Prime Minister's Address to the Liberal Party's 60th Federal Council

 

Thank you! Thank you so much! Thank you. Thank you, Julie. Thank you. Thank you, Liberals! Thank you. Thank you so much. Thank you. I applaud you. Thanks a lot.

Hey what a great party! What great values!

You know, our values are timeless because they are based on freedom. They are values which say that government's job is to enable you to do your best. To realise your dreams, to get your business going, to get your career going, to see your kids getting ahead and getting a great education, to ensure that you get the best health care and the latest drugs - life-saving drugs - listed on the PBS. That's what we want every Australian to do. Those are our values!

You know, those values are timeless and they are more timely now than ever because they are under challenge from Labor now, more than they have been in generations.

It is a very, very, very long time since we had a Labor Party as left-wing, as anti-business as the Labor Party led by unbelievea-Bill Shorten. Because, you know, some people - some of this defenders will say he doesn't actually believe all that left-wing stuff. But the truth is he doesn't believe anything!

This is a guy who has campaigned for lower business taxes on the basis that we need to be competitive with the rest of the world, and now wants us to have the highest business taxes in the OECD.

Well, in case he's been missing out on watching the news or reading the papers, as Julie described, it's a very competitive world out there. It really is. The international environment is more challenging now than it has been for a generation. And so if we want Australia to win, if we want Australia to keep winning, we have to be competitive.

We have to have the strongest possible economy, we have to have the most competitive businesses, we have to have the best trade deals, because we are the best and our job as the government is to enable Australians to win and succeed and that is what we are doing!

Now here's the big difference. Here's the big difference between our side of politics and Labor's: We believe in Australians. We believe Australians are the best. We believe they can win and should win. And we'll do everything we can to enable them to do it.

Look, you don't need to be a great diplomat like Julie Bishop or a great Treasurer like Scott Morrison to know there is a bit protectionism in the air around the world these days. Free trade is not as popular internationally as it used to be.

But we know in Australia - as John Key reminded us last night in New Zealand as well - free trade, open markets, means jobs. And my job as your Prime Minister is to ensure more Australians have jobs and more Australians have well paid jobs.

That's why we're supporting free trade.

And we don't give up on it. When Donald Trump pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a huge regional trade deal - a lot of people said it was dead. Well, we stuck with it.

John Key and I kept going with it. And we persuaded Shinzo Abe to stick with it, and thanks to Shinzo Abe and other countries, we now have the TPP-11. It gives Australians great advantages right through our region, opening up many, many new markets, creating thousands of jobs.

What did Bill Shorten say? He said I was deluded. He said it was dead. He said we should give up. Not try. You know something? Even if he had been right, what does it say about the character of the man that he would give up?

Even if the exit of the US meant that the deal couldn't be revived, even if that proved to be true, what does it say about his character that he was prepared to give up on Australian jobs?

My government, our party, will never give up on Australian jobs, and that is why we have the highest jobs growth last year in Australia's history.

We said we would deliver jobs and growth. And that is exactly what we've delivered. 3.1 per cent GDP growth. Record jobs growth. More opportunities. Lower unemployment, more Australians in work. That is the opportunity that the Liberal Party is committed to deliver.

But, we should not imagine it is not at risk. There have been many times when Labor has sought to tack to the centre. We all remember Kevin Rudd, the economic conservative he described himself as.

Well, regrettably, a few too many Australians believed that and he was elected in 2007. We're still cleaning up the mess.

But as Scott has said, we have turned the corner on net debt. That’s a very, very significant achievement. You know, now we have a Labor leader that wants to increase taxes on every sector of the economy.

He wants to increase taxes on small businesses, he wants to wind back the tax relief we've

already given to millions of small and medium Australian family-owned businesses, which as Scott reminded us, employ more than half the Australian workforce.

You know, businesses with a turnover - a business with a turnover of $50 million a year is not a giant multinational, these businesses are invariably Australian family-owned businesses. They are the ones that are having a go, taking risks, investing.

They see their government is supporting them, and they are hiring. Bill Shorten wants to put up their taxes.

