Thank you so much. What a marvellous welcome and what a marvellous day and what a great event this is for all Western Australia and also for our country.
Mr Premier, parliamentary colleagues, ladies and gentlemen, back in 2008, as all of you would remember only too well, our party was at a low ebb. The lowest ebb in its history. We were out of power in every state and every territory and we just lost power in Canberra as well. Some wondered whether our party even had a future. Along came Colin Barnett and one by one, the bad governments started to fall. First, here in the West. Then in Victoria. Then in New South Wales. Then Queensland.
There is one bad government yet to go. That’s the big one in Canberra which must fall if our country is once more to flourish.
But when Colin Barnett heeded the call of our party, his state and our country to fight another election, he gave Liberals everywhere new heart and when he won that election, he demonstrated Australians’ ability to distinguish decency from arrogance, competence from patronage and substance from spin. That’s what he demonstrated and I want to thank Colin for the beacon of hope that he has been to Liberals right around our country.
But I don’t just want to thank Colin and I don’t just want to thank the Liberal Party of this great state. I want to thank all of the people of this great state for the inspiration and the hope that they have provided to Australians everywhere because this state, Western Australia, is the powerhouse economy of our country.
Western Australia has just 11 per cent of our population but it produces 16 per cent of our Gross Domestic Product and it produces a massive 46 per cent of our nation’s exports. All of us owe a debt to you. Every Australian owes a debt to Western Australia and in an important sense, West Australians are the best Australians.
I know you’ve been waiting for me to say that, Barry Court!
This is the state where people have a go. This is the state where people have turned rocks into riches. This is the state which understands that the best way to get a fair go is to give a fair go and isn’t that what you have been doing so magnificently, particularly under the Barnett Government?
There are two elections, my friends, this year, very important elections. This is the first and if this goes the right way, I have so much confidence that the next one will go the right way too and my hope is that by the end of this year, Australians can be as proud of our country as West Australians are proud of your state.
I really only want to make two points today because this day belongs to Colin, not to me. But they are two important points I want to make. The first – I am pleased, so pleased to be the only major party leader from Canberra who is welcome here.
It says something, does it not, about the state of our national polity right now, that we have a Prime Minister who is not welcome by her own party in parts of her own country.
I’m delighted that I have here today, my distinguished West Australian federal colleagues. Julie Bishop, the much loved Julie Bishop, David Johnston and Mathias Cormann towards whom I hope you hope will soon be amongst our nation’s senior leaders. But I do challenge the Prime Minister – come West, Prime Minister. Come West. Don’t be shy of coming to Western Australia. Justify the carbon tax! Justify the mining tax! Because the first person it seems you have to persuade is your very own state leader.
I think the clear message would go to our Prime Minister, should she come to this state right now, because if the carbon tax and the mining tax are anti-Western Australian taxes, they are anti-Australian taxes too.
The second point, my friends, that I wish to make today is that the Barnett Government has become a model for all the governments that we run or hope to run right around our country. You have boosted the regions. You have really boosted the regions of this state and I must, on that note, pay tribute to Brendon Grylls and our brothers and sisters in the National Party. You have cut hospital waiting times. You have built new roads. You have got projects up and running and you have given parents real power over the education of their school aged children.
It’s not just what this government has done. It’s also the way it’s gone about doing it. This is a government which has taken people seriously. This is a government which has restored Cabinet processes. This is a government which has treated every West Australian as someone who deserved to be listened to, as someone who deserved to be trusted and taken seriously. That’s what, in a democracy, a decent government must always do.
That’s the kind of government, my friends, that I wish to run in Canberra. That’s the kind of model that I wish to follow in Canberra. Here in the West, you know the difference that a good government can make and I want to give us, as a nation, the good government in Canberra that you have enjoyed here in the West for the last four years.
I know, you know, that there’s not much wrong in this state. I know, you know, that there’s quite a bit wrong with our country right now but there’s almost nothing, my friends, wrong with our country that a change of government wouldn’t be improved. Almost nothing that wouldn’t be improved by a change of government and that is our challenge – to give, not just this great state, but also this great country, the better government that we all deserve so much.
We are Australians. We stand tall as Australians. That’s the way we are. We don’t expect miracles from government because we know we can get miracles from our people. All we want from government is competence and trustworthiness. That’s what you’ve got here in the West from the Barnett Government. That’s what the Australian people want to get from the government in Canberra. So we’ve got to keep the government in Perth. We’ve got to change the government in Canberra. That’s our challenge.
Can I say in conclusion, ladies and gentlemen, how much I respect the Premier of this state, how much I have learnt from him, how much I wish to model myself on him, should I get the opportunity to lead our country. I count him as a friend and I look forward very much to working hand in glove with Colin Barnett as together, we work for a better future for our country.