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AS this year's federal election draws closer, Labor's predictable haranguing and denigration of the Coalition over policy will only intensify, but there is much irony in this political strategy.
First, in my 30 years in and around politics I have never seen an opposition in such strong shape on the policy front. It is true that the government's tenuous hold on office since the 2010 election motivated us to greatly accelerate our policy review and development process so as to be prepared for an early poll.
As a result, we have long possessed a comprehensive suite of policies in 49 areas, but much to the government's chagrin we are following our own timetable in releasing them, not Labor's. Extra time allows us to review, refine and enhance our menu of options, which includes several hundred individual policy initiatives.
As well, it would be totally irresponsible for us to close the books on our budget and policy formulation with the election still a likely 10 months away.
Yet since the last election we have made some 55 policy announcements, including the outlining of substantive plans for a strong and prosperous economy, to drive productivity and to support the creation of one million jobs over five years.
Tax reform will begin with the removal of the carbon and mining taxes, which are undermining growth and investment, damaging our reputation, making us less competitive and driving up cost of living. Treasury's own modelling shows the carbon tax will erode GDP with a cumulative loss of output of $32 billion by 2020 rising to a staggering $1 trillion by 2050 in 2010 dollars.
We have also unveiled the most ambitious deregulation agenda seen in this country, including the streamlining of environmental approval processes to provide greater investment certainty as well as a commitment to restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission to tackle productivity sapping union abuses in the building industry.
Already there have also been substantive commitments on critical infrastructure spending and reform, including the development of a rolling 15-year national infrastructure plan.
The full-scale commission of audit we will conduct, the first since 1996, will identify areas of waste and other poor quality government spending and will be fundamental to restoring the structural integrity of the budget.
The government is constantly on the lookout for material it can misrepresent and distort to distract from its very real policy calamities; such as a mining tax that raises no money, its failures on border protection, carbon tax betrayal and over-reliance on debt.
This explains the obsession with trying to goad us into the premature release of our entire policy program, including ridiculous calls for us to produce our full costings and savings measures, which started two years before the next election was even due.
If they can't get any traction misrepresenting our policies they have no qualms pinching them, as we have seen in the small business space, including elevating representation to cabinet level or the belated and humiliating embrace of offshore processing of boat arrivals, while other policies that resonate they pretend don't exist to starve them of oxygen.
We have seen this with the $9.6bn in major road projects we have committed to and our determination to cut $1bn of red tape each year.
In addition to the substantive policy announcements, such as measures to regain control of our borders, Tony Abbott has also outlined a range of other initiatives, including a new Colombo plan, an ambitious Asian languages program, which will see language studies for all pre-schoolers and a concerted effort to increase the numbers of Year 12 students studying a second language from 12 per cent to at least 40 per cent within a decade. This is fundamental if we are to fully capitalise on the opportunities that are emerging in the Asia-Pacific.
The overarching objective of the Coalition is to promote growth as opposed to redistribution, and restoring confidence is a big part of that.
The four guiding principles we are using in our policy development ensures our program both reflects Coalition values and presents a clear alternative to Labor.
Andrew Robb is chairman of the Coalition's policy development committee
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