Newspaper Editorials Overwhelmingly Favour Abbott

Australian newspapers have editorialised this morning, overwhelmingly recommending a vote for Tony Abbott and the Coalition in tomorrow’s federal election.

So far, only The Age has endorsed the Labor government.

The editorials from a range of newspapers are shown below. Others will be added as they become available.

Editorial in The Australian.

Leader who will govern in the national interest

Seldom has the bar been set so low for an alternative federal government. An opposition that can convince the Australian people that it can control the nation’s borders, its parliament and its purse strings would win the argument hands down. Yet a leader who aspires to govern in the national interest, restore confidence in government and offer hope for the future must do more than simply win this election by default. He must seek a mandate that lays the ground for a new era of reform to secure Australia’s future prosperity.

In 2007 Kevin Rudd convinced the electorate he was just such a candidate, promising to seize the mantle of Bob Hawke and Paul Keating and govern from the reforming centre. The Australian took him at his word, but added a note of caution to our endorsement: “No change is free of risk.” Labor was indeed a risky choice. It failed to deliver what it promised, squandering the proceeds of the boom and becoming the first administration since the 1970s to wind back reform. It has added $108 million to the national debt every day it has been in government, and when the money got tight it had the temerity to try to build a legacy of social reform on the never-never, with DisabilityCare and the Gonski school reforms that will not be delivered until the end of the decade and will impose an unfunded liability on future taxpayers. The party has alienated its traditional voters by soothing the sensitivities of the gentrified Left and entering into a coalition with the Greens, a party with interests antithetical to those of workers. It has encroached into state government responsibilities of health and education, blurring lines of responsibility and increasing administration. It has pushed technocratic government way beyond its ability to deliver and has been responsible for some of the most wasteful and ineffective public spending programs of the modern era. While expanding the government’s footprint at one end, it has neglected the commonwealth’s constitutional duty to defend the nation’s borders. More than 50,000 asylum-seekers have arrived by boat and at least 1200 more have drowned since Labor made the catastrophic error of softening border protection policy.

By reregulating the labour market, allowing red tape to flourish and increasing the footprint of government, Labor has made Australia a harder place to make a dollar. By stopping the live-cattle trade to Indonesia, Labor damaged our international reputation as a sound trading partner and brought further unnecessary pain to farmers. Time and again in the past six years, the national interest has been sacrificed in pursuit of sectional gains. Labor launched an ill-conceived class war in defence of a mining tax that ultimately raised no money, and Julia Gillard was prepared to brand the Opposition Leader a misogynist in the futile pursuit of the women’s vote.

Allowing the Labor Party time out from governing will be an act of kindness, and it must not waste the opportunity to finish two unfinished tasks. First, it must continue the work of internal reform, making the party’s internal structures as democratic as the civic system in which it stands for election. Second, it must discover its purpose in the 21st century and find the over-arching cause that unites its divided constituencies of socially conservative working families and the gentrified progressive Left.

Without a legacy of which to boast, the onus fell on Mr Rudd to deliver a message for the future. Yet at the end of his lugubrious campaign, voters are none the wiser as to how Mr Rudd intends to spend the next three years if he is returned office. His proposals to move the navy from Sydney to Brisbane, offer tax breaks to develop the north and lay 2000km or so of fast rail track were so patently absurd that he quietly dropped them. His plans to skill the workforce and increase productivity were unconvincing statist nonsense. Labor’s campaign has been conducted in a manner unbecoming of a respectable mainstream party. Its attacks on the opposition ranged from petty to the sleazily dishonest. If Mr Rudd is aware of the shortcomings that prompted his colleagues to sack him as leader in 2010, he has conspicuously failed to acknowledge them, let alone correct them. He has campaigned as erratically as he governed, making policy on the run, alienating his own supporters and putting a glass jaw forward in response to criticism. Having framed the election as a referendum on trust on day one, he spent the next 33 days undermining his own credibility by crossing the lines of dignity in a negative campaign. By contrast, Tony Abbott presents as an authentic leader possessed of personal and political integrity. He has proved to be the most patient and effective opposition leader since Gough Whitlam. The mental toughness required to occupy that precarious position in the modern era should not be underestimated, and Mr Abbott has earned the respect of his own party with an open and consultative style that will serve him well in government. His failings have been magnified to the point of caricature by his cultural and political opponents, yet Mr Abbott has shown a rare ability to rise above the noise. Unlike his opponent, Mr Abbott possesses the self-awareness and discipline to learn from his mistakes.

Mr Abbott’s political experience speaks for itself: he has been a parliamentarian for 19 years, prosecuted the case against the proposed republic and served as a minister in the Howard government. Unlike many of his peers, however, he has resisted becoming part of a professional political class. His elected curriculum vitae defies stereotype: student politician, Rhodes scholar, amateur boxer, trainee priest, journalist, concrete plant manager, political staffer and politician. Rarely in the modern era has there been a more grounded prime ministerial candidate than this volunteer firefighter, surf lifesaver, endurance athlete and charity cyclist.

