Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, fellow Liberals. It's always good to come and give a vote of thanks to Josh. Only mates can rib each other like he and I do. Can I acknowledge the Ngunnawal people, their elders past and present and especially their future. Can I acknowledge any veterans who are here with us in the room today, any serving men and women in our Defence Forces, reservists who are here in the room and say to you, on behalf of a very grateful nation, thank you for your service. Can I thank you, Mr President, John and to Andrew Hirst and the entire team of our federal division and fellow presidents and Federal Council delegates who are here and have come from all around the country, except for one state, of course, from Victoria, who we think of today. Who cannot join us here physically because they are facing the latest challenge, not a new one, but one we've overcome many times before. And we think of our Victorian friends and all of those across Victoria today who are doing the hard yards of COVID this week and we will be working together to get Victoria open again as soon as possible. And I believe we will achieve that because every time this virus has confronted us, we have been a match and we will continue to be in the struggle that we have ahead that all our Victorian colleagues to all of those across Victoria today, we say thank you for what you are doing today to keep Australia safe from COVID.

Can I also acknowledge Andrew Peacock, the late Andrew Peacock, as Josh has so admirably done and I know there was a presentation earlier today. Andrew was a great Liberal. He was Liberal to his toes and his achievements were many. But I must say, the one that I think endures most in my mind was the amazing relationship and dedication he had to the people of the Pacific and in particular the people of Papua New Guinea. He was a fine ambassador to the United States. He was a fine and great Liberal leader. He loved his races. He loved Australia. But that love that he had for Australians wasn't confined to those only on our shores and the dear love that he had for the peoples of the Pacific, which I share and our government shares, is very much rooted, I think, in Andrew's leadership of many years ago and Penne and all of the family, we extend our best wishes to you on this day as our Federal Council meets together.

Can I acknowledge my fellow leaders of the parliamentary party from the states and territories, but particularly, can I say thank you to Gladys Berejiklian, to Steven Marshall and Peter Gutwein, who have joined me around the National Cabinet table over these past 18 months. And they themselves have showed truly inspirational leadership. I thank them for their friendship. I thank them for their stewardship, for their calmness and sense of presence and ensuring that together we had been able to come through. And I commend them on the great works that they've had and the results they've had in their states. My home state of New South Wales with Gladys. And of course, Steven. If Steven was an animal , he'd be a quokka. The happiest animal in the world. There is no one cheerier that I have met in my entire political life than Steven Marshall. If you are having a bad day, ring Steven Marshall and you're going to feel great at the end of it. That's why South Australians trust Steven Marshall so much. And they trust Gladys because she's decent and she's hard-working. No one works harder in the Federation than Gladys, I don't think and people in New South Wales understand that and they value it and they respect it. And that's why they continue to trust the New South Wales Government. And in Tasmania, congratulations to our Tasmanian friends and to Peter Gutwein, who's not here with us today. It's not true that he's getting a tattoo on his other arm. It could be true. Who knows? But I don't think it is. He did an amazing job leading a state, taking over from Will Hodgman, a great hero of the Liberal Party in Tasmania. And that was a big act to follow. And Peter has stepped up in a massive way throughout the course of the pandemic. And we commend you, Peter. One thing I'd urge you all to do if you ever find yourself in a pub in Launceston with Peter Gutwein, don't challenge him to a game of pool. He's very, very good, being a former publican in northern Tasmania. But congratulations and to all of the state leaders who are with us today. Thank you for the great work you're doing and particularly to you, Elizabeth. What a debut here yesterday. What a fantastic testimony you are to our great Liberal Party.

To my colleagues who are here with me today, of course Josh, I'll come back to you in a second. But to Simon and to Michaelia who form our leadership team here and to all of my colleagues who are joining us here today, can I thank you for your great support, for your unity, for your dedication, for staying focused on the job ahead of you, for making that boat go faster, as we've all pledged to do for the Australian people. But can I be indulged in singling out one? And that is Greg Hunt, the Health and Aged Care Minister. Throughout this pandemic, there have been many heavy burdens carried by all of my colleagues who have done an extraordinary job. None less so than of course the Treasurer and Simon and prior to that, Mathias Cormann as Finance Minister. But Greg, you have been steadfast each and every day and focused always on the job ahead. And as a result, Australians are safer today than they otherwise would have been, were it not for your skill and your leadership.

