Too negative ... Tony Abbott will start a mini election campaign to reposition his image before parliament resumes. Photo: Louie Douvis
TONY ABBOTT will start a one-week mini election campaign on Sunday, as Dr No seeks to become Mr Positive. But don't expect big new policies.
The Opposition Leader will travel Australia in the week before Parliament resumes to reposition his image. The impression that he is too negative is one of his major problems as election year begins.
Mr Abbott, his deputy, Julie Bishop, the Liberals' federal director, Brian Loughnane, the Nationals' leader, Warren Truss, and the shadow treasurer, Joe Hockey, held a phone hook-up with more than 165 Coalition MPs and preselected candidates on Thursday, posting a video of it on YouTube.
Labor MPs and candidates will get their pep session from the Prime Minister and the party's national secretary, George Wright, in Canberra on Sunday week.
The Abbott mini campaign will include television advertising and a document, Our Plan: Real Solutions for all Australians on the direction, values and policy priorities of a Coalition government.
The opposition says the document will set out the Coalition's ''positive plans for a strong and prosperous economy and a safe and secure Australia''.
Mr Abbott told his candidates: ''We've made at least a dozen specific policy commitments so far and these are further developed in this document, but I want to stress that it all starts with a strong economy.''
He said a strong economy required getting taxes and spending down and productivity and economic growth up. ''That's exactly what our plan does.''
The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, was determined to keep the attention on the negatives of the Opposition Leader. Campaigning in Queensland, he said the state government's slash and burn was ''only a foretaste'' of what Queenslanders would see if Mr Abbott were elected. The Campbell Newman approach had Mr Abbott's full support ''and it's precisely the sort of program Tony Abbott will put into operation if he were ever to become prime minister''.
At the same time, the opposition is shoring up its credentials on one of the negatives that has been working for it - boat arrivals. Ms Bishop and the opposition immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, will go to Sri Lanka this weekend for talks with government officials, members of the opposition, non-government agencies and others which will centre on Sri Lanka's efforts to combat the people smuggling trade and how Australia can help. A surge in Sri Lankans contributed heavily to the large number of arrivals late last year.