Tony Abbott - Address to the National Press Club, Election 2013


Again, today, I want to speak directly to the people of Australia.

There’s five days to go until polling day.

Five days until the most important decision you can make about the future of our country.

Five days until you decide whether to have another three years like the last six.

Five days until you choose between a strong and united Coalition team and more of the same chaos and confusion under Labor.

If Labor sneaks back, the carbon tax stays and goes up to $38 a tonne by 2020 and an almost unimaginable $350 a tonne by 2050.

Right now, that’s a $550 a year hit on families that will just get worse if Labor stays on.

If Labor sneaks back, the mining tax stays and will doubtless be expanded and increased to raise more revenue – which means more pressure on investment and jobs.

And the avalanche of new regulation will just roll on and on because a re-elected Labor Party and its Green allies will claim justification for their addiction to new taxes, more red tape and bigger government.

On the other hand, deep in its DNA, the Coalition holds that you can’t have strong communities without a strong economy to sustain them and you can’t have a strong economy without profitable businesses, big and small.

The Liberal and National Coalition has a track record of success.

In government, we turned a $10 billion budget black hole into consistent 1 per cent of GDP surpluses.

We turned $96 billion of Commonwealth debt into $50 billion in the bank.

Our final four budgets were the four biggest surpluses in our history.

By contrast, Labor has turned $20 billion a year surpluses into $40 billion a year deficits and has Australia’s gross debt skyrocketing towards $400 billion.

This election is not just about economic management but economic management is the core issue because everything else – national security, border security, the delivery of better schools and hospitals, and the successful implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme – needs a strong economy to be sustainable.

That’s why an incoming Coalition government, should we be elected, will:

·scrap the mining tax to boost investment and jobs,

·cut red tape costs by $1 billion a year,

·restore the Australian Building and Construction Commission to deliver $6 billion a year in productivity improvements,

·build the roads that Australians need in order to live and to work better, and – above all else –

·abolish the carbon tax

because lower taxes, less red tape, and more incentives to work harder and smarter are the key to a stronger economy and better services.

My message to the Australian people is clear.

If you vote for the Coalition on Saturday, this is what you’ll get: a stronger and more diverse five pillar economy with innovative manufacturing, agriculture, services and education as well as mining and two million new jobs over a decade.

We’ll build a stronger economy so that everyone can get ahead, abolish the carbon tax, end the waste, stop the boats, and build the roads of the 21st century because I want to be known as an infrastructure prime minister.

If you want this to happen, though, there has to be a stable majority government to deliver it and that means voting for your local Liberal or National Party candidate.

In the last week of the campaign, Labor will say anything to sway your vote including the most bare-faced lies about the Coalition.

As Joe Hockey demonstrated last week, the Coalition can more than fund tax cuts without a carbon tax through the sensible savings that were announced months ago.

There are no cuts to health.

No cuts to education.

Pensions don’t change.

The GST doesn’t change.

In reality, it’s Labor that’s cut $1.6 billion from hospitals, $3.8 billion from education and reneged on pledged cuts to company tax and increases in the Family Tax Benefit.

Labor has form.

At the same time in the last election campaign, five days before polling day, Julia Gillard made the fateful declaration: “There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead”.

She said one thing before the election to win votes – and did the opposite after the election to stay in the Lodge.

Labor can’t be trusted to tell the truth and it can’t be trusted to manage the economy – and the carbon tax is where Labor’s economic deficit and Labor’s trust deficit coincide.

After insisting for two years that the carbon tax was good for you, Mr Rudd suddenly admitted that it was costing households some $550 a year.

That’s why he’s faked abolishing the carbon tax even though he’s done no such thing.

He’s simply proposing to bring forward by one year the change from a fixed tax to a floating tax.

Mr Rudd hasn’t abolished the carbon tax: he’s keeping it and increasing it, as the Government’s own economic statement confirmed two days before the election was called.

The carbon tax is going up to $38 a tonne by 2020 and is forecast to reach an almost unimaginable $350 a tonne within four decades.

The carbon tax damages our economy without helping our environment.

As the government’s own documents confirm, a carbon tax at $38 a tonne won’t actually reduce Australia’s domestic emissions.

In fact, Australia’s domestic emissions actually increase from 578 million tonnes now to 621 million tonnes in 2020 – that’s an 8 per cent increase, not a five per cent decrease.

We only achieve the five per cent decrease that year by purchasing over $3 billion worth of carbon credits from abroad.

Even by 2050, on the government’s own projections, Australia’s domestic emissions hardly decline at all despite a carbon tax at an astronomical $350 a tonne.

