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Hockey and Swan go head to head -

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KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: Two weeks to go in the election campaign, with both sides neck and neck.
The Treasurer Wayne Swan and his opposite number Joe Hockey traded verbal blows in a National Press
Club debate today, and Julia Gillard tried again to lure Tony Abbott into something similar. But
the closest she's likely to get is a town hall-style forum in the western suburbs of Sydney this
Wednesday to answer questions from a select group of 200 voters, but it will be a case of one
leader following the other rather than any head-to-head.

Political editor Heather Ewart reports.

HEATHER EWART, REPORTER: While one was at the Brisbane show known as "The Ekka", the other went
back to school.

JULIA GILLARD, PRIME MINISTER: My father had not got to complete secondary school. Neither had my
mother.

HEATHER EWART: Campaigning in Perth's marginal seats of Canning today, Julia Gillard stepped up her
focus on education reform.

JULIA GILLARD: Now is the time for the next major round of reforms, and education is the linchpin
for the reforms we need for the future.

HEATHER EWART: She promised if Labor wins the election it will inject $380 million of new spending
in education, including financial rewards of up to $100,000 for schools that achieve improvements
in school attendance, numeracy and literacy results.

JULIA GILLARD: And I wanna reward a teacher who is in a disadvantaged classroom who transforms
kids' lives by making sure that they're most improved. Now maybe that mightn't be obvious to the
people passing on the street, because it doesn't look like a wealthy school. But if that work is
going on in that school, we should recognise it more for the school, more for the teacher. The
nation should be saying to that teacher and that school, "Job well done," and that's what this
policy is about.

HEATHER EWART: The Prime Minister was no doubt relieved to be back on more familiar campaign
territory after her horror weekend when she not only had to face Kevin Rudd, but was also
aggressively confronted by former Labor Leader turned 60 Minutes cub reporter Mark Latham.

BARRY CASSIDY, JOURNALIST: Did you feel intimidated, bullied?

JULIA GILLARD: I'm made of pretty tough stuff, but I did think that this was inappropriate.

HEATHER EWART: That's why Labor strategists were claiming today the incident shouldn't cause her
campaign damage and may even work in her favour with female voters. Even some senior Liberal women
say privately they were appalled and felt sorry for Julia Gillard. But that of course wasn't going
to stop Coalition leaders targeting her at their campaign launch in Brisbane yesterday.

WARREN TRUSS, NATIONALS LEADER: The Gillard Government is no better. After only 45 days, it's
already looking tired and flabby.

JULIE BISHOP, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: And don't worry about the bold and the beautiful, the young
and the restless; try the vain and the ruthless.

HEATHER EWART: The aim of these events is always to boost the leader and the party faithful and it
achieved that purpose without making any spectacular announcements or serving as any real turning
point.

TONY ABBOTT, OPPOSITION LEADER: I will stand up for real action and I know that you will join me.

HEATHER EWART: What it did do was offer a forum to swap notes which reinforced a growing view in
Liberal ranks they could win the election.

How would you describe the mood in the party at the moment in terms of the election?

HELEN COONAN, LIBERALS: Well I think it's buoyant, I think it's hopeful.

JULIE BISHOP: People are still making up their minds. They've got an open mind, but I think that
they can now see us as a government and they see Tony Abbott as a Prime Minister.

HEATHER EWART: What are you picking up here in Queensland? What's your feeling?

GEORGE BRANDIS, LIBERALS: I think the Labor Party is very unpopular in Queensland and I think
that's verified by the opinion polls.

HEATHER EWART: The Opposition reckons it could pick up 10 seats in Queensland and Labor estimates
back this up. The ALP is counting on other states to get it across the line, and today's Newspoll,
showing it had regained the lead slightly on a two-party preferred basis, gave it some
encouragement. At the same time, it knows it can't afford any more unwanted disruptions in this
all-important final two weeks.

As Mark Latham lurked in the background at the Coalition launch yesterday, the Liberals were today
happily wheeling out their past leaders and ministers to campaign in Melbourne.

PETER COSTELLO, FMR TREASURER: I was really pleased to see the return of Kevin Rudd to the
campaign. Almost as pleased as I was to see the return of Mark Latham to the campaign.

ANDREW PEACOCK, FMR LIBERAL LEADER: And I'm extremely confident that we are going to see a Liberal
government.

HEATHER EWART: As Andrew Peacock returned to his old seat of Kooyong, it wasn't all plain sailing;
earlier, he'd made this assessment:

ANDREW PEACOCK: You'd need to be a - pretty handicapped not to appreciate that this government is
dissolving before your eyes daily.

DAVID BRANT, FEDERATION OF DISABILITY ORGANISATIONS: These Liberal Party comments are entirely
wrong. They're wedged in their ideological past. We need to have them move on. The term is
disabled, but the insult is huge.

HEATHER EWART: The Labor Party joined the chorus of complaints from disability groups, while back
in Perth, Julia Gillard stepped up the pressure on Tony Abbott to debate her on the economy. Both
have agreed to appear separately at a community forum in Sydney on Wednesday night.

JULIA GILLARD: Both of us will be in the same place at the same time in Sydney on Wednesday night.
I'm very happy to make it a debate.

HEATHER EWART: While Tony Abbott wasn't buying into it, one debate on the economy did go ahead
today, between the Treasurer Wayne Swan and the Opposition Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey at the
National Press Club. They clashed repeatedly over the Opposition's election promise costings and
its failure so far to submit all of them to the charter of budget honesty.

JOE HOCKEY, SHADOW TREASURER: At the last election, Labor lodged 85 per cent of their policies for
costing by Treasury less than 12 hours before polling day. Less than 12 ... sorry ...

WAYNE SWAN, TREASURER: Are you saying you're not gonna submit them, Joe? Is that what you're
saying? They're not coming in? Is that what we're hearing? When, Joe?

JOE HOCKEY: We've made the hardest decisions - we've made the hardest decisions to date.

WAYNE SWAN: When will they be submitted?

JOE HOCKEY: They'll be submitted before the deadline.

WAYNE SWAN: Well, when will they be submitted?

JOE HOCKEY: Before the deadline!

WAYNE SWAN: Yeah. This week, is that right? They're coming in this week?

JOE HOCKEY: No, I'm sorry. The deadline.

CHRIS UHLMANN, JOURNALIST: Anyone from finance: when's the deadline?

WAYNE SWAN (to Andrew Robb, sitting in the audience): Are they coming this week, Andrew? This week?

JOE HOCKEY: I tell you what, mate. You're setting a benchmark for us that you never kept
yourselves, and that defines you as someone who doesn't deserve to occupy the space of Treasurer.

WAYNE SWAN: And as I've travelled around Australia in this campaign, I've spoken to so many people
who've kept their jobs because of stimulus. I cannot go to a country town or a suburb and not run
into a small business person who says that they wouldn't be - their doors wouldn't be open now if
it wasn't for the fact that we put in place economic stimulus. You can't measure that.

HEATHER EWART: The dispute continued outside the Press Club, with Labor pointing to differences
between Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey in what they're telling the media about spending estimates. The
Opposition denies this. It's at that stage of the campaign where every single word is monitored and
voters could rightly feel bewildered about what it all means.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Heather Ewart with that report. Now, for those of you who are wondering when we're
going to have our next interview with Tony Abbott - at the moment Julia Gillard is 2-1 up in the
campaign - we're told it's Mr Abbott's intention to be available tomorrow night, and that's to be
confirmed.