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Transcript - 23641

Address to the Liberal National Party State Convention, Brisbane

Photo of Abbott, Tony

Abbott, Tony

Period of Service: 18/09/2013 to 15/09/2015

More information about Abbott, Tony on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 12/07/2014

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 23641

Well, it might be the coldest Brisbane morning in 103 years, but that was an extremely warm welcome!

Thank you so much, Luke, and thank you so much, ladies and gentlemen.

I was told before I came up today: don’t mention the football.

But you Queenslanders, you know, you can turn defeat into victory. I gather it was a “points win,” Campbell, on for and against! See, you can declare those things because you’ve only got one house of parliament to deal with!

My friends, we have had an interesting week in the Senate. There are many interesting weeks in the Senate, as those who have studied politics for some time would understand. But after this last week in Canberra, the fault lines in our country and in our polity could not be clearer. They could not be clearer.

On the one hand, you have a Labor Party which insists that it got nothing wrong in six years of bad government, which is in denial about the election result, which is in denial about the harm the carbon tax is doing to the Australian people, which likes to talk about the ‘light on the hill’ – but the ‘light on the hill’ costs 10 per cent more to run because of the Labor Party and its addiction to this carbon tax – still thumbing its nose at the Australian public saying, “You got it wrong last September”. That’s what you’ve got on one side, and on the other side you’ve got a Coalition which is carefully and methodically implementing the commitments that we made to the Australian people.

Look at what the Labor Party is doing to this country right now. They damaged our country in government and now they are determined to keep damaging our country in Opposition.

They are blocking not just the repeal of the carbon tax, not just the repeal of the mining tax, they are blocking not just our savings; they are blocking the savings that they promised the Australian people in the lead-up to the last election.

I heard the leader of the Labor Party in the week saying, “I just wish Tony Abbott would keep his commitments”. Well, that’s exactly what I’m trying to do.

Not only am I trying to keep the Coalition’s commitments, I’m trying to keep Labor’s commitments, too.

They’re not just blocking our Budget savings, they are blocking their own Budget savings.

So what’s crystal clear, my friends, is that all that is keeping our country from long-term economic decline, all that is keeping our country from political gridlock, is us.

I want to say congratulations and thank you to each one of you. Do not underestimate what you are doing. Do not underestimate what your representatives are doing. You and we are rescuing our country and what is obvious is that it is only us who can rescue our country right now.

Some say we’ve had a tough week. Well, I want to say this: I would much rather be defending a tough but necessary Budget than standing before the Australian people day in, day out, week in, week out, year in, year out, justifying incompetence and trying to explain away dishonesty which is what prime ministers Rudd and Gillard did for six years.

Isn’t it refreshing to have at long last in this country, in our national Parliament, a Government which says what it means and does what it says, a Government which knows what it stands for, which knows where it wants to take the country and is not put off – is not put off – by a bad headline and one or two parliamentary difficulties.

When you look at things in the Senate, sure, Mr Palmer has three senators, but Mr Shorten has 25 and we know that Mr Palmer will change his mind come Monday, but Bill Shorten will still be there come Monday, come Tuesday, come next week, come next month, come next year, supporting putting your power prices up, smiling every time your power bill increases, because that’s the modern Labor Party for you: taxes up, spending up, bigger government and smaller citizens. That’s the modern Labor Party.

Well, as I said, we are here to rescue this country from decline.

We are here to ensure that all our tomorrows are better than all our yesterdays. That is our mission.

We said before the election – you all know it – let me repeat it for your benefit: we said before the election that we would stop the boats, we would scrap the carbon tax, we wouldd build the roads of the 21st century and we would get the Budget back under control and that is exactly what we’re doing.

We also said that within 12 months we would finalise free trade agreements with Korea, with Japan and with China. We’ve got two and we have high hopes of getting the third.

I want to say that that free trade agreement that was signed between myself and Prime Minister Abe this week is good news for our country, but in particular, it’s good news for Queensland. It will secure the future of the great mining industry of Queensland. It will help the future of the great agricultural industries of Queensland and it will ensure that the people of Queensland get access, over time, to even better and more reliable consumer goods.

