One year on

On the anniversary of his party’s election, Tony Abbott has taken a reflective look over the last year and promised to repair the budget and help those most vulnerable.

Attending a Father’s Day event with his dad, Dick, Tony Abbott asked voters to reserve judgement on his government’s performance and agreed that there were things which could have been done differently over the last year. 

“Look, with the wisdom of 20:20 hindsight there are always some things (that could have been done differently) but we’ve faced some difficult challenges and I think we’ve handled them pretty well. In the end, that’s going to be a matter for the people to judge in two years’ time but we have faced some tough challenges. We’ve faced them squarely and honestly and we’ve done the best we can, sometimes under difficult circumstances,” he said.

The one area which the Coalition government has been most criticised for is its first Federal Budget, which several different sets of modelling has shown will hit the poorest hardest. The broken promises not to cut health or education have also rankled many voters. However, the Government, in the brochure, Building a Stronger Australia, produced to mark the anniversary does not acknowledge these cuts, stating that the $80b cut from health and education grants provided to the states is offset by increased spending, albeit at a slower rate than expected. “We’re investing more in schools and hospitals. Schools funding is increasing by $4.9 billion (37%) and hospitals funding is increasing by $5.3 billion (40%), over the next four years,” the brochure states.

In a pre-recorded anniversary message, he promises to “protect the vulnerable” and build a stronger economy over his next two years at the helm. Tony Abbott blamed the budget deficit left by the Labor Government for the “difficult decisions” which had to be made. “It would be nice if there was an easy way to fix Labor’s debt and deficit disaster. Unfortunately it is a difficult job … but if you don’t take the tough decisions today they’re going to be even tougher decisions tomorrow, that’s the last thing any responsible government would do.”

Peter Reith, a government minister under John Howard, believes the government should have “been more upfront”, telling Sky News, “Oppositions going into an election are terribly worried that if they tell the Australian public there (are) going to be cuts …they’re not going to get in.”

Independent senator Nick Xenophon likened the Government’s first year to being “tasered”, telling ABC Insiders program, “The government promised no surprises, I think some Australians feel more tasered than surprised by some of the changes.” While Opposition Leader Bill Shorten Opposition asked people to remember election night, “I think we’ll all remember on election night Tony Abbott said he’d be a government of no surprises and no excuses. Ever since then we’ve seen nasty surprises and pathetic excuses.”

Read more at TheGuardian.com

Read the Building a Stronger Australia brochure.

Opinion: We can but hope

Tony Abbott’s first year as Prime Minister has been a tumultuous one, including a budget which is set to hurt for many years to come, but is there light at the end of the tunnel?

We can only hope so. The greatest lessons learned come from the mistakes we make and no one can deny this Government has made a few.  Ultimately, such mistakes may decide whether or not Mr Abbott and his Government are given a second term, however, with two years still to go until the next Federal Election, there is time for him to turn around.

So it’s over to you. What would you need to see from the Abbott Government for you to vote them back for second term in two years? Do you think it is on the right path and we just need to be patient? Or has irreparable damage been done?

Written by Debbie McTaggart

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