Abbott rides his way into the SE

FEDERAL Opposition Leader Tony Abbott emphasised the importance of a strong economy when he visited the SE earlier this week.

Asked whether the electorate of Barker had been taken for granted due to being a “safe” Liberal seat, Mr Abbott said the best thing the government could do was provide a strong economy.

He said throwing money at electorates in order to “buy” their votes was not the right way to go about it.

“A government that tries to buy votes rather than earn votes is invariably a bad government,” he said. “A government that is throwing money at local monuments as it were is a government which is invariably going to be bad at managing the economy.”

Mr Abbott was in Barker taking part in the Pollie Pedal ride, raising money for Carers Australia.

Showing the years of sitting in Parliament have not affected his fitness, Mr Abbott said he felt fine following the ride from Meningie to Kingston on Monday – more than could be said for one of his fellow riders.

“It’s bloody sad we had a wretched feral deer jump out in front of one of our riders (Wayne Heathcote) today,” he said.

“It’s not absolutely clear what damage he suffered but it looked like a broken collarbone and a pretty badly smashed-up ankle. He’s probably going to be off his bike for three or four months I suspect.”

After a meet and greet at the Kingston Community School Mr Abbott held a community forum at the town’s football clubrooms and answered questions about subjects such as foreign ownership of Australian land and the live export trade.

He supported foreign ownership, saying Australians should get the best price possible on their land, regardless of who is buying.

He also supported the live export of Australian livestock with Indonesia – describing the suspension of trade on the back of a television expose as “one of the biggest foreign policy blunders in Australian history.”

Mr Abbott also reiterated his plan to get rid of the carbon tax if he were made Prime Minister.

After the forum he spoke with the Herald about the National Broadband Network and the differences between Labor’s plan to connect fibre-optic cables to homes and the Coalition’s proposal to link them to existing infrastructure.

“The government’s NBN is not coming near here any time soon – it’s really just a pipe dream as far as communities like Kingston are concerned,” he said.

“Our NBN will ensure every single community gets access to 25 megabits per second download speeds – that’s five times the current national average maximum download speed – by the end of 2016.

“So you’ll get faster broadband more quickly under the Coalition and the cost to the taxpayer will be vastly less – we think we can save $60 billion by doing it our way.”

He also responded to Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s announcement on Monday regarding a revenue shortfall of $12 billion in the Federal budget.

“It’s not an announcement, it’s an excuse,” he said. “She is basically saying ‘we’re not going to be able to keep our commitments because the revenue has collapsed’.

“That’s nonsense – the revenue hasn’t collapsed at all, it’s just all her spending commitments are growing exponentially and she’s trying to make excuses for the fact she can’t manage the budget.”

Mr Abbott threw his support behind Barker’s Liberal candidate, Tony Pasin.

“He’s a local, he’s very able and very energetic,” he remarked. “I think that makes him an outstanding candidate and I think it means if he gets elected he’ll be a really good member.”

He said he was “inevitably” sad to see outgoing member Patrick Secker go but it was for the best.

“Sooner or later your time is up,” he said. “Of course I am disappointed, but in the end all of us have to answer to our party as well as to the wider electorate.”

Liberal candidate for Barker Tony Pasin (left) and Federal opposition leader Tony Abott in Kingston on Monday as part of the “Pollie Pedal” ride.

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