He wants to go after the savings of retirees. He wants to - his grab at the franking credits will increase - as Jim Molan knows and Scott knows - we were sitting with some seniors in Queanbeyan just the other day. Think about this - think about the cynicism of the Labor Party in this assault on savings. There was a lady there, well into her 80s. She and her husband have got a portfolio, they have saved all their lives they’re self-funded retirees.

Shorten's tax refund cash grab will cost them 28 per cent of their income. How do you make that up when you're in your mid-80s? What do you do? Go out and get another job? Do a bit of overtime? Start a new business?

Why does he do it? He did it for the same reason he lied about the citizenship of his dual citizens in the Parliament. Because he thought he could get away with it.

You see, the breathtaking dishonesty of the Labor Party, the untrustworthiness of the Labor Party is the great risk. They will say and do anything they can to get elected and in government they will go after every dollar of tax they can, because as we know, Labor cannot be trusted with the economy.

We have a strong record. We have delivered a stronger economy. We have delivered more jobs, we are securing Australia's future. We have, in these challenging and frankly more dangerous times, put unprecedented additional investment into our national security agencies, and into the ADF.

We have commissioned the construction of 54 new Naval vessels. In six years of government, Labor did not commission one. Not one!

They had no plans to ensure that we were protected from all of the risks and challenges that may arise, not just next year or the year after, but decades into the future.

They had no plan for Australia's security. We do.

They have no plan to continue funding life saving drugs. You've seen KISQALI and Spinraza so many other life-saving drugs, gone on to the PBS. How do you pay for that? You pay for that with revenues? You pay for that with a stronger economy.

Labor actually stopped listing new drugs on the PBS. They claim that they have great empathy and compassion in terms of health. Well, if you can't pay for it, it isn't much good to somebody with a life-threatening disease, believe me!

We are putting the billions of dollars into drugs, the billions of dollars into hospitals, the billions into Medicare, the billions into research because of the stronger economy that we have delivered and because we believe in Australians. All of that is put at risk by Labor.

Every one of their new taxes will discourage investment and discourage employment. They are going to double the capital gains tax. Going to increase capital gains tax. They are going to abolish negative gearing. What do you think that's going to do to the property market? It’s softening right now around Australia. What do you think pulling all of the investors - mum and dad investors out of the property market is going to do? And the bulk of whom are people on the middle incomes? What is that going to do to Australians' prospects? What will that do to their confidence?

What it's going to do to say to hardworking Australian businesses, "You have got to pay more tax"? What is it going to do to say that they want to increase personal income tax as opposed to our reform, our comprehensive reform, which believe me is the biggest reform of personal income tax in decades.

What we are offering as opposed to Labor's soak the rich and of course anybody who earns over $100,000 a year is apparently a millionaire to be assaulted and fleeced by Labor. What we're proposing is a tax plan that will mean that from $41,000 to $200,000 the marginal tax rate is 32.5 cents for every additional dollar.

We have heard about the challenges of bracket creep and the disincentives that people have if they go into a higher tax bracket every time they earn some more money or get a better job. What we've got now is for 94 per cent of Australians, they will pay no more than 32.5 cents in every extra dollar.

It is a great credit to the economic management of the Treasurer, the Finance Minister and our whole team that we have got the public finances to a point where that big reform can be delivered and who is standing in the way for that tax relief? Beginning with people on lower and middle incomes? Who is standing in the way?

Again, Bill Shorten. The enemy of aspiration. The enemy of investment. The enemy of employment. There is so much at risk from Labor.

Now how do we deal with their lies? We all know that Labor got away with a lot of lies in the 2016 election. They went out there and said the government was going to sell Medicare. A preposterous and absurd allegation. It had some currency, as we know. We now treat every Labor lie, every single one, no matter how absurd, as something that has to be categorically rebutted every single time.

This is important, because all of us have to recognise we are in a very, very different media landscape now than we were 20 years ago, let alone 30 years ago.

Increasingly people get their news, unmediated, through social media, through Facebook, and other platforms. It isn't going past an editor, or a producer, or a television director. It's coming straight to them electronically.

And we have to recognise that even the most outrageous lies will be believed by some people, unless they are corrected.

I want to give you an example of where we took a different approach, we learnt the lesson from 2016, looking at John Alexander there, sitting between Kelly and Scott.

John, when he ran again in the by-election in Bennelong, faced exactly the same lying campaign from Labor as we had in 2016. They effectively ran out the same campaign.

