ELECTION YEAR VISIONS
By Julia Gillard
AT the start of a New Year, we take stock of our lives and make resolutions for the future.
As a nation, we can confidently do the same.
We live in a wonderful country, the best country on earth.
In the toughest of times, our economy has been resilient.
Unlike the rest of the world, we have a growing economy, low unemployment, low interest rates and strong public finances.
To ensure that our nation's children inherit from us a land of even greater promise and opportunity we have to support families today, modernise our economy, improve our schools and invest in a better system of care and support for Australians with health care needs and disability.
Families are getting on with the hard work of raising children and even in our resilient economy, families can find it hard to make ends meet and to manage the struggle and juggle of modern family life.
Thousands of new mums are now benefiting from paid parental leave every year, and from New Year's Day dads will get two weeks of paid leave just for them, so they can spend more time with their new baby too.
We are also investing more money than ever before in helping families with their childcare costs and because the costs keep coming when children go to school, in 2013, for the first time, families will get the new School Kids Bonus.
A typical family is $720 a year better off than under the old system.
This on top of $4000 in extra payments for teenagers, and tax cuts over the past year which means that no tax is paid by those who earn under $18,000 a year and with interest rates at historic lows, there's an extra $100 a week saved on the average mortgage.
In 2013, we will also be implementing my plan for electricity prices, which will hold bills down by up to $250 a year.
While all this help is welcome, families hit a crisis without the benefit of a job. In an uncertain global economy, currently dominated by talk of the US fiscal cliff, I will always do what is right to support jobs and growth.
That's why we are making the right economic choices to support jobs today, nurturing the mining boom, supporting our manufacturing sector and investing in training so Aussies can look forward to the prospects of a better job or the option to start their own business.
While creating jobs today, we have to also take the right decisions today so that our economy can be a winner tomorrow.
As Asia becomes the biggest consumer market in the world, new opportunities are opening up for the Australian economy and for individual Australians.
We will have to be smart to grab these opportunities.
We can and should be a world leader in school education.
2013 will be the year in which we commit ourselves as a nation to change in every school to give every child the best possible chance.
As we keep working to improve our health care system, with more doctors and nurses and more money in to hospitals and community health care, in 2013 we will start to build the next great change to our system of care and support for each other.
In July, we will launch our National Disability Insurance Scheme, a new system to provide decent support, options and choices for Australians with disability.
This Scheme will take time to build but it will ultimately mean every Australian has the reassurance of knowing that if the worst happens, then help will be at hand.
So let's say Happy New Year to each other in a spirit of confidence and optimism.
We live in a great nation, we have a clear plan for the future and in 2013 we will work together to realise it.
By Tony Abbott
AUSTRALIA is a great country that needs a better government.
We need a government that's prudent with taxpayers' money, competent in delivering services and, above all, honest with people about what it will and won't deliver.
If elected this year, the Coalition will: * reduce the pressure on family budgets by abolishing the carbon tax; * boost jobs and investment by abolishing the mining tax;* reduce pressure on interest rates by cutting government debt; * boost productivity by cutting business red tape costs by at least $1 billion a year; * stop the boats by restoring the policies that worked under John Howard; * build modern infrastructure like Sydney's WestConnex, Melbourne's East-West Link, Brisbane's Gateway Motorway extension and a duplicated Pacific Highway; * keep more people working through a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme that's a workplace entitlement, not a welfare one; * restore unemployed people's self-respect by revitalising work for the dole; * protect the environment and reduce emissions through direct action to plant more trees, improve soils and use smarter technology; * eliminate union corruption by restoring the Australian Building and Construction Commission and ensuring that union and company officials face the same penalties for the same crimes; * foster better public schools and hospitals through local boards that will make them more responsive to the people they serve; * build links with Asia through a new, two-way street version of the Colombo Plan; and* end the defence cuts which have reduced it to the lowest share of GDP since 1938.
This is the Coalition's positive plan to build a strong and prosperous economy for a safe and secure Australia.
My plan is for 2 million more jobs over the next decade.
The team I lead won't have to learn how to be a competent government because it has been one before.
Sixteen members of my shadow cabinet were ministers in a government that turned $96 billion of debt into $70 billion in assets and turned a $10 billion budget deficit into consistent 1 per cent of GDP surpluses.
If you want to know the prime minister I would be, ask your doctor to tell you how, as health minister, I fixed the medical indemnity crisis, introduced the Medicare Plus safety net, developed the Medicare dental scheme and mental health care plans, and put Herceptin on the PBS.
One of the doctors I worked with, former AMA president Bill Glasson, now wants to help me form a government by winning a parliamentary seat for the Coalition!
As a minister for nine years, I respect the professionalism of the public service.
In the longer term, though, we have to rely less on bureaucrats and put more trust in the common sense of the Australian people.
We need smaller, more efficient government if our country is to stop paying $20 million in interest alone every single day and avoid the fate of much of the Eurozone.
Margie and I know what it's like to wrestle with a mortgage, fight traffic jams, juggle school fees and health insurance premiums and shop around to beat prices that just keep going up and up.
We know how much love and commitment goes into sustaining the local organisations that make Australia the best country in the world.
As prime minister, I won't let people down by saying one thing and doing another.
After the election, people should be able to watch parliament with pride and confidence in our country.
My role will be to look for the best in people and encourage it.
My vision for Australia is that more of us will come closer to being our best selves.