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ABC News 24: Afternoon Live -

View in ParlView

Subjects: Federal Election Campaign; Risk of Tony Abbott to families; WorkChoices.

PM: I'm here with Michelle Rowland our candidate in Greenway and there's no mystery where I am, you
can have a look at the food packaging behind me, we're here at CONFOIL and we've been moving around
and talking to people and I'd like to say thank you very much to everybody who's said hello today.
Obviously we're here on the last day of the election campaign, I am continuing to campaign and my
message to the Australian people at this point is very very clear. What we know from the opinion
polls is this, that there is a real risk that Mr Abbott could be Prime Minister on Sunday.

The choice that Australians face at this election is a choice between my positive plans for the
Australian economy, to continue investing and improving schools, to continue investing in skills
and apprenticeships, to continue training more doctors and nurses, more investments into emergency
departments, into elective surgery, more investments into our healthcare system. My plan to deliver
the national broadband, as well as of course continuing our fair work laws and providing working
people, like the working people we've met today, with increased superannuation.

On the other side of politics, Mr Abbott does not endorse any of these positive plans for the
future, he particularly does not endorse investing in the National Broadband Network. He is
planning to cut a billion dollars from support for apprenticeships. He is planning to cut our GP
Hotline, our GP Super Clinics, he is planning to cut a billion dollars from the Pharmaceutical
Benefits Scheme. As the hours count down towards the opening of the polls tomorrow, the shape of
this election contest is becoming clearer and clearer and certainly, a major issue that's becoming
clearer and clearer today is Mr Abbott's plan to reintroduce WorkChoices.

I note when Mr Hockey was asked about this today, all he could do is go "yes, if, but yes, if."
Couldn't give a straight answer and there's a reason for that, it's hard to give a straight answer
when you don't want to tell people the truth. When Mr Abbott was asked about this today, he
declined on a number of occasions to rule out changes to the regulations under the Fair Work Act.
Now these are weasel words because so many of the substantive changes we've made in workplace
relations, getting rid of WorkChoices are in the regulations. And I also note, that Mr Abbott
today, when challenged on WorkChoices referred people to the Coalition's website, he said it was
all made clear there. Well I'd ask people to do what Mr Abbott asked to get on the Coalition's
website, to look at the Coalition's economic principles, the document it said would guide it if it
became a government in this country. And there they will find the following words, they will find
the following words talking about individual employment arrangements and it says: "The Coalition's
workplace relations policies will seek to enhance this right". That is supposedly the right to
tailor their employment arrangements for their mutual benefit and wellbeing allowing each worker to
determine a tailor made employment opportunity. These are exactly the kind of words that Mr Abbott
used when a member of the former government to sell WorkChoices. The message here for Australians
is very clear. Returning to WorkChoices is a risk for Australian families. It's a risk to penalty
rates. It's a risk to unfair dismissal. It's a risk Australian workers have seen before. Too many
working people like the ones I have met today, suffered under WorkChoices. I don't want to risk a
return to WorkChoices, I don't believe the Australian want to return a risk to WorkChoices. So my
message to the Australian people is this - when voting tomorrow, there is a real chance that Tony
Abbott could be Prime Minister on Sunday and if that happens there will be WorkChoices on Monday.
This is a risk for Australian working families. And I say to Australian working families, don't
risk your future with Mr Abbott. I ask Australian families to endorse my positive plans, to invest
in jobs, invest in education, invest in the skills and apprentices we need for the future, continue
to improve healthcare, train more doctors and nurses, and build the National Broadband Network.
These are the positive policies for Australia's future.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister what does it say about your level of confidence, comfort and your level
of confidence in your positive plan for the future that you've just outlines that you've spent the
day wandering around verballing Tony Abbott.

PM: Well what I would say is: each and every day of this election campaign, I've said that this was
going to be a tough, tight close contest. I'd refer people to the polls this morning. It is a
tough, tight-

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

PM: Well if I can answer it, then I will. This is a tough, tight, close contest and in a tough,
tight, close contest the real risk is, the real risk is, that Mr Abbott is Prime Minister on
Sunday. And each and every day during this election campaign and indeed across the time that Mr
Abbott has been Leader of the Opposition I have warned of the risk of the return of the
WorkChoices. And as we move towards the hour of voting this is becoming clearer and clearer. I am
asking Australians to endorse my positive plans, I believe it's the right thing to do, to keep
investing in jobs, I believe it's the right thing to do to keep investing in schools, Trades
Training Centres, computers for kids, better teaching, empowered school principals. I believe it's
the right thing to do to keep investing in hospitals and health, more doctors, more nurses all of
these things are very important and they're the things that people will be voting on, on Election
Day.

JOURNALIST: Aren't you just embarking on a fear campaign because you are panicking about the polls
this morning?

PM: Look I've said to you each and every day of this election campaign and there have been some
days that you've scoffed at it. I've said to the media who've travelled with me each and every day,
this will be a tight, tough, close contest. It'll come down to the wire. I've said that to you each
and every day. Obviously the polls verify that this morning. And for me talking about this being a
tight, tough contest that's not new from me, I've said it every day and I've believed it every day.
The polls this morning verify it. And of course that means that there's a real risk Mr Abbott will
become Prime Minister. And I think it is fair when Australians go and vote that they contemplate
the risk of the return of WorkChoices. I was in the parliament listening to Mr Abbott's budget
reply speech in May this year, not that long ago, we're standing here in August where he endorsed
the central elements of WorkChoices. The Coalition policy on the website endorses a central element
of WorkChoices. Mr Abbott would not give clear answers that the Fair Work regulations when asked
today, Mr Hockey could not give a clear answer either. I think that the Australian people are
entitled to that information.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, you deposed a sitting prime minister to improve your party's position
in this election campaign. You're now polling no better than he was. Is there a danger that your
party's brutal political tactics may cost you this election?

