Labor says it has ideas, Abbott only about cuts
PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd has used his last major pitch before Saturday's election to paint Labor as the party of ideas, seizing on Tony Abbott's assertion that Australia should not act "above its station".
Although Mr Rudd came across as flat at times during his National Press Club address - no doubt a combination of a gruelling campaign and looming electoral defeat, if the polls are to be believed - he did a good job of outlining Labor's achievements since 2007.
Mr Rudd cleverly used Mr Abbott's "I don't think we should be getting ideas above our station" quote - which was made in reference to Australia's response to the situation in Syria" - to attack the Liberal Party.
He said the phrase was "deeply symptomatic" of a conservative view of Australia, accusing his rivals of wanting to take Australia back six decades.
"Conservatives often point to a mythical, almost mystical point in an elusive, imagined past," Mr Rudd said.
"And the conservative mission, sometimes explicitly stated as such, is to return us to that point in history when everything is imagined to have been just fine and dandy.
"In the case of Australia's conservatives, a cocktail of the 1950s, Upstairs Downstairs and Downton Abbey - where plainly everyone did know 'their station'."
Mr Rudd spoke about former Labor prime ministers who had "ideas above their station", including Ben Chifley, Gough Whitlam, Bob Hawke and Paul Keating.
He followed this by listing the current government's achievements, including its handling of the global financial crisis, securing a place on the G20 and United Nations Security Council, the Murray Darling plan and the apology to indigenous Australians.
"The truth is our conservative opponents have sneered at most of these things. As Prime Minister of Australia I am proud of each and every one of them," he said.
On the GFC, he spoke about Australia's relative strength compared to the rest of the world before outlining the policies he had introduced since returning to the leadership in June.
Mr Rudd reserved the final part of this speech to focus on the Coalition's policy costings - which were released an hour after his press club appearance - and what cuts might happen under an Abbott government.
"So my message to the Australian people today is a simple one: Our plans to build Australia's future are clear cut and fully costed and publicly available," he said.
"With less than 48 hours to go, Mr Abbott is deliberately evading scrutiny because he fears that if you the Australian people knew the dimensions of what he and his government are planning, he is frightened you would not vote for him.
"So, if you are in doubt after all this evasion on how Mr Abbott's massive cuts would hurt your jobs, schools, hospitals, and the economy in these fragile times, don't vote for him."
During question time Mr Rudd said it was his "intention" to remain in politics if Labor lost the election but he retained his seat of Griffith.
But he said he had not given up hope of a Labor victory and would deal with questions about his future after the election.