Tony Abbott’s daughters, Frances and Bridget, took to the stage to open the launch of his campaign to become the next Prime Minister of Australia, with the promise that he will look after the country the way he has looked after them.
With his mother and father also in the audience of the 750 party faithful which had gathered at Queensland’s Performing Arts Centre in Brisbane, Tony Abbott laid out his promises for his first day in office and his first 100 days and asked the Australian public to give his “team a chance”. His positive plans for change, aimed at helping him shed the ‘Mr Negative’ tag he has worn for so long, include help for dementia sufferers, self funded retirees and a HECS-style program aimed at helping young people train for a trade.
If elected on 7 September, he has promised that on his first day as PM he will start the preparation of the legislation to repeal the carbon tax, give orders to commence operation Sovereign Borders to stop illegal boats entering Australian waters and to end the changes to the Fringe Benefits Tax implemented less than two months ago by the Labor Government. By 100 days in office, he promised that a Coalition Government would have the legislation to abolish the carbon tax and the mining tax in Parliament and “that the true state of Labor’s books would be revealed. The NBN is also due for a revamp, with a new business plan to be revealed within 100 days of a Coalition Government being elected.
While the country may be divided on the proposed parental leave plan, the audience gave the biggest cheer of the launch when it was announced. Also on the cards is $200m funding over five years for dementia research and interest-free loans of up to $20,000 for apprentices to learn a trade. Self-funded retirees would benefit from immediate indexation to CPI of the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, which will see the income limits rise from $50,000 for singles and $80,000 for couples, at which they have been set since 2001.
The launch came one week before Kevin Rudd takes to the stage to outline his campaign specifics to members of the Labor Party. In a stark contrast to the support given to Tony Abbott by former leader and Prime Minister John Howard, Julia Gillard will not be there to hear Kevin Rudd speak. In a statement explaining her intended absence from the launch, Ms Gillard said, “I have respectfully decided not to be present at next Sunday’s campaign launch because I simply do not want to distract in any way from Kevin Rudd’s powerful message to the Australian people.”
Clive Palmer also took to the stage to launch the Palmer United Party campaign manifesto from his resort on the Sunshine Coast. Focusing on what is required to reclaim Australia as the ‘lucky country’, Mr Palmer promised to increase the Age Pension by $150 per fortnight, reduce personal income tax by 15 per cent and increase the federal health budget by $80 billion. While Mr Palmer didn’t say how a Palmer United Government would fund such measures, he did say that “This election has been devoid of ideas. Neither Abbott nor Rudd have offered any hope for Australia.”
Tony Abbott unveiled his new ‘Mr Positive’ side at his party’s campaign launch yesterday, but it seems that others are more than happy to keep going with the attack.
While Mr Abbott was preparing to be revered by his daughters in front of the party faithful, Julie Bishop and Campbell Newman were sharpening their claws ready to pounce. Kevin Rudd may have approved a series of ads which slam the Coalition’s policies, but Ms Bishop and Mr Newman decided to make their attack personal.
Julie Bishop started the scathing attack by saying that Kevin was a fake and reminded her of the Incredible Hulk. When talking about his multiple personalities, she referred to him as “abusive Kevin.” She said, “He reminds me of the Incredible Hulk, masquerading as the mild-mannered everyman but instead he is actually suppressing a monster inside that can be suddenly unleashed on an unsuspecting public servant or a flight steward, or heaven help a make-up artist.”
To the applause of the crowd, Mr Newman said, “They have had enough of your spin, your tantrums, your amnesia.”
Nationals’ leader, Warren Truss, took aim at both Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd for ignoring regional and rural Australia, saying, “Julia’s idea of an expedition into the country is to spend a few days in western Sydney. As for Kevin, he prefers to see the country from 30,000 feet while he is on his way to another country.”
So, while Tony appears to be playing nice, it seems that Kevin Rudd can’t let down his guard, as there are plenty in Team Tony only too happy to take a personal swipe. This reminds me of the make-over would-be British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher underwent at the hands of media guru, Charles Saatchi. The softening of the voice, more relaxed hairstyle and more feminine clothes may have been enough to fool the British public that she was compassionate to their needs, but she soon showed her true colours when she came to power.
With the polls now clearly indicating defeat for Kevin Rudd and the Labor Government, who knows if Tony will revert to type when he is elected Prime Minister. However, he may not need to actually fire the shots himself as Julie Bishop, Campbell Newman and Warren Truss have given us a taste of the spiteful, childish, back-biting which we will have to endure for the next three years.
Did good guy Tony win you over? Or do the personal attacks of Julie Bishop, Campbell Newman and Warren Truss more accurately convey the true character of a Coalition Government?