Thank you, thank you. Well what a beautiful day here in Brisbane, thank you for that wonderful welcome and thank you for coming out here today with Jenny and I and Abbey and Lily. It’s tremendously exciting to be here, at the start of this tremendously important campaign. I’m joined by my colleagues here and Josh, thanks for the warm up mate. Particularly that Budget, how good was Josh’s Budget?
I want to tell you why we are here today. I want to share a story with you. I want to talk about some important things for our country’s future today. As we set out on the next five weeks and the big decision Australians will make five weeks from now, our economy is stronger. As Josh said in the Budget, unemployment is lower, the Budget is back in black.
Absolutely. There are more people working today of working age than at any time in our history. We have the lowest level of welfare dependency of working age population that our country has seen in generations. This is all important stuff, but let me tell you why it’s important.
A stronger economy is important because people matter. People matter, the economy matters. This is why we are so passionate as a political movement, the Liberals and the Nationals, because we know that for our people to be strong, for our people to have the services they rely on, for our people to have the choices in life to fulfil their great purpose and destiny in life, that they choose - that is not chosen for them - then they need the environment of a strong economy to achieve that.
And if you can’t manage money, you can’t run the country. That’s the lesson of Australia’s political history of this country. It’s the lesson I think, as we have looked at economic policy and policy of all sorts down over the generations.
I want to talk about some very special people today. I grew up in the suburbs of Sydney and my parents John and Marion taught my brother Alan and I something very important. That is; life is not about what you accumulate, life to about what you contribute. I think that is what we believe is the difference. Over the course of their life my parents just didn’t say that to me and Alan as we were growing up. They demonstrated it in the life they live. For forty five years - forty five years - my parents Marion and John, ran the Boys and Girls Brigade at our local church. Every Thursday and Friday night, of every school week for forty five years, my parents were there leading those young lives. They invested themselves in the youth of their community. And as generations past and as each generation came over those forty five years, there are a lot of camps, there are a lot of late nights, there were a lot of fundraisers, there are a lot of calls in the middle of the night from parents, who knew Dad or Mum would be able to go out and help in whatever situation, Dad was a police officer. That’s how they invested their lives over forty five years and what we are doing here today as a Government in my view, is that I am honouring their mission for young people.
Of all the things we have achieved as a Government over the last five and a half years, the one we are most proud of and certainly I am most proud of, is that last year more than 100,000 young Australians got a job.
Jobs change lives. Jobs change communities. Jobs change nations. Inside every single Australian, every single young Australian is a great champion and our country is always stronger when we understand the unique value and contribution that every single Australian has in them. It’s our job to bring it out and that is what our policies are doing. 100,000 young people getting a job. That is 100,000 young people who now are more likely to live a life in employment, than life a life dependant on welfare where their choices are limited. When you’ve got a job you’ve got choices. When you’ve got a job you can look forward and plan for the future. When you’ve got a job you can save and build a family, like Amanda over here and her lovely family. You can do that when you’ve got a job and so, when it comes to creating jobs, there are many things we need to achieve.
We need to ensure when Australians get into work and when they go to find work they have the skills to get them there. Today we are announcing that we are upping the plan Josh announced in the budget. We are spending $530 million and we are spending $50 million specifically on opening ten new jobs hubs in some of the hardest areas of unemployment around the country.
Since we came into Government youth employment has fallen from 12.7 per cent to 11.1 per cent.
When Labor were in power they increased youth unemployment from 10 per cent to 12.7 per cent.
When Labor was in power 800 young people lost a job on average every month.
Since we have been in Government well over 2,000 young people have been getting a job every single month. Now the reason that’s happening is because of the strong economy. The reason that is happening is because we’re investing and enlivening small and family businesses in this country. The reason this is happening is we are investing in the infrastructure that is needed to bust congestion in our cities, to connect our markets to our farmers and our rural and regional areas to allow them to grow and prosper as well.
