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Transcripts from the Prime Ministers of Australia

Transcript 40527

Address to the New South Wales Liberal State Council

Photo of Turnbull, Malcolm

Turnbull, Malcolm

Period of Service: 15/09/2015 to 24/08/2018

More information about Turnbull, Malcolm on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 22/10/2016

Release Type: Transcript

Transcript ID: 40527

Location: Sydney

PRIME MINISTER:

Well thank you very much for such a warm welcome. Acting President Kent Johns, State Director Chris Stone. Premier Mike Baird, Deputy and State Treasurer Gladys Berejiklian – a very big congratulations for getting the State Budget in surplus Gladys. No pressure on us Scott at all.

To all my Federal colleagues including former Prime Minister Tony Abbott. To all and our State colleagues, to all our mayors and councillors. But above all to you, to all our delegates and members. Can I first thank all the members of the New South Wales Liberal Party who worked so hard during the 2016 election campaign to ensure our success.

Now while never blind as to how we can do better, we should be proud that we are members of Australia’s most successful political party, the greatest grass roots political movement in our nation. And today we are ensuring it will be greater still.

For every one of you who handed out at train stations, who made calls to their neighbours, who stood up to the bullies on the other side, who manned the booths on election day, our victory is your victory. You won that election for us.

It was a very tough campaign where Labor and the unions and their fronts like GetUp threw everything at us.  But they failed, and we prevailed. It was your passion and commitment to our cause that got us over the line.

We won and have been returned to Government, the first time since John Howard won the 2004 election that any Federal Government has been returned with a majority.

Against the trend, champions Craig Laundy and John Alexander had swings to them, as did Paul Fletcher [inaudible]. The door knocking, the community forums, the street stalls and the Saturday morning sports rounds - clearly all paid off.

We welcome new NSW faces to Parliament. We saw generational change on the North side with Julian Leeser and Jason Falinski succeeding Liberal heroes Phil Ruddock and Bronwyn Bishop.

Of course as you know New South Wales is very ably represented in my Government, Treasurer Scott Morrison, Defence Minister Marise Payne, Health Minister Sussan Ley, Cabinet Secretary Arthur Sinodinos, International Development Minister Connie Fierravanti-Wells, Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher. Assistant Ministers Alex Hawke in Immigration and Border Protection, Craig Laundy in Innovation, and Angus Taylor, on Cities and Digital Transformation.

And what about our marginal seat heroes - Lucy Wicks, Ann Sudmalis, David Coleman - David, what a great job chairing the Economics Committee. Craig Kelly and Trent Zimmerman were returned, and are both doing great work, powerful work in Parliament for their communities, our party and our State. We acknowledge Bob Baldwin and Bill Heffernan who, like Phil and Bronwyn served our party with distinction and retired at the last election. To all of our candidates who stood for election but were unsuccessful, we thank you for carrying our Liberal standard in that very tough campaign. We acknowledge and thank Fiona Scott, Russell Matheson, Louise Markus, Nick Varvaris, Karen McNamara and Peter Hendy - all hard working local members who fell short in that tough election but still have much to contribute to our party and to our nation.

They faced a dishonest, spiteful Labor Medicare scare campaign. When the big lie was exposed and ridiculed in the media, when Labor’s leader was unable to provide any evidence for it, Labor doubled and trebled down, spending millions as they targeted older and vulnerable Australians with an enormous field force funded and manned by the union and their front organisations.

We will work hard to win those seats back and we will do it by being a Government that delivers on our promises, delivers  on the issues that matter, and here  in our State by ensuring that the New South Wales Liberal Party is in the best shape it can be to contest the next election.

Now there will be a comprehensive review of the national campaign. It is underway as you know led by Andrew Robb, Barry O’Farrell, Carol Cashman and Chris Ellison who all bring vast experience to their inquiry.

In 2019, our great party celebrates its 75th anniversary. In the lead up to that milestone, we should reflect on the reasons for our party’s existence. Chief among them is to win and hold government so that we can pursue the policies that allow us to implement our values.

The converse of that is that when we lose Government, we enable Labor to impose its values. Bill Shorten’s Labor Party, the modern Labor Party, is utterly dominated by a few militant trade unions. If you want to see what a Shorten federal government would look like –just look across the border at Daniel Andrews’ Victoria.

This is not the Labor Party of Hawke or Keating or the past. This is what modern Labor does. This is what the Labor Party of 2016 would do. At the behest of the Transport Workers Union, Bill Shorten as a Minister in the Gillard Government established a tribunal that had the result of putting over 30,000 independent owner driver truck drivers off the road, out of business, with no income at all. We stopped that, we abolished that tribunal.

