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Address to the NSW Liberal Party State Council: speech, Central Coast

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Address to the NSW Liberal Party State Council, Central Coast June 01, 2013

Thank you so much for your welcome and thank you so much for everything that you have done to put the New South Wales

Liberal Party in a position of steadiness and readiness for the election which is just 105 days away.

I want to thank all of my parliamentary colleagues. I don’t want to single all of them out because inevitably, I miss someone, and I

would hate to do that but I do particularly want to acknowledge my interstate colleagues, Senator Mitch Fifield, the Shadow Minister for Disabilities, who is here this morning. If there is one good thing to come from this miserable, embarrassing, hung

federal parliament, it is the National Disability Insurance Scheme and Mitch Fifield has been driving that scheme from our side of the Parliament. Congratulations and thank you.

Ladies and Gentlemen, my friends, it is just 105 days to go and I know every single one of those days will at times drag because it

is 105 days when Australia is left with the worst government in our history.

I want you to cast your mind back to that day in June of 2010 when the current Prime Minister assumed office. She fronted the

cameras and she said to the people of Australia that she was going to fix three things. First, she said she was going to fix the mining tax debacle. Well, what’s happened? What’s happened? She replaced one mining tax that was going to completely crush

the resources industry with another mining tax and this is a truly remarkable tax because it is the first tax in human history which damages investment and damages employment without actually raising any revenue. What an act of genius.

And then of course she said she was going to fix the climate change problem. What did she do? She said we will have a people’s

assembly, we won’t do anything on climate change until a “deep and lasting consensus” has been achieved. Then she said, famously, or notoriously, “There will be no carbon tax under the Government I lead” and what did she do? She gave us the world’s

biggest carbon tax at the worst possible time.

But finally, finally ladies and gentlemen, she said she was going to fix the border protection problem. Julia Gillard was going to stop the boats. That’s what was going to happen. Well, since then, I regret to say the boats have been coming in absolutely

unprecedented numbers, absolutely unprecedented numbers. Six hundred and ninety nine illegal boats have arrived in our waters since this government changed the Howard Government’s successful border protection policies in 2008 and I think we can be

fairly confident that sometime in the next few hours, there will be a 700th boat arrive.

Julia Gillard used to put out press releases when she was the Shadow Minister for Immigration with a headline, “Another boat, another policy failure.” Well, there have been 699 policy failures on this government’s watch. She used to scoff at border

protection failures and say, Look, a few hundred people, that’s all. At this rate it would take 100 years to fill the MCG. Well, can I tell you, 43,000 people have arrived illegally by boat under this government. That’s almost enough to fill every single seat in the

Sydney Football Stadium and at this rate by the end of next year they’ll fill the MCG as well. That is the tragedy that has befallen our country under this government, it is incompetent. Whether it’s the pink batts disaster, the school halls disaster, the NBN -

school halls on steroids getting worse all the time - they are incompetent. Incompetent beyond belief. They are untrustworthy. Nothing they say can be taken seriously. They promised in last year’s Budget that taxes would go down. They promised in last

year’s Budget that the Family Tax Benefit would go up. Those promises did not even last until this year’s Budget.

And of course, in this year’s Budget, we discovered that not only are they incompetent, not only are they untrustworthy, but they are utterly unbelievable in every respect. On more than 500 separate occasions the Prime Minister and the Treasurer had gone

into the public arena and promised that there would be a surplus in the current financial year. “Tonight I announce four surpluses,” the Treasurer said in his Budget speech. The very first sentence of his Budget speech last year: “The four surpluses that I

announce tonight”. And what did we discover this year? No surplus this year. No surplus next year. No surplus the year after that. There never be a surplus under this government because this government is utterly addicted to taxing, to borrowing, and to

spending. Utterly addicted to taxing, to borrowing and to spending.

So we have a very clear challenge - a very clear challenge to restore good government to this country, to restore economic

competence to this country, but above all else to restore the trust in our polity, in our Parliament, which has almost evaporated under the current government. That is our mission: to restore the trust that the Australian people should have in their government

and in their parliament that is ours.

