Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has officially kicked off his unofficial mini-election campaign, saying this year’s poll is the most important in a generation.
Mr Abbott released a new campaign blueprint which appears to backpedal on delivering a budget surplus within 12 months if he wins government.
The coalition’s 50-page photo-rich glossy policy document, Our Plan: Real Solutions for all Australians, says “we will get the budget under control” but it does not mention a time frame.
Mr Abbott told an American presidential-style rally of 300 Liberal supporters in Sydney the coalition has been “listening” and strengthening its plans for Australia.
He described Australia as “a great country, a great people, shame about the government”.
‘Our best days will only come if we change the government’
“I know our best days are ahead of us but our best days will only come if we change the government,” Mr Abbott said.
He said the next federal poll will be the most important election in a generation, and 2013 will be the year Australians rediscover “their best selves”.
“We have to have more freedom, that’s what we have in the marrow of our bones, that’s what’s in the DNA of the Liberal Party,” Mr Abbott said.
The opposition leader said his plan started with a strong economy.
He outlined in general terms the coalition’s intention to cut taxes, abolish the carbon and mining taxes, boost productivity and slash red tape.
“A strong economy is what we need to produce the strong communities that each and every one of us belongs to.”
The social fabric of Australia was what made the country strong, Mr Abbott said.
He hoped to improve it with his “fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme” and better child care that let women participate more in the workforce.
Mr Abbott again took aim at the carbon tax.
“Just think of how much hotter it would have been the other day but for the carbon tax,” he said to laughter from the party faithful.
“Isn’t it bizarre that this government thinks that somehow raising the price of electricity is going to clean up our environment?”
At the Auburn Basketball Centre venue in Sydney, a huge Australian flag served as Mr Abbott’s backdrop, while supporters waved blue and yellow flyers saying “lower taxes”, “better services”, “stronger borders”.
A ballad with lyrics about making Australia stronger and keeping promises welcomed Mr Abbott on to the stage, which was raised in the middle of the crowd.
His wife Margie sat behind him listening, as he described their life as regular Australians.
‘We know what it is like to struggle’
“We are a pretty normal family with a mortgage, with bills. We’ve struggled with the school fees, we’ve struggled with the hospital bills and yes, it’s easier now.
“But we know what it is like to struggle. We know what it is like not to be sure whether you’ve got enough money in your bank account at the end of the month.
“We have got to do the right thing by the ordinary, decent working people of our country. We will not let them down.”
But the focus wasn’t entirely on Mr Abbott and his family, but senior Liberals, candidates and supporters.
At one point, he asked senior Liberal figures like Malcolm Turnbull, Philip Ruddock and Arthur Sinodinos, who was former prime minister John Howard‘s chief of staff, to stand up and take a bow.
“One of the things that makes me so proud is the way the candidates this great party is putting up for election in 2013 represent the diversity of our country.
“We’ve got teachers, we’ve got nurses, we’ve got doctors, we’ve got small business people, we’ve got farmers, we’ve got a publican, no sinners but we have publicans.”Source: Sydney Morning Herald “Abbott rallies the troops in Sydney”
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