See, we have had a plan for growing a stronger economy over the last five and a half years. We have been delivering on that plan and that strong economy is bringing with it jobs. More jobs and more jobs for young people. But to ensure that stays the truth in the future, what we have to do is we’ve got to continue to invest in our young people. That’s why as a Government we’ve invested and increased our investment in public schools in this country, by over 60 per cent, 62 per cent in fact. That is why the average per student funding over the decade will increase by 62 per cent. That’s why we have been investing in the skills development of our young people and in that particular programme which we announced in the Budget where we’ve got ten new hubs in difficult places where we’ve high levels of youth unemployment, like in Grafton and Maryborough and places like this or in Gosford on the central coast in NSW and elsewhere, or in Shepparton down in Victoria. This is going to be a place where people can connect up with one of the other success stories of the Government which has been with Youth Jobs PaTH.
You know 43,000 young people have got a job through the youth PaTH programme, by getting in touch with that programme, by being brought through? 70 per cent of those who went through the internship part of the youth PaTH programme found a job within three months. A real full time job, a real job, a real job.
That’s what a strong economy does. Because people matter, a strong economy matters. And because people matter, we want people in jobs and we want young people in jobs. Because I know as the former Social Services Minister, that if a young person isn’t in a job by their early twenties, their risk of living a life on welfare skyrockets. So it’s important we give young people those opportunities to get into jobs.
So you want to ask me what this election is about? It’s about jobs, because people matter. It’s about jobs, because people matter. The other thing as a parent - and there are many parents here today and when we’re talking about young people, we are not just talking to young people, we are talking about the parents of young people here. The aunties and uncles of young people, we’re talking the grandparents of young people, all of us want a better future for young people in this country. And we want them to be able to be resilient, because it is tough today.
We know it is hard for young people today. There are so many more pressures for them to confront these days than was the case previously. So many other different influences, so many other threats and we know we need to invest in our young people to ensure that they can be resilient and face these challenges.
One of the things we did most recently is that we committed $70 million to support young people with eating disorders in this country. $70 million to provide the services and the facilities in particular. But on top of that to make sure eating disorders we recognised as a treatable condition under Medicare, to ensure the GPs and others were able to use the Medicare system to support people with eating disorders in this country. We are recognising it and acknowledging it and in the Budget we said we were going to take on one of the biggest challenges that I think our country faces. That is combating the challenge of youth suicide in this country and youth mental health.
Yesterday, I was with Jenny and we were at a Headspace in Ashfield with Dr Fiona Martin our candidate for Reid. We met with young people there who have been working in the headspace network and we announced our package to confront and combat youth suicide is now $503.1 million. That includes expanding our Headspace centres by 30 across the country, 20 at least of those will be in rural and regional areas across Australia. We will be reaching out to young people to ensure that they know this very important fact; that they are not alone. That Australia loves and cares for its young people combating the difficulties and challenges and anxieties of growing up and the questions and uncertainties and the pressures. We are providing the facilities and services to ensure that our young people can have hope in a beautiful and long life and hope for their future.
Youth suicide … more than 400 young people are taking their own lives each year, 428 in the most recent years of statistics. It's a curse on our country. But it's a curse that we can break. It's a curse we must beat.
The reason we can go and invest over half a billion dollars in combatting youth suicide in this country, is because we are committed to having a strong economy. See that is the key. Unless you have a strong economy, unless you can manage money, then you can say all sorts of things but you can't deliver on the ground. So whether it’s a case of challenging the difficulties of youth suicide and youth mental help around the country or indeed whether its eating disorders. Or indeed whether it's the further challenges they face with online bullying and bullying in schools - and we have established the first e-Safety Commissioner, we have put in place $100 million worth of investment and Peter Dutton knows all about it. He has been a champion against those who seek to be sexual predators on children, Peter has done an extraordinary job in leading the charge in our fight against those who would steal the innocence of our children.
