It is great to be joined by my team here in Brisbane today with Trevor Evans and leaders from his community.
How good is Trevor Evans!
A great community based local member.
I recently asked Trevor what he liked about his job.
He said “like’s the wrong word…..I love it”.
Because: “I get to solve problems and help people”.
After I became Prime Minister, Trevor said to me, “I want you to come and see YoungCare because we need to get young people out of nursing homes”.
I had heard about YoungCare when I was Treasurer, so I got to YoungCare in my first fortnight as Prime Minister and saw the amazing work they do for young people with catastrophic injuries or disabilities.
After visiting I left humbled, inspired and determined.
Because of that visit, because of Trevor, the Royal Commission into aged care is now looking at how best to provide care for young people who need intensive support.
And under legislation we’ve introduced, investors in disability accommodation will be able get special tax incentives.
A fully funded NDIS is also playing its part.
Trevor understands that behind every decision a government makes – is a community, a family, an individual Australian.
I know Kirsten McGinty is with us today. Stand up Kirsten.
She’s a hero.
Kirsten is the Queensland Ambassador raising awareness for Meningococcal Australia.
In 2017, Kirsten lost her 20 year old daughter Zoe to Meningococcal after a 16 hour battle.
That’s how fast that infection is. 16 hours. It’s a fierce killer.
Zoe was a third year university student studying media.
She had her whole life before her.
Kirsten, along with Trevor, put the case for the Government to fund a Meningococcal vaccine to protect our young people from this horrific disease.
When people comment to Kirsten about how hard she has worked and fought for this – she says ‘not as hard as Zoe worked fighting that infection’.
So September last year we did it.
We invested $52 million to provide 1 million vaccines to 14-19 year olds over the next four years.
When we announced it, Kirsten said she wanted to thank me.
I said, it wasn’t me – it was the Australian people.
It was the product, the dividend, of the hard work and enterprise of the Australian people, who make our economy strong and thereby make these decisions possible.
You see, this is what a stronger economy does. It pays for the essential services that Australians rely on.
And it didn’t just pay for that terrific vaccine – under our Government, we’ve put an additional 1,900 medicines and treatments onto the PBS.
These treatments help everyone – from those dealing with diabetes, to Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer.
Only 9 days ago, I announced we were going to add a new lung cancer drug to the PBS. This drug costs over $8,000 a script.
A vital drug for about 400 Australians – it’s now going to cost about $40 a script.
Six years ago, getting a new drug on the PBS was like pulling teeth – because the Budget had been blown.
We’ve repaired it and can now give people hope.
That’s how we are making our country fairer, stronger, and the best place on earth.
And it’s not just Trevor working with his community who is doing that – all around Australia, our Liberal and Nationals local members are working with their communities fixing problems, finding solutions, guaranteeing essential services, all underpinned by our proven ability to deliver a stronger economy and run a budget.
Because, as Liberals and Nationals, we know that a strong economy is the foundation for everything else.
At the election this year, only half of those of voting age will have experienced a recession during their working lives.
So it is important to remind us all that our economy cannot be taken for granted. That the economy is real, it’s impacts are real. And most importantly, it’s all about people.
It is as real as the air you breathe and the water you drink.
It’s as real as the roads you drive on, the house you want to live in or the bills you have to pay.
It is as real as the schools your children go to or the hospitals where life saving surgeries are performed.
The strength of our economy determines our choices and opportunities. It underpins our quality of life, it enables our way of life.
I do not want Australians to learn just how important a strong economy is to each of them, by having to endure the cruel lessons of a weaker economy under Labor.
A weaker economy will not produce a fairer Australia. It will not guarantee the essential services that Australians rely on.
Only a stronger economy can deliver a stronger Medicare.
Affordable medicines through the PBS.
The age pension. Disability support. Aged care. Child Care.
Support for drought affected farmers. For veterans.
Practical conservation of our environment.
Protecting the strength of our economy and setting Australia up for continued economic success is central to our plan for the welfare of every single Australian and their future.
It is central to our plan for an even stronger Australia.
So what is the proof of a strong economy?
It’s jobs. Always jobs.
Whether you’re leaving school, raising children or preparing for retirement - not having a job, or being worried about losing a job, robs you of your choices, of your independence.
Our Government is a jobs government.
Under our Government, over 1.2 million new jobs have been created.
Last month, over 20,000 jobs were created, taking unemployment down to 5 per cent - the lowest level in over 7 years.
Our Government is delivering the same high employment economy that the Howard Government delivered.
1.2 million more Australians in jobs in five and a half years.
If you were to put those new jobs in just one spot, it’s broadly equivalent to all the jobs in Brisbane.
Last financial year, more than 100,000 young people got a job – the best financial year result ever.
Female participation in our jobs market is at record highs – exceeding 60 per cent.
There are now 690,000 more women in jobs than when we took office.
Everyone is sharing the benefits – the lowest levels of working age Australians on welfare in 30 years.
And in what economists call “prime age population” - those aged 25 to 54 - the share employed is at an all-time high – above 80 per cent.
It’s higher than previous peaks under the Howard Government, demonstrating how we have fought back from the Labor years to restore what was lost in our economy under Labor.
Jobs are the proof of our Government’s ability to manage and deliver on a stronger economy.
When we released our first economic plan prior to our election in 2013, we set a goal of one million new jobs within five years.
Labor said we would fail, but we delivered. 1.1 million new jobs within five years – and we are now past 1.2 million new jobs.
Labor also said we couldn’t stop the boats. We did that too.
Both times we worked to a plan. Just like we did to reduce welfare dependency to record lows.
Today, I am making a new jobs pledge for our Government, to see one and a quarter million jobs created over the next five years.
And if we stay on that course, if we stick with our plan, we will see two and a half million additional jobs created over the next ten years to 2030.
We’re for jobs. And not just for the pay cheque. It’s about independence, dignity and self-respect.
A job-creating economy makes families stronger and communities stronger.
Creating jobs is a social achievement, not just an economic one.
The reason we can make this jobs pledge with confidence is because we have a clear and proven economic plan.
Under our plan we’ve repaired the Budget.
It’s taken us all of the past five years to get back to the strong position that the Howard Government left us, more than ten years ago, when Labor took over.
Our Budget in April will be the first surplus budget delivered since the Howard Government.
And we have done this by getting spending under control, not by raising taxes.
We tackled waste and made sure that taxpayers got better value for money.
Our Government has achieved greater spending restraint than any Government, Liberal or Labor, in the last 50 years, with real spending growth less than 2%.
When you have deficit after deficit it means less money for services because you are spending dead money on interest.
By turning that around we are now paying off debt and can cut taxes - so you have more money in your pocket.
With continued good management, we can wipe out our net debt within the decade. That’s my goal.
Under our plan we’re cutting taxes.
In my last Budget - ten million Australians got a tax cut – and under our plan we have legislated – 94% of Australians will pay no more than 32.5 cents in the dollar. Making bracket creep history for the vast majority of working Australians. Labor have pledged to reverse this.
We’ve also put a speed limit on taxes, ensuring that our tax revenue does not rise above 23.9 per cent of GDP. If you can’t control your taxes, you can’t control your spending.
That’s why Labor has pledged to add $200 billion in new and higher taxes and abolish the tax speed limit.
Under our plan we’ve managed to keep our AAA credit rating – after it was put at risk by Labor’s reckless policy of spending money they never had.
We’ve got export agreements with countries accounting for 70 per cent of our two way trade, that’s up from 26 per cent when we came to office.
There are now more than 150,000 additional small businesses in our economy.
Government bills to small businesses are being paid faster, the BAS statement is simpler, small business taxes are being cut and we’re even making small business finance easier as well.
And we’ve invested $75 billion in infrastructure road and rail projects that are about cutting congestion, improving travel times, cutting freight costs and building a stronger economy.
Our plan works.
Today, I am releasing an upgrade to our Plan for a Strong Economy and a Secure Future.
The plan is simple and straightforward.
Keep our budget strong
Back small and family businesses
Ensure reliable and affordable energy
Build the infrastructure Australia needs
Drive all our industries forward, not just the new ones
Ensure all generations have the work skills they need
Encourage and protect workplaces so employers and employees can work and earn more together
Keep big business accountable, and
Secure even more overseas markets for our exporters.
Over the past five and a half years, we have laid a strong foundation.
Our new and upgraded plan will be backed in by new initiatives and commitments to be announced in the months ahead, funded by our surplus Budget to be handed down by the Treasurer on April 2.
Real money, real decisions, not promises.
And they will come without increasing taxes.
In addition to our new jobs pledge let me make some further announcements now as part of our upgraded new plan.
Small and family businesses already know that our government is supporting them like none before.
Lower taxes, less red tape, better access to finance, faster payment terms, a more level playing field with big business, assistance to embrace the digital economy, and even targeted support for the mental health of small business people.
Today, we are backing that in by extending the Instant Asset Write-off until 30 June 2020, and increasing the threshold from $20,000 to $25,000.It takes effect from today.
This means from today small businesses can instantly deduct each and every asset under $25,000.
The Treasurer will introduce this legislation when we return to parliament in a fortnight.
This measure will allow the more than 3 million eligible small and family businesses with a turnover of up to $10 million a year, to keep $750 million of their own money so they can reinvest it in their business and support the jobs and wages of their 5.7 million employees.
And here in South East Queensland I am pleased to announce we are committing an additional $244 million to local congestion busting road and rail projects, as part of our national infrastructure plan. This includes funding to upgrade:
- the intersection of Commercial Road and Doggett Street in Newstead, which is here in Trevor’s electorate;
- the Gympie Arterial Road, Ipswich Motorway and Mt Lindesay Highway corridors; and
- park and ride facilities at the Mango Hill and Ferny Grove train stations.
As I move around South East Queensland this week, I will be making further announcements where these congestion busting investments will be made.
Investments that will means families can get around the table at night for their evening meal, parents can get home to help their kids with their homework, small business people can spend more time on the job rather than in traffic.
This is in addition to the $1.6 billion I have already announced for transport infrastructure projects in Queensland since I became Prime Minister.
As Prime Minister, I’m just getting on with it.
A strong economy is the means by which we deliver the services and infrastructure that Australians rely on.
A stronger economy is a means, not an end. It’s about the real benefits that it can bring to the people who live in it.
That’s how I see the economy. It’s not a trophy on the shelf. It’s about people.
When you have a strong economy - you can support bulk billing rates for Medicare at record levels, which our Government has achieved at 86%.
When you have a strong economy – you can confidently put 1,900 additional drugs and treatments on the PBS.That’s $10 billion in new listings.
When you have a strong economy – you can commit, as we have, to schools agreements that provide an extra $37.6 billion in schools funding – which is about a 62% increase in funding per student.
When you have a strong economy – you can provide $5.7 billion for drought relief and say ‘we’ll stand with you for as long as this drought lasts and beyond’.
When you have a strong economy – you can fully fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme without an increase in the Medicare levy.
The key to a well-run economy is the decisions you make.
For me, those decisions are based on the things you and I believe in:
If you have a go, you should get a go.
If you work hard, play by the rules, you should get ahead.
The best form of welfare is a job.
That as Australians we should always seek to make a contribution rather than take one.
And no Australian should have to do worse for another to do better.
Opportunity and aspiration for every Australian for a brighter future.
At this next election you’ll be deciding more than the government.
You’ll be deciding the economy you and your families will live and work in for the next decade. The consequences will be real.
Australians know the economy we will build in the years ahead, because they have seen our achievements over the past five and a half years.
You can be sure we’ll create jobs in the next term, because that’s what we’ve done.
You can be sure we’ll help small business, because that’s what we’re doing.
You can be sure we’ll build infrastructure, because you have seen the earth moving machinery on site.
You can be sure that taxes will be cut, because that’s what we’ve done for 10 million taxpayers and 3 million small businesses.
And by focusing on delivering a strong economy we create the right environment for wages growth, which we are now beginning to see, and more will follow.
That’s the stronger economy we are offering you and your family.
Labor and Mr Shorten are offering you a weaker economy to live in, held back by higher taxes and militant unions.
Bill Shorten’s economy – which will be your economy if he is your PM – will be slugged with $200 billion in new and higher taxes.
You can be sure those taxes will hurt house prices – because that’s what he’s said it will do.
You can be sure retirees will be hit with retirement tax changes – because he’s boasted about it.
You can be sure Labor will hurt business profitability – because he says profits are too high.
And you can be sure that the old days of industrial conflict and dispute will be back – because, unlike Bob Hawke, Mr Shorten does not run the unions, the unions run him.
That’s why he has pledged to the unions that he will abolish the watchdog that has been tackling union lawlessness on building sites.
You can also be sure the budget will unravel, because the last time Mr Shorten’s party delivered a surplus was in 1989!They just can’t manage money.
So, there is a clear choice before Australians about the economy you will choose to live in at the election in May this year.
Higher taxes under Labor or lower taxes under us.
Fewer jobs under Labor or more jobs under us.
A weaker economy under Bill Shorten and Labor or stronger economy under our proven economic plan and management.
Only our Government has the plan that will keep our economy strong and secure our nation’s future.
It’s a plan that’s working.
It’s a plan with strong foundations.
It’s a refreshed plan where as a new leader, together with Josh and my team, we are now setting new goals, new aspirations, and new initiatives. Looking ahead to what more can be achieved.
It’s a plan that preserves the best of what we’ve achieved; and looks to build an even brighter future for our great country.
I’m looking forward to the road ahead.