PM Transcripts

Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript - 24552

Address to New South Wales Liberal Party State Council, Sydney

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: 20/06/2015

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 24552

Location: Sydney

Thank you, Chris, yes I am the Prime Minister of New South Wales – and Victoria and Queensland and South Australia and all the other States and Territories. But I'm only the Prime Minister because of you. That's the truth. I'm only the Prime Minister because you my fellow Liberals pre-selected me all those years ago to be your candidate in Warringah; and you my fellow Liberals have supported me for the last 21 years; and you my colleague Liberals have supported me through thick and thin in the Party Room over last five and a half years. That's why I am Prime Minister. I am indebted to you. I will never forget what I owe to this great Party. I will never forget what I owe to my colleagues and I do want to mention some of them today. I'm not going to mention everyone, but I do want to mention my ministerial colleagues.

First, Joe Hockey. Now, Joe has copped a lot of crap lately, but since the Budget, hasn't it changed! Because what Joe has done is brought down the best Budget ever for the small businesses of Australia – and didn't the small businesses of Australia finally deserve some recognition and reward. The small businesses of Australia are out there making the most, right now, out there at the shops and stores, they’re making the most of the instant asset write off that Joe brought down as the centrepiece of this Budget.

Not only was Joe able to bring down the best Budget ever for small business, but he was able to give us a sustainable and a credible path back to surplus; every year the deficit drops by about half a percentage point of GDP. We were only able to do that because of the hard yards that Joe did, that all of us did, in last year's budget, where we cut $30 billion – where we cut $30 billion – off Labor's unsustainable spending.

Scott Morrison, what an extraordinary man. He did what everyone said couldn't be done – he stopped the boats. Yes, we had to be firm. Yes, we had to be prepared to take some risks. Yes, we had to be prepared to be unpopular, but I tell you what, we had to be prepared to stop the boats and we were. Having stopped the boats, he's now delivering a fairer and more sustainable pension system for the long term – well done, Scott.

Now, I'm told Marise Payne is in the audience. Marise, there you are, typical of Marise, she's not in the front row, she's in the second row. It's good to see our Ministers who don't need to blow their own trumpets. But I want to blow Marise's trumpet for her because yes, she is the person who writes the cheques for millions and millions of Australians, not only is she delivering people a fair go, but she's giving them more and more opportunities to have a go as well. That’s what we want. We want more and more Australians to have the opportunity to show not what they can't do, but what they can do and that's Marise is delivering.

Malcolm Turnbull – Malcolm came in late because he's probably been connecting yet another house to the National Broadband Network. Malcolm did more in the first 12 months as the supremo of the NBN than Labor did in five years. So, thank you and congratulations to Malcolm Turnbull.

Isn't it terrific to be here with our Premier Mike Baird and hasn't he done a magnificent job! There was a tremor that ran through our Party right around Australia after two very disappointing results in Victoria and in Queensland. But Mike was absolutely undaunted – absolutely undaunted. Despite a massive spending campaign from the Labor Party and the unions, despite a massive scare campaign from the Labor Party and the unions, despite the lowest of the low, a playing of the race card, a shameful and disgraceful playing of the race card by the Labor Party and the unions, Mike Baird triumphed. Mike's triumph shows what this great Party of ours can do when we set our minds on success. So, congratulations, Mike – it is a great tribute to you but it's a great tribute to our Party.

While I'm talking about our party – I know something about campaign managers, because when things go wrong, I blame them. And when things go right, it's all my doing. This Party of ours has had no more faithful servant than Tony Nutt and please, give him the recognition that he deserves.

Now, friends, my job today is to report to you on the first 18 months or so of your Government.

I can tell you that we are repaying the faith that you placed in us, that the Australian people placed in us, in September of 2013.

We went to that election with a very clear message. We said we'd scrap the carbon tax, we'd stop the boats, we'd build the roads of the 21st century and we'd get the budget back under control and that is exactly what we have done and what we are doing.

The carbon tax has gone – and every Australian household is better off to the tune of $550 a year.

The mining tax has gone – and Australia is once more a safe place to invest.

No less than $1 trillion – $1 trillion, $1,000 billion – worth of new projects have been given environmental approval since the election by this Government and there could be no more clearer demonstration of the fact that this country is well and truly open for business than that.

The boats have stopped. We all know what was happening under our predecessors. Under the Rudd/Gillard government, more than 50,000 illegal arrivals by sea, almost 1,000 boats. Shamefully, more than 1,000 deaths at sea and yes, over $11 billion worth of border protection budget blow-outs. Well, I can say that under this Government, as far as we know, there have been no deaths at sea and for almost 12 months there have been no boats whatsoever. We will keep this country safe – and keeping our country safe starts with keeping our borders secure and that is exactly what this Government has done, that is exactly what this Government will always do.

