2013 election: 'It's on.'
Kevin Rudd calls the federal election for September 7th, framing the debate in terms of trust, economic management, and negative Coalition campaigning.PT2M22S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2r76s 620 349 August 4, 2013
Labor has begun day one of its election campaign by announcing $200 million in new funding for the automotive industry.
The policy, announced on Monday by Innovation Minister Kim Carr, also includes a plan to introduce a 100 per cent target for Australian-made cars in Commonwealth fleets.
Industry Minister Senator Kim Carr will give $200 million in extra funding to the car industry. Photo: Jay Cronan
The announcement was followed on Monday afternoon by a pledge from Toyota that it would invest $108 million in building an upgraded vehicle in Australia, with the Rudd government contributing $23.6 million towards the investment, and the Victorian government also chipping in an undisclosed amount.
Senator Carr said the 100 per cent mandate would increase sales of Australian-made vehicles by 18,000 units per year or an 8 per cent increase on 2012 production volumes, if it were adopted on Monday by all levels of government.
''The automotive industry is vital to Australia's economic future and we are determined to increase sales of locally made cars,'' Senator Carr said.
Labor strategists will be hoping the announcement tempers the criticism the government has received from the car industry for its recently announced policy to crack down on fringe benefits tax for salary-sacrificed vehicles.
Labor's car industry funding would be designed to ''make sure that we do lift the number of vehicles sold in Australia that are made in Australia'', Senator Carr told ABC TV on Monday.
''We are trying to encourage people to buy Australian ... and to ensure that we have high-quality Australian-made cars on Australian roads.''
The election caretaker period does not begin until 5.30pm on Monday, making the $200 million car funding a government policy rather than an election promise, a spokeswoman for Senator Carr confirmed.
The $200 million comes out of the $500 million contingency reserve that was in the economic statement last Friday, the spokeswoman said.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott told reporters in Brisbane that it was ''scandalous'' that the government could not explain exactly how the $200 million would be spent on the car industry.
He described Labor's payment as ''conscience money'' for the crackdown on fringe benefits tax breaks for salary-sacrificed vehicles that has angered many within the automotive industry.
If the motor industry had to choose between Labor, which was offering a ''nebulous $200 million'', and the Coalition which was removing ''$1.8 billion in unjustifiable tax increases'', surely the Coalition was offering the better deal, Mr Abbott said.
Toyota's new investment will be used to build a ‘‘facelift’’ vehicle - an upgraded version of an existing model - from 2015 at its plant at Altona in Victoria. The company has not said which model will be upgraded.
Toyota will spend a further $15 million on an initiative to develop the capability of its local suppliers. The Rudd government will contribute a further $5 million to the supplier development program, bringing its total contribution to $28.6 million.
The Federal Industry Minister Kim Carr said Australia was one of only 13 countries in the world capable of building a car from start to finish and Labor wanted to retain this expertise.
Senator Carr said Toyota’s plans to share manufacturing skills and know-how with its Australian suppliers would increase their chances of winning new work both locally and overseas.
’’At a time when automotive manufacturing has been under considerable pressure, this is an investment in securing thousands of manufacturing jobs and supporting the prospects of employees and their families,’’ Senator Carr said.
But Victorian Premier Denis Napthine said Mr Rudd couldn’t claim credit for the deal which was stitched-up weeks before he became prime minister.
Liberals launch first campaign commercial
The Liberal Party has aired its first campaign commercial, running the positive theme of ''New Hope''.
Set to uplifting music and with the backing voice-track of Mr Abbott, the advertisement makes no mention of Labor and tells voters ''every day can be a great day''.
As the advertising blitz began, Mr Abbott jokingly suggested on Monday that he would need to tweet more often to keep up with Mr Rudd's success at capturing the youth vote.
''Well, I'm going to tweet shortly after this, that I've had a terrific discussion with you Neil, and you’ll retweet it to all your followers,'' Mr Abbott told Fairfax Radio.
During the interview Mr Abbott was asked repeatedly when he would reveal the $17 billion or more in cuts he would need to announce to deliver a stronger budget than Labor's.
Mr Abbott said he would reveal the cuts ''in good time'' and said he was ''absolutely committed to avoiding extra taxes on individuals''.
But asked whether he would keep the tax hikes on cigarettes and bank savings announced last week by Labor, Mr Abbott conceded: ''We may have to embrace some of the expenditure reductions ... even though we don't like them.''
No deal on election debates
On Monday, Mr Rudd and Mr Abbott continued to fire shots at each other over how the election debates should be conducted.
On Sunday, the Prime Minister challenged the Opposition Leader to a debate every week of the campaign, but the Liberal Party responded with an offer of one formal debate on Sunday afternoon and community forums.
Sky News also invited both leaders to a debate as early as Monday night. Mr Rudd said he was available but Mr Abbott's office said he would be in Sydney on Monday for a post-Ramadan dinner (which was a pre-existing commitment).
Speaking to ABC Radio on Monday morning, Mr Rudd said his proposal for a weekly debate was ''entirely reasonable''.
He said Mr Abbott did not want to answer the ''hard questions'' about the budget and the economy.
''I think if you want to be prime minister of Australia, I really question that if you're not prepared to debate the current Prime Minister of Australia in a full and open way before a panel of journalists, to cover the entire political spectrum, then I don't really think that you're fit to occupy the office of prime minister of Australia,'' Mr Rudd said.
But Mr Abbott said he was not trying to avoid debates.
''There will be, as far as I'm concerned, at least three debates between me and Kevin Rudd,'' he told Fairfax Radio.
Mr Abbott said there should also be debates between Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Coalition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julie Bishop, Treasurer Chris Bowen and shadow treasurer Joe Hockey and Communications Minister Anthony Albanese and shadow communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull.
''It isn't all about Kevin Rudd, it's not all about me either. It should be about the Australian people. That's why it's very important that this election campaign is not some insider bubble, where Tony Abbott, Kevin Rudd and a few journalists argue with each other. There's got to be an engagement with the people,'' Mr Abbott said.
Coalition leads in early poll
Monday’s Newspoll shows the Coalition leading Labor on the two-party-preferred vote 52 to 48 per cent, supporting Mr Rudd's claim that he is the "underdog" for the election.
Labor’s primary vote held steady at 37 per cent compared with the Coalition’s, which has dropped one point to 44 since the last poll a fortnight ago.
The Greens’ primary vote fell one point to 9 per cent. Roughly one in 10 voters say they will not vote for Labor, the Coalition or the Greens.
Mr Rudd remains Australia’s preferred prime minster, out-polling Mr Abbott 47 to 33 per cent.
Since Mr Rudd became Prime Minister, Labor’s primary vote has lifted from 30 per cent and has stabilised at about 37-38 per cent since the beginning of July.
The Coalition initially took a big hit, dropping several points after Mr Rudd’s return. But the Coalition’s performance remains strong with its current position of 44 per cent higher than the 43.6 per cent it polled in the 2010 election.
Greens Leader Senator Christine Milne said on Monday Mr Abbott displayed ''incredible arrogance by saying he's not willing to form minority government if the Australian people don't deliver what he wants''.
''Tony Abbott is admitting that he doesn’t have the skills to work co-operatively,'' Senator Milne said on Monday. ''He can only operate in the old style of back-room deals and a parliamentary rubber stamp.''
With Dan Harrison and AAP