On October 20, voters in Wentworth face an important choice. This will be a byelection with national repercussions. With only a one-seat majority for the government in Canberra and all polls suggesting the race in Wentworth is very close, the stakes are high.
A vote for the Liberals in Wentworth will ensure the government gets on with the job of governing: protecting Australians, strengthening the economy and ensuring we provide opportunities for everyone. A vote for Labor or an independent would only mean greater uncertainty and instability in Canberra.
Like most Australians, I’ve been disappointed by the political turmoil in Canberra over the past decade. It has undermined public trust in our political system. It has made it harder to formulate good policy. At times, it has even hurt Australia’s reputation.
That is one reason I decided to get involved - to do my bit to improve the tone of the national political discussion and help refocus our national debate on issues that really matter to Australians.
This is more essential than ever because the outlook for Australia today is more challenging and more demanding of strong national leadership than it has been for decades.
Two decades spent representing Australia overseas has taught me two important lessons. First, that Australia is the best country in the world - without question. Second, that success is fragile - and we can never afford to take Australia’s success for granted. Complacency is one of the single biggest risks our nation faces.
The shift of global economic and strategic weight from the Euro-Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific is creating new opportunities for Australia, which we must be able to seize. But it also brings with it potential new risks to our freedoms - risks which we must be prepared to recognise and defend against.
Meanwhile, the accelerating pace of technological change requires us to better equip our economy and our young people for the jobs and the industries that will characterise the future.
Faced with such challenges, it is important to remember that it is a strong economy that underpins everything we want to achieve as a nation - from helping those who need it most, to providing opportunities for everyone.
The budget is finally on track to return to balance next year. Australia’s credit rating is solid, helping to keep interest rates low. Free trade agreements have been negotiated with our major trading partners, helping Australian exporters.
Tax relief has been delivered for small businesses, including the 29,000 small businesses in Wentworth. Income tax relief will also encourage millions of Australians who work hard to get ahead, including 66,000 workers in Wentworth.
Good economic management has enabled us to invest more in schools and hospitals, list new life-saving drugs on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, fully fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme and develop the defence capabilities needed to protect Australia and safeguard our interests.
The pace of change we are facing in Australia makes preserving our quality of life and the strength of our community institutions high priorities.
We need to do a better job of distributing Australia’s growing population to areas where it is most needed and ensuring that infrastructure spending keeps up and addresses issues such as congestion and housing affordability.
We must also preserve our open spaces and sites of natural beauty and unique heritage value for future generations. This is especially true in Wentworth. I was pleased to see Centennial Park granted National Heritage listing, a campaign which Malcolm Turnbull initiated. And I support the campaign to protect South Head from inappropriate development.
Addressing climate change is important, as is honouring our international commitments. Better technology should help us to meet our emissions targets and improve energy affordability and security.
Though we face our challenges, to my mind Australia remains the best country in the world. But we didn’t get here by accident or simple good fortune. There was nothing pre-ordained about it. Generations of Australians have worked hard, made heroic sacrifices and taken tough decisions to build the country we have today.
When people vote in Wentworth on October 20, I urge them to focus on the future, not the past, and think about how best to secure it.
Originally published in the Sydney Morning Herald, 10/10/2018.