Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has touted the coalition’s new policy on immigration, saying he is a proud migrant himself who arrived from England as a child.
Mr Abbott has encouraged Australians to have bigger families, but he plans to limit the annual migrant intake to 170,000, down from the near 300,000 peak of 2008.
“I simply note the observation that Paul Keating made a long time ago that the best migrants are our own kids,” he told reporters while campaigning in suburban Brisbane on Monday.
“I certainly would like to see my kids here in Australia.”
“Australia is an immigrant society, proudly an immigrant society,and we will always remain in important respects an immigrant society,” he said.
Mr Abbott accused Prime Minister Julia Gillard of being fundamentally dishonest when talking about population.
“Telling people that she was against a big Australia and refusing to talk about immigration,” he said.
“You cannot have a discussion about population and not also discuss immigration.”
Childcare funding announced
Abbott announced that a coalition government would add $89 million to fund child care initiatives.
Mr Abbott was flanked by his wife Margie, who rarely appears in public, when he announced the funding boost.
Mrs Abbott runs a community-based occasional childcare centre herself.
“This is an area that I feel very passionate about,” she said.
“An opportunity like this, to herald early learning and quality care, is an opportunity I couldn’t let slip.”
But Mrs Abbott ducked out of the spotlight as quickly as she appeared in it, saying she was not the politician of the family and further questions should be directed to Mr Abbott.
Abbott has consistently polled badly with women, however audience reactions showed positive sentiments after his comments about maternity leave during a leaders’ debate on Sunday night.
Nod for health boost
Abbott welcomed a plan announced earlier by Labor for more staff in hospital emergency departments, but said he questions its delivery.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Monday committed a re-elected Labor government to funding 2000 new emergency nurses during the next decade and providing 1000 student nurses with “vital experience” in emergency departments.
“Obviously it’s good,” Mr Abbott told reporters in the suburban Brisbane seat of Petrie, an electorate held by Labor backbencher Yvette D’Ath.
“But typically of this government it seems the bureaucrats start work immediately but the doctors and nurses are going to take years to actually go into the system.
“It’s typical of this government that nothing starts now.”
Ms Gillard’s announcement, made at the Launceston General Hospital earlier on Monday, includes a commitment to the training of outer suburban and rural doctors to help GPs maintain their emergency medicine skills.
The PM said the training would be paid for with new money.
A statement released by Ms Gillard’s office during her press conference stated that $96 million for the initiatives had been provided for in the 2010/11 budget.
“Of course it is subject to our rules that every spending announcement we make during this campaign will be offset, so at the end of the campaign not one cent has been added to the budget bottom line,” she said.