At the 2010 election we noted that Mr Abbott’s manifesto would have equipped him to govern in the last decade of the 20th century, but that it failed to address the challenges of the 21st. He comes to this election better prepared and, while there are gaps in his policy platform and some curious offerings along the way, it is clear that an Abbott government has a clear philosophical framework. He anticipates a more modest role for the state, acknowledging, as Mr Rudd rarely does, that government does not always know best. His intention of removing obstacles to personal ambition and to allow enterprise to flourish is a philosophy drawn from Robert Menzies, and we predict it will be as effective today as it was in the 1950s and 60s. We are encouraged by Mr Abbott’s promise to hold “a bonfire of the regulations” and his intention that there will be days when parliament stops producing new legislation and starts dismantling the old.

While Mr Abbott recognises the nexus between smaller government and economic growth, he has been less forthcoming on the fiscal imperative to cut government spending. It is understandable that Mr Abbott might be unwilling to announce any policies that hint of austerity in an election such as this, but we take heart from his commitment to a comprehensive audit of commonwealth spending should the Coalition win office. Yet we sincerely hope that Mr Abbott and his team are prepared for the scale of the task ahead. They must achieve what no administration has been able to do since World War II and reduce the size of government. The task will be made harder by the Coalition’s politically expedient pre-commitment to the school and disability reform packages, not to mention Mr Abbott’s private political indulgence of paid parental leave. Each may be justified in policy terms, but they represent recurrent spending liabilities that will have to be offset by cutting programs elsewhere.

Mr Abbott promises to restore proper process to government and we are confident he will keep his word. The public service must be de-politicised, cabinet must be restored to prominence and Mr Abbott must maintain a commitment to transparency that is easier to make in opposition than to observe in power. It is less clear how he intends to manage federal-state relations, although Mr Abbott’s experience as a competent and effective federal health minister will stand him in good stead. The evolution of his thinking on centralising power in Canberra is encouraging. The adventurism of the Gillard and Rudd governments serves as a cautionary tale against the commonwealth takeover of state responsibilities, particularly in education and health. Nonetheless, the pressing task for an incoming government is to address the duplication and confusion between the two tiers of government, and we trust it will figure in his war against regulation.

The Australian believes Mr Abbott is capable of governing in the interest of the nation, including its indigenous population. His commitment to introduce an amendment recognising indigenous Australians in the Constitution is matched by a pledge of practical action in education and employment. The vital national task of reconciliation will not be completed in a term of government, or even in a decade. By making practical achievement in this field a mark by which he expects to be judged, Mr Abbott has inspired hope for the future.

Editorial in The Australian Financial Review.

Two cheers for Tony Abbott

Five weeks ago at the start of the election campaign, The Australian Financial Review declared that Labor had proven itself to be structurally unfit to govern but that Tony Abbott was some way short of winning the sort of mandate needed to lead the nation through its post-resources boom transition. On polling eve, Mr Abbott has met some – but not all – of that challenge.

A Coalition victory is being eagerly awaited by a business community that has been drained of confidence and is fed up with Labor. Yet, while Mr Abbott has at times levelled with ­voters on the economic task ahead, the boxing blue from Oxford has too often pulled his punches. He gets a big tick for putting budget mismanagement at the heart of his attack on Labor. But he also has pushed his own surplus target out by as much as a decade. A fuzzy timetable may be prudent. Mining profits are volatile and Labor’s budgets have been repeatedly ambushed by downgrades to optimistic tax revenue forecasts. Yet Mr Abbott and his shadow treasurer Joe Hockey have waited too long to reveal their own budget costings. Rather than Kevin Rudd’s ‘‘cut, cut, cut’’ these show four-year net ­savings of just $6 billion more than Labor. That doesn’t line up with Coalition claims of a budget crisis, especially given Mr Abbott’s pet plan for an expensive taxpayer-funded workplace entitlement to paid parental leave.

There is more fudging. Mr Abbott will hold an overdue commission of audit, which could trigger a radical rethink on what governments should and should not do, perhaps in cahoots with a phalanx of fellow-minded state governments.

But a matching tax system overhaul has been put off for up to a decade. During the campaign, he was spooked into promising not to increase a relatively efficient tax, the GST, at least in his first term. Sensible high-impact reforms such as freeing up the labour market also will wait until a second term. This is far too much gradualism, even from a cautious politician protecting a lead in the polls. Mr Abbott has kept intact his pledge of no surprises and no wild promises throughout the campaign: the ­classic small target. Against an opponent that has failed to ­govern even itself during its two terms in office, this will help deliver the political prize of power.

But Mr Abbott needs to be more ambitious. His big task will be to reduce the economy’s cost base after it has been inflated by the mining boom’s upswing. And he needs to reboot the ­productivity booms of earlier decades. Productivity-driven ­economic growth is the only sort that lasts, and will be needed to get us through the continuing aftershocks of the global financial crisis. Mr Abbott writes forcefully on the page opposite that there is really no alternative. But in reality he has timidly put off reforms needed to bring on that productivity wave; the economy may not be able to wait on Mr Abbott’s political timetable.

Mr Abbott’s plain speaking at the head of a solid team contrasts with the Labor self-indulgence of the past six years, with its jarring mixture of base personal politics and subservience to its trade union and factional overlords. In a contest with only two choices, Mr Rudd has failed to build any ‘‘new way’’ story on why he should keep running the nation or why Labor should be trusted to overcome its glaring structural flaws.

A change should restore normality after more than three years of directionless minority government and leadership upheavals. This political instability has undermined the business confidence that Reserve Bank governor Glenn Stevens warns is critical as the mining boom recedes.

