Address to the Tasmanian Liberal Party State Conference

 

Well, thanks Will and how good is the Premier of Tasmania?

But also how good is Sam and his team here at the Tasmanian division and the incredible work that they did in the last State election? I was going to say how good is Rod, but he’s already covered that.

I don't have to do that. I will tell you how good Josh Frydenberg is, though. He’s here with me today, my new Treasurer. Josh and I have worked together for many years in the Cabinet, I welcome him particularly here today and it’s great to have you here with us, Josh. To Richard and the entire Tasmanian Federal Liberal team, it's wonderful for you to be here with me today and congratulations on that wonderful presentation as well, I think that says it is all when it comes to our plans for Tasmania and our plans for our country. Can I give a special shout-out also to Eric Abetz today and for a very special reason; yesterday he and Michelle celebrated their 27th wedding anniversary.

A very special one it would have been too, so god bless you both. It’s tremendous Eric, the work that you continue to do for Tasmania and the work you do for our country, always passionate. We were down at the Salamanca Markets this morning, I think we met at least two Tasmanians amongst about 400 -

From all other states and territories which is, Will, a great signal of what is happening with Tasmanian tourism. I even found a few people from the Shire actually, in fact. I mean there was a hockey tournament, a physiotherapist conference, there was a water polo tournament, I mean, it’s all happening, all happening. It was great to see that and particularly - in marking the number of anniversaries at the moment - but 75 years since Dame Edna Lyons in August 75 years ago she was elected to the House of Representatives. The first female to enter the House of Representatives and how great is it then to have Claire Chandler and Tanya Dennison on the ticket, I think, in that spirit? Tasmania has always delivered when it comes to great candidates both at a State and Federal level and I very much welcome Claire and Tanya to the team and looking forward to them being able to take up their positions in the team at the next election in the Senate.

But I'm hoping and I'm excited and I'm pumped about the prospect about having a Liberal member for Braddon, a Liberal member for Bass, a Liberal member for Lyons and I'm ever hopeful of a Liberal member for Franklin and Denison. Liberal members in the House of Representatives as were achieved at the 2013 election.

Which is our collective task; to ensure that, for the good of Australia, for the good of Tasmania. Now, I talked about how good Will Hodgman is, but there are some good reasons for that. This has become the turnaround state under Will. The turnaround in the number of unemployed has fallen by 20 per cent. Our governments are working together at a national level, at a local level here, at a State level and unemployment is down by 20 per cent. A lower unemployment rate here in Tasmania than in Western Australia, fallen from 8 per cent down to 5.8 per cent. 20,000 extra jobs since we were elected here in Tasmania. That compares under the Labor years of 12,000 less.

More jobs under Liberals, when we are in control of the state and a federal level.

Less jobs under Labor when they are running the show. 12,000 less jobs when Labor were in office.

20,000 more jobs when Will Hodgman and our Government are in office. Month after month, Tasmanians were worse off under Labor. Month after month, Tasmanians are better off under Liberal governments, at a national level and at a state level. In the final years of Labor, just under 1,100 Tasmanians walked out on Tasmania. They left the State. They went somewhere else. Now, I'm sure they had many reasons for doing that and what I know about Tasmania is this; people are passionate about Tasmania and they want the best for their future. They want their kids to grow up here and stay here. They want them to do that not out of compulsion, but they want them to do it out of the same passion that led them to live their entire lives here in Tasmania. They want them to see a future. So how good is it that compared to the almost 1,100 Tasmanians who left Tasmania under Labor in that last year of Labor, that in the last year to the March 2018, 2,200 other Australians decided to come here and be Tasmanians.

That's a turnaround. That's a turnaround that is happening here in Tasmania under Liberal governments.

You would have read a bit today in the Merc that our Government wants to back in Will's plans for a stronger Tasmania, for more people choosing Tasmania, choosing to come and live here, choosing to stay here, because it’s a stronger state and they can see opportunity. They can see a strong economy. They can be guaranteed of the services they rely on, whether it's our hospitals like up at Mersey or whether it's out of Medicare and its’ delivery here in Tasmania, guaranteed by our government. Our migration plans will support the population and growth objectives of the Hodgman Government here. We are working closely on those right now. There are issues, as Josh and I and the rest of our team are working through to ensure that our migration programs work to support those states which are seeking to grow, as well as to manage the impacts of growth in those states like in New South Wales and Victoria, in Sydney and Melbourne in particular, where we need to manage the impacts of what has been particularly strong population growth. You know, average population growth is about a useful statistic as average rainfall; you know population can be growing strongly in a place like Melbourne - and it has been, creating real pressure. That's why we've got Alan Tudge, Melbourne eyes on a Melbourne problem there, looking at infrastructure needs particularly in that city. But here, or in the Northern Territory, up in North Queensland where I was recently, over in Adelaide, where we've got another great Liberal Premier, Steve Marshall, also a very similar vision to what Will has been able to achieve here, wanting to see the State grow - our migration plans are going to back those states.

We’ll have a lot more to say about that in the weeks and months ahead, but we are into backing the economic growth plans of our state partners and we have been doing that here. There is 5,800 extra construction jobs here. Retail sales up 6.4 per cent in the last year - forgive me for being a Treasurer again, old habits die hard - that's the fastest retail sales growth in the country, here in Tasmania. How good is that?

If you said that five or six years ago, before the election of the Hodgman Government, people on the mainland wouldn't have believed you. You look at house price growth around the country, it’s actually been strongest here in Tasmania. Not in Sydney, not in Melbourne, not in Darwin, right here in Hobart. Now, that creates other challenges I know, affordable housing, social housing, investment and support, and the Commonwealth is doing its’ bit to support the State Government here with those important objectives.

But they are the problems of growth. They are the problems of opportunity. Much better than the alternative than you have to deal with under a Labor government; the problems of economic decline, the problems of economic stagnation, the problems of people leaving Tasmania. That's what happened under Labor. People are coming to Tasmania under Liberal and that will continue to be the case. Tourism numbers, up 23 per cent, not all of them I suspect in the Salamanca Markets this morning, Eric, but up in Strahan where we were yesterday, up on the west coast. I mean I’ll be taking the sly opportunity to come back with my kayak and a tent at some point in the future. I don't know when that will be, but what we saw yesterday was fantastic. It was absolutely magnificent and more Australians, I know, are getting to know that wonderful opportunity.

What's even better, 23 per cent up on tourism numbers, but the better result is 40 per cent up on tourism spend. That's the real deal. That's where the jobs come from. That's where the investment comes from. Profitless volume, not a good business, but what Tasmania is doing in tourism is turning it into profitable volume. At the same time you are managing, I think, expertly, the quality and integrity of what is on offer, the uniqueness and authenticity of the experience. I think they would be disappointed with me Richard, if I didn't mention The Unconformity festival up there in Queenstown. I think it’ll be fabulous and for those of you who can get there, it's what, 19 to the 21st October? I've become their official ambassador I think, in the last 24 hours, but it does look like a lot of fun.

So a lot has been done together and Tasmanians under Will Hodgman are focused on their opportunities. They’re focused on being better off. They’re focused not on being left behind, but leading the way. That's where you want to be. That's where you always want to be and that's why Tasmanians, in increasing numbers, are choosing to stay in Tasmania and why other Australians are choosing Tasmania; for the lifestyle and the economic opportunities that they very much want.

Now, we are supporting those plans with many initiatives and we were up there on the west coast announcing the switch on of the NBN which has taken speeds from 3 megabytes per second to 46 megabytes per second, up at the Goldrush Motel. I was speaking to a young woman yesterday who runs a graphic design business, who said it used to take her six hours to upload. Now, imagine running a business with that as your productivity statistic.

But people will choose to live in Tasmania, where it will be the first State where the NBN is fully rolled out. Because they will have this infrastructure in place that can enable their businesses. You know, in those areas that are NBN connected, the rate of female-led business growth is 20 times faster that in areas that are not. Talk about female participation in the economy, this is, this is girl power technology.

I've got to tell you. It is and it’s giving families choices. If you want to live in Queenstown and run a home-based business, guess what? You can, under our investment in the NBN.

Labor talked and talked and talked, but they didn't deliver. What was the rollout rate in Tasmania at the time of the last election? Zero. It's at 99.7 per cent now.

They talk the game, we deliver the game, when it comes to this important infrastructure. 1,730 extra businesses by 2021 we predict, will be created as a result of our investments in the NBN. On top of that of course, there is the big infrastructure investments in the Bridgewater Bridge, the Midland Highway, the Hobart Runway. All of this is happening and it has been funded under our successive budgets. But what I want you to take from that, is that these are our investments in your plan as Tasmanians. We can achieve so much more, when we're able to connect up with a plan like Will's, who has a clear vision for the future. As a Commonwealth Government, I've always seen it as a federal policy focus to enable, to support, to give energy to the visions and the plans and the aspirations of Australians where they live. And you live here in Tasmania and you've got a great Tasmanian leader and that's why we're so keen to back in his plans.

