28 Jun 2016

Steady hands needed in Australia, says Turnbull

3:40 pm on 28 June 2016

Australian Election - Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has officially launched his bid for re-election, saying the country needs steady hands in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Malcolm Turnbull used the chaos from Brexit to make a pitch for Australians to re-elect his Coalition government promising stability and strong economic leadership.

Malcolm Turnbull used the chaos from Brexit to make a pitch for Australians to re-elect his Coalition government promising stability and strong economic leadership. Photo: AFP

Mr Turnbull spoke to a few hundred Liberal and National party faithful at the Coalition launch in Sydney on Sunday, urging Australians to remain in control of their destiny.

The event was held in the Sydney electorate of Reid and was the first Coalition campaign launch not held in Brisbane since 2001.

The prime minister opened his 40-minute speech by noting the "distinguished" men who came before him - John Howard and Tony Abbott.

Mr Abbott, who was ousted as leader by Mr Turnbull just 10 months earlier, was seated in the front row.

"Tony you brought to an end the chaos and dysfunction of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd years and you remain a dedicated advocate for our cause.

"John and Tony we salute you," Mr Turnbull said.

With the formalities dealt with, Mr Turnbull turned his attention to the Coalition's plan for Australia.

He said it was a time which demanded a stable, majority government.

"The shockwaves in the past 48 hours from Britain's vote to exit the European Union are a sharp reminder of the volatility in the global economy. Always expect the unexpected.

"We will need to renegotiate vital trade deals with Europe and Britain.

"Calm heads, steady hands, stable government and a strong economic plan are critical for Australia to withstand any repercussions," said Mr Turnbull.

Malcolm Turnbull said the last thing Australians needed was a Parliament in disarray.

He launched a stinging attack on the Federal Opposition.

"The alternative at this election is a Labor Party that has lost its way, or a protest vote for Greens or independents. Vote for any of them and you could end up with Bill Shorten as Prime Minister in a government where unions, Greens and independents pull the strings.

"If Labor returns to power those mum and dad businesses will once again be targeted by Mr Shorten."

Australian foreign minister and Liberal Party deputy leader Julie Bishop speaking at the Coalition launch in Sydney.

Australian foreign minister and Liberal Party deputy leader Julie Bishop speaking at the Coalition launch in Sydney. Photo: AFP

Deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop went further at the campaign launch saying the Labor leader was unfit to lead.

"Bill Shorten has taken his monstrous Medicare lie into hospitals, repeated it to sick children and their parents that they won't be able to afford healthcare.

"It seems that there's no lie too outrageous, no issue too sensitive, no person too vulnerable that Bill Shorten won't exploit," she said.

The parties have been trading blows over the past four weeks of campaign with Labor saying the Coalition was looking to privatise the Medicare health system and the Coalition hitting back with claims Labor would increase taxes and relax immigration laws.

Both the Labor and Greens parties tried to steal some of Malcolm Turnbull's spotlight on Sunday, launching their own campaigns on the same day.

Greens' leader Richard Di Natale told his party faithful in Melbourne that Australians were fed up with being ignored while in Queensland Bill Shorten held his second campaign launch focusing on Medicare and providing more details of Labor's costings.

The Federal Opposition said it would balance the budget at the same time as the Coalition, in 2020-2021 and deliver $A10.5 billion in savings over the next decade.

Mr Shorten said Mr Turnbull did not represent stability as his leadership was not safe.

"The single biggest risk to the Australian economy in the next three years, is three more years of a divided Liberal government.

"Our people cannot afford another three years of administration from a weak Liberal Prime Minister who spends half his time worrying about his day-job and the other half fighting a civil war within his party."

But Treasurer Scott Morrison has questioned Labor's timing.

"Trying to do it under the cover of the government's rally, so that tells you as much about what Labor really think about their costings."

The Shadow Treasurer has denied that Labor was trying to hide its costings by announcing them at the same time as the Coalition's campaign launch.

Australians head to the polls on 2 July.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs