Kevin Rudd's election campaign launch speech in full
THIS afternoon, I visited the Governor-General and her Excellency has accepted my advice an election be held on Saturday, 7 September.
The time has come for the Australian people to decide on our nation's future.
They are the ones who we in this parliament are elected to serve.
Ours is a truly great country. Nobody should ever talk this country down. Around the world, we are seen as one of the best countries on the planet. Blessed with the strong economy, a hard-working, talented and creative people.
A people who never surrender their deep sense of a fair go for all.
These are the values which have steered our country through the first century of its federation and, I believe, they are the values which will guide us into the future as well.
Australia is too open and positive a nation to retreat into a tight little ball of negativity.
This election will be about who the Australian people trust to best lead them through the difficult new economic challenges which now lie ahead. New challenges brought about by the end of the China resources boom.
New challenges also that have to be confronted. The boom of course has fuelled so much of our nation's wealth. That boom is over.
This election will also be about who the Australian people trust to steer our economy through the great economic transition that therefore lies ahead.
If as a nation we fail to manage this transition well, it will hurt the jobs and living standards of all Australians. This election will be about who the Australian people best judge to get the balance right.
By keeping our economy strong, while at the same time protecting jobs, ensuring we have fair wages and fair conditions, continuing to invest in health and education, and above all, ensuring there is a fair go for all.
Managing the big economic transition that lies ahead will be difficult but it is definitely doable. Charting a course through the choppy economic waters that lie ahead will require a steady hand and a clear cut plan for the future.
The new challenges facing our economy will require new ways The of thinking, new ways of acting, new ways of planning. One thing I know for certain, the old politics of the past just won't work for the future.
Wall to wall negativity doesn't create a single job. Negative personal politics doesn't build a single school. The old politics of division doesn't build a single hospital.
Three-word slogans don't solve complex problems, they never have and they never will. Australia needs a new way of dealing with the new challenges we face in the future.
At this election, the Australian people will decide who they trust best to navigate the way through. So that we can have our absolute best shot at maintaining our living standards, and our prosperity and our security.
But also on top of that, unlocking the potential which lies in each individual member of the great Australian family, so that we become the best we possibly can.
For me, all that was made possible some 30 or so years ago, when reforms by an earlier Labor Government made it possible for a kid from the Queensland country, neither of whose parents went much beyond primary school, to go off to university and chart his own future and end up as PM of the country.
Elections are about judgements of our record, just as they are about our plans for the future. In the years [we have] been in office we have helped keep our economy strong, while economies around the world have lost tens of millions of jobs, businesses in Australia have added just under one million jobs over the last five and a half years.
While economies around the world have tumbled into recession, we in this country Australia, acting with business, have kept the economy out of recession, almost uniquely across the developed countries of the world, and while others continue to make false claims that somehow this country is in a debt and deficit crisis, they can never answer this simple question - if that is the case, why does Australia, among only eight countries in the world, continue to have a triple A credit rating and a stable outlook?
Nor can they answer why the Australian government debt per head of population is one of the lowest across all the developed countries in the world. It just doesn't add up.
It is a false claim and should be named and nailed as such through this campaign. Of course, the business of government is more than managing the economy, although that, for me, is fundamental.
The economy must be strong in order to do everything else. We have also kept our economy strong through a series of carefully costed policies.
During the most difficult of global economic circumstances. This has required hard decisions, like the ones you saw announced last week and the government's economic statement released by the Treasurer and the finance minister.
I believe it is far better we level with the Australian people about the tough choices we have made, rather than pretend you can somehow wave a magic wand and create $70 billion out of nowhere.
I have already said we have made our mistakes in the past, that is true. All governments do. Even though most tend not to admit it however. The key is to learn from the experience. I said before that elections are both about our record and about our plans for the future.
On the economy, with the end of the China resources boom, we can no longer afford to have all our eggs just in one basket. For the future we must broaden the economic base, diversify the economy.
This will be critical, for businesses and jobs and for managing cost of living pressures for families as well.
That is why the government has embraced a new national competitiveness agenda for the future and a new way of bringing business, unions and government around one table to deal with our common national interest, which should be much greater and more important than the individual interests of any of us.
That is why we also need to invigorate our manufacturing which I believe to be an industry of the future, not as some believe an industry just of the past.
That is why we need fresh investment in agribusiness, because there are rich opportunities for Australia in satisfying the new food demands of Asia. That is why we also need the great new economic enabling power of the National Broadband Network to help lift our national competitiveness even further.
This is the way to build new industries of the future, right across our vital new service industries as well which provide so many jobs for Australians.
And doing so by responsibly returning the budget to surplus over the economic cycle. Supported by moderate budget savings which don't hit jobs, health or education.
That is our economic plan for the future. Mr Abbott's plan, by contrast, is a $70 billion slash and burn austerity drive which will cut jobs and cut deeply into basic services and health and education.
If you don t believe me on this, just look at what Mr Newman's Liberal National Party Government has done in Queensland.
They said nothing about it upfront, they said they would have a commission of audit and then lo and behold, 4000 health workers were then sacked in one State alone.
In my community in Brisbane, I have met so many of these folks working in the health sector who have just lost their jobs, good, decent people and I have met them right across Queensland.
On education, we have launched a Better Schools plan, a massive $15 billion investment in government Catholic and independent schools starting next year, so that principals will now have the funds to provide more individual attention for our kids when they need it.
And the teachers in my local schools in Brissy tell me it is a fantastic plan. Unfortunately, fantastic Mr Abbott has said our Better Schools plan is nothing more than a con.
Without putting forward a positive alternative.
On health and hospitals, we intend to complete the massive health and hospitals reform plan that we have agreed to with the Commonwealth and states, massively investing into the hospitals of our country into the future, delivering new services through the National Broadband Network such as Telemedicine and providing local health services through our local Medicare local network.
Unfortunately, Mr Abbott has form on hospitals, when previously he ripped $1 billion out of the nation's health system as health minister and now he says he will abolish Medicare local.
We will also roll-out Disability Care Australia, our first National Disability Insurance Scheme and on climate change, our plans are clear, while Mr Abbott, a climb change denier from way back, has an approach he has never properly explained and it doesn't work.
The Australian people therefore face a real choice for this election. A real choice. A choice between a new way for the future, with positive plans for managing the new economic challenges we face as opposed to the old negative politics.