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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript - 24828

Address to the Nationals Federal Council, Hotel Realm, Canberra

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: 12/09/2015

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 24828

It’s always a real pleasure to follow Barnaby Joyce and I followed him from the Roman Empire, through Queen Victoria, through the geopolitics of the Middle East, back to the inland railway, dams and defending the family! It was a good journey, Barnaby: a very good journey indeed!

Barnaby is a good man to have on a long journey. Nigel Scullion is a good man to have on a week in remote Australia and one of the many good things about my annual weeks in remote Australia with Indigenous people is that I have the company of Nigel Scullion, and you couldn’t find a better man and you couldn’t find a man who knows more about remote Australia.

But this is a gathering full of good people. This is a gathering full of people who are the beating heart of our country and it is a real honour to be here, not as the Leader of the National Party, but as the Leader of this Liberal-National Coalition which is so important for the future and for the prosperity of our great country.

I speak to you today at the end of a week which marked the second anniversary of the Abbott-Truss Government. We took a plan to the last election. Every day we are doing our best to deliver on that plan and I can tell you that that plan is working. And if you look for evidence that the plan is working, you’ll find it in the employment figures that were released this week because what they showed was that since September 2013, this country, this economy of ours, has created more than 300,000 new jobs.

We can talk all we like about policies, we can talk all we like about visions, but if our vision and if our policy doesn’t produce the things that matter most to the people of our country, we’ve got to think again – but our vision and our policies has done what the people of Australia really want: it’s created 300,000 more jobs since the election. That’s 300,000 more people who are making an economic contribution to our society. That’s 300,000 more families that are better off today than they were two years ago.

And it’s not just the jobs. The other indicators show that our economy is strong: housing approvals are at near record levels, motor vehicle sales are at near record levels, company registrations are at absolute record levels, and bankruptcies are at near record lows. This doesn’t happen by accident. This happens because there is a Government in Canberra which from day one has been open for business and everything that we have done has been about backing hardworking Australians.

It’s been about getting behind the people in our country who are having a go.

That’s why we repealed the carbon tax – a useless handbrake on economic activity.

That’s why we repealed the mining tax – a great big flashing neon sign over Australia to investors saying ‘don’t come here.’

That’s why we brought down a budget this year that was all about the biggest small business tax cut in our history, because we know that small business people are out there having a go every day – and we didn’t just focus on small business people generally, we focussed on the small business people who are at the heart of our economy, our farmers.

So, as well as the $20,000 instant asset write-off in this year’s budget and the Agriculture White Paper, there is an immediate write-off for on farm water infrastructure, there’s an immediate write-off for fencing and I know no one has ever built a fence before now, but by god there’s been a lot of repairs! But now you can build a fence and write it off straight away.

It was so good to hear Barnaby talking of the water infrastructure which is once more being built in this country, the big water infrastructure which is once more being built in this country because, as Barnaby says: dams mean wealth, wealth means prosperity and success, and it’s high time that this country overcame the dam-phobia which has afflicted us for the best part of three decades.

So, it’s been two years of relentless constant focus on jobs, on growth, on community safety.

Its two years of putting into practice our plan for a stronger economy and a safer Australia which means lower taxes, more roads and freer trade. That’s what we’ve been doing every day. But this has been an interesting week. This has been a week where we have seen our country shoulder its responsibilities and seek to grasp its opportunities. We are a decent and compassionate nation and this week our country responded with decency and with strength to the problems of the wider world. We’ve all seen the utter tragedy, the heartrending misery faced by people fleeing conflicts in the Middle East; people who don’t enjoy the kind of civil society that we here in Australia take for granted, and rather than just say it’s none of our business, rather than just say that it was someone else’s duty to do something, we have risen to the challenge. And I want to say congratulations to Peter Dutton, the Immigration Minister, who has masterminded our plan to bring 12,000 people from persecuted minorities: women, children and families, to start a new life in Australia.

And if there’s one thing that should be remembered about Peter Dutton’s week – it’s that.

This is the week that he masterminded the plan to bring 12,000 needy people to this country, to bring 12,000 people to this country who we know will be so pleased and so proud and so happy and so relieved to come to a country which respects them, which will give them a go and will allow them to build a better life for themselves, their children, and their descendants – that’s the kind of country we are.

But we don’t just respond with decency, we respond with strengths as well and that’s why our planes are now striking at terrorist targets inside Syria, as well as in Iraq, too.

