Prime Minister John Howard has announced Australia will go to the polls on November 24.
Mr Howard launched the election campaign after visiting Governor-General, Major General Michael Jeffery, earlier today.
He says in the weeks ahead people must decide who is most able to not only to preserve Australia’s prosperity, but build it to make sure it is fairly spread.
“Is it a Government that has a proven track record in those areas? Or is it an inexperienced group of men and women, 70 per cent of whom are former trade union officials?” he said.
“The right leadership has the experience to further expand the the prosperity of the Australian economy.
“The right leadership is the leadership that’s willing to take unpopular decisions in the short-term that have a long-term benefit for the Australian community.
“This country does not need new leadership, it doesn’t need old leadership. It needs the right leadership.”
Responding to questions regarding his comments this week on Indigenous reconciliation, Mr Howard says “we still have a long way to go”.
Mr Howard says if re-elected, Peter Costello will remain as Treasurer and Alexander Downer as Foreign Minister.
Federal Parliament still needs to be formally dissolved for the election campaign.
The election is likely to be fought in the key areas of health, education, the economy, but also climate change and national security.
Other state-based issues will also likely play big roles, for example the approval of the Gunns pulp mill and Mersey Hospital takeover in Tasmania and local council amalgamations in Queensland.
The Labor Party needs to win an extra 16 seats outright to claim a majority government.
The Coalition has had a string of poor opinion polls, a recent Newspoll showed Labor with an election-winning lead over the Coalition, with 56 per cent of the vote after preferences, compared with 44 per cent for the Government.