A strong mandate at the top, especially for a government getting a grip on its own finances, will lift business resolve. That by itself is a good reason for The Australian Financial Review to conclude Australia’s prosperity would be better served by a Coalition government.

There could eventually be many more reasons to support Mr Abbott. With more boldness, he has the potential to enter that rare class of politician that can explain and sell reform.

We will wait for that moment.

Editorial in The Sydney Morning Herald.

Australians deserve a government they can trust

Australia is crying out for a stable government that can be trusted to deliver what it promises. The Herald believes only the Coalition can achieve that within the limited mandate Tony Abbott will carry into office should he prevail on Saturday.

Abbott does not so much deserve the chance to do what Labor could not do in the past six years. Nor has he earned the right to govern with a clear, articulated vision, as the Herald has sought from him during the campaign. But the party he leads is untainted by scandal and infighting, and therefore has the best chance to unite a tired and despondent electorate.

Labor will not be able to do this until it is stripped of corrupt rules that have rewarded those who value power more than the public interest.

Abbott needs to be true to his word. As he says, ”No surprises, no excuses … No more, no less.”

The Coalition has put to the people some aspirations of which the Herald approves if applied fairly: value for taxpayers’ money, greater workplace flexibility and ending the age of entitlement. It has aped good Labor policies and banked sensible savings.

Notably, Abbott has also signalled policies the Herald considers unfair and a threat to national progress: slower broadband, his paid parental leave scheme, turn back the boats, and education inequity. And we will, as many Coalition figures privately do, continue to rail against these populist and frivolous indulgences.

A Coalition government will be entitled to pursue any elements of its agenda that have been detailed to the public. Then voters can judge Abbott on delivery in three years or, should he prove unable to manage a democratic parliament, much sooner.

Abbott will be free to conduct his commission of audit on government spending and implement recommendations within his pledge of no cuts to education, health or frontline services. He should conduct the promised reviews into workplace relations, industry assistance, regulation, legislation, competition law and tax. That will help him develop the sort of detailed policy reform agenda he has failed to flesh out in the past three years for fear of a political backlash. Australia needs to debate new ideas and better ways to ensure the economy is flexible enough to survive the end of the resources boom.

But the Herald will scrutinise a first-term Abbott government with the same independent eye that has exposed Labor graft and attacked Coalition policies. Too often Abbott has asked voters to buy his plan sight unseen; to believe his numbers even though they have emerged at the eleventh hour. They still omit key assumptions and have no independent analysis of broadband, refugees and climate change plans. Then there is a surprise reduction in foreign aid and water buybacks as well as an extra efficiency demand on the public service. Abbott’s mandate will be weakened as a result of this opacity.

When John Howard claimed the right to implement the GST after winning the 1998 election, he defined the preconditions for a mandate: ”We were upfront, we were unashamed, we were forthright, we were open, we were honest, and we didn’t hide anything about it.”

Abbott has hidden much and, as such, much must be taken on trust, just as Gillard Labor had to be taken on trust at the 2010 election. Labor then was a party that had corrupted the NSW government and allowed faceless men to unseat an elected prime minister.

Before the last election the Herald editorial said Abbott had not proved his case so Julia Gillard deserved a chance. After that election produced a hung parliament, the Herald recommended Abbott be prime minister because ”stability is more likely”. But Gillard retained power by, it emerged later, breaking her promise of ”no carbon tax under a government I lead” in a deal with the Greens. Labor betrayed the voters.

While the Gillard government achieved important national reforms in trying circumstances and kept the economy strong, it squibbed tax reform, skewed taxes, overspent on optimistic revenue forecasts and did nothing to remedy Labor’s fatal flaws.

All the while, Rudd remained a destabilising force; a reminder of betrayal – and an even bigger one when he retook the leadership just over two months ago.

Rudd Mark II has presented some laudable policy reforms on boat people and emissions trading. He talks of Labor’s big ideas so Australia can rise beyond our station. But reformers must take the people with them – and reformers must be trusted to deliver.

Rudd has struggled to outline how Labor would strengthen the economy, beyond relying on its worthy record during the global financial crisis. Faced with shrinking budget revenues, Labor did well to outline a plan for a return to surplus, yet lost the moral high ground over Coalition costings.

It wasn’t until his official launch that Rudd pushed Labor values based on a fair go for all. The Herald shares many of those values but believes Labor was a broken party in 2010 and is even more broken now. The Herald believes Australian democracy needs Labor to modernise and prove it respects the privilege of power. It cannot be supported for abusing that privilege.

Voters should not reward Labor before redemption, nor reward those who owe their influence to factions and betrayals of trust that have marked the past six years.

Labor under Kevin Rudd in 2013 is not offering a stable, trustworthy government on which Australians can depend. The Coalition under Tony Abbott deserves the opportunity to return trust to politics.

Editorial in The Daily Telegraph, Sydney.

Abbott offering a change for better

When the election was announced last month, The Daily Telegraph immediately declared its position. Our August 4 front page boldly announced: “KICK THIS MOB OUT.”

Events over the subsequent four weeks have absolutely vindicated that early call. Following two terms of Labor chaos, infighting, confusion and lack of focus, the election campaign has demonstrated Labor’s terminal dysfunction in concentrated form.

We’ve seen policy on the run from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who has announced absurdly speculative and unworkable notions about relocating the navy, applying a geographic measure to business taxes and building a redundant fast train network. There was also the fallout from Labor’s earlier announcement of changes to the fringe benefits tax, which led to job losses and a decline of car sales during the election campaign.