We didn’t just respond to international problems this week. We are seeking to grasp our opportunities and there is no greater opportunity than that which is presented by the free trade agreement with China.

China is already by far the strongest economy of Asia. By some measures, it is already the strongest economy in the world. Certainly, it is an absolute economic powerhouse of these times and the free trade agreement that we have negotiated with China is the only agreement that China has concluded with any other G20 country. This is an extraordinary chance. No other sophisticated economy of our size has been given this kind of an opportunity and under this free trade agreement, beef tariffs go to zero, lamb tariffs go to zero, wine tariffs go to zero, dairy tariffs go to zero, health product tariffs go to zero – all of our exporters have a potential bonanza before them under this agreement. New Zealand did an agreement with China five years ago, and in that time their exports to China have quintupled. Yes, we’ve done well, too – our exports have doubled – but with a free trade agreement New Zealand’s exports to China quintupled. That is the prospect which now beckons this country if this agreement is successfully finalised.

But I regret to tell you that there is one leader in our national parliament who doesn’t like this deal at all. There is one significant organisation in our community that doesn’t like this deal at all. The organisation is the CFMEU and the person in our parliament is the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten. That’s the tragedy of Australia this week. On a week when we shouldered our international responsibilities, we risk squandering our domestic opportunities because every time Bill Shorten moves, it’s the CFMEU who are pulling his strings, and every time he opens his mouth, it’s the CFMEU’s voice you hear.

We talk about the Asian Century and what the Opposition in this parliament wants to do is to snub the strongest economy in Asia. It is almost unimaginable folly. And I want to say to all of you: this Government will fight, this Government, this Liberal-National Government, will fight for our future. We’ll fight for our exporters. We’ll fight to ensure that this free trade agreement actually happens.

You know, when it comes to campaigning we are pretty damned good, we are pretty damned good. And I want to tell you that we will fight as hard and we will campaign as hard for this free trade agreement as we fought against and campaigned against the carbon tax – it’s that important, it is that important for our country. Don’t let anyone tell you that this is just another bit of argy bargy in the Parliament. Oh no. This matters for our country in a way that almost nothing else does.

This is about our prosperity. It’s about our employment. It’s about our standard of living. This is about our very future because if we don’t have markets, if we don’t have exports, we hardly have a life. That’s why this Government is utterly determined, utterly determined, that this is something that will go through the Parliament and will go through the Parliament as soon as we can make it.

What we saw this week in the Parliament was an Opposition Leader who doesn’t really know what he stands for – apart from Green preferences and protecting dodgy union officials – but we know exactly what we are for.

We know exactly who we’re for.

If you’re a farmer struggling against drought, we’re for you.

If you’re a parent who wants children to go to the best possible schools, we’re for you.

If you’re an older person saving for retirement, we’re for you.

If you’re a small business person prepared to put your home on the line to invest, to employ, and to serve the community, we’re for you.

If you’re a migrant eager to build a better life and join our team, we’re for you.

We know who we stand for.

We know what our values are.

We know we are backing every Australian who wants to have a go and I’ve got to say that there is no stronger person when it comes to backing those who are having a go than the Leader of the National Party, Warren Truss.

We need a strong Coalition and that’s exactly what we have. We have a strong Coalition because we have a man of strong values and strong character in the Leader of the National Party, Warren Truss. Warren has been at the heart of all the big decisions that this Government makes. He is the steady and calm voice in all of the essential decision-making bodies: the Cabinet, the leadership group, the Expenditure Review Committee and the National Security Committee of the Government and he has been a steady and calm voice in our Party Room, in the counsels of our Coalition and our Government for a quarter century.

I can see he’s thinking back on those 25 years and I want to say to you, Warren: every one of them has been worth it. In every one of them you have been a great contributor. You know, one of Warren’s best qualities of all is his patience. When he was elected 25 years ago as a young Member of Parliament, he said in his maiden speech that he wanted to “stop” – and I quote – “this miserly attitude towards road funding.” That’s what you wanted to do 25 years ago: “stop this miserly attitude towards road funding.” Well, 50 billion bucks later, I think we can say that you have well and truly succeeded! You, in fact, are presiding over the biggest infrastructure programme in Commonwealth history.

Ladies and gentlemen, would you please make welcome your Leader, and my Infrastructure Deputy Prime Minister, the Honourable Warren Truss.     


Transcript - 24828