Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has responded to the announcement of the September 7 election by calling on voters to reject the division and dysfunction of the Labor Party in favour of “real change” under a Coalition government.
Abbott drew a line under the last three years of minority government by committing himself to refuse to serve as prime minister of a minority government in the next parliament.
Of the election, Abbott said: “At last the decision is yours.”
- Listen to Abbott’s press conference (19m)
- Watch part of Abbott’s press conference (10m)
Abbott refused to commit himself to a televised debate on Sky News tomorrow night. He said the Liberal Party Federal Director, Brian Loughnane had written to the ALP National Secretary, George Wright, with a proposal for debates during the campaign. The letter proposes a debate next Sunday, a forum at Rooty Hill and another forum in Brisbane.
Queried about the government’s economic record, Abbott was asked to explain why Australia had a triple-A credit rating. He said this was due more to the responsible economic management of the Howard government than it was to the “reckless spending” of Labor.
Transcript of Tony Abbott’s remarks at his Canberra press conference.
I want to directly address the people of Australia about the choice which now faces our country. At last, the choice is yours, it’s not the choice of the caucus, it’s not the choice of the faceless men, it’s your choice about the government you have, about the PM you have. And the choice couldn’t be clearer. The choice is between the positive plans of the Coalition and more of the same under the Australian Labor Party and Mr Rudd. I am determined, my team is determined, my team is determined, to build a better Australia, with specific improvements that we will deliver, we will build a stronger economy so that everyone can get ahead. We will scrap the carbon tax, we will get the budget back under control, aye we will build the infrastructure of the future and we will stop the boats.
Now, Mr Rudd talked about who do you trust? Well, it’s really about who is more fair dinkum, who can you rely on to build a better future? The people who have been stable and consistent for the last three years or a government which has been wracked by division and dysfunction and which promises more of the same if it’s re-elected. Who do you think is more fair dinkum? The people who actually stopped the boats in the past, or the person who started them up again in 2008?
The people who have actually delivered surpluses or the man who started the spend-a-thon which has got us into the fiscal position we’re now in where the budget is blowing out by $3 billion a week? The people who have been stable and united for three years of opposition, or a government which hasn’t had the same policy from one week to the next and has given us over a little more than three years, two prime ministers, six small business ministers, five assistant treasurers and four ministers for immigration. That’s the kind of thing that the Australian people will have to judge and I am happy to place myself in the judgment of the Australian people. You’ve got to the ask yourself, what are the real functions of government? The functions of government? The functions of government are to deliver a stronger economy, to provide national security, and to build a stronger and more cohesive society. We will deliver a stronger economy by getting taxes down, we’ll abolish the carbon tax, we’ll abolish the mining tax and as soon as it’s responsible the there’ll be a modest company tax cut. We will get regulation down, we believe based on the work of the Productivity Commission that it’s more than possible to deliver $1 billion a year in red tape cost reduction particularly to small business, so if we get taxes down, if we get regulation down, then we can get productivity up.
It’s all very well talking about productivity, but you’ve got to have a plan to deliver it, the Coalition does, our opponents don’t. We will deliver on border protection. We’ve done it before, we can do it again. And we won’t simply rely on another country doing the job for us.
Yes, we’ll work with our friends and neighbours but we’ll never rely on another country to do the job for us, because no one can more committed to the welfare of the Australian people than the Australian people than the Australian Government and no-one should be more determined to help the country than the Australian PM. And we will deliver a stronger and more cohesive society with better services, with better schools, with better hospitals and they’ll be better not simply because they’ll be properly funded, they’ll be better because we will trust you, the people, with more control over the schools that your children attend, and over the hospitals that you use and need whenever you are sick or in trouble. One thing that I’m determined to do is build a country where no one ever feels like a stranger, to build a country where the bonds of social solidarity, the bonds of social solidarity, the bonds of community are stronger and stronger.
One thing that’s been most dismaying about the current government is their attempts to turn Australian against Australian, and, yes, when Mr Rudd came in, he said that divisive rhetoric would cease, but the first bit of legislation passed under more Rudd when he came back to the prime ministership was the legislation making 457 visas more difficult. Now, it’s extraordinary that a government which has failed to stop people coming illegally to Australia by boat has tried consistently to demonise people coming to Australia legally and working and paying taxes from day one. You’ll never find this kind of divisiveness from me. I am proud of Australia as an immigrant society, I am proud of the fact that people from all over the world have come here not to change us but to join us and that’s social . . . will increase under a Coalition government.