We’ve seen politicians on the run, with senior Labor figures including former climate change minister Greg Combet, former communications minister Stephen Conroy and ex-Labor leader Simon Crean preferring to travel overseas than campaign for re-election.

And during all of this we’ve seen an opposition leader making the run of his life.

Tony Abbott inherited a dispirited Liberal Party when he won the narrowest possible victory over former leader Malcolm Turnbull in 2009.

Former treasurer Peter Costello had already abandoned the party following the Coalition’s 2007 election defeat. Turnbull and his predecessor, Brendan Nelson, proved unable to counter Kevin Rudd’s towering popularity.

Abbott methodically worked to rebuild the Coalition’s prospects. Faced with polls that suggested several terms of Labor rule, Abbott so effectively galvanised his party that just seven months later a spooked and fearful government sacked Kevin Rudd and installed Julia Gillard as Prime Minister.

The 2010 election revealed how far Abbott had lifted the Coalition in a short time. The Coalition came within an ace of victory. Abbott has continued to build Coalition unity as Labor further destabilised, culminating in the return of Rudd.

Labor’s campaign continues to reveal the government’s self-destructive nature. By contrast, Abbott’s campaign shows a party and a leader advancing confidently and with calm authority towards power.

A Coalition win on Saturday should immediately lead to action, especially by providing a shot in the arm for business and investment.

Australia genuinely does need a new way. But the men and women who are best able to deliver it come from the Coalition.

Editorial in The Age, Melbourne.

Labor’s policies best reflect our values

The Age has long held that policy, not personality, is the core of our democracy. It is on this basis that we advocate a vote for Labor in the federal election on Saturday. We do so fully acknowledging that the Coalition under Tony Abbott has run a disciplined and competent campaign, and that after six years of Labor government the electorate is wary and weary of Labor’s infighting. Yet we cannot endorse a party that advocates policies with which we fundamentally disagree.

As our readers know, we support Labor’s national broadband network strategy, its commitment to increasing the superannuation guarantee levy, its Gonski schools funding plan, and its shift from a carbon price to an emissions trading scheme. We also support the deal it forged between business and environmentalists that led to areas of Tasmania’s western wilderness being added to the World Heritage Area. In our view, these programs are initiatives towards generational change. They are visionary, forward-thinking and nation-building, not gimmicks devised to meet a three-year election cycle.

Yet the Coalition would curb the scope of the NBN and defer the higher superannuation guarantee levy, despite the patent need to save as the population ages. The Coalition has failed to commit to the fifth and sixth years of funding on Gonski, the years of maximum investment, and it would claw back Tasmania’s World Heritage wilderness listing.

We deplore both major parties’ policies on asylum seekers but support Labor’s plan to increase Australia’s humanitarian intake. The Coalition would cut it. Underscoring the Coalition’s heartless approach is its proposal to slice $4.5 billion from Australia’s foreign aid budget. Importantly, the Coalition has back-tracked disgracefully on climate change. Its commitment to reducing Australia’s carbon emissions is now precariously linked to budget affordability. Climate change has moved beyond being a moral question. It is a fundamental economic imperative.

Looking ahead, neither Labor nor the Coalition has seized us with a comprehensive vision for Australia’s economic direction. Both have offered sound but limited strategies, targeted to different ends. The map for the longer term, though, is missing. While the Coalition would build new roads, it shies from expanding public transport networks. We are disheartened, too, by the Coalition’s vaguely defined savings plans, such as cutting 12,000 jobs from the public sector. At the same time, we are bewildered by its profligate proposals, including handing $16 million to Cadbury to update a chocolate factory. The ultimate largesse, though, is its paid parental leave scheme. It beggars belief that the Coalition, which contends the budget is in a national emergency, would happily dole out parental payments of up to $75,000 without any reference to equity and absent of any means testing.

Labor has its own clutch of opportunistic, ill-conceived policies: on northern Australia and the Garden Island naval base, for instance. On economic management it rests on its laurels, pointing to its performance through the financial crisis. It is now 2013, and recent growth has been muted by weakness in the mining sector and a widespread lack of confidence among consumers and businesses. Managing the budget back to surplus is a long-term project requiring a steady hand on revenue and savings, but it is not the be-all and end-all of economic management.

Just before the 2010 election, The Age called for a vision for this nation’s future, saying neither Labor nor the Coalition had inspired voters and the campaign had been hallmarked by ”diminished expectations, small targets and vapid slogans”. Sadly, it has been the same again in 2013. Fatuous and hollow sloganeering by the Coalition has been met with jib-jab policy on the run by Labor.

On the issue of trust, the Coalition’s own actions leave us with significant reservations. It has obfuscated and ducked critical issues, deliberately keeping voters uninformed about its savings plans or revenue-raising initiatives. Worse has been its breathtaking arrogance in cynically delaying until the last minute its policy costings – this, from the party that drafted the charter of budget honesty. When it comes to trusting Labor, we appreciate the public’s confidence may be so undone that a change of government could prove to be a circuit-breaker, injecting a short-term sense of stability. But The Age values policies above political opportunism; we do not advocate a vote simply for the sake of change.

