Tony Abbott Address to the Liberal Party Federal Council

Uploaded by LiberalPartyTV on 27.06.2010

Abbott, his wife Margie, his daughter Francis. Julie, thank you very much indeed for that
marvellous introduction. To Joe, Joe Hockey, my friend and colleague, to Warren Truss,
the great leader of a great party, the National Party, to all of you, parliamentary colleagues,
captains and generals in a peopleís army that wants to restore good government to this
country, thank you very much for that tremendous welcome and thank you very much for the support
youíve given me over the last seven months. On Wednesday night I had a phone call from
John Howard, who offered his congratulations and he said ëyou have achieved the greatest
prize that any opposition leader can, you have secured the scalp of a prime ministerí.
My fellow Liberals, we were going to defeat Kevin Rudd and his Government. We know we
were going to defeat them because the Labor powerbrokers have executed their leader without
pity and without mercy. But, as John Howard said to me on Wednesday night, ëyou now have
another task and that is to do it all againí. But we can do it again. We can do it again
because the Australian people are wondering why the prime minister of this country should
be chosen by the union and the factional warlords rather than by the people themselves, and
the Australian people have the same basic choice this week as last week between a do
little Government addicted to spending tax payersí money badly and a stable, responsible,
mature and adult alternative. The only thing that has changed is that the Australian public
now know only too well that the leader of the Liberal Party is chosen by members of
parliament, but the leader of the Labor Party is chosen by the faceless men of the unions
and the factions. In fact, one of them even broke cover to go on Lateline on Wednesday
night and declare, ëwe determine who leads this country and the circumstances under which
you will leadí. Yes, my fellow Liberals, we have defeated
one Labor leader and we defeat another Labor leader. They have dumped their salesman but
they have not changed their product and the problem was not the prime minister, the problem
is the Government. You see, this is a Government which has broken promises; thatís bad. This
is a Government which has wasted money. That is unconscionable. But this is a Government
which as threatened to kill the mining boom stone dead and that is a crime against the
future of our country. But itís all different, itís all different
now, the factions chiefs will tell us. Prime Minister Gillard had no association and is
not to blame for the policies which Deputy Prime Minister Gillard decided and defended.
We have the strange case of the absent Deputy Prime Minister. The Deputy Prime Minister
who was not, like her other colleagues, in denial when peoples roofs were catching fire
and when workers were dying. The Deputy Prime Minister who wasnít there when the boats
started arriving again on our western islands. The Deputy Prime Minister who had nothing
to do with $38 million worth of taxpayer funded political propaganda against the mining industry.
The faction bosses would have us believe that it wasnít really the new Deputy Prime Minister
who devised the great big new tax on mining. That was all someone called Ken Henryís fault
and that person who called the mining leaders ignorant liars, that wasnít really Wayne
Swan, Deputy Prime Minister. That was his evil twin, thatís who it was. And then of
course, ladies and gentlemen, thereís the absent Deputy Prime Minister who was just
an innocent bystander when an elected Prime Minister was assassinated by the Sussex Street
death squads. My fellow Liberals, the Deputy Prime Minister,
now the Prime Minister, was part of this Government. She was on a unity ticket with Kevin Rudd
from the very beginning and for better or for worse, for all its history, this will
be the Rudd/Gillard Government and she must tale equal responsibility for the dud policies,
the mistakes, the betrayals, the broken promises, the waste and the mismanagement, and right
now, right around this county, there are school halls costing three times what they should
have and there are school canteens costing ten times what they should have and that is
the direct responsibility of the new Prime Minister, the former Deputy Prime Minister,
because she preferred to give billions of dollars to the state education bureaucracies
to waste rather than to school P&Cs to spend wisely. What we can say with absolute certainty
about Julia Gillard is that she can execute a Prime Minister but she canít execute a
government program. She can manipulate the factions but she cannot deliver computers
to schools on time and on budget. Now, ladies and gentlemen, as the father of
three daughters I am pleased that there is no job in our country thatís denied to women,
but, you know, I come from Sydney and in Sydney we have a female Lord Mayor, a female Premier,
a female Governor, a female Governor-General and a female monarch. Iím very pleased we
have a female monarch and itís good, itís good that weíve now had a female Prime Minster
too. As the father of three daughters I have always believed that it should be judgment
that counts, not gender. As the father of three daughters I have always believed that
people should be chosen on the basis of their competence not their sex, and here are three
tests by which the competence of the new Prime Minister will be judged. Can she stops the
boats, in particular will she re-introduce temporary protection visas? Will she end the
school halls rip-off, in particular will she suspend the final $5.5 billion worth of so-called
building the education revolution payments, at least until after sheís read the value
for money report and, in particular, will she dump the tax which is threatening to destroy
the basis of our prosperity? Now, sheís pulled the ads, but she hasnít
pulled the revenue from the Budget that the tax provides, nor the spending from the Budget
that the tax sustains. She canít do that and still balance the books because in the
year when the surplus is supposed to be $1 billion the tax raises $3 billion and in the
next year when the surplus is supposed to be $5 billion the tax raises $9 billion. This
Government needs the tax to sustain the spending spree and they canít remove the tax if theyíre
not prepared to stop the waste, the extravagance, the reckless spending.
