Election will be focused on trust: Abbott

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has declared the September 14 election will be ''about trust'' as he flagged a campaign to paint the Gillard government as incompetent and rehabilitate his ''Mr No'' image.

Echoing his political mentor John Howard - who used the same words about trust when announcing the 2004 election - Mr Abbott gave a clear indication he means to voters people of the pre-GFC economic management of the Howard era.

''This election will be about trust,'' he said. ''Who do you trust to reduce cost of living pressures? Who do you trust to boost small business and to boost job security? And who do you trust to secure our borders? That's what this election will be all about.''

Mr Howard used virtually the same language when he called the 2004 election, which he went on to win comprehensively against Labor's Mark Latham.

Mr Abbott used the word ''positive'' six times in his short statement of under three-and-a-half minutes, seeking to turn around his negative image after more than a year of tough opposition, particularly against the carbon price. He did not take questions.

He reiterated his promises to abolish the carbon price and the mining tax, and promised better schools and public hospitals. In a signal the carbon price will remain central to his strategy, he promised ''positive plans for a cleaner environment with incentive to do the right thing - not penalties - and a 15,000 strong green army marching to the help of our land care groups''.

Mr Abbott repeated his oft-used phrase that Australia is ''a great country and a great people let down by a poor government''. And he moved to address expected Labor attempts to pressure Mr Abbott over firm policies and costings.

''The coalition is ready. We are so ready that we have already launched our real solutions plan and we are already campaigning on it,'' he said.

And seeking to emphasise the broader philosophical differences between the parties, Mr Abbott added: ''The choice before the Australian people could not be clearer: it's more tax or less. It's more regulation or less. It's less competence or more. It's less freedom or more. That's the clear choice facing the Australian people on September the 14th.''

He said Ms Gillard had effectively told the Australian people that they needed to pay more tax - and that this was the only firm statement other than announcing the election date in the Prime Minister's National Press Club speech.

Mr Abbott, whose Coalition has held a commanding lead in opinion polls for most of the past term, kicked off his own mini-election campaign at the start of this week.

smh.com.au

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