The Age believes in economic and social progress, in liberty and justice, in equity and compassion, and openness of government. We believe the role of government is to build a strong, fair nation for future generations, and not to pander to sectional interests. It is with these values in mind that we endorse the Labor Party in this important election.

Editorial in the Melbourne Herald Sun.

Australia is ready for Tony Abbott to be prime minister

Tony Abbott stands ready today to become Australia’s new prime minister with a set of economic and social policies to take the nation into a safe and assured future.

He has not wavered from the task of building a disciplined and cohesive Coalition team in one of the most divisive parliaments in modern history.

In doing so he has proved himself a conviction politician with the energy to move Australia forward in tough economic times as families suffer from soaring energy costs and rising unemployment.

Mr Abbott is on a course for change and has sensed the mood of the Australian people. His pledge to abolish the carbon tax will relieve business and households of an ever-increasing burden. His decision to end the mining tax will remove another impediment to jobs and productivity. His multi-faceted policy to stop the people smugglers’ boats is soundly based and proven.

Mr Abbott will re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission to end the damage caused to major projects and investment by militant unions.

He will reverse the fringe benefits crackdown on car leasing arrangements that has seen car sales slump and workers lose wages in production stoppages.

Mr Abbott and the Coalition have shown they are more than ready to govern whereas another three years of Labor will condemn the nation to more destructive class-war politics and policy on the run.

It has been a shambolic six years since Australians voted Kevin Rudd and Labor into power. Mr Rudd was stabbed in the back by Julia Gillard. A vengeful Mr Rudd then knifed Ms Gillard.

Labor has been left a house divided. Its revolving door of leadership and its self-obsession have been to the detriment of the electorate it was supposed to serve.

Ms Gillard set women against men through her unwarranted misogyny tirade against Mr Abbott. Her treasurer Wayne Swan fired the first shots in the destructive class wars that Mr Rudd has tried to reignite.

The Labor years have been an economic and social shambles in spite of the national disability insurance scheme and the Gonski education reforms that have been taken up by Mr Abbott and the Coalition, although wary of the costs and uncertainty surrounding their implementation.

Labor has lived in a thought bubble, its years of deficits driven by navel gazing and foolish schemes doomed to failure, such as Mr Rudd’s proposal to move the Navy from Sydney to Brisbane at a cost of billions of dollars and the loss of thousands of jobs. Then followed the most blatant lie of Mr Rudd’s inept campaign, the declaration that Treasury, the Department of Finance and the Parliamentary Budget Office had costed the Coalition’s policies and found a
$10 billion hole.

The Government’s most senior economic bureaucrats were quick to say it wasn’t so. What they had costed were only Labor’s assumptions, given to them before the campaign had so much as started.

It was all a disgraceful and deliberate attempt to mislead the electorate and sadly for Labor’s most forgiving supporters the act of a desperate and dying Government.

Mr Rudd has flip-flopped on the carbon tax, border protection, car subsidies, foreign investment and even gay marriage as he has played at populist politics. By contrast, Mr Abbott has kept to his principles. He refused to accept the vote of disgraced MP Craig Thomson who was protected by Labor in spite of the allegations that he used the funds of members of the Health Services Union to pay for prostitutes and the election campaign that put him in Parliament.

Mr Abbott also refused to accept the vote of Peter Slipper after he resigned as Speaker amid great controversy. Julia Gillard had tempted the former Liberal MP with high office to shore up her numbers.

In refusing to deal with the Greens, who are more activist than accountable, he has put them behind Labor on preferences to guard against another hung Parliament.

“Does this man ever shut up?” asked Mr Abbott during a debate with Mr Rudd, but while some thought it rude, we think it showed an Australian impatience with Mr Rudd’s waffle. Mr Abbott’s honesty was in contrast to his opponent’s vanity.

In destabilising his own party, Mr Rudd put his own interests above those of the nation. The best insurance against a return to political chaos is a clear mandate tomorrow for Mr Abbott.

Mr Rudd’s talk of a “new way” is no more than a blind for what are Labor’s old ways.

HIS campaign started with the admission that Labor’s budget had a $12 billion hole, even more than the fiction he tried to hang on Mr Abbott. He followed that with another misguided manipulation by claiming Mr Abbott’s admittedly too-generous paid parental leave scheme will cost more than the Government spends on childcare support.

But childcare, made up of the childcare rebate and the childcare benefit, will outstrip the costs of the paid parental leave scheme by the time it would begin on July 1, 2015. He deliberately compared apples with oranges.

Mr Rudd’s credibility is gone. The new way is his old way of decisions taken without consultation.

Labor has betrayed its own values by and is haunted by its economic failures.

Remember the home insulation scheme to put pink batts in everyone’s roof, cash for clunkers, grocery watch, fuel watch, set-top boxes for pensioners, green loans, a green-car innovation fund, an alcopops tax, a mining tax and the carbon tax, which Ms Gillard imposed after saying she would never do so.

It is no wonder Mr Rudd struggles to present himself in new clothes when Labor’s mistakes and misadventures leave him naked. The bounce that saw Labor in a competitive position after Ms Gillard was tossed aside has flatlined. Labor’s return would be a further descent into chaos.

Another hung Parliament would be unconscionable and why Mr Abbott calls for a clear majority.

Mr Rudd makes the same call although he must know that his best outcome is another divided house.