Tony Abbott Federal Member for Warringah | Leader of the Opposition

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We’ve done it before, we can do it again. The Howard Government inherited a $10 billion budget black hole and delivered consistent surpluses of close to one per cent of GDP. The Howard Government inherited $96 billion of Commonwealth debt and

turned it into $70 billion of Commonwealth assets. We’ve done it before, we can do it again. Peter Costello’s last four budgets gave us the four biggest surpluses in Australian history. Wayne Swan’s first five budgets - and I think our mission is to make them

the last five budgets - Wayne Swan’s five budgets have given us the five biggest deficits in Australian history. And it was the Prime Minister who said, “If you can’t run the Budget, you can’t manage the country.” By her own standards, this government has

completely, comprehensively and manifestly failed.

So our mission, ladies and gentlemen, is to rebuild a strong and prosperous economy for a safe and secure Australia because it’s only with a strong economy that the Australian people can enjoy once more the hope, reward and the opportunity that should be

the birth right of every one of us, that should be the birth right of all of us as Australians.

I want to take the pressure off the forgotten families of Australia. Each one of you knows what it’s like to live in our country. All of us sit around the kitchen table on a weekly, fortnightly, monthly basis, trying to work out how we can cover our costs, how we can

make ends meet, how we can pay the school fees, the health bills, how we can try to make sure that we are going to leave our kids something better than we were left.

And we all know that in the last few years it’s got harder, not easier. Wages haven’t been increasing. Profits haven’t been

increasing. If anything, wealth has been decreasing as share prices fall, as property prices stagnate, as our superannuation disappears. We all know how hard it is.

Now, there are no miracles. No miracles that any of us in this room can work. But what we can do is run a government that

operates on the fundamental principle, first - do no harm, and wherever possible, try to ensure that the gratuitous harm that has been inflicted by government is rectified as soon as possible. So I want to say to you, ladies and gentlemen, that the very first

legislation that a new parliament considers, should there be a change of government on the 14th of September, is the carbon tax repeal legislation. Even on this government’s own figures, 10 per cent of your power bill is the carbon tax. Nine per cent of your

gas bill is the carbon tax. The carbon tax is cascading through every price in our economy because power is part of everything we buy. And if this government were to get re-elected, the carbon tax would go on heavy transport, compounding this problem,

because almost everything in our economy has the price of transport and the price of power embedded in it.

So we get rid of the carbon tax, we keep what was the compensation, the tax cuts, the pension increases, the benefit increases. We get rid of the carbon tax, we keep the tax cuts, the pension increases, the benefit increases. Every single Australian looking at

his or her budget, looking at the household, the family budget, on a weekly, fortnightly, or monthly basis is better off and that is what I want to do for you. That is what we want to do for the Australian people. We cannot work miracles. These are not easy

times. But what we can do, we will do, to make it easier for the people of Australia. And in making it easier for the people, we make it easier for the businesses of Australia. You see, we understand - in a way that Bob Hawke and Paul Keating did, but Julia

Gillard and Wayne Swan don’t - we understand that you cannot have strong and cohesive communities without a strong economy to sustain them. I love the fact that there are so many good people out there - our soldiers, our nurses, our teachers, our

philanthropists - I love the fact that there are so many Australians who want to do the right thing by their communities. Selfless people who are out there, working above and beyond the call of duty for their fellow Australians. But in the end, in the end, none

of that is possible without a strong economy and you will never have a strong economy without profitable private businesses. Let no one sneer at the notion of making a profit. Let no one sneer at the notion of profitable exchange.

And yet this government always does. Every boss is just out to hurt his or her workers. Every business is just out to damage the

environment. Every farm, every fishing operation, every forestry operation is a potential environmental vandal. It’s embarrassing, isn’t it? It’s embarrassing that we have a government which is so ignorant of these basic facts of life.

And you know, I understand that the Prime Minister today is visiting Ford, and didn’t all of us feel like we had been kicked in the

guts when that great iconic brand announced a couple of weeks back that they were no longer going to be manufacturing in Australia after 2016. I felt like I’d been kicked in the guts because the first new car that my Dad ever bought was a Ford Falcon

station wagon - two tone, with a Fordomatic transmission. A fantastic car, an absolutely fantastic car and Ford have been making great products from that day to this. Unfortunately, they are making those products in an environment which is less and less

conducive to making a profit, and if you can’t make a profit, you can’t keep going. It’s as simple as that.

