27 June 2015

Address to the Liberal Party’s Federal Council, Melbourne


Check against delivery

Mr President, Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, fellow Liberals. It’s going to come as a surprise to many people, but all wisdom and knowledge doesn’t come through the air conditioning of the ministerial office in Parliament House. We get our best advice from you. People right across our community.

When I joined this great Party back in 1987 we were hardly in government anywhere in Australia. I, like almost all of you, joined this great Party because there was an anthem that called us to advocate for freedom, for opportunity, for families, for hope. And that anthem is louder today than it’s ever been. And the economic plan that we laid down at this conference three years ago is well underway. It is focussing on delivering that hope, that reward, that opportunity, for a broad cross section of Australians. What we recognise at the core of our philosophy is that if you give people opportunity, if you give people hope, if you provide them with the tools, they will be at their innovative best, and deliver greater prosperity for all.

The last three years I’ve travelled out to this little town of Cloncurry, North West Queensland. The Mayor well, he’s a towering man, Andrew Daniels, he’s about my age, three young children. He’s part of a cattle dynasty and he’s very ill with brain cancer at the moment. Just when you think that the hardest people, the toughest people on earth couldn’t find any more adversity in their daily lives, Cloncurry is in its third year of drought. The ground is bone dry and yet the cattleman’s dinner where they come from literally hundreds of kilometres away to get together, to celebrate, to rejoice at the opportunity that the land gives them, they still have a smile on their face and this year they had a big sign up that said ‘we live in tough lands, and yes, we’re tough people.’ And they are.

Three years ago the cattle trade had closed down, the yards had hardly any cattle in them. The Gillard Government’s legacy of closing the live cattle export trade had completely ruined the North West of Queensland, in fact, much of Northern Australia. This year they had 330,000 head of cattle pass through those yards. And provide the nourishment, the food, the protein, for generations of people who desperately needed that food and protein across Asia. And they saw hope in the dry land and they saw opportunity in the actions of this Government.

Those sorts of stories have guided us every single step of the way. Whether it be through advocating and supporting small businesses, as this budget did [inaudible]. Whether it be through a jobs program that is focussing on health, [inaudible] young Australians to lift, to get the opportunities for the futures that they most desperately want and need. Or be it, through our education system, through our health system, through our welfare system. We are focussed on giving people hope that tomorrow will be better. Because that is the very platform that our Party advocates.

Since we’ve come to Government, since we were elected 18 months ago, the number of jobs created each day has more than tripled as a result of the policies of this Government. And why? Because we are putting more power into the hands of the people. We got rid of the carbon tax, we got rid of the mining tax, we got rid of the unaffordable programs. In the last two weeks alone we’ve been able to reduce Government spending by $14.3 billion. At last, the Senate, even the Greens start to look reasonably responsible in this environment. 

The Labor Party is now mugged by reality. The reality that they were a shocking government and they left us with an unsustainable legacy where we had to borrow $133 million every day, just to pay the daily bills. That’s their legacy. But we’re fixing it. We’re getting on with the job. We’re rebuilding the tax system. We’re rebuilding laws. We’re getting rid of the excessive regulation. 50,000 pages of unnecessary laws have gone. And we’re getting on with approvals. More than $1 trillion, more than $1 trillion of projects have been approved. Through the great work of the Minister for the Environment, we’re getting on with that job as well. And we are building the infrastructure of the 21st century. Tony Abbott said he wanted to be the infrastructure Prime Minister, and he is. $58 billion of new infrastructure and the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Infrastructure can take a great deal of credit for that as well. And we welcome Warren Truss, we welcome Warren Truss.

But more than an infrastructure Prime Minister, we now have Tony’s tradies. As a result of the 20,000 instant asset write off, Australians have responded by investing in their businesses, going out and buying the plant and equipment that is going to lift our economy, lift retail sales, lift business confidence, lift consumer confidence and most importantly lift the productive capacity of our nation.

And it’s been hard along the way, hard decisions. There’s no doubt about that. The entire Government has lost skin along the way. But I think we all learn, I think we all learn from the lessons of the past and from the successful Liberal governments of the past that there is never an easy solution. It always has to be earned. Success is never a right, success has to be earned. And from the lessons of the small business family right through to the lessons in government, we know, that if we don’t make the right decisions, at times the hard decisions, then the benefits for the nation will never flow. Well they’re starting to flow, they will continue to flow, because ultimately we know that our policies are right.

Smaller government means a bigger community. Less regulatory government means a more innovative community. Lower taxes means more hope that you can invest in your own prosperity. Less government control of your family means more direction for your family. These are the obvious statements that unite us as a Liberal Party. This is the glue that holds us together. And when you back it up with a formidable presence of every single Liberal that doorknocks and letterboxes, street stalls, and campaigns. When you back it up with the deep resolve of Liberals to fight to the very end to fight till the very end for what they believe in. When you back it up with that rhythmic call on the anthem that says we are marching for freedom, we are marching for hope, for reward, for opportunity, when you back it up, it is clear that the benefits will flow to all the many.

There will be moments that are even tougher over the months and years ahead. And yes, the question is how we respond. Our opponents are formidable. They’re great advocates, they’re occasional liars. But you know what, we will beat them. We will beat them not on the back of the formidable political advocacy of our team. We will beat them on the back of good policy. We will beat them on the back of our principles. And we will beat them on the back of the support of the Australian people.

I thank you for what you have done over the last 18 months. I thank you for your support. For the Liberal Government, I thank you for your tolerance. Importantly, I thank you for the fact that you actually continue to be strong advocates for the fundamental values that have always served our Party well. And Prime Minister I thank you for you leadership. I thank you for your incredibly tolerant demeanour, for your fierce intellect and for your formidable determination to stay the course.

There are many critics out there. Critics will always heckle, they’ll be on the sidelines. But we collectively put the players on the field. We’re the ones that are out there in the mud, doing the yards, seeking to make a difference. And that’s why we stick to the game plan of building a stronger and more prosperous nation. And that’s why I’ve taken a leaf every day, if you like, out of the book written by my mate Andrew Daniels in Cloncurry.  No matter how hard it gets, no matter how big the challenge, no matter how difficult the environment, stay the course, be true to yourself, never give in, never give up, fight for what is right and remember that the values that you hold dear will always endure. Thank you very much.