The challenge taken up by Tony Abbott and the Coalition is to get big government out of people’s lives, to allow families to realise their aspirations and make their own future. We believe Mr Abbott stands ready to seize the day. His has been a disciplined performance in a bitter and deeply divided Parliament. He has proved himself a man of principle.

He has defied his critics to forge the Coalition into a cohesive government in waiting. He has never wavered in his belief that the way to restore the economy is through jobs and productivity.

Labor has lost its way as well as its heart. It has chosen to stoke class war to gain political advantage.

Not only is this un-Australian, it is also a betrayal of modern Labor.

Under Mr Rudd and Ms Gillard, Labor set rich against poor and women against men.

Tony Abbott has matured as a leader. He has gained people’s trust to do a tough job in tough economic times.

The Herald Sun believes Mr Abbott should be given the opportunity tomorrow to restore Australia for Australians.

We urge Australians to vote for Mr Abbott and elect him as our 28th prime minister.

Editorial in the Adelaide Advertiser.

It’s time for Australia to make a new start

How many times have you and your family looked at the infantile and destructive infighting in Canberra over recent years and lamented that you deserve better from our government?

How many times have you felt the faith you’ve placed in promises made by our past two prime ministers, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, has been completely betrayed?

How many times have you seen the Labor Party put self-interest and the preservation of its tenuous hold on power above the interests of all Australians?

The answer is far, far too many times.

For years we have endured a dysfunctional government too often bereft of true leadership.

This debilitating malaise has been caused by a toxic combination of a hung parliament and a Labor Party more focused on Pyrrhic victories in bitter internal battles than governing for the greater good. It has sapped confidence at both a personal and business level, and diminished our international standing.

Tomorrow, Australians finally have an opportunity to set our nation on a new path.

Tony Abbott and the Coalition deserve the chance to lead our country. Without doubt, Mr Abbott provides the best hope of restoring the confidence that Australia and South Australia so desperately need.

During the past six years he has led a Coalition of complete contrast to Labor’s selfish soap opera. The Opposition has been disciplined, unified and focused on the issues that matter for the majority of Australians.

Labor, on the other hand, has spectacularly failed to both govern itself and our nation and its finances. Voters scarcely need reminding of the litany of failings.

The government has completely lost the electorate’s trust through broken promises on key issues such as the carbon tax and budget surplus.

The party has sought to divide Australians, pitting men against women and industry against workers.

We have watched on in disgust at a leadership merry-go-round where faceless men, rather than voters, decided the most powerful position in the land. Labor finally returned to Mr Rudd only out of craven desperation rather than any convincing vision to take Australia forward.

The recycled PM has spent much of his time neutralising mistakes of his own making, foremost the dismantling of strong asylum seeker policies.

Mr Rudd was hailed as Labor’s messiah but after a brief honeymoon has quickly returned to form – a lack of consultation and policy created on the run without any thought to the devastating consequences.

SA has felt the full brunt of the ill-conceived plan to alter the fringe benefits tax on cars, which has already hit Holden with a devastating blow at its most fragile moment.

The Labor Party under Mr Rudd appears to offer only more of the same chaos and disunity. He has failed to construct a compelling case for re-election.

If, as polls suggest, Mr Rudd is defeated tomorrow he should leave politics for good. He’s proven to be a divisive and destructive force who too often places personal ambition in front of party and nation.

If he remains in politics, Labor has no hope of rebuilding itself. There is such ingrained animosity to Mr Rudd that he can never be a unifying force for the party which needs a clean slate that breaks the union shackles and truly stands for all Australians.

Clearly, we do not want leaders who seek to divide our nation across gender or class lines for political gain. We want less government intrusion into our lives. We demand the freedom to make decisions for ourselves, families and businesses unencumbered by the heavy hand of bureaucracy and legislation.

Quite simply, Mr Abbott offers the nation stable and strong leadership and the promise of a better future.

There’ll be challenges, but Mr Abbott has a committed and experienced team and has shown his willingness to listen to the concerns of voters. South Australians will want certainty from the Coalition on assistance for Holden, the GST funding model and defence spending, particularly submarines.

The Coalition has built a powerful case for change, not only during the election campaign but in its years of opposition.

Australians are eager to move on from the past six years and start afresh. Mr Abbott and the Coalition have earned the right to lead our great nation.

Editorial in the Canberra Times.

Abbott’s time, but Canberra will need to fight to be heard

Former prime ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating deserve to be remembered as Labor greats. They improved this country by chasing big, inspired ideas – and hauling unconvinced Australians along with them. Last weekend, they joined Kevin Rudd at Labor’s campaign launch; a tacit sign of support for the Prime Minister’s ailing re-election hopes. Yet one cannot help but wonder if their contribution was rooted in opposition to a lifelong opponent – the Coalition – rather than any special admiration for Mr Rudd.

Mr Rudd’s approach to the current election campaign mirrors the flaws that defined his prime ministership between 2007 and 2010. He insists he has learned from the verdict of that time: that he was an autocratic leader who rarely consulted others. Yet, over the past 2½ months, he has danced frenetically from one thought bubble to the next. His only apparent strategy has been to neutralise Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s populist appeal by becoming more populist himself.

Mr Rudd is rightly proud of a few accomplishments. His Keynesian response to the global financial crisis deserved the accolades it received from international observers, even if many Australians still fail to see how it benefited them. His government also began to build the national broadband network, a bold venture that could prove crucial for our future, in whatever form it eventually takes.

