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Abbott says bring on early election -

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Abbott says bring on early election

Samantha Hawley reported this story on Wednesday, December 16, 2009 12:18:00

ELEANOR HALL: To politics back home now and the Federal Opposition Leader this morning challenged
the Prime Minister to bring on an early election. In a speech he gave in Sydney, Tony Abbott said
that any political party that's frightened of an election is doomed to stay in opposition.

And he gave a taste of one of the key themes he'd run during an election campaign, saying that the
Government's emission trading scheme would be a tax slug equivalent to increasing the GST by 2.5
per cent.

Samantha Hawley has our report.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: During the 2007 election campaign, the then prime minister, John Howard said "love
me or loath me, the Australian people know where I stand". This morning it was a similar message
from a different leader.

TONY ABBOTT: Let me say this, as long as I am the leader, no one will be in doubt about what our
party stands for.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: But in an address to the Millennium Forum in Sydney, Tony Abbott was in many ways
distancing himself from the former prime minister.

He says he is John Howard's political heir not his clone and he'll be learning from the Howard
years not copying them.

TONY ABBOTT: Now ladies and gentlemen, I have to say to you in my first major outing to the party's
members and supporters as leader, that I am not a Liberal to the manner born. My maternal
grandfather was a lifelong unionist. My father reckons that as a child in the north of England
during the Depression he went to a kind of communist Sunday school where they sang The Red Flag
instead of hymns.

These are the disadvantages I have had to overcome in my life.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Tony Abbott's after the green vote. He insists he's an environmentalist and says
it's natural for the green movement to align with the Liberal Party rather than the more
traditional lean to the left.

TONY ABBOTT: I have always thought, ladies and gentlemen, that there was a natural fit between the
conservationist movement and a conservative political party. Not for nothing was the first
president of the Australian conservation movement foundation none other than Sir Garfield Barwick,
as Philip Ruddock reminded me earlier today.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: And as for an early election fought on an emissions trading scheme.

TONY ABBOTT: Bring it on and we will be ready for you.

(Crowd applause)

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: Mr Abbott says an ETS election won't be about the environment but about a tax
that'll be equivalent to a 2.5 per cent increase in the GST.

And in a new form of attack, the Opposition leader has asserted that the Government will use the
emissions trading scheme to shift wealth to the poor.

TONY ABBOTT: To generate endless wealth transfers to the Labor Party's favourite constituencies,
supervised by a newly minted carbon police. And when Mr Rudd boasts that most, he says, most low
income earners will enjoy 120 per cent compensation for their increased costs, what he really does
is demonstrate that this is redistribution policy dressed up as climate change policy.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: The Opposition hasn't released any climate change policy of its own except to
oppose an emissions trading scheme while the rest of the world hasn't taken action first.

But Tony Abbott says he's always been an enthusiastic supporter of responsible measures to improve
the environment and he thinks that puts him at odds with the Prime Minister.

TONY ABBOTT: He's a piece of work. That's how he was described by one of his former colleagues. He
is as prodigal with words as he is with other people's money. How else, how else could he describe
climate change as no less the greatest moral challenge of our time.

As if war, want, man's inhumanity to man, let alone more prosaic concerns such as balancing the
family budget and running decent schools and hospitals hardly mattered anymore.

SAMANTHA HAWLEY: It was Tony Abbott's first significant Liberal Party function since he became
party leader and he sent out a strong message to the faithful to donate to the party's election
coffers, because you never know when a poll might be.

TONY ABBOTT: I really thank you for your support, I really thank you for your encouragement, I
thank you for the faith that you have shared with me and my colleagues over the last few weeks and
I promise you that we will make a fight of the next election.

(Crowd applause)

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Opposition Leader Tony Abbott giving a speech in Sydney today. Samantha
Hawley with our report.