Now the new Prime Minister says that she wants to talk to the miners. You bet she wants to
talk. She wants to keep them talking and talking and talking and not advertising until right
past polling day and this weekís protestations of good faith towards the miners are as believable
as last weekís protestations of loyalty to Kevin Rudd.
Letís be clear what the faction chiefs want from the new Prime Minister. The faction chiefs
want the wow factor associated with a new Prime Minister to carry the Government to
polling day, but once thatís happened Julia Gillard will be just as dispensable as was
Morris Iemma, as was Nathan Rees and as will be Kristina Keneally once she is of no further
use to them. The faction chiefs, as we know, have turned the leadership of the Labor Party
into a transit lounge controlled by poll and media driven apparatchiks and that is not
good for our country and we have to demonstrate to the Australian people that that is no way
to run a country. I am sure that the Australian public are not mugs. They know that despite
the makeover itís the same Government, with the same policies and the same Ministers and
the same disdain for proper process, the same recycled rhetoric from the last election,
the same fibs about their political opponents. We all know that they are trying to airbrush
Julia Gillard from the inconvenient past just as they are trying to airbrush Kevin Rudd
from the future, but the public will not be fooled. The public are not mugs and I was
delighted, absolutely delighted, Barry OíFarrell, that in last weekendís Penrith by-election
the booths as the Samuel Terry Public School were manned entirely by union officials in
ìYour Rights at Workî t-shirts and the swing at that polling place to the Coalition was
30.3 per cent. I want to make two final points about the
current Government. The Australian people do not want in our national capital the political
style of the state Labor Governments. They do not want Mafioso politics to contaminate
Canberra. They do not want our national government to resemble the patronage machines of New
South Wales and Queensland. Thatís the first point I want to make. The second point I want
to make is that, sure, right now the new Prime Minister is enjoying a predictable bounce
in the polls. That was to be expected. The Government has tried to fix the headlines
but they canít fix the problems and the headlines wonít stay fixed unless the fix the problems.
When the history of the Rudd/Gillard Government is finally written, it will be said of them
ëwhat was that all about?í ëWhat was that all about?í There was the apology to Aboriginal
people at the start where noble words have not been backed up by effective action and
then there was climate change, the greatest moral challenge of our time, coupled with
the dumping of the policy that was supposed to deal with it and, yes, Government ministers
will boast until polling day that they have saved Australia from the global financial
crisis. Well let me assure the public that it was the reforms of previous governments,
not the spending spree of the current Government, which as kept Australia out of recession.
