A defiant and disciplined Kevin Rudd has used his official campaign launch to urge voters not to write him off in 2013, asking them to think carefully about their jobs before installing Tony Abbott as prime minister.
His warning on jobs came as he unveiled new promises to win the support of small business owners through beefed-up tax breaks and of apprentices through mandated trainee quotas on projects and increased incentive payments for the purchase of tools.
Positioning Labor as the battlers’ friend, Mr Rudd repeatedly appealed to any uncertainty that voters might have about severe spending cuts under a Coalition government.
”If you are still feeling uneasy about voting for Tony Abbott,” he said, ”there is good reason for that, because he’s asking you to buy something sight unseen.
”You, the Australian people, have had a long time to get to know Mr Abbott after his 20 years in Parliament, but if you still have doubts don’t vote for him.”
He said if Mr Abbott won there would be ”real change all right, because his real change means choosing massive cuts to your schools, your hospitals, your broadband, your jobs and your pay packet.”
Labor’s official re-election pitch in Brisbane came less than a week from polling day, leaving the party little time to turn around its fortunes, with polls saying it will almost certainly be thrown out of office on Saturday.
”We should have done this earlier,” admitted one senior staffer.
Mr Rudd was introduced by his wife, Therese Rein, as Labor strategists attempted to upstage Mr Abbott’s use of his daughters at last week’s Coalition launch.
Dressed in spectacular red, Ms Rein reminded the wrap-around US-style audience of handpicked supporters and Labor luminaries of her husband’s humble beginnings from sleeping in a car as a child after the death of his father to his newest role as doting grandfather.
She said he was a man ”who carries his country boy smile everywhere with him”.
”I want you to meet … a man who just knows how important it is to have a place to call home, to have the dignity of a job,” she said.
Former prime ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating received enthusiastic applause when they entered the hall, with Mr Hawke introduced by Deputy Prime Minister Anthony Albanese as the country’s longerst serving Labor prime minister and Mr Keating as the best treasurer the country ever had.
An upbeat Mr Rudd showed no sign of feeling any political mortality, telling the party faithful that despite the welter of bad polls suggesting Labor’s troubled six years in power were at an end, all was not lost. ”In this election, we can and will prevail,” he declared.
He said he had come from behind before and, while acknowledging that Labor had made mistakes, said the nation could not afford to go backwards under an Abbott prime ministership.
Among several new policy announcements was a promise to ensure that all investment projects worth more than $300 million would be required to give local suppliers and workforces a ”fair go”. This represents a near halving of the $500 million threshold for such projects announced by Labor earlier this year. The Prime Minister said this would pump between $156 million and $624 million into Australian industry each year.
As well, Canberra-funded construction projects worth more than $5 million would have new mandatory apprentice/trainee/cadet quotas under which a minimum one in 10 workers is to be drawn from these categories, to boost job opportunities for the young.
”Federal Labor is going to this election with a positive plan for jobs,” Mr Rudd said.
Small businesses with turnover of less than $2 million a year will also benefit from an immediate ”upfront tax deduction … when they buy new equipment worth up to $10,000”.
Mr Abbott, who will make his last major campaign speech to the National Press Club on Monday, denied there were harsh cuts in the offing.
”I don’t believe the additional savings to be announced later in this week will impact on ordinary Australians,” he told the ABC’s Insiders program. ”I want to give people this absolute assurance: no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no changes to pensions and no changes to the GST.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.