Mr Rudd talks a lot about a strong economy and yet it’s plain that this government has no plan to manage our economy, no plan whatsoever, and that was crystal clear on Friday when it was revealed that the Budget balance has been deteriorating by $3 billion a week since May when it was revealed that our gross debt is skyrocketing towards $400 billion and when it was revealed that the numbers of unemployed marching towards 800,000. What’s Mr Rudd’s solution to this? Three new taxes. Well, the last way to build a strong economy is to clobber people with taxes, you get a company car, there’s a tax on you, you put your savings in the bank, there’s a tax on you, you light up a cigarette, there’s a tax on you, and if this is what the government does before an election, just think what it would be like after an election.
So there is a clear choice, it is in the hands of you, the people and the question that you’ll be weighing as you begin this election campaign – do you really want three more years like the last six? Do you really think that Australia needs another three years like this six years that it’s just had? I know we are a great country, I know we are a great people, you know that too. There’s almost nothing wrong with our country that wouldn’t be improved by a change be improved by a change be government. That’s what we need, a change of government.
Our best years are ahead of us but only if we seize our opportunities and one opportunity that we must seize is the opportunity to change the government. I am ready, my team is ready, you’ve watched us for three years, you’ve seen the unity, you’ve seen the stability, you’ve seen the strengthen, we won’t let you down. There are two final observations that I just want to make. If you do want to change the government, there’s only one way to do it and that’s to vote for your local Liberal-National candidate. And there’s a commitment that I want to give you – there will not be a minority government led by me. There will not be deals done with independents and minor parties under any political movement that I lead.
Australia needs strong and stable government, we don’t need another three years of like the time we’ve just gone through, that’s why it is so important as we face the future as a nation, to choose your Liberal-National candidate and his or her positive plans for the future.
Statement released by Tony Abbott.
THE CHOICE – ELECTION 2013
The Liberal and National Parties welcome this election, because at last the people of Australia get to choose.
At this election, it’s you who get to choose – and not the faceless men.
The Coalition offers real change with a positive Plan and a united team – real change for the better. We will deliver strong, experienced and stable government, a stronger economy, stronger borders, a stronger Australia and a better future – for all Australians.
We aren’t about talk – we are about real action and real delivery.
Only the Coalition can form a strong and stable government that will deliver on our positive Plan for lower taxes, real help for families and build a strong, prosperous economy.
By contrast, the best that Labor can do at this election is hang on. The best Labor can offer is more compromise, more deals and more uncertainty.
There is only one way that Australians can be sure to leave the chaos, the division, the failures, and the bloodletting behind, for good… and that is to change the Government.
Labor is just offering you more of the same. If Labor hangs on, they will only be offering more talk, more chaos, more division, more uncertainty and more unexpected new taxes. There will be more turmoil and you can be certain there will be another deal with the Greens. It will be the same Rudd-Gillard-Rudd Labor failure all over again.
The risk at this election is another Labor minority government just like the one we’ve had for the past three years.
Another hung parliament with the Greens and Labor sharing power just means more uncertainty, more debt, more taxes, less jobs and more unexpected hits on you and your family.
Only the Coalition can be trusted when we say there will be no deals with the Greens, no deals with flaky independents; no deals whatsoever.
Under no circumstances will I allow the Coalition to enter into a minority government arrangement.
I believe this election is the clearest choice in a generation. It’s about choosing real change and real action to help all Australians get ahead again.
A real change means a strong, unified government that’s more than more talk.
Real action means taxes actually cut, more for families, better local services, stopping the boats and two million new jobs. Real action means new roads underway in major cities within 12 months and more help for small businesses to create jobs and get the economy moving.
When Mr Rudd talks about the future he only means the next five weeks.
On Friday the government confirmed that Australia faces a Budget emergency.
Between now and September 7th, Labor will make many promises and fake commitments on the economy but I ask Australians to judge the parties on their record.
Only the Coalition has a Plan to build a stronger economy, repay Labor’s debt and create jobs.
I want to build a future for our children with more jobs, less debt, better services and more opportunities for all Australians to get ahead.
Australians can be confident that the Coalition will deliver a strong, prosperous economy and a safe, secure Australia because we have listened to people from all parts of our country, and carefully developed Our Real Solutions Plan to build a strong Australia and a better future – for all Australians.
Our Real Solutions Plan lays down 10 clear actions that we will take which will make our country stronger and families more secure:
1. We will build a stronger, more diverse economy with lower taxes, less waste
A stronger economy is the foundation of everything that the Coalition seeks to build – because a stronger economy means more jobs, higher wages and better services – as well as the funding that’s needed to help families get ahead.
In building a truly strong economy we’ll scrap the carbon tax, the mining tax, help small businesses create jobs and provide a modest company tax cut – which is real taxation reform in the first term of a Coalition government.
2. We will get the Budget back under control
According to Labor’s own figures, Australia’s record debt will cost Australians an average of $10 billion in interest each year over the next four years – money which should be going to support health and education and build and repair roads.
