5 October 2001


Today I called on the Governor-General and recommended that the Parliament be prorogued, the House of Representatives be dissolved and the necessary action be taken for a half Senate election in time for the elections for both houses of Parliament to be held on Saturday 10 November 2001. The Governor-General has accepted my advice.

Under these arrangements, the House of Representatives will be dissolved at noon on Monday 8 October 2001. The Government will therefore be in caretaker mode from that time until the outcome of the election is known.

The first election of the new millennium provides Australians with a clear choice.

It is a choice between certainty, stability and strength on the one hand and political opportunism and a lack of a clear and coherent alternative on the other.

For five and a half years I have led a Government which has sought to strengthen the foundations of Australia’s economy and society. A Government grounded in mainstream Australian values and guided by a commitment to putting Australia’s interests first.

We have never sought to shirk the hard and tough decisions that are necessary in the national interest.

We did not shirk that challenge of introducing comprehensive gun control in the aftermath of the tragic events at Port Arthur. We did not shirk our responsibility when we made the tough but fair decisions to put the Commonwealth budget back in the black.

We did not turn our backs on the people of East Timor.

We were prepared to go to the Australian people with a comprehensive tax reform that involved the introduction of a new broad-based indirect tax.

More recently, we were prepared to stand up to the people smugglers who thought Australia would be a soft touch.

Now we face the greatest global security challenge in a generation. As I noted in the Parliament in the aftermath of the events of September 11, “as we struggle as Australians and as citizens of the world to come to terms with what has happened it is certain that the world has changed…..it will never be quite the same again”.

The uncertainty over the security outlook and the global economic downturn are the most significant challenges that an Australian Government has faced in nearly a generation.

In these times of uncertainty, Australians require a Government that has been tried and tested. A Government that puts the national interest above sectional interests; a Government that can provide certainty, stability and strength.

I have never been more committed to winning a general election than I am today.

My commitment is to win this election and to see the Australian people through this time of economic and security challenges.

If re-elected my Government will build on its substantial achievements over the last five and a half years.

Australia’s economic foundations are the strongest in a generation. We have re-paid nearly $60 billion of Labor’s debt and interest rates are the lowest in a generation. Australian families with mortgages are $350 a month better off than they were five and a half years ago.

Our tax and family policies have made Australian families with children much better off, including redressing the discrimination against single-income families.

We have restored standards and choice in education and rewarded Australian families who have provided for their own health care through private health insurance.

Australia today has a fairer tax system with lower income and company taxes and the goods and services tax provides the States with growing revenue to fund essential community services and cope with the challenge of an ageing population.

We have introduced far reaching industrial relation reforms which are encouraging greater co-operation in the workplace reflected in historically low industrial disputation, stronger productivity and higher real wages. Nowhere is this change more dramatic than in the transformation of the Australian waterfront.

Over the last five and a half years national defence and security have been at the forefront of my concerns. In 1996 my Government quarantined defence from budget cutbacks. We then implemented the defence reform programme to redirect resources into operational capabilities. Last year the Government authorised a comprehensive upgrading of our defence force capabilities which will involve an extra $27 billion in the next decade, the biggest funding increase for defence in more than twenty years.

If we are re-elected on November 10th we will build on these achievements and address new priorities which I have previously identified, including the balance between work and family, the ageing of the population, and further efforts to improve environmental sustainability.

We will address these priorities against the backdrop of continuing to focus on the particular security and economic challenges that lie ahead.

The Opposition has had five and a half years to develop a clear and coherent alternative approach to the governance of Australia. Labor’s contribution has been to seek to undermine, denigrate and destroy the reforms necessary to secure Australia’s economic and social foundations. Labor has opposed every significant, hard decision that the Government has had to make in the national interest.

Labour has been prepared to say or do anything for five and a half years; the result is they have no policies or framework for dealing with the major challenges ahead.

They opposed our fiscal changes, our sweeping tax reform and even carped about aspects of our involvement in East Timor and, more recently, in dealing with people smugglers. They have sought to walk both sides of the street – to capitalise on public discontent with our decisions but, in most cases, ultimately agreeing with us. They have refused to release detailed policies or take a stand on major issues.

Only the Liberal and National Parties can see Australia through the times ahead.

5 October 2001