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Speech to the Liberal National Party of Queensland State Conference.

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Warren Truss MP: Speech to the Liberal National Party of Queensland State Conference

Friday, July 17, 2009

Source: Warren Truss MP

Speech by the Federal Leader of The Nationals Warren Truss Liberal National Party of Queensland State Conference Friday 17 July 2009, 11am


Thank you Alex Somlyay, a good friend and electoral neighbour and fellow member of the class of 1990, for that kind introduction and welcome. It is a great pleasure to be able to speak today at the LNP’s Inaugural Convention as we plan The Way Forward.

The creation of the LNP reminds me of the inspirational punch line to those Queensland tourism ads of a few years ago - “Beautiful one day, perfect the next.” We have begun well and the ultimate success is still ahead of us.

This is of course a great state. All Queenslanders know this to be true And we live in a magnificent country that is the envy of the world.

Unfortunately there is one Queenslander who is giving our state a bad name. Just the other day, I noticed that Kevin Rudd was buttering up Italian community leaders in a remote part of Western Australia. Despite his frequent references to his Nambour roots, sometimes Mr

Rudd’s commitment to Queensland is a little thin. He told the audience that Italy was “the most beautiful country on Earth”.

I mention this virtually unreported comment from Mr Rudd because it fits a pattern that most Australians are now recognising. This Prime Minister is all about impressions, symbolism, and telling people what he thinks they want to hear.

Most of all, he’s about spin.

Mr Rudd has considerable form in telling people what they want to hear. In 2007, following advice from his pollsters on hot button issues, Mr Rudd told the nation that he could reduce petrol and grocery prices, cut bank fees, take over the public health system if the states did not lift their game, put a computer on the desk of every schoolchild, improve the lot of the homeless and indigenous people and provide fast broadband to almost everyone for less than

$5 billion.

Australians believed him. They believed Mr Rudd when he said he was an economic conservative. They believed him when he said “reckless spending” would end. They believed him when he said he would govern for all Australians.

His spin worked - then - it got him elected - that was all it was ever intended to do. But the grim reality is beginning to bite.

The policy and ethical failures from Rudd Labor - combined with the creation of the largest amount of government debt in the wildest spending spree that this country has ever seen - have begun to draw the battle lines for the next election.

It is a struggle to counter these endless waves of spin, supported by an army of spin doctors and an often mesmerized media. But we must redouble our efforts - if you live on froth and bubble then you do not grow strong. Our future depends upon ending the rot next year, before the damage is completely irreparable.

Rudd Labor has already driven us towards a forecast debt of $315 billion - that’s $15,000 for every single man, woman and child in Australia. As the 40th anniversary of the moon landing nears, it is worth noting that if you were to convert $315 billion to ten dollar bills and lay them end to end they would stretch from the Earth to the moon, and back six and half times.

Laughably, the Prime Minister and Treasurer also say they can get us out of the financial mess they created - the sort of claim that my state colleagues will remember the Queensland premier making during the past election campaign. There was nothing said then about abolishing the fuel excise rebate, nothing then about slashing local government subsidies, nothing then about axing the new Sunshine Coast Hospital, nothing then about selling the state’s assets.

Mr Rudd and Mr Swan, the dynamic duo, are arguing that the economy will suddenly start growing at a heroic 4.5 percent in 2011, maintain that fast speed for two years and then slow slightly to a still express pace of 4 percent over the following four years.

This would amount to the longest period of express growth in this country on record. All this with higher interest rates and the harshest emissions trading scheme in the world.

Radio commentator Alan Jones recently noted, the six leading members of the Government from Mr Rudd down have a collective work experience of 181 years. But only 13 of those years were spent in the private sector, and 11 years of that 13 are credited to Julia Gillard who was working with a private law firm as a trade union lawyer!

So we have a collective TWO YEARS of genuine private sector business experience - although none were running a business - among the people calling the economic shots in Canberra. Yet these are the people now trusted with running the nation’s biggest business - the national government.

When it comes to regional Australia, Labor is dismissive, destructive and sneering. Labor has chosen a Minister for Regional Development, Anthony Albanese, who lives in inner Sydney; the Agriculture Minister represents a neighbouring electorate and the new Parliamentary

Secretary for Regional Development lives in Bennelong - not far away in central Sydney.

