Within an hour of the announcement of a November 10 general election, the battlelines were quickly drawn at press conferences held by the two leaders, John Howard and Kim Beazley.
The Prime Minister, John Howard, said stability and certainty were what the country needed at this time. He said this is not the time to be changing course to a party that had no clear idea of what it stood for.
Howard defended his government’s economic record, citing its reduction of budget deficits, introduction of the GST and reforms to industrial relations.
Jobs, job security, health and education are the key issues in the election, according to Kim Beazley. He ridiculed the Prime Minister’s refusal to commit to serving a 3-year term and claimed that the government’s stability was in question due to the number of senior ministerial departures.
Seeking to respond to the Prime Minister’s focus on the international climate, what some commentators refer to as a “khaki election”, Beazley said the government had presided over poor relations with countries in the region and that the stability of the government was in question because of the number of senior ministers departing at the election.
The exchanges today will continue over the coming five weeks.