Abbott focuses on housing on day 1

Mr Abbott had a cup of tea with residents at Cranebrooke, to talk about issues affecting families in the area.

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Accompanying him on the campaign trail on Sunday was the Liberal candidate for Lindsay, Fiona Scott, and the party’s senator for western Sydney, Marise Payne.

He sledged the Labor government’s spending and broken promises for putting pressure on family budgets saying the cost of electricity gas, water and rent have all soared, while the government keeps borrowing 100 million dollars a day.

He says a coalition government would cut spending by $47 billion.

Abbott confident on rates

Mr Abbott also gave a guarantee on interest rates, a move that could potentially backfireo n him as it did for former PM John Howard.

Mr Abbott says Labor policies and the size of the government’s debt are pushing up living costs and putting upward pressure on interest rates.

He says electricity prices have jumped 35 per cent since the end of 2007, gas has gone up 24 per cent and water’s gone up 29 per cent, while the government’s borrowing $100 million dollars.

Asked on Sky News today whether he could guarantee coalition policies would put downward pressure on interest rates Mr Abbott replied “absolutely I do”.

Mr Howard gave a similar pledge during the 2004 election campaign and rates went up six times between then and the 2007 election won by Labor.

“These are Labor government failures, broken promises that are causing harm to everyday Australian families,” Mr Abbott said.

“How will our children afford to buy a home?” he asked.

Mr Abbott responded by maintaining the purchase of a home in Sydney required two substantial incomes.

“And even then it’s a struggle,” he said.

Roxon hits out at Abbott

Earlier, Health Minister Nicola Roxon fired the first health salvo of the election campaign, warning funding will be stripped from hospitals if Mr Abbott makes it to the Lodge.

The health minister was at Sunshine Hospital, in Melbourne’s outer west, to officially open a new elective surgery theatre.

She talked up the government’s progress rolling out health reforms but said there was still more to be done, making a pitch to voters for a second Labor term.

“That stands in stark contrast to what we know will happen if Mr Abbott becomes the prime minister,” Ms Roxon told reporters.

“As the health minister he cut $1 billion from our public hospitals, we’ve been busily repairing the damage by Mr Abbott and his predecessors but there’s much more to be done in planning for the future.”

Ms Roxon conceded that Western Australia was unlikely to sign up to the national health reforms during the election campaign, with the claw back of GST revenue still the sticking point.

“I think it will be difficult to bring those negotiations to a conclusion during the election but our door is open and we are prepared to do so,” she said.