We only achieve an 80 per cent cut in emissions by purchasing in that year alone over $150 billion worth – that’s right, $150 billion – of carbon credits from abroad.

This is by far the biggest wealth transfer from Australians to foreigners that’s ever been contemplated.

The carbon tax hits households, threatens jobs and damages the economy without, it turns out, ever significantly reducing Australia’s domestic emissions.

The government’s own figures reveal the economic damage the carbon tax will do.

Australia’s gross national income per person is almost $5,000 lower in 2050 with a carbon tax than without one.

Australia’s annual GDP growth might only be 0.1 per cent lower every year with a carbon tax than without one but small reductions eventually add up so that total GDP in 2050 is almost 3 per cent lower with a carbon tax than without one.

That’s the equivalent of a $40 billion reduction now.

The cumulative loss in GDP between now and 2050 is $1 trillion.

It’s as if the entire country were to stop work at some stage over the next 40 years for the best part of a year.

What’s more, real wages are projected to be almost 6 per cent lower in 2050 with a carbon tax than without one.

That’s the equivalent of a $4000 a year pay cut now for someone on the average full-time wage.

The carbon tax means our aluminium industry will shrink by 60 per cent.

The carbon tax means our iron and steel industry will shrink by 20 per cent.

The Government’s own modelling predicts it.

The carbon tax will reduce Australia’s domestic coal use from over 70 per cent of our power needs to under 10 per cent, absent carbon capture and storage.

The Australian coal industry will only survive because the Chinese, without a carbon tax, will do what we are no longer supposed to do: namely buy and burn coal.

Australia’s biggest export industry will only endure because others will do what we think we should no longer do ourselves.

The Government has pretended to abolish the Department of Climate Change but it certainly hasn’t abolished the new bureaucracies that it has created to administer the carbon tax, such as the Climate Change Authority.

Fixed or floating, the carbon tax is still a great big tax, a great big bureaucracy, and a great big source of revenue over time – only with a short term budget black hole thanks to the recession-induced collapse of the carbon price in Europe.

Mr Rudd knows that the carbon tax is an act of economic self-harm – that’s why he has pretended to abolish it.

But the only way to really abolish it is to change the government.

Without the carbon tax, an economy that’s 3 per cent bigger or $40 billion a year wealthier could much more readily afford the Gonski school changes and the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

With the carbon tax, our economy will find it that much harder to pay for the better services that you want.

The carbon tax is also a symbol of the way the Labor Party has sold its soul to the Greens.

Julia Gillard had no mandate to introduce it and Kevin Rudd had no justification for voting for it.

It was the price of Julia Gillard’s post-election deal with the Greens – a price Labor should never have paid given that the Greens were never going to support a Coalition government.

More than anything, this election is a referendum on the carbon tax.

A Coalition victory, should it happen, will be a warning from alienated Labor voters to their leaders: never again sell Labor’s soul to another party.

That’s why it’s unimaginable that a defeated Labor Party would persist with a carbon tax.

It would just confirm that Labor is incapable of learning from its mistakes.

If you want to boost jobs, boost growth and boost wages, vote for the Liberal National Coalition because we’re the only ones who’ll abolish the carbon tax.

That’s my clear message to the Australian people.

Building a stronger economy will start from day one of a Coalition government’s first term as soon as the instructions are issued to start preparing the carbon tax repeal legislation.

Elect the Coalition and, within a year, the carbon tax will be gone so power prices will be down in the order of 10 per cent and gas prices will be down in the order of nine per cent.

Elect the Coalition and, within a year, productivity will be on track to rise by 10 per cent in one key industry thanks to the restoration of the Australian Building and Construction Commission with a boost to national income in the order of $6 billion every year.

Elect the Coalition and, every year, red tape costs will be a billion dollars a year lower through sensible reforms to regulation.

The Productivity Commission, after all, says that there are at least $12 billion worth of economic improvements to be had from red tape reduction and $10 billion of economic benefits to be had from reform to federal-state relations.

Elect the Coalition, and a 10 per cent hit on car sales and a 20 per cent hit on local car production will be averted – because this is the estimated damage from the government’s fringe benefits tax on company cars.

Together, the Coalition’s economic changes will be a significant boost to economic activity.

From day one, under a Coalition government, it will be obvious that Australia is under new management and, once more, open for business.

Without the carbon tax and the mining tax, and without the sovereign risk issues that this Government has created, as a stable democracy in the world’s fastest-growing region Australia will once more be amongst the most attractive places in the world to invest.

The Olympic Dam mine expansion, Port Hedland Harbour expansion, and the Browse gas field development can’t be guaranteed to go ahead – but they can almost certainly be guaranteed not to proceed while the carbon tax, mining tax and job destroying industrial regulation remain in place.