It is obvious that Kevin Rudd has given up on the task of improving health outcomes. When opposition leader, the Prime Minister set a deadline of 30 June 2009 for the states to get their act into gear and fix their hospitals. It was the core promise of all core promises. He solemnly declared the states must fix waiting lists or the Commonwealth would take over health.

That deadline has now passed and what did we get? Another review, and surprise surprise, it is all the Coalition’s fault.

Meanwhile, new figures show the median waiting time for elective surgery continues to get worse - 20 percent worse than five years ago. In Queensland the number of waiting list procedures performed has actually declined over the last year. Waiting times for those waiting patiently in line continue to increase. Around Australia, an extra 30,000 people were

admitted to hospital because of inadequate out of hospital care.

People awaiting cataract and other ophthalmology treatment wait twice as long as others on the waiting list - yet Labor proposes to reduce MBS benefits for this kind of surgery!

A Federal Coalition Government will work with the states to introduce local hospital boards, where local specialists and members of the community make the decisions about what happens in their local hospital.

Another issue where we have exposed the hypocrisy of Rudd Labor is in his proposed emissions trading scheme.

Australia produces only 1.4 percent of the global CO2 emissions and that share is falling. Yet our Prime Minister thinks he can solve the world’s climate problems in Australia and by himself and has designed the world’s harshest ETS to reduce Australian emissions. But no-one else in the world is listening. In an unguarded moment while overseas last week, the PM admitted as much observing that preparations for the Copenhagen meeting on climate change in December were in disarray. Any suggestions that there might be consensus in Copenhagen were also dashed by the failure of the G8 and G17 meetings (with Mr Rudd in attendance).

They were not even remotely interested in Mr Rudd’s ETS.

But Mr Rudd demands that the Australian Opposition should pass his scheme immediately and without any amendments. Why do we threaten Australian industry and jobs if no-one else is following? If we slow or stop mining, agriculture and manufacturing in this country, Australian consumers and our customers will not do without. In the absence of any global response to climate change involving all emitters, they will simply buy from others who

allow emissions to go unchecked.

So we export jobs and emissions. All this without saving the Barrier Reef or a single polar bear.

I know there are some who question the science and ask why we should be acting at all. But most scientists do agree and I have long believed that it is a sound policy to take insurance against the worst. Even if you hope it is not going to happen, you take precautions. We should act on global warming and climate change but as those who insure their homes or cars

know, if the cost of the premium is too high then people tend to opt out and the system fails.

Former vice-president Al Gore was in Australia last week to tell us we should support Labor’s ETS. But his own Democrats in the US are not planning to do what Mr Gore expects of us.

The narrow passage of legislation through the US House of Representatives, which is vastly different and a big improvement compared to the Rudd proposal, vindicates the Coalition’s position that it would have been wrong to meet the rushed and artificial deadlines for passage of the CPRS set by Kevin Rudd. The US legislation must still be considered by the Senate and it is doubtful it can be locked in before Copenhagen. Yet Mr Rudd says Australia must have legislation in place by then.

The Obama Administration’s legislation tries to protect jobs, while the Rudd Labor Bill will inevitably destroy them. The Coalition has long said that the Government’s approach is all about creating a giant new tax. Labor’s ETS is forecast to raise $404 per capita in the first year. The US scheme raises $57, while the European version only 80 cents.

The US scheme seeks to sell only about 15 percent of permits in the first decade (the rest are free) while Australia plans to sell 75 percent of available permits from the very first year.

Australia’s coal industry will be savaged with a $5 billion hit in the first five years but the US industry will face no extra cost. Agriculture will become liable for emissions under the Australian proposals, whereas the industry is exempt in the US and able to claim credits.

The US plan will protect its industry against imports produced in countries with no carbon taxes but Kevin Rudd will not.

Labor should withdraw its CPRS legislation and start talking with industry about a new scheme in keeping with the progressive elements of what is being considered in the rest of the world. The world can address the issues of global climate change without economic catastrophe, but only if all countries act together. Australia can be a leader at Copenhagen and in implementing a global response but only if what we propose is likely to be accepted by others.

It is not as important to be first to the starting point - what is important is to be right and ahead at the finish.

As I said earlier, we live in a great state and we need to keep it that way. It is time the people of Queensland got the quality of government they deserve, local, state and federal. It is clear at this Convention that the LNP is part of the way forward.

Thank you.