But I am fired up when it comes to the Battery of the Nation. This is exciting and I know Josh is too. Josh has done a lot of work on this as Energy and Environment Minister previously. This is what I call fair dinkum power, it really is. This is stuff that works whether the wind is blowing or not, whether the sun is shining or not, and it’s there as real, reliable power and - as Guy Barnett was reminding me yesterday - affordable power. Not just for Tasmanians, but for all Australians, particularly those on the east coast. This is a big, big project. When we went down into the hydro plant yesterday and we talked about - was it 30? Is that, right, Will? 30 hydro projects going back from 1910 to 1993 I think it was - what a big vision that was for Tasmania. Now, you have a Premier once again with a big vision that’s not just about powering Tasmania, but powering the nation. 3,000 regional jobs, as Richard was reminding me yesterday, that come from this project. Now, we are really powered up over this and we’re going to work closely together. There are major commercial opportunities here. It isn't just about government. There are lots of players here and we will be working together, I think, to realise this. It is a big vision, but it is an achievable vision. It is a practical vision and it is something that I think can really support the entire country.

So we will continue to work closely on that. There’s a lot of work still to be done. We've already been funding the feasibility studies and business plans and all of these things. It’s $14 million I think Josh, that we've put into that project already. But the bigger investment is still ahead and everyone will be playing a role, state governments, potentially Commonwealth governments, other large private sector investors to realise what is the next big project for Tasmania. That's the “what” of what has been happening here in Tasmania and what we've been doing as a Commonwealth government and there's lots more.

Over a million jobs created under our government.

100,000 youth jobs created in just one year, the strongest ever youth employment growth in Australia's economic history.

The turnaround on the Budget, the most recent final Budget outcome for 2017/18, the best result in a decade.

Under our management, under our government, we are no longer borrowing to pay for everyday expenses. We had to do that for 10 years because of the fiscal wreckage that we inherited from the Labor Party. It took us 10 years and they weren't helping in those first five, they were making it worse. And when we came in, it was our job to turn that around.

You just think about that for a second; no longer borrowing to pay for everyday expenses. What does that mean? It means we're not borrowing money to pay for the pension. It means we're not borrowing money to pay for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. It means we are not borrowing money to pay for Newstart or the operational funding that goes for hospitals and for schools. We’re no longer borrowing to pay for that. That was the equivalent of putting the groceries on the credit card. That's what Labor forced us into for a decade and it has been hard work turning that around. It has taken us five years to do it. And some said; "Why couldn't you do it quicker?" Well, let me ask you this; who thought the New Zealand Government did a great job in turning around their fiscal situation in New Zealand? John Key, Bill English, well-known, well-known, acknowledged in this country for the tremendous job they did on the fiscal turnaround in New Zealand. It took them six years. Six years. We've done it in five.

Big jobs take time and we've been about that job for the last five years. Josh has now taken up those cudgels and is going to do a fantastic job as we prepare for the midyear statement.

So these are the “whats”: Record education funding, record hospitals funding, all of this is the “what”, but as I said to those who were gathered here last night, the reason we are going to win the next election is not because of the “what”, but because of the “why,” okay? Earlier today, when we started off our meeting, Bec Dunham came up here and read out what we believe as Liberals.

That is why we are going to win the next federal election.

That is why we are going to win the seats here in Tasmania. The things that we believe in as Liberals are the things that Australians believe.

That is why, despite the fact that unions and GetUp! and the lies that Labor tell and all of these things, Labor have won one of the last eight elections in their own right. We've won six.

And on every single occasion of those six out of eight elections, we were outgunned, we were out-funded. But what Australians saw, whether it was John Howard, all way through, through those elections, was a party that believed the same things that they did. Because in times of uncertainty, whether it's the economic global uncertainty, or issues of international security, people want to know what their Government believes. They want to know what the people who lead the Government believes. Because when they know that, they know how you will respond to issues. They will know what your instincts are. And that's why, since becoming Prime Minister I've been going back to that point about what we believe. Because I want Australians to know that whatever comes our way in the future, they can trust our Government because we share the same instincts and beliefs that they have.

And what are they? A fair go for those who have a go. If you turn up, if you have a go, if you seek a job, if you give someone a job, if you start a business, if you turn up to work, if you turn up to school, if you get an education, if you take the opportunities that are in front of you, that you will be able to get ahead. That you won't be smashing your head against the wall, that you won't be turned away, that you won't be taxed more, that you won't be regulated more, that you won't be discouraged more, that you won't be blamed, but you will be celebrated. That's what fairness means in Australia. It's what fairness means to our government and I know that's what fairness means to you. That’s what we believe. If you go through what Bec was reading out, that's a shorthand way of saying it; a fair go for those who have a go.

We believe in supporting our mates, that's what the social safety net is all about. It's not about a safety net that traps you like a snare. It is like a trampoline that bounces you back up. That's what we believe when it comes to looking after your mates. That's why we believe the best form of welfare is a job. And that's what we've been delivering; jobs and jobs and jobs. It's why we believe, it's why we believe that our duty as Australians is to make a contribution, not take one. We are always reinvesting back into our families, our communities and success and the opportunities we have. We know as Australians, a way to invest back into that, not out of compulsion, but out as a sense of commitment and making our entire country stronger.

