By SCOTT LIMBRICK
Coming into the final week of the campaign, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott appeared in Sydney for a rare joint press conference on Tuesday evening.
“We strongly believe that Australia will exist in the future. Furthermore, we believe that a strong economy will assist in this endeavour,” announced the Prime Minister.
“Labor is running on jobs and the economy, and as I have noticed that the Coalition is running on a similar platform I decided to reach out to Tony for the benefit of Australia.”
“That’s right,” said Abbott. “A Coalition government will fight for a better Australian economy and more jobs for Australians.”
“So will Labor,” added Rudd.
Treasurer Chris Bowen and Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey later joined them.
Bowen quickly shifted to the attack, attempting to highlight the differences between Labor and Coalition policies.
“There is a clear choice. A Labor government will uphold Australian values and ensure a better future for all.”
“As would the Coalition,” interjected Hockey.
When asked for specific policies, Rudd and Abbott again threw to their colleagues.
“I reject the premise of the question,” responded Bowen, “and I’m sure Joe would agree.”
“I do,” said Hockey.
“When you ask about policy all you do is confuse the Australian people, when it is clear that we will not stop fighting for a better economy.”
“And neither will we.”
The leaders then stepped in to more clearly outline the central policy differences between the two parties.
“It is important for the Australian people to realise that while we are both here today to support a better future for Australia, the Coalition has a clearer vision,” said Abbott,
“We are for jobs, jobs, jobs.”
“While we are for jobs and the economy,” explained Rudd.
“But we are also for the economy,” added Abbott.
“Yes, I suppose so,” said Rudd.
Questioned on the economic impact of his paid parental leave scheme, Abbott explained that it would improve productivity.
Rudd jumped in, claiming that “the Coalition’s overly generous paid parental leave policy will cost $234 billion. This leaves a budget black hole of around $634 trillion.”
When told that fact checkers had previously rejected this claim, along with the secretaries of Treasury and Finance, the OECD, all G20 heads of state and every member of the Labor party, Rudd responded that he would retract his comments if the Coalition produced its costed policies there and then.
To Rudd’s surprise, Hockey nodded in agreement and immediately released official costings of all Coalition policies.
“While this shows that we won’t return to surplus for around 45 years, or 15 terms, the idea that achieving a budget surplus is a key indicator of successful economic management is absurd,” said Hockey, “particularly in current global economic circumstances.”
When asked to comment on his previous commitments to budget surpluses, former Treasurer Wayne Swan said “baby we were born to run.”
Scott recently graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Arts after completing high school in Singapore. He has written for Meanjin, Voiceworks, and The Punch, volunteered with the Oaktree Foundation and interned at Change.org. Scott has worked in a chocolate shop and a call centre, annoys his housemates with his mediocre cooking skills (tacos only), and his finest moment was playing a Jimi Hendrix solo behind his head. He can be found on Twitter here.