I hope when she visits the Ford plant and talks to the Ford workers, she will say to them, I am sorry, I am sorry that the policies of my government have in significant respects made your jobs harder. I am sorry that the carbon tax has added more than $400 to

the cost of building an Australian-made car. I suspect we won’t hear that from this Prime Minister because this is a prime minister who never made a mistake. Never made a mistake, never had an error of judgement. I accept I occasionally do have errors of

judgement. I accepted that on Thursday morning in front of the cameras! But this is a prime minister who has never made a mistake, never got it wrong. Oh yes, Kevin Rudd got it wrong a few times, oh yes John Howard and Peter Costello got it wrong a

few times, but never this prime minister.

Well, one of the things that we have to do if we are to rebuild trust in our institutions, in our government, in our leaders, is to

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accept that we are all human. Yes, we are striving for the very best. Yes, we will spend ourselves night and day to give the Australian people the very best. But none of us are gods walking upon the earth and it’s only because we have the support of

colleagues, it’s only because we listen to the great Australian people, that we are able to give the best possible government in the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

So ladies and gentlemen, I am proud that Joe Hockey and Andrew Robb and Mathias Cormann and Arthur Sinodinos and the

other members of our economics team have been able to come up with sensible savings that will enable us to deliver the tax cuts and the pension increases without a carbon tax and that is the beginning of our plan for a stronger economy.

I am proud that Peter Dutton and Christopher Pyne have been working with our state colleagues to try to ensure that should there

be a change of government we will have more community-focused hospitals, and more community-controlled schools in the future. I am proud that Greg Hunt has been working with our state colleagues to try to ensure that, should there be a change of

government, we will have a one-stop-shop for environmental approvals, so that we will get these big projects up and running more quickly, and I am proud that Greg has come up with a way to improve the environment, that doesn’t involve a great big new tax on

everything but does involve sensible measures that will produce more trees, better soil, smarter technology, because that’s the way to protect our environment and, over time, to get emissions down.

I am particularly proud, ladies and gentlemen, of the work that Scott Morrison and Michael Keenan have done to come up with

ways to ensure that our borders are protected. And yes, we do need to restore the policies of the Howard Government - temporary protection visas, so that the people smugglers don’t have a product to sell; rigorous offshore processing, where people

all go to places like Nauru and Manus rather than just one in 20, which is the situation now; turning boats around where it’s safe to do so, because people must know that the Australian government and the Australian people are not mugs, that we will not be

trifled with, that we will do what is necessary to protect our nation.

But we also must build the sort of relationship with Indonesia which is the transit point for the vast majority of the people that come illegally by boat to this country, and the source of the vast majority of the boats that arrive here. We must have a better

relationship with Indonesia. John Howard had an excellent relationship with Indonesia. We’ve had it before, we’ll have it again and as I’ve said time and time again, let me say it, the first significant overseas trip that I make, should there be a change of

government on the 14th of September, is to Indonesia. It’s a very important relationship. We can never take it for granted and we certainly can’t injure and insult the people of Indonesia with things like the live cattle export ban, probably the single most

catastrophic policy decision in foreign matters that any Australian government has made and they made it, ladies and gentlemen, in panic at a television programme. Can you believe it? Can you believe it? Well I say, it is time to put adults in charge of our


There’s something else which I should raise this morning because we are meeting on the Central Coast, a beautiful part of Australia, a magical part of Australia, a part of Australia which has been taken for granted for too long by the Australian Labor

Party. Almost no serious infrastructure has been built in this part of our country for the last 15 years, neglected by a long serving State Labor government, neglected by the current Labor national government. Totally neglected. This was a national Labor

government which promised in 2007 that it would start to build the missing link between the M2 and the expressway at Hornsby. They promised to start the missing link. Well, let’s give credit where it’s due. In the 2008 Budget, $150 million was put in there to

do that, and what did they do? 2011 Budget, they took it back again. Now they’re saying it’ll be done. Well, I’m sorry, the people of the Central Coast won’t be conned twice, won’t be conned twice. The only way to ensure that the missing link is built is to vote in a

Coalition government and the best way to vote in a Coalition government is to vote for Lucky Wicks and Karen McNamara for the seats of Robertson and Dobell here on the Central Coast.