But every single lie was met with a rebuttal. We set out the facts. We set out the record.

Sam McQuestin knows that is what we are doing to support Brett Whiteley in the by-election in Braddon and it’s exactly what we're doing to support big Trev Ruthenberg in Longman.

By the way, he is very big. Did you see the doorstop I had with him? When I was talking you couldn't see Trev's head. When the camera moved to Trev you couldn't see me at all!

He’s a great candidate. But he is a big guy. Very big guy! He is sort of Donald Trump-size, you know. Very tall.

Anyway. Getting back to the fact of the matter, what we did in Bennelong was our ministers,

particularly - well, all of them did a great job, but Alan Tudge and Greg Hunt were particularly assiduous coming out and nailing one lie after another, as did Birmo with education.

And, of course, people hear that - you can bash those lies back.

It is a bit like Whack-A-Mole because it won't stop them telling another lie, but you just have to keep at it.

I want to give you an example of what they are doing in Longman. They are running around in Longman at the moment saying that we have cut $2.9 million from Caboolture Hospital.

Ok, here are the facts. The Commonwealth funding for the Metro North Hospital area, of which Caboolture is part, has risen from $507 million in the last year of the Labor Government to $776 million in 2016-17. That's an increase of 53 per cent.

Bulk billing, GP visits, is at the highest level ever – 93 per cent. Overall funding, Commonwealth funding for Queensland's public hospitals was $2.67 billion in 2012-13 and 2017-18 it will be $4.86 billion. Doesn't sound like much of a cut does it?

Under the new 5-year hospital agreement, which begins in 2021 of course, Will and Steven our new and re-elected Premiers have signed up to that. That new hospital agreement will deliver an additional $30 billion across the entire country for public hospitals, just under $7.5 billion of which will be in Queensland.

So, what Labor is saying in the Longman campaign, just as they are saying in Tasmania, and the increase over that 5-year period in Tasmania is $373 million. What they are saying is a complete and utter lie.

There is no other way to describe it. And we have to simply respond every time and say, "Here are the facts. This is the record. Labor is lying."

The numbers, the facts speak for themselves. We will not let them get away with those lies ever again.

Now, lies are bad enough. But what does this say about the character of the Labor Party and about the character of Bill Shorten? What does it say about somebody that will lie and lie and lie and pays no regard to the truth? Takes the view - is so cynical that he would stand up - think about this.

In October last year, it was perfectly obvious that there were three Labor members of the House of Representatives who were not eligible to sit in the Parliament. They were dual citizens at the time they nominated.

I see the Attorney-General is nodding there. Thank you, sir. The Attorney in October, as we all know, the High Court said if you're a dual citizen at the time you nominate, you're out. You're ineligible.

It was clear, absolutely clear, they hung on. They hung on. They hung on for as long as they could. And then in the recent judgement you would see the High Court basically said - in very judicial language - what part of the judgement that we gave last year were you not paying attention to?

And those people finally had to resign. For all those months, Shorten had members in his party room who were drawing taxpayers' money, salaries, spending money on communications and electorate expenses when they had no right to do so.

Contrast what we did. When JA, for example, realised he could not establish to his satisfaction what he'd always believed - namely he wasn't a dual citizen - what did he do? He resigned. He did the right thing. Went to the by-election and he won.

And that is the difference of character. The difference of character and respect for our constitution.

Now, Labor cannot be believed and they cannot be trusted. They are lying again and again and their view is that some of the lies will work.

And we have to make sure that they don't. That's why it's very important for all of us here and every party member and supporter to use all of the social media at your disposal - you may only have a few hundred people that are following you or that you can reach. Doesn't matter.

Make sure that those antidotes of fact - here are the facts, this is the record. Make sure they are distributed and shared so that people can see that Labor is lying, Labor cannot be trusted, and that our record on all of those essential services is absolutely strong. As Scott said - it is so true, it is obvious - you cannot afford to fund hospitals, schools, the NDIS, Defence, national security. You can't afford to undertake the reforms and investment that we have made in domestic national security with the new Home Affairs department, headed by Peter Dutton, and all of the investment we've made at the border, all of that is costly.