Yet Mr Rudd’s record is tainted by his personal style, particularly his inability to build consensus or produce meaningful reform. He commissioned the thoughtful Henry tax review but largely ignored its advice. After he lost the prime ministership in 2010, he spent much of the next three years covertly harrying his successor, Julia Gillard, and undermining her ability to lead. He seems driven by polling rather than policy. He switches positions on so many issues it is difficult to trust the pledges he makes. Thanks in no small part to his efforts, two Labor administrations have offered more in the way of soap opera than great government. And, perhaps most tellingly, when he reassumed the leadership in June, six Labor frontbenchers confirmed they would retire from politics.

That said, Canberrans are hardly likely to welcome Mr Abbott as prime minister. Like most state and federal opposition leaders (including Mr Rudd in 2007), Mr Abbott has criticised public sector ”waste” and promised an austere approach to government. This time around, however, the Coalition’s rhetoric goes beyond the usual public service bashing. Mr Abbott and his front bench regularly criticise the bureaucracy’s growth under Labor, even though it expanded more quickly under John Howard. They have pledged to cut at least 12,000 public service jobs and to shift some parts of the bureaucracy out of the ACT. Mr Abbott’s delay in releasing the costs and details of his policies is also troubling; unfortunately, a cynical public has come to expect this from oppositions.

Our city is braced for a tough few years regardless of which party wins Saturday’s ballot. An Abbott government would shed thousands of Canberra-based jobs, and also inflate the annual cut to agencies’ operating budgets (the so-called ”efficiency dividend”) – which will lead to even more staff losses. Canberrans may dread these decisions but they should not forget that a Rudd government would continue to prune the federal bureaucracy, too. Over the past six years, Labor has regularly sought to do this by increasing the dividend – one of the laziest, least thoughtful and ineffective ways to reduce government spending. Sure, the Rudd and Gillard governments also tried to cut spending in a handful of more direct ways, but their ready willingness to take the easiest option shows Labor is hardly the ACT’s best friend. Given its record over the past two terms, who knows what further cuts it would make if it retained office.

Nonetheless, many Canberrans, fearful for their jobs, will vote on Saturday to re-elect their local Labor MPs. Their concerns are understandable, but such a vote will achieve little. The ACT is simply not served well by having two safe seats in the lower house; it allows the main parties to neglect this city and its people. If Canberrans voted more strategically, creating electorates with slimmer margins, they would perhaps remind party leaders not to use us as a political punching bag.

The upper-house election gives Canberrans another opportunity to disrupt political norms. Psephologist Malcolm Mackerras said last month that a Senate vote in the ACT might be ”the most valuable vote in the country”; the only ballot that has the potential to prevent Mr Abbott from wielding complete power. At the same time, Canberrans will lose an experienced senator and proud advocate for the ACT, Gary Humphries, who was defeated in a messy and controversial preselection. He was the only Liberal to vote against the Howard government on a party-mandated ballot (on the matter of same-sex civil unions), because he refused to violate the ACT’s rights.

With Senator Humphries’s departure, Canberrans now have the perfect opportunity to break up the ACT’s cosy Labor-Liberal duopoly in the upper house, and in doing so place a cautionary brake on a likely Abbott government. A lack of a Senate majority is no barrier to good government; indeed, Mr Abbott must embrace compromise if he is to lead well.

And he almost certainly will. Mr Abbott is an experienced former minister. He offers consistency and discipline, while Mr Rudd offers more of the uncertainty and dysfunction that has brought Labor to this precipice. Mr Abbott will need a responsive and well-resourced public service to deliver his agenda. It is to be hoped that the commission of audit he has flagged will understand that governing requires skilled administrators and advisers, and that much of the apparent ”waste” in the public service is just an assumption. Neither party, and neither leader, offers much in the way of inspiration. However, given Mr Rudd’s record and Labor’s disarray, stability is the safer course for the nation. Mr Abbott should therefore be given the opportunity to become the prime minister we deserve.

Editorial in the Brisbane Courier-Mail.

A decisive choice

This election is a chance to make a break with a period of government and parliament which has disappointed most Australians and caused division and rancour.

The previous election was held in extraordinary circumstances, occurring just weeks after a ruling party deposed a sitting prime minister.

Now, three years later it has happened again and the public no more owns the decision taken behind closed doors by the Labor Caucus in June than people did when Julia Gillard took power.

On the eve of the 2007 election, we described Mr Rudd as man for the times. His time was short. He steadily lost his way, lost the confidence of his party and then lost his job.

Now back at the top, he has lost the plot. His personal shortcomings, his erratic and insular leadership style, have been well documented by those who know him best.

These are not insignificant failings. They have become central characteristics of Labor in power. To the nation’s detriment.

The one steady, disciplined and unifying force over this time has been Tony Abbott – something unusual given he has had the role of Leader of the Opposition.

Mr Abbott stands as the most successful Opposition leader the country has seen, uniting his team while effectively dispatching two prime ministers. He has held the Labor government to relentless account in face of strident and deeply personal character attacks.

Mr Abbott has learnt on the job. He has softened some of his views and shown an enviable capacity to lead his team.

In key policy areas, Mr Abbott has offered clear direction. He has refused to return to the ideology of the Howard years on workplace relations, preferring to take the pendulum back to what he calls the sensible centre. Mr Abbott has been resolute in his prosecution of asylum seeker policy. He will have his chance if elected and the community will hold him to his pledge – to slow the number of boats and break the people smuggling business.

