Labor promises high speed rail
TranscriptEMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: Labor has revived plans for a high-speed rail network as a key poll showed the Government making up a small amount of ground on the Opposition's lead.
Kevin Rudd says a bullet train is a better use of money than the Opposition's paid parental leave scheme.
But Tony Abbott's questioned the decades-long timeframe to complete the potential project.
Political correspondent Tom Iggulden has more from Canberra.
TOM IGGULDEN, REPORTER: With less than a fortnight to go until polling day, Kevin Rudd's taking his message to anyone who'll listen.
The Prime Minister's keeping it simple for the adults as well.
KEVIN RUDD, PRIME MINISTER: If we do not have world-class infrastructure, there is no future for the Australian economy.
TOM IGGULDEN: Labor's dusted off plans for a bullet train down the East Coast. If returned, it'd legislate to reserve land for a high-speed rail corridor and commit $52 million for a study into how to build it. The final cost would more like $114 billion.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, DEPUTY LABOR LEADER: It would lead to the creation of jobs, some 10,000 jobs during the construction phase.
TONY ABBOTT, OPPOSITION LEADER: The Government has been talking about spending $100 billion in 30 or 40 years' time. I'd much rather spend money now to get better outcomes tomorrow.
KEVIN RUDD: If you were to build this entire 1,750 kilometre high-speed rail project from Brisbane to Melbourne by 2035, it would cost less than Mr Abbott's unaffordable, unfair paid parental leave scheme for the same period of time.
TOM IGGULDEN: The Opposition's paid parental leave scheme is mentioned in the same breath as just about everything else the Government has to say at this stage of the election campaign.
TONY ABBOTT: I am really pleased that he is trying to run a scare campaign against paid parental leave.
JOE HOCKEY, SHADOW TREASURER: A lot of the critics are men.
TOM IGGULDEN: And some are in the Coalition. One senior figure says he can understand the criticism.
MALCOLM TURNBULL, SHADOW COMMUNICATIONS SPOKESMAN: When people say it's too much or it's too generous, that is a reasonable objection. It's not an - it's always reasonable to say, "Hey, hang on, can't you do this in a better way with less money."
TOM IGGULDEN: Mr Turnbull was quick to point out he supports the scheme.
MALCOLM TURNBULL: Is that really a bad thing, that we would say here in Australia, we have the most generous paid parental leave scheme in the world?
TOM IGGULDEN: But the Prime Minister seized on his comments.
KEVIN RUDD, PRIME MINISTR: This is a remarkable day in this entire election campaign. The liberal Party, as of today, two weeks before an election, is split right down the middle on Mr Abbott's core priority objective. It's as simple as that.
TOM IGGULDEN: A potentially bigger threat to the policy for an incoming Coalition government would be opposition to it from Labor and minor parties in the Senate. But Tony Abbott says Labor would have to respect his mandate if he won the election.
TONY ABBOTT: Do you really think that the Labor Party is going to say no to the women of Australia? I doubt it very much.
TOM IGGULDEN: The latest Newspoll gives Labor little hope leading into the final stretch of this election race. It's primary vote has risen by three points to 37 per cent and Mr Rudd has arrested his slide as preferred prime minister. But on the all-important two-party preferred measure, the Coalition maintains a 53 to 47 per cent advantage.
Tom Iggulden, Lateline.