In Victoria, at the behest of the United Firefighters Union, in one of the most extraordinary signs of the dominance of militant unionism over the Labor Party, you’ve seen a Labor Government in that State seek to put 60,000 volunteer firefighters, the men and women who voluntarily put their lives on the line. Stand between Victorians and the property and indeed Australians around the country and their property and the inferno of summer. Men and women who do that, that Labor Government backed in by Bill Shorten wanted to put them under the control of union – again we have legislated already to protect them from that union takeover.

On every building site in Australia protects the CFMEU and the thugs that defy the rule of law and as we are reminded today none more passionately or self-interestedly than Bill Shorten himself. And for all their talk of fairness - voted against Scott Morrison’s bill to crack down on multinational tax avoidance, well we got it passed, Labor opposed it.

And for all their talk about bipartisanship on national security, refuses again just this week to support mandatory minimum sentences for gun smuggling and is still hopelessly divided on border protection.

And that is just the beginning of the swerve further and further to the Left of modern Labor. Our party, and our Coalition partners, are the only thing that stands between Labor and Government. We all of us, have an obligation to Australia to win and keep winning. Deliver on our values of freedom and individual responsibility and secure our future.

My own electorate, Wentworth, is a Federation seat and its longest serving member, Sir Eric Harrison, was Sir Robert Menzies’ deputy and co-founder of the Liberal Party. A further reminder that we all have a duty to develop the great grassroots political movement they founded.

We must modernise our organisation, ensuring greater grassroots partnership and involvement. This includes critically the selection of parliamentary candidates and, importantly, strengthening the capacity of members to contribute to policy.

I am determined, as you are, to modernise the Liberal party, to build a bigger and better Liberal Party, where a broader membership will be attracted to our cause.

The Party Futures Convention the Council has agreed to today will chart a course to more and more open policy forums, more frequent and direct access to Members of Parliament and Senators at party meetings, transparent delegate selection and preselection processes in which all members can participate.

Once people join our party it has to be worth their while, otherwise they will very quickly find something else to do with their time.

Now some of you may recall, back in 2002 when I was Chairman of the Menzies Research Centre and also Honorary Federal Treasurer of the Liberal Party which I have to say is the only tougher job in Liberal politics than being Opposition Leader. When I had those roles we commissioned some research with Crosby Textor to look at why people joined the party, why the stayed, why they left or why being strong supporters they didn’t join.

That research offered then as I am sure it would if we did it again today, what Lucy’s Dad would call a penetrating glimpse of the obvious. It told us that people want to be heard, they want to be respected, they want to have a say and they want to be engaged. That is what we need to do as well seek to rebuild our party’s membership to the size it was decades ago.

Forty years ago, six or seven times as big, just in New South Wales alone.  We can do it again by engagement, by reaching out, by ensuring that every member, every person who thinks that they agree with our principles and polices and wants to be part of our party, every one of them knows that they will have a say. Their voice will be respected, their voice will be heard. That is the critical step in the modernisation of our great party.

Julian Leeser’s Fox Valley branch was recognised last year, and it is a good example, one of many I hasten to add, of how to build community solidarity and support. Members were involved in a range of activities, from a working-bee that turned a tattoo parlour into a campaign office, to massive doorknocking weekends, ‘meet the candidate’ events, a campaign launch and a campaign post mortem. That process of conviviality, engagement, community; is the model for what we need to do if we are to be a greater party yet and we can be.

In other States, the party is using technology to foster a sense of community to enhance it, including in Queensland where the LNP has used online policy forums to reach out and connect members and the wider community across that vast State.

The Liberal Party represents mainstream aspirational Australia, the hard-working people and their families identified by Menzies and by Howard as those who in the big end of town or the big end of the [inaudible] do not have a voice. When our party is strong, Australia is strong. Those people are defended, their values are promoted and supported and we become a stronger more secure nation. It is vital that we are a stronger party.

The great strength of our party has always been its broad membership compared to other political movements. Broadening that membership, growing it is the critical end of this modernisation process.

As a Government and as a party we have to work for re-election long before polling day. As Sir John Carrick has often remarked, you can’t fatten the pig on market day and that is a true now as it was when he first said so many years ago.

The best way to prepare for the next election is by getting on with the job of governing.

Our May Budget set out a National Economic Plan which will bring our budget back into balance, drive growth and jobs and by doing so guarantee future funding we need for health, schools and vital infrastructure.

We are governing and getting on with the job of making the new Parliament work. Already the Treasurer has succeeded in securing the passage of an Omnibus Savings Bill, with nearly $6 billion in savings measures we could not get through the last Parliament.