When all is said and done, the history of the Rudd/Gillard Government will be written
in red ink because what this Government has done, its only notable achievement has been
to turn a $20 billion surplus into a $57 billion deficit and to turn a $60 billion net asset
position into a $100 billion of net debt. You see, ladies and gentlemen, it takes principle
to make history and this Government has left no mark, will leave no mark because it canít
take the hard decisions because it hasnít got deep and real values on which to base
them. Well, ladies and gentlemen, there is a better
way. People are not disillusioned with this Government because of Kevin Rudd, they are
disillusioned with this Government because it hasnít delivered. Just a few weeks ago
the former Prime Minister said we made 600 promises to the Australian people and weíve
kept all of them. Well, the trouble with making 600 promises to the Australian people is that
no one can keep tabs on any of them. If you try to do too much you will end up doing very
little. Indeed, almost nothing. Now, I canít promise that the next Coalition government
will be perfect, but I can promise that it will be different and I can give the Australian
people this commitment, that our promises will be achievable, they will be comprehensible
and they will be affordable. Our promises, they will be prudent, they will be possible,
they will be desirable measures and they will be doable and so, toady, I offer the Australian
public my strong plan for our country. I offer the people the Coalitionís Action Plan for
a better future and this is a road map to good government because it is based on mainstream
community values and I want to tell you that the first commitment we give ñ the foundation
of good government ñ will be to restore the Budget surplus within three years and start
re-paying Laborís debt. I want to pay tribute to my colleague, Joe Hockey, and to my colleague,
Andrew Robb. Fiscal rectitude has to be the foundation of good government and the are
two strong guardians of fiscal rectitude. Whenever I was tempted to channel B.A. Santamaria,
Joe and Andrew said ëdonít do it, remember you are a Liberalí and I am proud to be a
Liberal and every time I am reminded of my history as an early acolyte of B.A. Santamaria
I will remind Julia Gillard of her history as the convenor of the Socialist Forum.
We will restore the Budget to surplus and we will do it via the high road of cutting
government spending, not the low road of higher taxes. We have already identified $47 billion
worth of cuts to capital and recurrent funding. We will get the deficit down to reduce pressure
on interest rates and to preserve and secure the prosperity of all Australians.
Our second commitment is to end Laborís waste and restore cabinet government. Now, I regret
to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that the new Prime Minister is as addicted to tax as
her predecessor. She has never seen a tax that she didnít support and so far her only
recorded contribution to smaller government is to take the Gang of Four and to turn it
into a Gang of Two, and sheís done that by driving out of the Government the Minister
for Finance, Lindsay Tanner, who was its only economically literate member.
Our third commitment is to reject Laborís massive new mining tax and all other taxes
that hurt productivity, and here I want to pat tribute to Ian Macfarlane, who understands
the mining and the resources industry better than any other elected official in our country
and also to Julie Bishop, who understands the importance of mining and resources to
regional Australia as much as any other leader in our country.
Yes, we all know that there arenít mines in every suburb and town, but there is a mining
industry in every suburb and town. We all know that the mining sector is but seven per
cent of GDP but it almost half of Australiaís exports and the rest of our economy cannot
be sustained without the export sector to make it all work. Letís be very clear about
this, we already have a profits based tax, itís called company tax. The mining industry
is already paying its fair share of tax because it pays company tax on its profits and because
its pays royalties on the non-renewable minerals that it gets out of the ground and it should
not be treated as a milch cow by spending addicts who think that profit is a dirty word.
So, that is why, ladies and gentlemen, while there is breath in our political bodies we
will oppose this tax. We will oppose this tax and let there be no doubt at all, Labor
wants this tax, Labor will introduce this tax and whatever compromises they pretend
to make, whatever promises and pledges they pretend to make, all that is standing between
our country and this jobs destroying and investment destroying new tax is the Liberal Party and
the National Party ñ our strong federal Coalition. Ladies and gentlemen, we will finally end
discrimination against small business. You know, the Labor Party promised prior to the
last election that government would pay small business bills on time, but when you actually
looked at the fine print of that promise, small business had to actually have a formal
contract before the Government would do this. Well, I say that when we are in government
we will allow small business to charge government interest on overdue accounts. Letís face
it, ladies and gentlemen, if we are late paying the tax office they charge us interest and
it is only fair that we are able to reciprocate. Ladies and gentlemen, we will enforce strict
border security and control and, again, let me pay tribute to our Shadow Minister in this
area. Scott Morrison has been the most vigilant guardian of our borders. Not a boat has arrived
without Scott alerting the world to that fact. When the new Prime Minister was the Shadow
Minister for immigration she used to issue press releases headed, ëanother boat, another
policy failureí. She didnít get to issue them very often. She only got to issue them
three times a year because that is how often boats arrived under the Howard Government.