Mr Abbott’s “no surprises, no excuses” model of governing will be nowhere more important than in the economic arena. The unity of purpose Mr Abbott spoke of in his policy speech should be paramount. He wants to lower the tax burden – starting with company imposts – and remove the regulatory complexity and overlap that adds to the cost and ease of doing business.

Mr Abbott has always seemed genuine when he says he wants to give business opportunity and get out of the way of those who want to invest and build. It has been refreshing to have small business figure so prominently in this election. Mr Abbott has grown in the job of Opposition leader, schooling himself on economic policy and developing plans that recognise the needs of enterprises and respond to the concerns of consumers.

On defence and international relations, Mr Abbott has also proved a good student. He realises our defence spending has fallen to inadequate levels and has a long term plan to bring it back to 2 per cent of GDP – an ambitious but necessary recalibration. Mr Abbott is untried in foreign affairs, although this has been the case with most of our new leaders. His cautious, no-nonsense remarks about Syria during the campaign were refreshing and will form a good basis for what will be a steep learning curve.

Mr Abbott has also shown a long-standing and genuine connection with Queensland, backing infrastructure projects critical to our state’s growth.

Of course, Mr Abbott is looking good not just because he has exceeded expectations and been disciplined and determined in developing policies. He also looks good because of the ramshackle and mistake-ridden performance of Labor in government. In this last term, Labor has been beholden to the Greens and country Independents. Some of the Government’s key objectives were left by the wayside. A promise to have a surplus this year was junked and now Mr Rudd says there will be one in 2016/17 – beyond the life of the next Parliament. Waste has continued despite the glaring examples seen in Labor’s first term when economic stimulus took precedence over good and accountable government.

The biggest failure for many in the community has been the inability to even put together a decent asylum seeker policy, let alone have mechanisms and agreements which work. From the East Timor plan to the Malaysian solution to the now half-tried PNG answer, the Government has been pinning the tail on the policy donkey rather than putting forward sustainable and practical responses. Mr Rudd still refuses to admit he got it wrong in dismantling the Howard suite of policies in 2008. This smacks too much of ducking the real failure of six years of Labor policy.

The greatest mistake of Labor has been to take the trust of the Australian people for granted. Ms Gillard did this from day one. Despite saying five days before the last election there would be “no carbon tax under a government” she led, Ms Gillard stepped straight into negotiations with the Greens which had a carbon tax at the top of the agenda. This broken trust has been seen in the broader behaviour of Labor in government. Mr Rudd was a destabilising force as foreign minister – culminating in his failed challenge in February, 2012 – and then on the backbench from where he white-anted his leader before cutting her down just two months ago.

Labor has been as bad in running its own affairs as it has been at running the country. Michael Williamson, the ALP’s national president for much of the Rudd/Gillard years faces charges of fraud and obstruction of justice because of his time as head of the Health Services Union and one of his former employees and ex-Labor MP Craig Thomson is also facing a raft of corruption charges. Revelations in NSW paint a party bedevilled by corruption and rotten candidate selection. Mr Rudd’s fig-leaf of reform announced in early July were too little, too late.

It is hard to argue with Mr Abbott’s observation that the best way to reform Labor is to give the party a spell in Opposition.

In contrast, Mr Abbott has passed every test his party has set him. He has met community expectations to be a steady, responsible head and heart in national affairs. More than any recent Opposition leader, Mr Abbott has earned a chance to prove himself as Prime Minister. His mentor John Howard once said the time would suit him. Mr Abbott may find, if he can carry his words and pledges into office, the times will suit him and he can grow and prosper in the Prime Minister’s office.

Mr Abbott and the Coalition are the only sensible choice for stable and predictable government ready to give hope and opportunity to the Australian people.

Editorial in the Bendigo Advertiser.

Disappointing campaign for Bendigonians

The 2013 election campaign has been disappointing from a Bendigo perspective.

OK, we shouldn’t totally grizzle – there have been a few carrots along the way. The $86 million pledged to fix the Ravenswood interchange was a great win for the community.

Thankfully, both sides saw fit to match funding, so this project should proceed no matter who wins tomorrow’s great vote. But the City of Greater Bendigo’s major election priorities – the Kangaroo Flat Aquatic Centre and Bendigo Airport upgrade – have to this point failed to attract concrete funding pledges.

Both would be vital assets for this community should they come to fruition.

They are worthy investments and it’s disappointing the major parties haven’t seen that true value and found the cash to fund them. In the scheme of things, the funding required isn’t much to ask.

As a community we must hold out hope the major parties rip open the purse strings today and pledge funding to one or both of these projects as a last minute sweetener in the chase for vital votes. Perhaps the biggest disappointment from the campaign is that Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and opposition leader Tony Abbott couldn’t find their way to Bendigo to support their candidates.

What does that say about their commitment to our region?

Sure they were busy, can’t deny that. But both leaders found their way to Melbourne and Bendigo is just a short drive up the road.

Bendigo deserved a visit.

In the final pitch both leaders provided for Bendigo Advertiser readers today, we requested an explanation on why they had ignored Bendigo. Both conveniently overlooked the request. So what value do the major parties really place on our electorate?

Finally, it’s time for you to decide.

Rod Case, editor

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