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Prime Minister announces five goals for a possible fifth term in government.

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Monday 20 August 2007

Prime Minister announces five goals for a possible fifth term in government


MARK COLVIN: The Prime Minister has laid out his Government's fifth term agenda, promising tax cuts and Budget surpluses exceeding one per cent of Australia's economy if he is re-elected. Mr Howard says he wants to be Prime Minister again to ensure the past few years mark a lasting turning point in Australia's economic ambitions. 


He says Australia's transformation has been great, but it's unfinished. Kevin Rudd has responded by questioning the Prime Minister's credentials on security, infrastructure and prosperity.  


From Canberra, Alexandra Kirk reports. 


ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Prime Minister has outlined his five goals for a fifth term: keeping Australia strong, secure and united; building a new era of economic growth; rebadging federalism to embrace what he calls "a sense of aspirational nationalism"; ensuring everyone shares the economic prosperity; and acting on climate change, water and energy security. 


Having declared the job not yet done, Mr Howard has launched his bid for another term in office. 


JOHN HOWARD: I defy anyone to identify the core economic convictions of the alternative prime minister of Australia in 2007. 


ALEXANDRA KIRK: In a dig at his opponent, he says leadership is about more than printing t-shirts and calling yourself an economic conservative. Mr Howard says he wants to lead the country again because he believes Australia can now set its sights even higher, decreeing the new Australian synthesis of aspiration and fairness is everywhere in progress, but nowhere complete. 


Addressing a business lunch in Sydney, the Prime Minister said the key to achieving the five goals he's set out is economic strength. And the key to that, he maintains, is running big Budget surpluses. 


JOHN HOWARD: All but four of the 13 Hawke-Keating era Budgets were deficit Budgets. All but two of Peter Costello's 12 Budgets have been in surplus. In the last three years, our Budget surpluses have exceeded one per cent of GDP (gross domestic product). 


ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Government will deliver a Budget update in the next few days, along with a further outline about how the surplus is to be invested.  


JOHN HOWARD: But today I want to commit the Government, if it is re-elected, to maintaining as appropriate, Budget surpluses of at least one per cent of GDP in future years with the surpluses locked away in a fund so that only the earnings would be available for investment in economic and social infrastructure. 


ALEXANDRA KIRK: More tax cuts are also part of the Prime Minister's re-election pitch. 


JOHN HOWARD: Contingent on the macroeconomic outlook, further tax reform will be part of this Government's agenda for growth, prosperity and opportunity in a fifth term. 


ALEXANDRA KIRK: The term "aspirational nationalism" also got a workout today as Mr Howard continues his federal intervention push. 


JOHN HOWARD: We should be neither centralists, nor slavish adherents to states' rights. We should be focused on outcomes and not systems. We should be what I would call "aspirational nationalists". 


ALEXANDRA KIRK: The pragmatic Prime Minister says some things remain the exclusive domain of the states. Others involve cooperative federalism, while others still necessitate the Commonwealth bypassing the states altogether. 


JOHN HOWARD: There are two profound sentiments and trends in Australia today: localism and nationalism. Neither are of a brash, exclusivist variety. Both embody a very Australian brand of quiet, understated pride and patriotism. 


ALEXANDRA KIRK: Mr Howard warns now is not the time to abandon the workplace changes, predicting if Labor wins the laws will be thrown out and no future Coalition Government would reinstate them. At a time of relative prosperity, Mr Howard says it's important everyone shares the benefits. 


JOHN HOWARD: My fourth goal is to ensure that a rising tide of prosperity lifts all boats, and to help every Australian child get a solid start in life. 


KEVIN RUDD: So, Mr Howard talks about "rising boats" on the basis of his policy. WorkChoices has torpedoed so many of those boats for working families. 


ALEXANDRA KIRK: Labor leader Kevin Rudd says sending Australian troops to Iraq has made Australia less secure, and when it comes to infrastructure:  


KEVIN RUDD: As I look through the text of this speech, one big question looms in my mind. Why is it that four weeks before an election, Mr Howard makes a statement about this country's future need for infrastructure, in particular, when he has been the Government of Australia for 11 long years. 


For Mr Howard to say that security represents a credential for him in the future, when five years into the Iraq war it is a rolled gold disaster, which has made this country a greater terrorist target, it doesn't add up. 


MARK COLVIN: Kevin Rudd ending Alexandra Kirk's report.