You need to have stronger revenues to do that. How do you do that? You know what? You have more people working. It's amazing. More people are working, the lowest number of working-aged Australians on welfare in 25 years. And the budget's in better shape.

Everybody is a winner. A stronger economy delivers for everybody. It delivers the essential services that we need, we cannot afford it without a stronger economy.

So, this is where we have to make sure that all Australians understand it isn't an either/or. You can't have lots of lovely spending and a weak economy. Well, I suppose Labor - you can get away with that for a while if you're prepared to run up a huge amount of debt, which is what Labor has done in the past.

The reality is you need to have that strong economy. A stronger economy secures our future, and that is what is put at risk by Labor.

Does anyone seriously imagine that a Labor platform of higher taxes on everyone - individuals, businesses, trusts, investment, property - does anyone imagine that that will have any result other than less investment and less employment?

It's obvious. Of course it will.

There is a reason why countries around the world are lowering business taxes, encouraging investment, because they’re competitive.

Do you think Donald Trump wants to create more jobs in America? I reckon he does. I think he does. And why - that's why he's cut company taxes there. That's why he's seen strong economic growth.

Now, there's a domestic argument about which measure is the right one in the United States. That is for the Americans to sort out. But one thing that is perfectly clear - if you want a stronger economy, you need more businesses investing more money, people taking more risk, having a go. If it doesn't work out, dust themselves off, and have another go. That is the spirit of enterprise and aspiration that we need.

Now, I want to talk, finally, about another area where Shorten is a gigantic risk to our economy, to our prosperity and our security.

We have seen unacceptable increases in energy prices over far too long. It has been a combination from the Labor side, I would say, of ideology and idiocy.

I look at the new Premier of South Australia, Steven Marshall, and boy Steven, you South Australians, you absolutely got it in the neck from Labor.

You did. You did - they created a situation where they had an enormous amount of wind

power, which could generate all of the state's electricity when the wind was blowing, and then when it dropped, none. At all. And you had to depend on a long extension cord to the La Trobe Valley, with all of the risks that that entailed.

And, of course, I say ideology and idiocy, because as Will Hodgman was saying if you do have an endowment of a lot of wind power, or solar power as Queensland particularly has - New South Wales has as well - then you've got to make sure you have got the mechanism to store it. Pumped hydro is very important. Gas is important. Batteries - subject to the technology - technological limitations are important.

But you have to plan for it. You've actually got to have a plan.

Labor has none. It is one ideology, political exercise after another, and the South Australians voted emphatically for a change when they elected Steven Marshall and the Liberal government.

They want to have affordable and reliable electricity. That's what every Australian is entitled to expect.

Now, our energy - our National Energy Guarantee, and all of our measures under our energy policy are working. The National Energy Guarantee awaiting obviously final agreement with COAG.

But look at what we've done already. We have seen wholesale gas prices come down by 50 per cent over the last 18 months. We've seen the cost of generation, which of course is only part of your electricity bill, come down by 30 per cent over the last year. And there is a lot more to be done.

We've seen across the east coast retailers either keeping prices flat or reducing them. Not by a huge amount, but at least they are not going up and they’re starting to trend down.

That is our commitment. We have a plan to deliver more affordable, reliable energy and of course meet our commitments under the Paris Treaty.

We're able to do all of that because we have a plan. We have a plan for the economy, we have a plan for national security. We have a plan for energy. We have a plan for medical research.

My government is delivering on our commitment, stronger economic growth, more jobs, bringing the budget back into balance, ensuring the government lives within its means. We've turned the corner on debt. And guaranteeing the essential services Australians expect.

Whether it is the funding for Medicare and record levels of bulk billing, whether it is supporting public hospitals, whether it is supporting funding through the PBS of life-saving drugs, or funding Australian medical research at record levels as well, so that we have our scientists bringing their discoveries to light for the benefit of Australians and of course the whole world.

All of that depends on a stronger economy and all of that depends on having a government that is committed to supporting the enterprise, the courage, the optimism, the aspirations of Australians.

Our party - our values - timeless values, more timely than ever. Now, the starkest contrast with Labor that we've had in generations.

Now is the time to confirm and consolidate the gains we've made and ensure that together we win the next election and we deliver from 2019 another three years of great Liberal economic leadership, securing our future with a stronger economy.

Thank you very much!