“The Prime Minister attempted to return today to the script that brought him to the Lodge. His rhetoric once more echoed heavily with that ubiquitous term ‘working families’ and his childhood and family memories in his opening statement signalled an attempt to once again demonstrate his connection with Australians from all walks of life.
“He personalised his health care reforms as something more than just a shifting of funding models by referring frequently to the needs of patients as being paramount, and promising that his reforms would deliver more doctors and nurses on the ground. He appeared on top of his detail, and attempted to strike a statesmanlike pose by being seen to reach out to work with the Opposition, an attempt which juxtaposed uncomfortably with his criticism of Tony Abbott’s record as Health Minister.
“Tony Abbott struck a more combative note from the outset, seeking to draw the debate into a broader assessment of the Government’s record of policy delivery, contrasting it against his own record as Health Minister. He continually raised issues such as the insulation scheme and the building of school halls, and attempted to use cut-through terms to capture what he characterised as government failures. His previous catch-cry of ‘a great big new tax’ was revised into a ‘great big new bureaucracy’ in health, and he promised that an Abbott Liberal Government would deliver ‘real action’ and ‘real difference’ – perhaps roadtesting some potential slogans for the electoral battle ahead.”