So you know if you care about families, if you care about young people, if they are at the centre of what you’re about, well, you protect them. You throw your arms around them. So whether it's their mental health in issue, or building their resilience from the youngest of ages, protecting them from those who seek to bully and intimidate them and in the worst, the worst of all cases, steal their innocence from them in a violently aggressive way, this is what we are doing as a government to support our young people as they face the challenges of the future. But our young people, you know, they deserve this.
They deserve, of course, not to have the legacy of debt. They deserve not to have our generation spend their future on our standard of living, but intend to do the exact opposite and to set them up for success. To not burden them with higher taxes and not burden them with opportunities being denied them because of an economy which is weighed down.
They deserve to have hope for their future. They deserve to have hope and they deserve to be assured that we’re focusing on the issues that concern them, particularly about their future. I will come more to the economy again in a sec.
But of course we to have to take action on climate change and we are taking action on climate change. I can tell you that it wasn't just a budget deficit that we encountered when we came to government in 2013. We came into government and faced a climate deficit when we came to government. Josh knows all about this, he served as an Environment Minister. When we came to government to meet our Kyoto 2020 targets, we were more than 700 million tons behind the game, when it came to meeting our Kyoto targets. In the space of that last five and a half years, we've turned that around and we will now beat those Kyoto 2020 targets by 369 million tons.
That is a 1.1 billion ton turnaround on meeting our climate commitments and in this Budget Josh, there is $100 million to further strengthen our environment when it comes to local environmental works. Trevor Evans knows all about the great works on the ground with our community environment programme.
So don't let it be said that the Liberal and National Parties aren't investing in the future of our environment. We are. See we don't just talk about it, we get it done. The other thing we know is, we know that to take action on climate change doesn't mean you've got to take the economy out, either at the same time. You don't have to do that.
We need to tell Australians, you don't have to choose between your economy and your environment. You don't have to choose between your job and the environment. You don’t have to choose between your car and the environment.
You can have all of these things and we can't allow Australians to be lulled into that lie, which says you can't. Because you can. Because we are, because that is exactly what we are doing.
That strong economy is the reason why we are investing $3.5 billion, $3.5 billion to ensure we are protecting the future of our environment. Even beyond that when it comes to investing in key areas like the Great Barrier Reef, which is a livelihood as well as a great natural asset for our nation. And we will continue to do that, whether it's on the environment or other areas - in the health care of our young people and the education our young people.
But the other thing I think we want for Australians who are young, for their future, is we want them to be full of aspiration. We are the Party of aspiration. We are the parties with aspiration, I should say, the Liberals and Nationals, we are the parties of aspiration. We understand the reason our economy is strong is because of the hard work and effort of every single Australian. It's why the Budget is back in the black because Australians have worked hard.
You know, you’ve got to set the right conditions for that. One of the keys to that is to ensure that – as we think - Australians should keep more of what they earn.
We think that as Australians, the harder you work the better you do, then you should be able to get on with it. You should be able to get on with it. This is, I think, one of great big fault lines of this election.
As Liberals and Nationals, we believe you don't have to hold anyone down, to lift anyone up. We believe all Australians can be lifted up and the harder all Australians work, then the better they will do. And they won’t be held back under the policies of a Liberal Nationals Government.
This is why we have a plan to reduce taxes on Australians, to reduce taxes on small and family businesses. Particularly if you're a young person - I remember when I came out of University and I entered the decade of Labor's recession. I remember a million people being out of work. One in two people, in fact more than that, will vote at this election never having experienced a recession during their working life.
But I remember the last one. I remember the million people out of work. People in this room know about 18 per cent interest rates and “the recession we had to have” under Labor. God forbid we would ever have another recession. There are some who say, you know; “What people need is a good recession to teach them a few things.” I don't agree. I don't want my children to ever have to live through a recession. But I can tell you, if you stick to the policies of the Liberal and Nationals, then that is the best defense against a recession that you could ever think of.
And the reason for that is because we are continually unleashing the unbridled passion and spirit and hard work and enterprise of the Australian people.