We said we'd build things. I said that I wanted to be known as the infrastructure Prime Minister and I've got to say in this respect it's a pleasure and honour to be working with the infrastructure Premier. The biggest Commonwealth infrastructure spend in history is now under way. With Commonwealth assistance, WestConnex is being built; NorthConnex is being built; the Pacific Highway is being duplicated; Western Sydney's first airport is happening; and thanks to asset recycling, we are investing in public transport as well. This is a build on a massive scale, but didn't we need it after more than a decade of neglect by state Labor governments.

As always, the Coalition comes to the rescue of our state and our country after years of Labor neglect.

We are cutting red tape costs for business. So far, we've delivered more than $2 billion worth of red tape cost reductions for business.

It's not just about what we do here in Australia, it's about what we do to improve relations with our friends, neighbours and trading partners. Nothing has made me more proud of the work that we've done than the three Free Trade Agreements that we've negotiated with our three biggest trading partners – with China, with Japan, and with South Korea. The Howard government started all three. The Rudd/Gillard government procrastinated for six years and the Abbott Government brought them home. That's what Coalition governments do. Every day, we read the papers, we look at the news, and the papers are full of things, the news is full of things. Most of it doesn't much matter. Most of it will be forgotten in a week, let alone a year and a decade. But know this about these Free Trade Agreements: they will be shaping and changing and improving our country for years and decades to come. They are setting up the future for our children and our grandchildren in a way that very few things that we do actually make a difference.

Our economy is responding to what this Government has done. We learnt a week or so back that since the election, there are 290,000 more jobs in our economy. Jobs growth today is almost four times the rate that it was in the last year of the Rudd/Gillard government. In the March quarter, we had almost the highest growth in the developed world. In the March quarter, export volumes rose by five per cent – that's the strongest growth in 15 years. Housing construction – construction generally – was up almost five per cent, the strongest growth in six years. Services exports were up 8 per cecnt, that's the strongest growth in seven years. Our economy is responding . Confidence is up. The National Australia Bank index showed confidence growing from three to seven compared to just 0.5 on average through the life of the former government. What that shows is when you do the right thing by the people of Australia, the great, the warm, the generous, the decent people of our country respond accordingly and they are responding to the things that this Government is doing to make their lives better.

This country is open for business, this Government means business and this Government will support the businesses of Australia to do what they do best: invest, employ and serving the people of our country.

Every day, that is what we are focused on.

We are focused on building a strong, safe and prosperous Australia for everyone. And every day in the last week, that's exactly what we did. On Monday, we secured Senate support for the passage of the small business budget Bills. On Tuesday, we secured Senate agreement to increase pensions by up to $30 a fortnight for 170,000 pensioners with modest assets. On Wednesday, we actually inked the China Free Trade Agreement. On Thursday, we released the Northern Australia White Paper, to build on the strengths of our great North because if the North does well, Australia does well. Let me dwell on that for just a moment. There is a $5 billion concessional loan facility for economic infrastructure in Northern Australia. There's $700 million over the forward estimates for upgrading roads in Northern Australia. Very importantly, my friends, there is a $200 million water fund to end the dam phobia which has afflicted our country for the last two decades. We know that you can't have development without water and we know that you can't have water without dams and we will get dams built. We will get dams built in this country, particularly the Nullinga dam behind Cairns and the Ord Stage 3 which have so much potential to develop Northern Australia.

While we had quite a good week last week, there was one person who didn't enjoy the week quite so much. You ask, who might that be. Well, on Monday, Mr Shorten attacked us for allegedly doing something to turn around boats, which it turned out that he had done exactly the same, only it didn't work when they tried to do it, because they never turned around a single boat. Then on Tuesday, it became apparent that yet again, Labor was changing its mind on national security.

Now, I want to make it absolutely crystal clear where this Government stands. If you go to Syria or Iraq to fight with a terrorist army, you are committing the modern form of treason. If you go to Syria or Iraq to fight with a terrorist army, you are taking up arms against Australia, because day in and day out these terrorists are enjoining followers and sympathisers to take a gun or a knife to unbelievers, including unbelievers here in Australia. I say that if you take a gun or a knife to an Australian because of who we are, you have utterly forfeited any right to be considered one of us. I say: if you go to Syria or Iraq to fight with a terrorist army, we don't want you back – we don't want you back. If you are a dual citizen, we won't let you back, because you will lose your Australian citizenship. I want to make that absolutely crystal clear. The Labor Party has had three positions so far when it comes to stripping the citizenship from terrorists who are dual nationals. Their first position was that it was dog whistling. Their second position was that they supported it in principle. But courtesy of the Shadow Attorney-General, they now have a third position, which is that if you go to Syria or Iraq to join a terrorist army, we want you back, we want you back here. And they say they'll put you on trial. Well, fair enough, but we all know the perils of that.

