Abbott launches counter-offensive


Abbott launches counter-offensive

Tara Ravens, AAPJuly 14, 2013, 6:53 pm

Tony Abbott has brought a gun to a knife fight.

The Liberal leader launched a counter-offensive to Kevin Rudd’s incursion into Liberal territory on Sunday, declaring if he can’t win the Labor held seat of Reid he’ll struggle to win government.

“We are starting our campaign, in effect, from today,” Mr Abbott told a room full of party faithful at a function for Craig Laundy, the Liberal candidate for the western Sydney seat and son of pub baron Arthur Laundy.

“This is a critical electorate: if we can’t win Reid, it will be very hard to win government.”

Tellingly, Mr Abbott has indicated he still plans to blitzkrieg what was once impenetrable Labor heartland – despite the Rudd effect.

And he’s effectively shadow boxing Mr Rudd, who’s launched an ambitious attack on the coalition’s marginal seats since assuming the leadership.

The prime minister spent Sunday in the federal Queensland seat of Leichhardt, held by Liberal MP Warren Entsch on a slim margin 4.6 per cent.

But the opposition leader won’t be cowed.

Reid was among a slew of seats likely to have fallen to the Liberals if Gillard had led Labor to the election, but after the bounce from Rudd’s return there are now high hopes John Murphy will keep the seat he holds on a margin of 2.7 per cent.

If it’s lost it will be the first time it has been held by a Liberal politician since its creation in 1922.

Mr Abbott went into Labor heartland on Sunday to telegraph a clear message to a resurgent Labor that he plans to take on the Rudd revival head on, rather than adopting a defensive or small target strategy.

He’s also making a bold play for the voters of western Sydney, who recently turned to the state Liberals in an unprecedented swing.

“It’s a message of hope, reward and opportunity: it’s what we need after six years of chaos, division and dysfunction,” Mr Abbott told them.

The coalition pushed the button on the federal election campaign on Sunday with a multi-million advertising campaign targeting Mr Rudd, to start airing from prime time.

After working the room with wife Margie, Mr Abbott was asked if he would prefer to go to an early or late election.

“It’s not about me, that’s the interesting thing. It is, as far as Kevin is concerned, all about him … It should be about the people of Australia.”

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