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Australian Current Affairs

Australian political leaders off and running


01 Tony Abbott Julia GillardAS Australians yesterday put the final touches on their New Year‘s Eve celebrations, Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott fired the first shots of the 2013 election campaign.

In a sign of what is in store for voters this year, the leaders used their New Year messages to pitch their plans to the people.

The Prime Minister reiterated Labor’s commitment to big-ticket items such as school funding and disability reform, while the Opposition Leader flagged an election strategy built around creating two million jobs and a “powerhouse economy”.

Acting Greens leader Adam Bandt said the Greens would detail a plan this year for a post-mining-boom economy that would focus on clean energy.

The relentless political bickering of 2012 that left the public disenchanted with federal parliament was also reflected in the messages as Ms Gillard and Mr Abbott each conveyed their parties’ positive alternative.

Ms Gillard urged the public to work together to improve national confidence.

“Friends, among the many New Year’s Eve resolutions made, we should make one for our nation. Let’s start 2013 with a resolution to embrace a renewed national spirit of unity and confidence,” she said. “We have much to do and we will do it best by working together. I am determined that 2013 will be the year when we will together write the next great chapter in our nation’s history. A chapter about jobs, opportunity, a better education for our children, a better deal for Australians with disability, and that we do so with a renewed Australian spirit.”

In his message, Mr Abbott addressed the negativity issue by saying the Coalition was the “positive choice” for voters at the poll due in the second half of the year.

“The Coalition will offer . . . to build a powerhouse economy through lower taxes, more efficient government and more productive businesses that will deliver more jobs, higher wages and better services for Australian families,” he said. “In the months ahead, I will be explaining those plans in detail.”

Mr Abbott said the Coalition had a plan to “create two million new jobs and grow the economy” as well as helping small business expand, and to introduce stronger border protection and policies for a cleaner environment.

Ms Gillard said Australia was “wonderful” but it still faced challenges, from the global financial crisis to international security issues, now that is was a member on the UN Security Council.

“Our world faces ongoing security challenges like Iran’s nuclear problem and the missile tests of North Korea,” she said. “We will also continue our difficult and dangerous mission against global terrorism in Afghanistan.”

Ms Gillard said Australia — unlike the rest of the world — had a “resilient” economy but it needed to be managed carefully. “We have a clear plan for our nation’s future in this century of growth in the region which we live,” she said.

Mr Bandt said the Greens would continue to “stand up to the big business and the wealthy”, and deal with the growing revenue crisis. “In the new year, the Greens will push to plug the holes in the mining tax and lift the marginal tax rate on the millionaires who can afford it,” he said.

“(We) will lay out a vision for Australia’s economy after the mining boom . . . Australia must become a clean energy powerhouse where science, research and education play a central role.”

Source: The Australian
 
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