I know what the Australian people are thinking. They do not want terrorists loose on our streets. They do not want people who have been fighting with terrorist armies loose on our streets, and this Government will do everything we humanly can to ensure that that never happens.

It didn't stop there – weak on border security, weak on national security, and weak on budget security. What we saw this week was something that I never, ever thought I would live to see. You learn never to be surprised in this business. You learn that all sorts of things that you thought were absolutely impossible can, sometimes for good, sometimes for ill, come true. I saw something absolutely remarkable this week which I never thought any of us would live to see – the Greens being more economically responsible than the Labor Party.

We saw a lot this week, didn't we. We saw a lot emerging at a Royal Commission in Melbourne. We saw the Labor Party getting deeper and deeper into a crisis, an existential crisis, over what it really believes and who it really stands for. Because when senior union officials dud their workers to boost their power, they are saying that they are more important than the workers that they are supposed to represent. What could be more shameful, what could be more embarrassing, for someone who has a sacred trust to represent the workers of Australia than to put himself or herself ahead of the interests whose job it is for them to represent. Yet that's what's happened. That's what's plainly happened. Yes, we know the focus has been on a particular union and on a particular union leader over the last week or so, but this is a crisis for the Labor Party more generally. What it shows is that, as far as modern Labor is concerned, it isn't any more about the workers and their rights, it's about the union bosses and their privileges.

That does bring me to quite an important subject for us too. You see, we can never be in it for ourselves. We can never be in it for our power, our privilege and our influence. We are in this business for the people of Australia. We are in this business to make a difference. We are in this business to realise the great ideals and the great principles which have always motivated our party. It's the Labor Party which is the insiders' club – not us. It's the Labor Party which puts its own interests first – not us. That's why it is so important, over the next few months, that we take seriously the recommendations of the Party Reform Commission led by our greatest living statesman, John Winston Howard. Now, party reform can't belong to me, it can't belong to Mike, it can't belong to Chris or to Tony Nutt or any of the others up here – it has to belong to you. The party reform process is one that we will now be engaged in over the next few months, leading up to our AGM later in the year. But we all know what the Howard commission recommended. We all know that the Howard commission wants to empower every single member of our party. Surely that has got to be at the heart and the core of what we believe in as Liberals. Every member counts – there are no hierarchies of members here. Every member counts. Now, I know that we have to be practical about these things. We do have to be practical. Yes, we have to be pragmatic but I tell you what: there have got to be pretty strong arguments to trump the powerful and persuasive principle that was embodied in the Howard commission report.

Finally, I want to say a few words about something which is usually the great unmentionable at Liberal Party gatherings and that's factions. Now, I have my preferences. We all have our preferences. I have some people I like more; some people I like less. I have some values which I love and I see other values which I love less. There are philosophies and principles which are mine and there are philosophies and principles that belong to others. We all have our preferences and in accordance with our preferences and our instincts, we should make decisions, decisions for candidates, decisions for policies, but let it be what I think and you think and you think. Let it not be what some faction boss tells us to think. So, I hope over the next few months we will do two things – first of all, we will restore this great Party of ours to its members. Nothing is more important than that. Second, we will give more and more people a reason to join our Party. The best reason you can give people to join our Party is to say: join our party and you will have a say. Join our party and you will have a say. You won't just be invited to put your hand in your pocket again and again at fundraisers. You won't just be invited to hand out election after election on polling day. You will have a say in all of the key decisions that our Party makes. That’s the opportunity that we have to restore our Party to its members and the say to the public – join this Party of ours because in this Party of ours you will have a say. Now, as always, it’s one thing to have an aspiration, it’s another thing to make it work, it’s another thing to make it come true, but I believe we are big enough to do this. I believe that we have it in us to be our best selves. I keep saying, day in, day out, to the people of Australia that our best days are ahead of us. I really believe that – I really believe that. I know how good our people are and having known and worked with most of you for the best part of 30 years, I know how good you are. I know you want to be your best.

So, our best days are ahead of us as Australians and our best days are ahead of us as Liberals.

Let’s grab that future and let’s make the most of it.

[ends]

Transcript - 24552