Now Labor wants to put a $387 billion tax bomb on the Australian economy. This will hold Australians back, it will hold these young people back. It will hold their future back. It will weigh them down.
How on Earth anyone can think putting that much debt on an economy as we go into the uncertain times that Josh and Matthias have spoken about so often, how we think that is going to make our economy more resilient? By increasing the taxes on housing? By increasing taxes on retirees who have worked hard all their lives? By increasing the taxes on your investment, on what you invest in your superannuation and the contributions that you make? Increasing the taxes on pretty much everything that moves, when it comes to reckless abatement targets that the Labor Party have put in place. That will cost Australians their wages, some $9,000 a year. Putting on the price of everything, from the car you'd like to buy - which you probably won't be allowed to under Bill Shorten - or from what you put in your kids lunch box and all the rest of it. I mean, their policies are designed to raise prices.
So if you are concerned about cost of living, the answer is not higher taxes.
If you are concerned about cost of living, which I am, then the answer is not in reckless abatement targets just to raise the cost of living.
And it you are concerned about cost of living, what you’re interested in is an economy that is strong.
Now we have the runs on the boards when it comes to that. But more importantly, have the plans to keep it going in that direction. It's the plan for the future of our economy that Australians can rely on.
Today we have announced that of the 1.25 million jobs that we will create over the next five years, one in five of those jobs will be for young Australians. 250,000 jobs for young Australians.
That's what a strong economy does. That's what a strong economy does, 250,000 jobs for young Australians because people matter. That's why a strong economy matters and that's why having the policies that create that stronger economy, that's why that matters.
So as we go forward now, over the next five weeks, there is a big decision that the Australian people will be weighing up. There will be a choice between a Government, a Liberal and Nationals Government that has delivered a strong economy and has a plan to continue to deliver a strong economy, or a Labor government that will deliver a weak economy. Saddled down by policies that will slow the growth of our economy.
There is a choice between a Liberal and Nationals Government that stands for lower taxes, that will reduce the tax burden on the entire economy or a Labor government, a Bill Shorten government, that will result in $387 billion of higher taxes that will weigh down the Australian economy.
There is the choice between the Liberal and Nationals Government that I lead, that has proven we know how to manage money and has got the Budget back in the black. It has taken us some 10 years and more to get back to where we were when the Howard Costello government left office. 10 or 12 years now, to be back where we are in a position where Josh could hand down a Budget surplus the first time since then. So it’s choice between a Liberal and Nationals Government which has demonstrated, proven, has the runs on the board for how to manage money and a Bill Shorten Labor government who all Australians know, Labor doesn't know how to manage money.
And if you can't manage money, you can't run the country.
If you can't manage money, you can't run health system.
If you can't manage money, you can't run an education system.
If you can't manage money, you can't create jobs for young people.
If you can't manage money, you can't combat youth suicide. You can't go out there and change the lives for Australians living with disabilities. You can't go out there and stand with parents while they are working to try and change the life of their kids who are struggling with eating disorder. You can't go out there and actually make the environment the beautiful thing we want it to be for everybody in this country.
If you can't manage money, then you can't run the country.
So friends, that's the choice. It's an important choice and as we launched into this election I made a very simple point; the decisions Australians will make in five weeks, it won't just determine the next three years, it will determine the next decade that Australians live in. It will determine the economy Australians live in for the next decade.
Let's not let happen what happened last time when Labor came in 2007. They lost control the Budget. They lost control of the borders. The lost control of the economy. It has taken us more than a decade to get back.
If you vote Labor once, you'll pay for it for more than a decade.
That's the lesson of Australian political and government history and that is why friends, we have a big fight ahead of us, a very big fight ahead of us. But I can tell you my team all around the country, we are up for this. We are so up to this, because we know what is at stake. Yes, it's the future for all Australians. But the Australians I'm thinking of most, I've got to tell you, are these Australians, young Australians, young Australians. And for these young Australians, I'm making this pledge; that we will build our economy to secure your future, because people matter.
Thank you very much.