Along with medical research, mining and resources is one of our areas of comparative economic advantage and it should never have been taken for granted by people who should have known better.

If the mining investment boom is over, it’s mostly because Mr Rudd’s policies have helped to kill it.

Fortunately, what a bad government has damaged, a better government can revive.

A richer Australia means a better Australia with more resources available to support better schools and hospitals, a sustainable National Disability Insurance Scheme, and better environmental protection.

If that’s what you want, you should support the political party that you can trust to deliver the stronger economy necessary to sustain them.

I am not much interested in being personally wealthy.

Never have been, never will be.

Still, I am passionately committed to a more prosperous Australia, because that means a better Australia with a better life for everyone.

If the Coalition is elected, this is how Australia will have changed in three years’ time.

Because there will be no new spending that’s not fully-costed and fully-funded, the budget will be on track for a believable surplus.

Because taxes will be lower and regulation reduced, economic growth should be stronger.

Because the boats will have stopped, there will be more room for people waiting in camps overseas to enter Australia, less pressure on our budget and less pressure on our vital relationship with Indonesia.

Work on the WestConnex in Sydney, the East West Link in Melbourne, the Gateway upgrade in Brisbane, the North-South Road in Adelaide, and the Swan Bypass in Perth will be substantially underway.

The Pacific Highway duplication will finally be in sight and work will have begun on the Midland Highway in Tasmania and the Range Crossing at Toowoomba.

The National Broadband Network will be delivering at least five times current download speeds to everyone for $60 billion less than Labor’s scheme and without digging up almost every street.

There will be a new focus on regional Australia with close to 50 per cent of the Cabinet living outside of metropolitan areas.

The expectation will have been clearly established that fit, working-age people will be at work, preferably for a wage, but if not, for the dole.

A fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme will at last be in place because, if Mr Rudd’s staff and my staff can take parental leave at their real wage why shouldn’t the female forklift drivers of western Sydney be able to as well?

This will be good for population, productivity and participation – the three “Ps” necessary for economic growth – as well as being a watershed social reform.

For at least one week out of 52, indigenous policy will be the government’s main focus so the first Australians will start to receive the attention they deserve.

We will seek to recognise indigenous Australians in our constitution – not to change it but to complete it.

Well within three years, a tax White Paper will have canvassed how we can have lower, simpler, fairer taxes for higher economic growth and better and more sustained services.

A federalism White Paper will have canvassed how overlap and duplication between different levels of government can be reduced so that it will be much clearer who is in charge of what and who is responsible when things are wrong.

Recommendations from these reviews that the government takes to the 2016 election will form a part of any incoming Coalition government’s second term agenda.

In the meantime, there’s more than enough to be done by stopping the boats, getting the budget under control, and getting major new roads underway.

All this is affordable and deliverable and will change our country for the better.

It can only happen, though, if there is a stable majority government in Canberra.

And that’s only going to happen if you vote for your local Liberal or National candidate.

An incoming Coalition government will have a functioning Cabinet process with timely submissions, coordination comments from other departments, and regulation impact statements.

Only in emergencies will decisions not go to Cabinet because a serious country deserves an adult government.

As a member of a functioning Cabinet, I know that there are almost no decisions that aren’t improved by the contribution of colleagues who understand government and who have Australia’s best interests at heart.

That’s why a new government won’t just be different; it will be better, too.

Almost no one thinks that our country has been at its best over the past few years.

There’s been too much inconsistency, too much waste and too many unnecessary fights for that.

Elect the Coalition, and you will have a grown up, adult government that thinks before it acts.

My aim is to lead a no surprises, no excuses government that says what it means and does what it says.

I can’t promise that everyone will like every decision that an incoming government takes, but I can promise a government that is competent and trustworthy and takes every opportunity to help our country and our people to realise our full potential.

After six years of poor government, building a stronger economy so that everyone can get ahead, scrapping the carbon tax, ending the waste, stopping the boats and building the roads of the 21st century are the things you can hope for.

After two changes of prime minister, six small business ministers, five assistant treasurers and four immigration ministers in just over three years, a strong and stable Coalition team are the leaders you can place your hope in.

I don’t promise miracles.

The world will always be uncertain and often difficult.

The business of government will always involve hard choices.

Government’s duty is to make it easier for people to get ahead as long as no one is ever left behind.

Australians know that and have always faced the future with confidence.

My pledge is to give a great country and a great people the better government you deserve.

I’m sure you know how important this election is.

Your vote matters and your vote can put our country back on track.

But only if you vote for your local Liberal and National candidate.

After all, if you want a new way, you have to choose a new government.