Tony Abbott Ramps Up Attacks on Labor amidst Plunging Popularity

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By Erik Pineda | October 29, 2012 5:24 PM EST

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott is on offensive mode these days following strings of opinion polls that showed his plummeting popularity and that of the Coalition's diminishing edge over the Labor-led government.

On the economy, Mr Abbott lauded efforts by the government to adopt a blueprint that in the next decade would bump Australia into the circle the circle the world's 10 richest nations, likely leapfrogging from its present slot of number 13 as per data provided by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Presenting the so-called Asian Century white paper over the weekend, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said Australia will become more prosperous by ramping up efforts to upgrade the country's productivity, education and other skills that would bolster its economic status as the balance of trading powers tilt toward the Asia-Pacific region.

"The opposition broadly welcomes the Asia white paper," Mr Abbott said on Sunday, but he observed too that all goals, said to be achievable by 2025, outlined by Ms Gillard were either "commonsense or predictable."

"It's full of laudable goals but not very many specific initiatives and certainly no commitment of money ... and the government is playing catch-up politics with its new commitment to Asian languages and its Australia Awards," the Liberal leader was reported by Sky News as saying.

Australia, Mr Abbott said, will be better prepared for the Asian Century by focusing on its domestic economy and by engaging more in regional affairs, stressing that "we need more Jakarta and less Geneva in our foreign policy."

Keeping the local economy robust enough would certainly prepare Aussies for whatever setting there is in the global economy, the Coalition leader added.

On Monday, Mr Abbott alluded on the serious rift within Labor amidst indications that the ruling party is fast catching up on the Liberal-National Coalition, with surveys underscoring a new trend that suggests the government would be easily replaced in 2013.

He pointed to the determination of Labor's South Australia senate ticket, in which a rather unknown local party boss in Don Farrell was given the prestigious number one position in the party's official slate over that of a high-profile and nationally known cabinet minister, Finance Minister Penny Wong.

"The only possible explanation for putting an unknown parliamentary secretary at the top of the senate ticket ahead of one of the government's most senior ministers is that the faceless men are calling the shots in the Labor party," Mr Abbott told The Australian today.

Ms Gillard would not intervene in the incident because the Labor party and the Prime Minister were being ruled by these faceless men, Mr Abbott said.

Labor, however, is under the impression that the Coalition and Mr Abbott himself are merely absorbing the pressures of withering support from Australian voters as per the Newspoll survey published today.

For former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, the Newspoll data proved his earlier arguments that debates based on policies would shore up Labor's popularity numbers because the party is up against an opposition leader too engrossed on "politics of personal abuse."

Voters now pictured Mr Abbott "as neither having the policy or the temperament to be elected as Prime Minister of Australia," Mr Rudd said.

"If Mr Abbott continues in that way of simply basing his entire political strategy not on policy but on personal abuse, then I am not sure how much longer he is going to remain the Leader of the Liberal Party," the former Labor leader told The Australian.

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