We are making the 45th Parliament work to secure a future that does not burden our children and grandchildren with a mountain of debt. We are introducing much-needed structural reform to the welfare payments system. Welfare spending now adds up to about $160 billion a year that is 80 per cent of all personal income tax we raise. Without further restraint, the welfare bill will blow out to $277 billion.

How long can we continue to borrow money from the next generation? Don’t we owe it to our children and grandchildren to make the system more sustainable? And what about each new generation that becomes trapped by the very welfare system that should instead be empowering them?

Our reforms will identify those at high risk of long term welfare dependence, and help them find employment. They will identify and reduce the risks of intergenerational welfare dependency. And they will ensure long term sustainability of the welfare system.

We are getting on with the job and delivering our National Economic Plan and the commitments we made to the people at the election.

We have protected the volunteer firefighters from union take over. We have added to our big export trade deals with another new deal with Singapore, creating many new export opportunities especially for the services sector. And we have delivered, just  as we promised, income tax cuts that will ensure more than 500,000 hardworking middle-income Australians don’t go in to the second highest tax bracket.

And just this week in addition to passing the amendments to the Backpacker Tax, the reforms to clean up Labor’s disastrous Vocational Education loan scandal and the plebiscite to allow a vote on Same Sex Marriage, the House passed the Bill to re-establish the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) - one of the two triggers for the double dissolution election.

The case to re-establish the ABCC could not be clearer. The lawlessness, the thuggery, the bully-boy, standover tactics of the CFMEU, exposed by the Heydon Royal Commission and seen on worksites across the country every day, is costing Australia’s building and construction industry and the taxpayers that pay for so much of it, billions of dollars and thousands of jobs.

This week we were reminded again of CFMEU’s disregard for the rule of law on worksites; the thuggery that we saw in the video showed a member of the CFMEU intimidating, trying to stand over a safety officer on a Commonwealth Games site. Do you remember the threats, “I know your phone number” … “I know where you live.”

That has no place on a work site. That has no place in a country that prides itself on being governed by the rule of law. Sure, the CFMEU gets fined but they treat their penalties like parking tickets- it is just a cost of doing business.  No wonder there are more than 113 CFMEU officials before the courts for more than 1100 breaches of industrial law. The restoration of the ABCC is not union busting bill it is economy boosting.

The House also passed the Registered Organisations Bill. This will ensure that union officials have to act in the interests of their members. You would think Labor would readily agree that unions and employer organisations should be subject to the same levels of transparency and accountability as public companies. But no, they stand in the way of that too and that’s the difference - we protect the members, Labor defends the officials.

We are calling on the Senate to support the restoration of the rule of law to the construction sector. And to ensure the unions are run transparently and accountably in the interests of their members.

This is of particular importance here in New South Wales with so much major infrastructure to be delivered by our Governments - the ABCC; its restoration will ensure those projects are delivered more quickly and at less cost to taxpayers.

We are seeing strong growth in New South Wales. Thanks to the Government Mike and Gladys lead and their strong New South Wales Liberal team. Within 2 kilometres of where we are now, there are about eighty cranes on building sites delivering a range of projects; across Sydney and surrounding regions there are 305 cranes building the infrastructure and housing of the future.

In Canberra we are backing Mike’s team by changing the way we plan, approve and build infrastructure and deliver the important transport links. We have made significant financial commitments, with a $2 billion concessional loan on top of our $1.5 billion grant for WestConnex, and $5.6 billion for the Pacific Highway.

Our Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan delivers $2.9 billion to transform the region’s economy. The Western Sydney Airport is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for long-term jobs and growth in Western Sydney.

And we are partnering with the State and local councils in a City Deal for Western Sydney that will deliver new jobs and investment, better transport, more affordable housing and greater liveability and amenity.

For the first time we are going to ensure that Federal Government, State Government and local Government are working together. Often in the past as we know, they tended to be perhaps heading in the same direction but probably more like ships passing in the night. We have to work together tightly, collaboratively and that is what we are going to do. That’s our commitment, my commitment, my Government’s commitment in New South Wales and indeed around Australia.

Just a few weeks into the 45th Parliament, we have introduced 59 bills and we have already passed 12. All are focused squarely on the issues that matter to Australians.

We are keeping Australia safe, we are securing our future, we are ensuring we will remain a prosperous, first world economy with a just and generous safety net.

Our answer to those who seek to distract us, whether in the Parliament or without, is to govern, to deliver, to lead.

Today our great party has set a course to be greater still and when the next election comes, all of us will be prepared with an even stronger voice and greater numbers to win, and win decisively.

Our Liberal values are timeless, but they have never been more timely.  These times, our times, need strong Liberal leadership. Together we will deliver it - for Australia, for our children, for our grandchildren.

Together we will secure our nation’s future.

Thank you very much.

[ENDS]

Transcript 40527