Health, bridges and Rudd key to Coalition campaign launch

PROVIDING more seniors with cheaper health care and a $300 million plan to repair bridges across the nation have lined the Coalition's campaign launch in Queensland.

Coalition leader Tony Abbott also committed to a HECS-type loan scheme for apprentices if elected on September 7.

Hundreds of enthusiastic supporters packed into the Queensland Performing Arts Centre on Sunday morning for the campaign launch, which also focused on Kevin Rudd's multiple personalities and the need for a new way.

After his stylishly-dressed daughters welcomed their "dad" to the stage, Mr Abbott promised to index the Commonwealth Seniors Heath Card in line with CPI.

The current threshold is at $50,000 income for singles and $80,000 for couples.

The Coalition will also allow apprentices to apply for loans up to $20,000 to help complete their training.

The interest-free loans will follow the HECS-style arrangement where university students do not start repaying the loans until they start earning over a certain threshold.

Nationals leader Warren Truss said a Coalition Government would roll out a $300 million bridges repair program to complement the Roads to Recovery initiative.

"The next LNP Government will be able to fix local bridges like what roads to recovery has achieved for roads and streets," he said.

The Wide Bay MP focused on the needs and pleas of regional Australia, including the big-ticket Queensland issue of upgrading the Bruce Highway.

Aside from policy, there were numerous swipes at Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's character and tactics.

Deputy Coalition leader Julie Bishop rattled off Mr Rudd's multiple personalities, including "cool, funky Kevin", nerdy Kevin and bad tempered Kevin.

Mr Abbott  went a step further to question how Australians could trust the current leader if one third of his own Cabinet walked when he was re-elected.

Mr Abbott also reiterated his plan to trim the Commonwealth public service by 12,000 - a unpopular path his Queensland counterpart Premier Campbell Newman took last year.

But addressing the launch on Sunday, Mr Newman said all pioneers face resistance.

"All pioneers face resistance but to run a 21st century government you need to think outside the square and if you do the rewards are great," he said.

Frances and Bridget Abbott
Address to the 2013 Federal Coalition Campaign Launch

BRIDGET ABBOTT:

Good afternoon, I'm Bridget

FRANCES ABBOTT:

And I'm Frances.             

Today we want to tell you about our Dad - Tony Abbott

For us, he's not just the guy on TV, he's the man, along with our Mum, who has helped us to become the women we are today.

Like all Dads, our Dad knows when to embarrass us. Well today, I guess we get our chance.

We want to tell a few things about our Dad that you don't know.

Our Dad is not just a politician, not just a Rhodes Scholar, or an author, not just a volunteer fire-fighter or a lifesaver. Not just a husband and a father, he's something else as well - Tony Abbott is also a "netball Dad".

Growing up, Bridget, Louise and I all played netball. Every Saturday morning we'd make the trip down to the Curl Curl Netball Courts for each of our games. Dad was, as you might expect, the most vocal supporter.

He thought that netball was just a different form of rugby.

We all played for our local club, Forest Netball, and Dad could always be heard from the side lines, if not hundreds of metres away, calling "Run Forest, Run".

He always thought it was funny.

His "Dad joke" week in and week out.

For a man who has never put on a netball skirt, Dad was always giving us netballing advice - it was only until a few years ago that I realised that the advice he gave was more about life rather than just the sport.

He said - you must give it everything you've got, play as a team, watch out for each other, look ahead, stay focused, enjoy yourself, always get back up, and don't forget to shake hands.

My Dad looks for out for everyone, and I know he will look out for you.

BRIDGET ABBOTT:

When we were growing up, Mum and Dad worked hard to shelter us from the harsh world of politics.

Home was very much a politics-free zone.

I have to admit, when Dad first raised the idea of running for the leadership with the family, we were very hesitant in our encouragement.

We didn't think he should because we weren't that confident he would make it - he's our Dad and we didn't want him disappointed or discouraged. 

Families watch out for each other and ours is no different.

But Dad said when you really believe in something, you have to back yourself until the end.

And so he did.  

He says that politics isn't about the politician, it's about the people you help.   

That's why he's a volunteer life saver and fire fighter, and why he has raised thousands of dollars for the Manly Women's Shelter. 

It's also why he tries to work with indigenous communities each and every year.

You have to get out there and have a go - just as he's always done - and that's why we are so proud of him.

I've seen my Dad with people from all walks of life - young, old, rich, poor, gay, straight, the frail, the fit, indigenous and migrant - and he treats every single one of them with equal respect. 

He's also a listener - he doesn't think he's smarter than you - but knows that he can learn from what you bring to the table. 

My Dad doesn't judge, but asks questions and listens.

That's the type of Dad he is for us - and if elected, I know that's the type of Prime Minister he will be for Australia. 

So, ladies and gentlemen, will you please join me in welcoming the man who may be the next Prime Minister of Australia, the man who is the Leader of the Opposition, but most importantly, the man who is our Dad, Tony Abbott.


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