So you saw on the video our objectives of keeping our economy strong, so Australians can be guaranteed of the services they rely on. Keeping Australians safe, which has always been something Australians have trusted Liberal and National parties for delivering.

But the last one I wanted to focus on today very briefly was keeping Australians together.

We don't believe that for some to do better, others have to do worse. That's the politics of envy.

I think this has been a very disturbing term in the way that Labor politics has gone in this country, over the five to ten years. Once upon a time, arguably, they believed the sort of things that I was just talking about; a fair go for those who have a go and so on. But what we see from today's Labor Party is a party just contorted and locked in the politics of envy.

They believe that for some to do better, you've got to pull others down. Bill Shorten and Labor want to set Australians against each other.

They want to set teacher against teacher, parent against parent, one from an independent school, one from a public school.

They want to set pensioner against pensioner, based on simply if they have a self-managed super fund, or retiree against retiree.

They want to set workers against employers.

They want to set students against students.

They want to set small businesses against large businesses.

They are constantly looking to pick fights in Australian society.

My message to Bill Shorten and Labor is this. You can't lead a nation that you are putting all your efforts into dividing. That's not leadership.

He might try to be the next Jeremy Corbyn of Australia or whatever it is they talk about in their conferences. But that is no way to lead Australia. That's not how we do things in Australia. In Australia, in Tasmania, we have become a strong country because we stick together and we have a very different vision as our Government.

We have a vision that brings teachers and parents and students together. It doesn't matter what sort of school you go to, that's the parents' choice, not the government's choice. It’s the parents' choice and we have always been the party of choice. And that's not to set parents and teachers and students against each other, quite the opposite. It’s about bringing them together and making sure they are all supported in the decisions they’re making. It is about drawing employers and employers together, bringing those who run the business and those who work for the business, together. That's how you have a successful business. Every small business owner will tell you that. Where does a small business get ahead by being at war with their workforce or vice versa? All the small and medium-sized businesses I walk into, all around the country, I say;" How long have you been here?" They say; "I've been here about 12 years or 6 years, 20 years," and why? Because it works, as the businesses have prospered, they have prospered and it’s been a partnership and a team.

That's the future of our economy, not engaging in the union-bred, union-fed, industrial relations agenda of conflict, of the Labor Party and the union movement.

That will not make our country stronger. It will make our country weaker and it will weaken states like Tasmania and all around the country.

I want to see Indigenous and non-indigenous Australians come together, not divide them, not separate them, not push them apart and engage in the conflict around those difficult issues of reconciliation. And I want to see small and large businesses working together, as they do, as part of the supply chain.

We want to bring and keep Australians together as the Liberal Party. That's what Will has achieved here in Tasmania. That's why Australians are coming to Tasmania. That's why Tasmanians are staying in Tasmania, because he has a vision and he has been executing that vision with his entire team. Our government is doing exactly the same thing.

I’ll leave you with one request and I will tell it quickly. Several years ago when I was working in tourism New Zealand, I met Sir Peter Blake and a fella called Alan Sefton and they ran Team New Zealand. Looking out here at the beautiful harbour, a lot of sailors around this city. As you know, they ran the successful America's Cup defence in Auckland after winning it as a team. And I remember I was involved in a lot of events back then, back in New Zealand, and I went to meet the team. It was in this pretty grubby looking warehouse up in Auckland. The tables and chairs, you know, they were milk crates and goodness knows what and all the rest of it. I said; “Gee, this is an America's Cup team, you’re expecting Louis Vuitton and you know, all of that sort of gear” etc and here we were, it looked like we had walked into an outback town hall. And I sort of made mention of it and Sir Peter said to me - and he has passed away many years ago - he said; "We only do things here that make the boat go faster."

It was a culture of their team and it’s a principle that I’ve always sought to follow. I’ve shared it with my parliamentary team, as they know, they are probably sick of me telling the story.

But every member of the Liberal Party has to ask themselves one question between now and the next election; is what you are doing making our boat go faster? Not “is it neutral,” or, “it's not stopping it going faster”. No. With the time and the resources we have available, we only have time to do the things together that make the boat go faster.

That's what I'm going to be focusing on as Prime Minister. That's what Will is focusing on as Premier. That's what Richard's Senate team and the candidates who will be running at our seats here in Tasmania will be focused on. Each and every single member of the Liberal Party all around the country, let’s focus on the things that make the boat go faster. Because our nation needs the Liberal boat to go faster. I tell you what though, it's picking up speed. It's picking up speed and it's coming for the Labor Party.

Thank you very much.