We all know what’s happening. We all know what’s happening. Right around our country, Labor Members of Parliament are

saying to the people, look, we all know it’s a hopeless government, we all know that you’re ashamed and embarrassed of the current government in Canberra, but don’t worry, just vote for me, good old me! You know, I’m your friendly local member! Labor

Party, who are they again? Well again, the public won’t be fooled. The public know that Julia Gillard is only prime minister because local Labor members have put her there and kept her there. So if you want to change the Government, if you want to

change the Prime Minister, you’ve got to change your local Labor member.

Let’s be absolutely straight. Changing the government, changing the prime minister won’t just be doing Australia a favour. It will be doing the Labor Party a favour. It will be doing the Labor Party a favour. I’ve been around in politics long enough to know that

there are good people on both sides of the Parliament. I’ve been around in politics long enough to know that no political party has an absolute monopoly on wisdom. Sure, we think that our values are best. Sure, we think that our policies are best, and nine

times out of 10 they absolutely are.

But there are good people on the other side of the Parliament and two of the best are Simon Crean and Martin Ferguson and what we have seen in recent weeks is those two lions of the Labor Party, those two pillars of public service, those two people who

have spent their lives serving their country, their party and their Parliament as best they can, say I can no longer sit in this government. And in the case of Martin Ferguson, I can no longer sit in this Parliament. If this is a government which Simon Crean

and Martin Ferguson are too ashamed to serve, it is a government which should be swept right out of office as quickly as possible

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so that the decent people in the Labor Party can regain their party and rediscover its soul. Only then will that party be fit to once more contend to govern this country.

So ladies and gentlemen, as I look around this room, I see great people with big hearts and tonnes of energy and I know you are

going to be spending yourself, night and day, in the build-up to September the 14th. I see Jaimie Abbott, our candidate for Newcastle sitting in the front row and Jaimie, I really hope that you come into the Parliament because if you do there will be as

many Abbotts in the Parliament as there are Bishops! And think that’s a good thing. But I want all our candidates to succeed because I do want the most common surname in our party not to be Bishop, not to be Abbott, but to be Nguyen, because ladies

and gentlemen, if there is one thing that symbolises the transformation that has come over our party and our movement over the last generation, one thing that Philip Ruddock in particular has worked for, it is the fact that this party today is absolutely

representative of the strength and depth and diversity of the modern Australian community.

You know, I am so proud of the contribution that migrants have made to this country, migrants who have come here to join our team, migrants who have come here to work hard and to build a better future for themselves and for their families. I am so proud

of them because that is at the heart of the Australian story, that is what adds a heroic dimension to our national life. But here, in Canberra right now, we have a government which has surrendered, has surrendered in the face of people coming illegally by boat

and largely going on welfare and to cover up for that capitulation, they are now launching attack after attack on migrants who come to this country legally to work and pay taxes from day one. What a disgrace. What an absolute disgrace and Simon Crean

was absolutely right when he said there’s only one word for this, it’s dog-whistling. That’s what it is. Shame on the Labor Party for doing this.

So ladies and gentlemen, we have a great challenge but we have clear goals and a noble mission. Our mission is to change the

government, our goal is to give a better life to the Australian people. I will never seek to divide the Australian people on the basis of class. I will never seek to turn people against each other on the basis of gender and I will never, ever, pretend for a second that

there are first or second class Australians based on where you were born. Never, never. It’s absolutely wrong because I have learnt from good prime ministers, I have learnt from great prime ministers, that if you are going to be a true national leader you

have to transcend being a tribal chieftain and become someone who can speak for every Australian. It doesn’t mean that every Australian is going to always agree with you. It doesn’t mean that everyone will always vote for you, of course it doesn’t mean

that. To be a national leader, to be a successful prime minister, there is not a single Australian who you aren’t prepared to listen to, and there’s not a single Australian who you aren’t prepared to offer the basic respect that every single Australian deserves.

So ladies and gentlemen, we are ready. I am ready. My team is ready. Australia is ready for a change of government. I believe

that’s what we’re going to get on the 14th of September, and I say to the Australian people: we will not let you down.


© Tony Abbott MHR 2010 | Authorised by Tony Abbott MHR, Level 2, 17 Sydney Rd, Manly NSW 2095

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