Address to the 2012 Liberal National Party Annual Convention, Brisbane
Posted on Friday, 13 July 2012
Thank you so much for that splendid introduction. Ladies and gentlemen, isn't it magnificent to be introduced by someone who not once but twice has won a seat off the Labor Party. I want to express my total, absolute and utter conviction that of all the former fish and chip shop owners who have come from Queensland to the federal Parliament, Teresa Gambaro is the best!
But Theresa is not the only one in the room who I am confident can take a federal seat off the Labor Party. Would you please make welcome Malcolm Cole, our candidate for Moreton, Teresa Harding, our candidate for Blair and Andrew Nguyen, our candidate for Oxley, and I'm afraid Julie, I have bad news for you, because after the election when Andrew Nguyen becomes the member for Oxley, and John Nguyen becomes the member for Chisholm, Bishop will no longer be the most common name in the Coalition. But doesn't it say something about the contemporary Liberal-National Party, about the contemporary Coalition that now Nguyen stands fair to be the most common name in our parliamentary party.
Ladies and gentlemen, like you I remember and I cherish, I will never forget, the 24th of March 2012. The 24th of March 2012, a day that will live in the history of this great state because never was it more truly said of Queensland: beautiful one day, perfect the next. It became perfect, as perfect as a state of this great federation can be. Campbell Newman won the most comprehensive political victory, the most thunderous electoral triumph ever won by a political leader in this country. I congratulate Campbell Newman on reducing the Labor Party to such a state that the proverbial Tarago has more seats than the Queensland parliamentary Labor Party. The Toyota Tarago has more seats than the Queensland parliamentary Labor Party.
I also congratulate Bruce McIver and all the Queensland Liberal National Party team for making this mighty triumph possible. We only have to think back a few years to appreciate just how far the Liberal National Party has come and to savour the triumph of the people who have put it together. The creation of the Liberal National Party was an historic step forward for conservative politics in Australia. The ascendancy of Campbell Newman was an historic step forward for conservative politics here in Queensland and I am confident that the Newman Government will be one of the truly great conservative governments of Queensland to stand with the great governments of the past which we have had in this state and I want to congratulate and thank every single one of you for your role in the transformation of our party, our state, and our country.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, it is the 13th of July. Day 13 of the carbon tax and still the Prime Minister of the country has not been game to face up to a single small business since the 1st of July to explain to the workers and the business people of our country why she wants to hit them with a reverse tariff - a reverse tariff that makes jobs less secure in this country and jobs more secure overseas. A reverse tariff that makes our businesses less competitive and makes foreign businesses more competitive. This is a toxic tax. It is a bad tax based on a lie and I say to the Prime Minister, you might be able to run and hide from small business, but you can't hide from the people of Australia. You can't hide from the verdict of voters and make no mistake - I say to this Prime Minister - the next election will be a referendum on the carbon tax and it will be a referendum on prime ministers who don't tell the truth. And if there's one thing, ladies and gentlemen, that all of us know in the marrow of our bones, the Australian people are not mugs and they do not like being played for fools by their political leaders and they will remember come polling day just what this Prime Minister has done to them.
But I want to say to you my friends that the next election is not about any of us. It is not in the end even about our party. It is about our country and it is about giving a great country the better government that it deserves. And I am confident that we are ready to give Australians the better government that they yearn for, because we have in our hearts the values which resonate with middle Australia. As liberals, we support lower taxes, greater freedom and smaller government. As conservatives we support the family and values that have stood the test of time but above all else, as Australian patriots we support policies that work and will make this great country of ours even stronger in the future.
This is our mission, to build a better Australia and doesn't our country need rebuilding right now. Doesn't our country need rebuilding right now and isn't Gough Whitlam in his declining years so happy that at long last someone has taken from him the mantle that he has had for so long of the worst Prime Minister in our history. I have often thought that calling Julia Gillard the worst Prime Minister since Whitlam was unfair to Gough Whitlam because Gough Whitlam at least was not devoid of ideals and he never sold the soul of the Labor Party to the Greens the way this Prime Minister has.