Now boats arrive three times a week. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I give you this commitment.
We will control our borders. We did it before, we can do it again but only a Coalition government
can. Now, ladies and gentlemen, we will link population growth to the provision
of better infrastructure. I want, we all want a stronger and more prosperous country where
migrants have a warm welcome. Thatís the Australian way. It always has been, it always
will be. But, there is little point deliberately bringing people into cities that are already
choking on their own traffic. We are determined to ensure that infrastructure keeps up with
population growth and that immigration does not out-strip environmental and economic sustainability.
We will take direct action on water and the environment. I pay tribute to our shadows,
to Greg Hunt, to Barnaby Joyce. I pay particular tribute to my predecessor, the former Minister
for the Environment, Malcolm Turnbull, who was responsible for the Howard Governmentís
Murray-Darling plan. We will improve water infrastructure and we will co-ordinate the
buy backs to make sure more water is available for the health of the Murray-Darling Basin
and we will do it in ways which ensure our food security and preserve our agricultural
industry. There will not be an emissions trading scheme
under a Coalition government because we will not damage our economy to achieve a futile
gesture. But we will take prudent precautions against foreseeable threats and that means
that we will purchase emissions abatements from the market in ways which also improve
our environment and I point out to you, my fellow Liberals, that we are actually the
only major political party with a credible emissions reduction policy.
We will protect private health and we will improve the public health and hospitals system.
We want to empower patients and to empower the doctors and nurses who treat them and
we will fund hospitals rather than continue to fund the state health bureaucracies. We
will provide more resources to health but we will do it in ways that actually deliver
better services to patients rather than simply add to bureaucratic process and the achievement
of targets, bureaucratic targets, which are never fully met and which patients hardly
ever notice. Ladies and gentlemen, we will help growing
families to get ahead with six months paid parental leave. Now, I know this has been
a difficult and controversial policy for many of us in this room. A political partyís values
should never change but policy must evolve to meet the changing needs of our society.
62 per cent of all mothers are in the paid workforce just prior to giving birth. They
need to be catered for. Paid parental leave should be a workplace entitlement, not a welfare
one. Thatís why we will provide, as a Coalition, six months leave at full pay. This will be
good for women because it will finally give them a real choice to combine family and career.
It will be good for families because it will give them financial support at a time when
they are most vulnerable and it will be good for our economy because it will increase population,
it will increase productivity and it will increase participation ñ the three Pís of
the intergenerational reports which Peter Costello established.
Now, I want to say that this is not funded by a great big new tax. It is funded by a
relatively modest levy that I hope will be but a temporary addition to the cost burden
of larger business and the fact that the Labor Party refers to a great big new tax just demonstrates
how sensitive they are about the really great big new taxes ñ the two of them ñ that they
are still committed to. Ladies and gentlemen, I, in the marrow of
my bones, believe in our families. I believe in all the families of Australia, in all the
different shapes and sizes in which they come. The next Coalition government will be totally
committed to the welfare of all the families of this great country.
We will provide safer neighbourhoods by ensuring that communities that want closed circuit
TV to boost their security can have access to them. We will raise standards in eduction
because we will work with the states to give more autonomy to school communities. In particular
we will work the states to ensure that school principals have the power to pay their best
teachers more and on this issue, as on so many issues, I want to thank and congratulate
the Shadow Minister for Eduction. In fact I wish to let you know, my fellow Liberals,
that scarcely a meeting of the shadow cabinet takes place without a resolution of gratitude
being passed to the Shadow Minister for Education. Ladies and gentlemen, last but by no means
least, the next Coalition government will restore work for the dole and mutual obligation.
