eight and a half years. Australians have a new sense of hope and a new optimism. Our future demands no going back.
I enter this campaign with energy, commitment and enthusiasm. I’ll be reminding people of the progress we’ve made as a country. And I’ll be explaining how, together, we can make this great country even better in years to come.