That’s what free trade is all about. Free trade is about more jobs and lower prices and that is what we want to deliver to the people of Queensland and to the people of Australia.

I said that we would stop the boats and I am not declaring victory, but my friends, we are stopping those boats. The most compassionate thing we could do coming into Government was to stop the boats, because not only does stopping the boats stop the Budget blowouts, not only does stopping the boats save billions in unnecessary future spending, but stopping the boats stops the deaths. That’s why the most decent and the most compassionate thing that this Government has done is to ensure that for more than six months now there has been no successful people smuggling venture to our country.

We will never waver. We will never waver in our determination to stop the boats. We will never waver in our commitment to do what we have to do to stop the boats because we must have secure borders. The sign of a sovereign country is that it has secure borders.

While we are stopping the boats, what’s the Labor Party doing? Well, the Labor Party, as we know, can never stop the boats because it is in alliance with The Greens and as far as The Greens are concerned, if you can get here, you can stay here.

Well ladies and gentlemen, this is the problem: you just cannot trust the Labor Party with border security.

We are building the roads. Here in Queensland, along with your great Premier, Campbell Newman, we are getting on with the Gateway Motorway upgrade. We will build the Toowoomba Range Crossing starting next year. We are continuing the upgrade of the Bruce Highway. Only a Coalition Government in Canberra will work with the Coalition Government in Brisbane to move the people and the goods of Queensland around this great state.

You can’t trust Labor to build roads, because, again, they’re in alliance with The Greens and The Greens and Labor suffer from what I call the BANANA syndrome: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone. That’s what they suffer from. They are the obstacles to progress, they are the enemies of progress and if you want to build the roads of the future, you have one friend and that’s the Coalition – here in Brisbane and in Canberra.

We are scrapping the carbon tax. If we have a problem in one day in the Parliament, we will work, we will regroup, we will deal with it the next day, because that’s what sensible, adult governments do.

If we have a problem, we don’t despair, we deal with it and that’s exactly what this Government is doing.

But I do give you this assurance: we won’t rest until the carbon tax is gone, because this is a toxic tax.

It’s adding 9 per cent to your power bills, it’s a $9 billion handbrake on our economy and it’s costing average Australian families $550 a year. So, it must go.

And my friends, we are getting the Budget under control. And didn’t we need to get the Budget under control.

The former government – The Rudd/Gillard/Rudd government – gave us the six biggest deficits in our history.

But they didn’t just give us the six biggest deficits in our history, they stirred up debt and deficit as far as they eye can see – $123 billion in projected future deficits, debt after a decade peaking at $667 billion; $25,000 per Australian man, woman and child. $1 billion a month right now – right now – the interest bill on Labor’s debt. That’s dead money that can’t be spent on schools and hospitals and roads because of the debt that Labor ran up.

Our mission is to fix this. Our mission is to fix this, because we know, you know, the Australian people know in the marrow of their bones that governments aren’t so different from families and households, governments have got to live within their means.

That’s exactly what happens as a result of this Budget. Within four years we get back to balance. After all the years of debt and deficit, after all the debt and deficit disaster of the Labor Party and thanks to this Budget, peak debt comes in $300 billion lower than it would under the policies of our opponents.

I know there are many tough elements in this Budget, but the Australian people want to be told the truth.

The Australian people are reasonable, decent, stoical people. Australians have faced tough times before and they know that sometimes you have to make tough decisions today to make tomorrow better.

We are deregulating our universities, because we know that if there’s one institution in the modern world which ought to be capable of running itself, which ought not need to have its hand held by government, it’s our universities, particularly the great universities here in Queensland.

We do have a strong but necessary message to the young people of Australia: when you leave school, you will be earning or learning, because no one should start their adult life on social security.

And yes, we do want to see a modest co-payment for Medicare services, not because we want to make life difficult for people, but because we want our great Medicare system, our great health system, to be sustainable for the long-term.