Right now there's a bit of talk inside the Australian Labor Party about the Greens and just at the moment I am inclined to think that all that talk is about as carefully choreographed, as artificial as world championship wrestling. All that fighting with the Greens is about as authentic as the real Julia. But if they are fair dinkum and if they really do want to take on the Greens, if they really do think that the agreement with the Greens should be torn up, what they are really doing is mounting a deadly assault on the Prime Minister who was responsible for that agreement in the first place and I can't blame them for wanting to mount such an assault because truly this is an abominably bad Government.
We think of the pink batts that this Government put into people's roofs, particularly here in Queensland, which caught fire. We think of the school halls which were built with rip off after rip off. We think of the National Broadband Network digging up a street near you whether you need it, want it or can afford to pay three times the current price for your broadband services. We think of the live cattle trade with Indonesia closed down by a Government which panicked in the face of a television programme. We think of the marine protected areas about to be declared right around our coastlines to threaten the jobs of everyone who depends upon the sea for their livelihood. We think about the disaster on our borders and the fact that this Prime Minister has turned the magnificent men and women of the Australian Navy into a water taxi service for people smugglers and we know that this Government has just got to go. But above all else, we think of the carbon tax. Now the carbon tax - it is now $23 a tonne. It is going to go up and up and up if this Government has its way. It's $37 a tonne by 2020 and an almost unbelievable $350 a tonne by 2050. Do not think I am making this up, ladies and gentlemen. It is there for all to see in the Government's own figures published on the 10th of July last year.
It will threaten the cost of living of every single Australian family. It makes every single job in our economy less secure and the extraordinary thing is that it is not actually going to reduce our emissions. This is the extraordinary thing about this massive change. The biggest tax upheaval in our history being masterminded by the most incompetent Government in our history and it is not even going to reduce emissions which again, if you look at the Government's own documentation are going up, not down. Up by eight per cent, not down by five per cent by 2020. The only way they get to the much vaunted five per cent emissions reduction target by 2020 is by sending $3.5 billion in just that year alone overseas to the foreign carbon traders. Now this is over time the most massive money transfer in our history and it isn't going to do anything to improve the environment.
So ladies and gentlemen, this is a Government which is utterly incompetent and utterly untrustworthy. We have a Government which can execute a Prime Minister but it can't execute a programme. We have a Prime Minister who couldn't be trusted by Kevin Rudd over the prime ministership. We have a Prime Minister who betrayed the Australian people over the carbon tax. She betrayed Andrew Wilkie over poker machine reform. She betrayed Harry Jenkins, the Speaker of the Parliament when it came to his replacement in the most squalid deal of all. And ladies and gentlemen, let me tell you there are millions of decent Australians who regard themselves as honest Labor people who feel utterly let down by the current Government. They look at the party which they were once proud of. The party of John Curtin and Ben Chifley and they think what has happened to a once great political movement, the party of Ben Chifley and of John Curtin has become the political party of Peter Slipper and Craig Thomson.
And Chifley's noble vision of the light on the hill… what has that become today? Why, the red light on the hill. And instead of working for the betterment of mankind, what do we have from the modern Labor Party? We have squadrons of faceless men advancing towards the red light on the hill waving the union credit card in their hands. That is the pass to which our country has come, but ladies and gentlemen, there is, as you have been told, a better way. And it is the way which has been carefully and thoroughly and patiently expounded every day by my colleagues and by me. We can restore hope, reward and opportunity to this country. We will run a government that delivers lower taxes, better services, stronger borders, and modern infrastructure to the Australian people. We have an overall plan which has been expounded in speech after speech by me, by Julie Bishop, by Joe Hockey, by Andrew Robb, by Warren Truss that will deliver stronger communities, a cleaner environment, stronger borders, modern infrastructure, and above all else the stronger economy that a cohesive society requires.
You see, we understand in the marrow of our bones, in the way that our opponents don't, that you cannot have, you simply cannot have, a strong and cohesive society, strong and cohesive communities, without a strong economy to sustain them. And you can't have a strong economy without profitable private businesses. We know in a way that Labor doesn't know or has forgotten that Government doesn't create jobs, business create jobs. That's the truth as we understand but our opponents don't.
