Photographs shows scenes this morning from Auburn Basketball Center where the Leader of the opposition Liberal party, Tony Abbott, held an election rally.In attendance were many Liberal heavy weights including Joe Hockey and  Malcom Turnbull. Photographs by Dean Sewell.S.M.H.News.Taken Sunday 27th January 2013.

Barely recognisable ... a trimmed Joe Hockey. Photo: Dean Sewell

Pick the Liberal Party slogan: ''It takes pride'', ''Win with defence'', ''Champion players practise often''.

Really, they're the mottos of the Parramatta Wildcats emblazoned in blue and gold on the walls of the Auburn Basketball Centre, but neatly matched the pep talk atmosphere of the Liberal Party mini campaign launch at the suburban stadium.

Conveniently, the signs were also colour co-ordinated with the equally affirmative Liberal slogan ''Hope. Reward. Opportunity'', as the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, did his best to shake off his ''Dr No'' tag.

With hundreds of supporters dressed in matching aqua T-shirts, who were quietly encouraged by Liberal volunteers to wave signs declaring ''lower taxes'', ''better services'' and ''stronger borders'', it had all the feel of a US election rally.

The shadow treasurer, Joe Hockey barely recognisable having lost 20 kilograms after weight-loss surgery, warmed up the crowd while Mr Abbott waited near the three-point line on an empty basketball court in the next room.

''I make a confession within these four walls,'' Hockey said. ''I love Wayne Swan. I love him.'' But the adoration for the federal treasurer soon ended.

''Only Wayne Swan could invent a tax that doesn't raise any money and brings down two prime ministers.''

After Abbott and his wife, Margie, walked on to the stage she sat behind him smiling as he paid tribute to her.

He then spoke with almost evangelical enthusiasm about the economy, jobs, manufacturing and the environment, with lines such as : ''I want this year to be a year when we rediscover what it means to be our best selves.''

Abbott wanted struggling Australians to know he identified with them.

''We've struggled with the school fees, we've struggled with the hospital bills. 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.''

On the way out of the hall Abbott joined his wife in cooing at a blonde toddler, the obligatory final task of a campaign launch.

Follow the National Times on Twitter