This was one of the signature policies of the Howard Government. This was one of the
achievements of the Howard Government of which I was most proud and yet itís something which
deep down the Labor Party hates. Martin Ferguson, the man who has been so brilliant at negotiating
with miners once described work for the dole as almost evil and that is the Labor Partyís
real attitude towards this particular policy. I want people, including unemployed people,
to be able to show the world what they can do, not just what they canít do. I want,
we want all working aged people to work, preferably in paid employment but if not then work for
the community. Itís a great policy and itís a policy that will be a very important part
of the next Coalition government. Let me tell you, ladies and gentlemen, just
one policy that will not be part of the next Coalition government. We will not bring back
WorkChoices. WorkChoices is dead. WorkChoices is dead and any suggestion to the contrary
is a lie and I want to let you that there were two members of the Howard Cabinet that
spoke against WorkChoices. One of them is sitting in the audience right now, itís Kevin
Andrews, and modesty prevents me from naming the other member of the Cabinet that spoke
against it. Let me also say that I am conservationist.
Always have been, always will be and there is, or should be, a natural fit between a
conservative political movement and practical conservationism. But, let me tell you what
many of you know already, that we are losing the fight against feral animals, against noxious
weeds and against the degradation of our land because there just arenít enough volunteers,
council workers and National Park rangers. So, the Coalition will establish a standing
green army, 15,000 strong, to ensure that our children inherit an environment that is
in better shape than the one we have right now.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is an extraordinary honour and privilege to lead the Liberal Party
and to lead the Coalition. Apart from my wife agreeing to marry me, this is the greatest
honour and privilege that has been bestowed upon me in my life. As a Liberal, I support
lower taxes, smaller government and greater freedom. As a conservative, I support a fair
go for families and respect the values that have stood the test of time. As an Australian,
I want policies that work and which do not trifle with the future of our country and
from this day until polling day my colleagues and I will have a simple message ñ if you
want to stop the boats, itís not enough to change the Labor leader youíve got to change
the government. If you want to stop the tax, itís enough to change the Labor leader youíve
got to change the government. If you want to restore clean government in this country,
itís certainly not enough to let the factions change the leader, youíve got to change the
Government. The only risk, the only risk ñ and weíll hear a lot of talk about risk from
our opponents over the next few months ñ but the real risk is the risk that the Australian
people might give a bad government a second chance that it doesnít deserve and we are
here to minimise that risk, and I believe that we will do this.
I am proud to lead a team that has learnt the lessons of 2007 and has also learnt from
the mistakes of the Rudd/Gillard Government. We are ready to govern. Seven members of the
Shadow Cabinet were Cabinet Ministers in an effective government. Fifteen members of the
Shadow Cabinet were Ministers in an effective government. We know how to be professionals
in government because that is what we have been, ladies and gentlemen. There will be
no amateur hour bungles from us because we know what a good government looks like, we
have been in one and, if elected, we will be the most experienced and the most accomplished
incoming ministerial team in a generation. Ladies and gentlemen, I pay tribute to my
predecessors. I pay tribute to Brendan Nelson, who helped to heal the wounds of defeat. I
pay tribute to Malcolm Turnbull, who had the courage to oppose Laborís $42 billion second
stimulus package because he knew that it was too much too soon and he could see the damage
that it would do.
I salute John Howard and Peter Costello, the best political teachers that anyone could
have and I acknowledge the spirit of Sir Robert Menzies, which should hover over every gathering
of Liberals. I thank my Mum and Dad, who are here today
with us, who gave me the best possible start in life, and as I look at my friend, Joe Hockey,
Iím conscious of the fact that Dad gave him the best possible teeth in
life. I am so lucky to be here with my wife, Margie,
and one of my beautiful daughters, Frances. Without their generosity and self sacrifice
my public life would not be possible.
And, so, ladies and gentlemen, we go forward into the next election. We go forward into
the next election full of confidence, full of hope, secure in our values, strong in our
principles and united as a team. It will be a tough fight because we are opposed by one
of the worldís most ruthless political machines fighting for its political survival. It will
be a filthy campaign funded to the full resources of the union movement and it will be obviously
the supreme challenge of my life so far, but I will not let you down and I will not let
our country down. With all the energy at my disposal, with the experience I have of life
and of government, I will strive to be the leader that Australia needs now.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for your support. I can feel the energy from this
room. I can feel the commitment to win, not just for us, not just for our party but for
the Australian people who deserve better than theyíve got now.