So under the next Coalition government, there will be community controlled public schools and public hospitals. We will work with our fine state governments to bring this about. We will reduce emissions, not by imposing a great big new tax on everyone and everything, but by ensuring that we do have more trees on the right land, better soil so that our farms are more productive as well as being carbon sinks and smarter technology so that our businesses are more efficient and effective. It is often forgotten in all the debate over climate change, that Australians' emissions intensity has actually come down by 50 per cent over the last two decades. Not because Government has hit everyone with a big new tax, but because sensible Australian businesses have been doing what smart businesses always do, reducing their costs by being more efficient with fuel, by being more economical with power. Linfox, the big transport company, has reduced its emissions by no less than 35 per cent since 2007 through the intelligent expedient of persuading its drivers to go a little light on the accelerator pedal. So we can do it in ways which go with the grain of the Australian people, not against them.
We will protect our borders and we'll protect our borders by doing what this Prime Minister is too proud and too stubborn to do. We will restore the policies that have been proven to work. Don't let anyone tell you for a second that it is the Opposition's policies that have failed on our borders. Ladies and gentlemen, it is the Government's policies which have failed. It is the Government which has failed to do its job here and when the Parliament broke up on Thursday a fortnight back, instead of doing nothing, this Prime Minister should have done something. She should have done what the existing legislation allows her to do. She should have picked up the phone finally to the President of Nauru and begun the process of reopening the processing centre there. She should have reintroduced temporary protection visas to deny the people smugglers a product to sell and above all else, she should have given new orders to the naval forces in our north, do your job and protect our country. That's what the Navy wants to do. That's what they will do under the next Coalition government.
Now we're here in south-eastern Queensland - one of the most economically dynamic regions of our country. In many respects, the fastest growing region in our country and yet, as you all know, it is a part of Australia that is choking on its own traffic because of many years of neglect by state and federal Labor governments.
The next Coalition government in Canberra will work with Campbell Newman to ensure that you can move around your State with the kind of ease and comfort that you deserve, with the kind of infrastructure that a first world economy should have and just for starters, we have committed a billion dollars to ensure that within 12 months of a new government taking office in Canberra, the Gateway Motorway extension between Nudgee and the Bruce Highway is under way. We've also committed $700 million-plus to ensure that the Range crossing at Toowoomba actually happens.
And ladies and gentlemen, you might think looking at me that these cauliflower ears are the result of playing too much rugby in a misspent youth. No, they're because Ian Macfarlane and Scotty Buchholz have been gnawing on these ears about the Toowoomba Range crossing until that money was forthcoming.
But ladies and gentlemen, above all else, we will work to restore our economy. We will get spending down, unnecessary and wasteful spending. We will eliminate unnecessary new taxes. We will get productivity up and we will more closely integrate our economy with the booming economies of Asia. It can be done and it will be done. Look at what John Key has done across the Tasman. In the space of five years John Key has reduced the size of government from 35 per cent to 30 per cent of gross domestic product. That's a 5 per cent of GDP turnaround. Now, what they have done in New Zealand, we can do here in Australia. What John Howard and Peter Costello did here in Australia in the past, those who have learnt so well from those two great teachers can do so again in the future.
Let's not forget that the mighty fiscal transformation brought about by John Howard and Peter Costello, turning a $10 billion budget black hole into a $20 billion consistent surplus, turning $96 billion of Commonwealth debt into $70 billion of net Commonwealth assets, that wasn't done by Howard and Costello alone. That was done by a team and the members of that team stand before you ready to govern again. Those surpluses were Abbott surpluses and Hockey surpluses and Truss surpluses and Bishop surpluses and Turnbull surpluses. They weren't just Howard and Costello surpluses, although, as a loyal member of that team, I certainly give them all the credit that they deserve for that mighty achievement.
So ladies and gentlemen, I believe that all of us in this room, all of us in the Liberal and National Parties around our country, stand on the threshold of something great. We stand on the threshold of riding to the rescue of our country. I stress, it is not about us. It is not about making any particular individual prime minister. It is not about putting any particular individual into the Cabinet. It is about building a better country. We can do it. We can do it. We are a great people, a great people whose best days are in front of us. A great people held back momentarily by a bad government and ladies and gentlemen, can't you feel in the streets, the Australian people are willing us to succeed. They are willing us to succeed and I want to give you this profound assurance: we will not let them down. We will not let them down. We will go forward from this place to do what we have to do to get rid of a bad government and put in place the better government that we know this country is capable of.