Election 2016: Brexit, hung Parliament and economy at heart of Malcolm Turnbull's pitch
Turnbull urges calm after Brexit
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has insisted there is no cause for alarm over Britainâs decision to leave the EU. Courtesy: ABC News24
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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has placed Britain’s shock exit from the European Union, the prospect of a “chaotic” Labor-Greens-independent minority government and nearly $400 million in new spending promises at the centre of his re-election pitch.
Yes, the opportunities have never been greater, but so is the competition, so are the uncertainties
Formally launching the Liberal campaign in the Western Sydney seat of Reid on Sunday, Mr Turnbull splashed just over one tenth of the $3 billion Labor committed at its launch last Sunday.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull addresses the campaign launch in Sydney. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer
His re-election pitch was made just hours before the ALP released its final costings for the election campaign in Brisbane, which will show the opposition running larger deficits over the next four years but returning to budget balance in the same year as the Coalition.
The Prime Minister paid tribute to John Howard and, in a nod to the party’s conservative base, Tony Abbott, before turning to the Coalition’s plan to cut company taxes to 25 per cent over 10 years, promote economic growth and pursue new trade agreement.
With opinion polls including putting Labor and the Coalition neck-and-neck, but party strategists from both sides suggesting the Coalition looks set to be returned with reduced majority, Mr Turnbull said times demanded “stable majority government”.
John Howard, Janette Howard and Tony Abbott sing the national anthem at the Coalition national campaign launch in Sydney. Photo: Andrew Meares
Targeting people considering a protest vote in the House of Representatives or Senate, Mr Turnbull urged voters not to “roll the dice” on independents or minor parties.
Such a move would be “a vote for the chaos of a hung Parliament, a budget black hole, big Labor taxes, less jobs and more boats”.
“A chaotic Labor-Greens-independents alliance would wreak havoc on the economy, and put at risk living standards and our future opportunities,” he said.
Deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop speaks to the crowd. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer
“When it comes to the minor parties, be they Lambie, Xenophon, Lazarus or Hanson – if you only really know the leader of a minor party, but you don’t really know their candidates, and you don’t really know their policies…then don’t vote for them.”
Deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce both attacked Mr Shorten’s “lies” that the Coalition would privatise Medicare – something Mr Turnbull has ruled out – with Ms Bishop declaring the opposition lacked the character and integrity to lead Australia.
Mr Turnbull’s speech included $396 million in new commitments for mental health, a crackdown on illegal guns, scholarships for disadvantaged kids, seniors’ digital literacy and getting more women into science, technology, engineering and maths jobs.
Attorney-General George Brandis, Treasurer Scott Morrison, Cabinet Secretary Arthur Sinodinos and Immigration Minister Peter Dutton before the launch. Photo: Andrew Meares
But it was the pitch for economic certainty and security, just days after Britain’s shock vote for Brexit on Friday, that was at the heart of Mr Turnbull’s re-election pitch.
“Yes, the opportunities have never been greater, but so is the competition, so are the uncertainties. The shockwaves in the past 48 hours from Britain’s vote to exit the European Union are a sharp reminder of the volatility in the global economy,” he said.
“Always expect the unexpected. We will need to renegotiate vital trade deals with Europe and Britain. We concluded five in the last three years – Japan, Korea, China, Singapore and the Trans Pacific Partnership. In six years Labor concluded none,” he said.
Labor, he said, had no plan to drive jobs and growth and opposition leader Bill Shorten had put “this Medicare lie at the heart of his election campaign”.
“That’s not an alternative government, that’s an opposition unfit to govern. When he’s not trying to frighten older Australians, Mr Shorten is prosecuting an anti-business, anti-growth agenda more toxic and backward-looking than any Labor leader in a generation,” Mr Turnbull said.