Sunday Telegraph, 25/07/2010
Most boys dream of being a superhero when they grow up. I think Tony Abbott still does. He calls himself 'Real Action' Man. He's got the slogan. He's even got the budgie smuggler super hero costume. But who is the real action hero?
Julia Gillard has already proved she is a Prime Minister who gets things done. She said her first priority when she became Prime Minister was fixing the mining tax issue. A month ago this seemed impossible. She fixed it in a week.
This shows what you can achieve when you sit around the table, listen, talk and negotiate. She adopted the same approach as a Minister. She got rid of WorkChoices by sitting around the table with employers and workers and developing the Fair Work Act.
In education she delivered a national curriculum and the MySchool website, reforms that were too hard for previous education Ministers.
What does this prove? Julia Gillard is someone who delivers real reform, someone who gets things done.
Now compare that to 'Real Action' Man. When Tony Abbott was Health Minister he cut a billion dollars from the hospital system in a single term. There were no big reforms. No bringing people together. His super power was abusing people. Remember the last election when he swore at Nicola Roxon and attacked asbestos victim Bernie Banton.
He's not much better at keeping election promises. In the 2004 election campaign he gave a "rock solid, iron clad guarantee" he would not touch the Medicare Safety Net. Then straight after the election he broke it.
It's worth keeping that in mind when he tells you he won't bring back WorkChoices. Do you really believe it? It's a bit like trusting Dracula not to bite you.
Remember this is the bloke who said WorkChoices was "one of the greatest achievements of the Howard Government". Now apparently he hates it. On this form he will tell us next week he thinks Australia should become a Republic.
There are big challenges ahead. We are all getting older. I am 38, by the time I am 65 the number of Australians that age or older will have doubled. The number over 85 will have quadrupled. That means health care will cost more, the cost of funding the aged pension will increase, and there will be fewer taxpayers to pay the bills.
It's the job of our leaders to meet these challenges. So what are they promising?
In health, Julia Gillard will invest an extra $7.4 billion in over the next four years. Tony Abbott has promised to cut that by $1.2 billion.
On retirement incomes, Julia Gillard will increase the Superannuation Guarantee from 9 to 12 per cent. That will increase the superannuation of more than 8 million Australian workers.
If you're 30 years old on $50,000 a year, it means you will receive an extra $108,000 when you retire. If Tony Abbott is elected you will get nothing. He is opposed to any increase in superannuation.
Julia Gillard will also build Trade Training Centres in every high school that wants one. Tony Abbott will scrap them. These are the places that will train the apprentices and skilled workers of the future.
This is what Tony Abbott calls 'real action' – cutting money for health, superannuation and apprenticeships. No wonder he is being accused of taking Australia backwards.
If you want a government led by someone who will take real action the answer is simple – Julia Gillard. She is someone who gets things done. Tony Abbott is just a pretender in a pair of budgie smugglers.