I congratulate Peter Dutton for the work he’s doing as Health Minister and I congratulate you in this conference for the tough and fair minded approach that you have taken to this difficult subject.

But I say this to the people of Australia: if it’s right and fair and reasonable to have a modest co-payment for PBS drugs, how can it not be right and fair and reasonable to have a modest co-payment for Medicare, especially when it is necessary to keep the system sustainable for the long-term?

Yes, we are changing the indexation system for most social security benefits, again, to make a generous social security system sustainable because our country is changing. ‘Demography is destiny’ as Peter Costello said a few years ago, and right now, there are five workers in our economy for every pensioner. If things don’t change, in 40 years’ time there’ll be just three workers for every pensioner.

So, we do need to make changes now to ensure that the system is sustainable for the long-term.

Some of the changes I announced just this week. We are determined to ensure that just as our young people are encouraged to move swiftly into the workforce, older Australians who want to work should be encouraged to work.  I know there aren’t very many older people in this audience, and all of you are working, not necessarily for pay, but you are working for our country in being here today. But the truth is that we do want to change the economics of employing other people. We do want to break through the prejudice against older workers which has bedevilled our economy for too long. That’s why, already – thanks to this Government’s Budget – if you take an older worker on and keep that worker employed for two years, there’s a $10,000 payment that’s available to you and your business.

Because what we’re doing with this Budget is not just saving, but we’re building too.

We are embarked on the biggest infrastructure spend in the Commonwealth’s history – $50 billion of new infrastructure spending as a result of this Budget.

We’re not just living within our means but we’re playing to our strengths as well. A $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund as a result of this Budget to ensure that Australia will continue to lead the world when it comes to devising the treatments and the cures of the future.

So, this is the right Budget for our country. And yes, it has to be negotiated through the Senate, as every government has had to negotiate its Budget through the Senate, but I say to the critics, what is your alternative? What is your alternative? Because if you have no ideas of your own, stop wrecking and let those who have the ideas get on with the job of building a better Australia.

Luke, thank you so much for your warm introduction. Thank you so much for remembering some of the things that I’ve said, privately and publicly, over the last four years. Because, if there is a lesson from the period of the former government, governing is not about the government, it is about the people.

Good government is not about us, it is about you. That’s the lesson that we need to learn.

Our job is to make life easier for you, the people of Australia, and to do so in a way which is consistent with our values and which reflects your values.

We are building – this Government is building – a stronger Australia with smaller government, with more choice and bigger citizens.

We know the stronger Australia that we seek – an Australia with secure borders, an Australia that lives within its means, an Australia that finds strength in our differences and unity in our diversity, an Australia where each generation can leave to its children a better life and an Australia which is a beacon of hope and optimism to people all around the world. That is the Australia that we are building.

But we don’t do it alone.

I am blessed with some extraordinary colleagues. We are blessed with a great Party. I want to thank you, Bruce and I want to thank Brad Henderson and the State Executive and all the members of the Queensland LNP for the support that you have given to my colleagues and me so consistently over the last four years.

I pay tribute to all of my parliamentary colleagues, in particular, the Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss who was here earlier, to Julie Bishop, the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party and the Foreign Minister – my indispensable right hand in Government.

I should particularly acknowledge my newest parliamentary colleagues, James McGrath and Matt Canavan. Welcome to the Senate. You’ve got a big job! I know you’ll do it well.

This is a critical time for our country.

All times matter, but this time matters more than most.

Our mission – our destiny – is to demonstrate to the Australian people that the last six years of division and dysfunction are not the new normal.

Our mission – our destiny – is to demonstrate to the Australian people that we are the same strength today that we are of old and that we can do even better things today than we have in the past.

My colleagues and I are determined to repay the trust that you placed in us last September.

We are honouring our commitments.

We are working for our country’s long-term betterment.

We are doing what’s right for our country and what’s right for our children.

We’re doing it for you.

So, my friends, thank you so much. As always, it’s a tremendous honour to be here in Queensland. As always, it’s a tremendous honour to bask in the support and friendship of my Queensland colleagues.

Thank you.

[ends]

Transcript - 23641