PM: Well Australians will make the choice tomorrow. And there are two choices. They can endorse my
positive plan for the future and my investment in health and education and building the National
Broadband Network or they can endorse Mr Abbott with all of the risks that brings. The risk of
WorkChoices, increases in the price of groceries through his increased company tax and of course
cuts to health and education, that's the choice.

JOURNALIST: You told workers that if Tony Abbott was elected on Saturday there would be WorkChoices
back on Monday now that's a huge exaggeration, if not an outright lie to campaign on that isn't it?

PM: Well you know any day before the 2004 election campaign if someone had suggested that there
would be WorkChoices, people in the media would have said oh gee that's not right. Look what
happened. Look what happened after 2004. And who was at the forefront of defending WorkChoices, of
voting for it from 2004 to 2007? Tony Abbott. And did he repudiate it after the 2007 election? No,
he talked it up. He talked it up in his book, Battlelines. He talked it up in his budget reply
speech in May this year. I think it's fair to point out to the Australian people who care so much
about this issue because they rely on penalty rates, they rely on decent working conditions, of the
risk of WorkChoices. And then let's go through the rest of the list. Mr Abbott stands by his
company tax increase, which will feed through to prices. Mr Abbott proudly stands by his $1 billion
cut to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, his cuts to GP Super Clinics, his cut to the GP after
hours hotline. He stands proudly by his cut to Trade Training Centres - 1.2 million kids missing
out. His cut to Computers in Schools. He proudly stands by his cut to money for disadvantaged
schools, his cut to money for disadvantaged kids to get to university, his cut to money that we
have provided to invest in better quality teaching. And of course, he stands proudly by his plan to
never build the National Broadband Network.

JOURNALIST: If you don't win tomorrow, will you have still done the right thing in replacing Mr
Rudd?

PM: Well, tomorrow is decision day so I'll leave it to the analysts for the days after. Tomorrow
Australians face a choice. It's a clear choice. A choice between my positive plan for this nation's
future, my plan to continue to invest in schools and hospitals, to build the kind of opportunities
for Australians for the future I believe they deserve. To invest and build the National Broadband
Network so we don't fall behind the standards of the world. And, of course, the choice is clear. Mr
Abbot, the risk of a return to WorkChoices, his pledged cuts to education and health; his absolute
commitment to never build the National Broadband Network. These are the things that this election
will be decided on.

JOURNALIST: Just a few moments ago, you yourself said it's hard to give a straight answer when you
don't want to tell people the truth. But you didn't answer Matthew's question about why you're
talking about Tony Abbott instead of your own positive plan. You didn't answer Sue's question -

PM: I just talked about my positive plan, actually.

JOURNALIST: - lost the election for yourself. And you didn't answer Latika's question (inaudible)
Kevin Rudd. So can you answer those questions without referring to Mr Abbott?

PM: Well, ok. I just outlined my positive plan for the future but you obviously didn't hear it
(inaudible) positive plan for jobs in this country. We made the right choice during the global
financial crisis to support jobs [break in transmission] to support jobs. And making that choice we
demonstrated that we care about jobs, we care about the jobs (inaudible) to care of the jobs and
living standards of working Australians. That requires us to have decent workplace relations laws.
I will continue the Fair Work system. It requires us to invest in great schools, in
apprenticeships, in skills, in giving young Australians a go. I would do that with my investments
in trades training centres, my investments in our national trade cadetship program, my investments
in apprenticeships which I have announced in this campaign. Decency and looking after each other
requires a great healthcare system. I will continue our investments in GP Super Clinics, in the GP
After Hours Hotline, our investments in emergency departments, our investments so people can get
elective surgery on time, our national health reform which will step up the Federal government's
role and give additional local control. I will build the National Broadband Network, it is pivotal
to my positive plan for this nation's future. I will increase superannuation for working
Australians. I will cut company tax, taxes on all businesses, so we can keep growing employment -
that's the positive plan. For the analysts of what might happen on Election Day, I'm content to
leave that to after Election Day. What I'm talking about today is the choice for tomorrow, my
positive plan as just outlined, versus the real risk that Australia faces with Mr Abbott's plans.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, how has it come to this?

Prime Minister: Well, with respect, with respect, I've talked about WorkChoices during this
election campaign.

JOURNALIST: How's it come to this? A year ago, you were riding high in the polls, Kevin Rudd was
popular, now you're struggling to hold on. What went wrong?

Prime Minister: Well, look, I'll let you do the commentary but I'll remind everybody standing here,
on the very first day of this election campaign I said this would be tough, this would be tight,
this would be close. The election is tough, it's tight, it's close. Every vote counts, every vote
makes a difference, every vote is about the choice of Prime Minister, me or Mr Abbott. Every vote
is about this nation's future. Every vote is about whether or not Australian families want to face
the risk of Mr Abbott being Prime Minister.

Thank you.