OPENING STATEMENT AT PRESS CONFERENCE
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
17 JULY 2010
E & OE proof only
Good afternoon Australians one and all.
Can I say good afternoon to members of the Canberra press gallery and at least say to them they’ll be relieved to know their days of standing on street corners waiting for the election to be called are over.
And can I say to Australians on the 24th of June I had the very great honour of becoming Prime Minister of this country, the greatest country of all.
And on that day I acknowledged that I had not been elected by the Australian people. And I said then to the Australian people that I would ensure, that in the near future, they would to able to exercise their birthright, their vote, to select their Government and their Prime Minister.
Today I honour that pledge, and today I seek a mandate from the Australian people to move Australia forward.
This morning I asked Her Excellency, the Governor-General, to dissolve the House of Representatives so that elections can occur for the House and half of the Senate on Saturday, August 21.
This election, I believe, presents Australians with a very clear choice: this election is about the choice as to whether we move Australia forward or go back.
Our great nation, our very great nation, has been built by generations of men and women who had the courage to move forward.
Moving forward, of course, requires conviction, it requires confidence, it requires a willingness to embrace new ways of thinking, accept new challenges, to listen and to learn and to embrace new solutions.
Moving forward with confidence also requires a strong set of convictions and a clear set of values.
All of my adult life I have been driven by a very clear set of values and over the last few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to share those values with the nation.
I believe in hard work, I believe in the benefits and dignity of work, I believe in what comes as an individual when you do your best and you earn your keep.
I believe fundamentally in the importance of respect and valuing other people, something that can be shown from simple courtesy to making sure that we give each other a helping hand in times of need and times of distress.
Overall, and most importantly, I believe in the transformative power of a high quality education, the kind of high quality education that with rigour and discipline enables a child to get the skills and the character that they will need for the rest of their life.
Now I learned these values in my family home, from my father and my mother who migrated to this country and, like millions of other Australians, worked unbelievably hard so that their children could have opportunities that they could never have dreamed for themselves.
Throughout my adult life I have learned to face the future with confidence; I believe our nation too can face the future with confidence.
I believe absolutely, I believe to my core, that the best days of this nation are in front of it not behind it, and there’s no challenge too big, no challenge too tough, that we can’t conquer it if we work together.
And so in this, the forthcoming election campaign, I’ll be asking the Australian people for their trust.
I will be asking Australians for their trust so that we can move forward together.
And moving forward means moving forward with plans to build a sustainable Australia – not a big Australia.
Moving forward means making record investments in solar power and other renewable energies to help us combat climate change and protect our quality of life.
Moving forward means moving forward with budget surpluses and a stronger economy that can offer Australians the opportunity to get a job, keep a job, learn new skills, get a better job and start their own business.
A stronger economy that offers Australian families security, opportunity and fairness at work. A stronger economy that builds on what we’ve achieved by working together, employers and employees alike, in the face of the Global Financial Crisis and global economic uncertainty.
And of course that uncertainty is not behind us yet and economic challenges are still very much with us, and hard-working Australian families, who are doing it tough, can attest to that.
Moving forward of course means bringing the Budget to surplus by 2013 – three years ahead of schedule, a surplus that I will protect in this election campaign by not going on an election spend-a-thon, by making sure that any promise we make to spend money is offset by a promise to save money.
By making sure that the Budget bottom line doesn’t change by one cent during the election campaign.
Moving forward also means moving forward with stronger protection of our borders and a strong plan, a real plan, that takes away from people smugglers the product that they sell.
Moving forward means first-rate services for hard-working Australians.
In health, it means increasing our expenditure on hospitals by 50%, it means training 3,000 nurses and 1,300 General Practitioners over the next three years, all the while as we expand our GP Superclinics and implement our health reforms.
And moving forward above all in our schools means putting at the centre of our agenda getting every child, every child, a quality education. I believe so passionately in this because a high quality education has been the centrepiece of my life.
I have worked hard to increase information and choices for parents through the My School website, and we will build on it, and we will deliver our new national curriculum with its focus on the basics of reading and writing and mathematics.
We will move forward with our plans to deliver better quality teaching, computers in schools, Trade Training Centres so that we can train students and apprentices. I want to move forward so that young people in this country have real skills for real jobs.
And so this is my commitment to Australia:
Under my leadership we will move forward, we’ll move forward together with a sustainable Australia; a stronger economy; budgets in surplus and world-class health and education services and other essential services that hard working Australians and their families rely on.
Now my commitment to this country stands in stark contrast to the commitment of the Opposition. Their gaze is fixed in the rear view mirror rather than on the road ahead.
The Coalition proposes to take this country backwards, backwards to the days when people somehow believed you improved education and health by cutting funding to them.
Mr Abbott, who of course cut $1 billion from our public hospitals – enough to rip away 1,000 hospital beds, has a track record in cutting health.
He’s now calling for that same backwards looking approach to other services that hard working Australians need. Instead of creating GP Superclinics, he would eliminate them. Instead of expanding Trades Training Centres, he would end them. Instead of providing computers to children in schools, he would see none of that.
The Opposition’s economics approach is also backwards.
When the Global Financial Crisis hit, they opposed the stimulus package, they would have sent our economy downwards into a spiral of lower incomes, lost jobs, and reduced services. Now that’s a spiral that they would have recommended for this country but the wrong thing for Australians, it would have taken us backwards.
And now, Mr Abbott, whatever words he tried to camouflage it in, remains committed to bringing back the worst aspects of WorkChoices.
In terms of the words he seeks to disguise his intent with, we’ve heard all of that before.
Mr Abbott is also trying to hold Australians back by making them afraid of the future.
Instead of moving forward to tackle climate change, Mr Abbott is in climate change denial. Instead of building a national broadband network – the electronic infrastructure we need to modernise our economy and help regional communities grow – Mr Abbott would down tools.
Instead of supporting computers in schools and e-health, he would abandon all of it.
Mr Abbott would even deny hard working Australians increased superannuation, he would even deny regional communities new infrastructure, he even wants to stop small businesses getting the tax relief my Government will provide.
Now at this moment there is clearly an opportunity for us to look forward in this nation. Australia needs many changes, this is not a moment to turn back. We’ve come too far as a country and we’ve evolved too much as a society to risk that kind of backwards-looking leadership.
Instead, I believe this is a moment for all of us to strengthen, to innovate, to learn – in short, to move forwards, not backwards.
This choice is very, very clear, and I look forward to presenting our case for judgment to the Australian people over the weeks ahead.
Thank you very much.
COMMUNICATIONS UNIT: Phone: (02) 9384 2220 | Fax: (02) 9264 2213
AUTHORISED N.MARTIN for the ALP, 5/9 Sydney Ave. Barton ACT.
(ED: I hope the campaign coverage and considerations include a serious upgrade to efforts in mental health. It’s not a sexy subject, but it is life or death for many – time to act )