By getting the Budget under control, repaying debt and strengthening our finances we can protect the economy from future shocks and ensure our children aren’t left to pay a soaring debt legacy through interest payments and higher taxes.
3. Help families get ahead by freeing them from the carbon tax
Abolishing the carbon tax is the quickest way to reduce power prices and take the pressure off the cost of living – and by keeping the current tax thresholds as well as fortnightly pension and benefit increases, we can provide a tax cut and a pension increase without a carbon tax.
And don’t forget, if Labor is re-elected, the carbon tax remains and increases – pushing up prices for years to come.
I won’t play a word game with the carbon tax. It’s gone under a Coalition government.
4. Help small businesses grow by reducing business costs
We will make it easier for small business to employ more people by cutting $1 billion a year in red and green tape; conducting a ‘root and branch’ review of competition laws; and by not proceeding with Labor’s $1.8 billion hit on FBT and cars.
Our plans will help get small businesses growing again, double the rate of small business start-ups and get small business back to where it was under the last Coalition government.
5. Build a Five-Pillar economy
Australia needs a more diverse economy, without all our eggs just in the mining basket. I want Australia to build on its strengths in manufacturing, agriculture, advanced services, education and research as well as boosting mining.
By diversifying and strengthening the economy we can deliver stronger jobs growth in many industries right across Australia.
6. Generate one million new jobs over the next five years and two million new jobs within 10 years
Australian jobs growth is now the slowest in over 15 years and there are 75,000 more unemployed people now than when Labor introduced its carbon tax. And the latest Budget forecasts show that unemployment will rise significantly under a re-elected Labor government – to nearly 800,000 unemployed. This is not acceptable to the Coalition.
Our plan will grow a bigger economy, cut taxes and make government more efficient and businesses more productive.
7. Build more modern infrastructure to get things moving
Reducing bottlenecks on our roads will be a key priority for a new Coalition government. We will help get major infrastructure projects going across Australia within 12 months – with major investments in: WestConnex in Sydney; Gateway Motorway in Brisbane; East West Road Link in Melbourne; the South Road in Adelaide; the Midland Highway in Tasmania and we are committed to the Perth gateway project.
With major investments in the Bruce Highway and the Pacific Highway – we will have a network of upgrades to our national highway network that will finally modernise our national highway network along the Eastern Seaboard.
8. Deliver better health and education services – with local communities in charge
The next Coalition government will work closely with the states to try to ensure that public schools and public hospitals are locally-run rather than controlled by distant bureaucracies.
Local hospital and school boards will provide better health and education services at the local community level and at the same time deliver better value for their money.
Our approach is about lifting standards in these critical areas.
In education, I want a school system with better teachers, better teaching, higher academic standards, more community engagement, and more principal autonomy.
We’ll also provide schools with funding certainty – so the Coalition will match the dollar-for-dollar commitments already made to schools for the next four years, without Labor’s Canberra takeover of schools.
In health, I believe in private health insurance – because a strong private health insurance scheme keeps people out of public hospitals and keeps waiting lists down. It means a better health system for everyone.
9. Build a 15,000-strong Green Army to clean-up the environment
We will build the largest environmental workforce in our history that will clean up riverbanks and creek beds, revegetate sand dunes as well as undertake remediation and conservation projects around Australia.
10. The boats will stop – with tough, proven measures not talk from proven boat failures
There is a national emergency on our borders – with almost 50,000 illegal arrivals by boat, over $10 billion in additional costs to the Budget and tragically, over 1,000 lives lost at sea.
We have a real solution to stop the boats. Our position has been consistent. Australia needs more than a Labor election fix, followed by another Labor failure. We will use all measures to stop the boats – a full and comprehensive set of measures, not just a few.
Above all, we will return stable, certain, competent Government so all Australians can again plan their futures with confidence.
I know the last few years haven’t been easy for Australians, particularly for families.
The Coalition offers our country a better way.
I have real confidence in our Real Solutions Plan – and real confidence in my team.
Unlike Labor, we are not a one man band held together with sticky tape and fakery, just for show immediately before an election.
We offer the only truly united team – and experienced team as well. Sixteen members of the Shadow Cabinet were ministers in the last Coalition government. In contrast, Labor is severely depleted because of in-fighting and a factional system where Labor members can’t work together.
My message to the Australian people is that only by choosing your Liberal or National candidate will you get a stronger voice in a better government.
Only by choosing your local Liberal or National candidate will you get a truly united team that can and will take real action to help all Australians get ahead.
On 7 September, I’m asking for your support to make the real change to a stronger, united government with a Plan to build a stronger Australia and a better future – for all Australians.