Can I acknowledge, in acknowledging Josh, can I acknowledge Heather Henderson, it's wonderful to see you here. Heather, you’re a true inspiration to all of us, you’re a dear friend of our family. And Jenny and the girls send their best to you. Heather told me a story when I was round at her place with my mum and my mother-in-law over Christmas, when we were here in Canberra and it goes to the relationship that Josh and I share. And we're chatting about how Treasurers and Prime Ministers have got on over the years. And I said to Heather "you know what Heather, I think that Josh and I probably have the best relationship between a Prime Minister and a Treasurer since the great Sir Robert Menzies and Harold Holt." And she said "no, no, no - it's much better than that." Now, I heard that was a pretty good relationship and it did great things for Australia. But I am very grateful to Josh for his steadfast loyalty as my Deputy Leader in the party, working with all colleagues. And he has been key to, not just the economic leadership, which you are all very well aware of in particularly through the height of the pandemic and now as we still are in it, but in achieving the unity of our federal parliamentary party, the unity of our Coalition. And I acknowledge Michael McCormack, the Deputy Prime Minister, and the great unity that he's also assisted me in bringing to our government. Unity, friends, unity is how you gain the trust and keep the trust of the Australian people in government. And that, that is, above all, the task of leadership to bring together your team, to focus them on the task ahead and ensure they're doing the right things for Australia.

You know, when Sir Robert pulled together the Liberal Party some 77 years ago, down here and then off to Albury, as Sussan was reminding us last night, he pulled together 18 disparate political parties from across the country. They all knew what they were against, but they weren't quite sure what they were for. And Sir Robert's great genius in forming the Liberal Party, is he built a party based on what it was for, not what it was against. He was aware of the unity that came from what they were opposed to, but he said he was going to build a party on what they were for. And so he came to those conferences not armed with a to-do list of things, of tasks. He came armed with a set of principles and values upon which he formed our great party. And those principles were based on his understanding of what human dignity is all about. We were for human dignity, the dignity of every single Australian. He said to Australians, you matter. Every single Australian makes us great. And so the advancement and support of every single Australian to be the best they can possibly be is the purpose of our great Liberal Party.

The dignity of the individual is the foundation stone of family, of community, and indeed of nationhood. I'm a keen fan of Teddy Roosevelt and he said this, "in the long run, success or failure will be conditioned upon the way in which the average man, the average woman does his or her duty. First in the everyday, ordinary, everyday affairs of life. And next, in those great occasional crises," of which we know something about in these times which call for the heroic virtues. He, like Sir Robert understood that the strength of a nation is built upon every single citizen. And so there must be our focus. On the dignity of opportunity, for self-advancement, to have a job, to own a home, to raise your family, to run your business, to seek to be self-sufficient, especially as you work hard over the course of your life for an enjoyable and peaceful retirement. There is nothing I can tell you that as Prime Minister, or in any role I've had that has given me greater joy than to see young people get into jobs. That is a marvellous thing to play a part in. And when I see small business owners around the country, they tell me about how their business is going. They tell me about the new equipment made possible by the instant asset write off, or where they're finding new markets or new products or their enthusiasm for customer service. But I tell you, you want to see a small businessperson really light up? Ask them how many apprentices they put on, ask them how many young people they've been able to employ. Ask them how many 21st birthdays they've gone to and been invited to, or weddings or baptisms or the other great events of life and family that they are a part of, because they have been the agent of empowerment in that young person's life.

Youth unemployment today is at the lowest level in 12 years. 12 years. I'll tell you another thing, and Michael Sukkar knows about this, I'll tell you another thing. New home loans for first home owners are at their highest level in 12 years. This has been made possible by their great efforts, by their inspiration, by their sacrifices, but indeed enabled by a set of policies that are seeing this occur. And the self-sufficiency of those in retirement equally as they've saved. And over the course of this pandemic, we sought to provide relief there also. We put in place the 50 per cent temporary reduction in superannuation minimum drawdown requirements. Well, today I'm announcing that we're extending those further. They've been in place for two years. And so out to the 30th of June next year, we will be extending the temporary 50 per cent reduction in superannuation minimum drawdown requirements for a further year to the middle of 2022. Now, this will afford greater flexibility and enable greater self-sufficiency. And this is one of the great purposes and virtues of our party.

So, the dignity of opportunity, the fair go for those who have a go, but also the dignity Sir Robert went to that is afforded to individuals, Australians and families by accessing the essential services upon which they rely. And he specifically referred to accessible access to health care. That has been on display and it has been particularly on display in this budget, combined some $20 billion alone. Aged care and mental health. Two of the great challenges, services challenges of our time. $13.2 billion additional for the care of the disabled. This is a budget that has been put together with a keen intellect. But I can tell you it's a budget that has been brought down by this Treasurer with a real beating heart. And that's what Sir Robert intended for our party. To have a clear head, but to have a beating heart as a party, as we ensured the affordable access to services to afford dignity to every Australian.

The dignity of living in a self-respecting nation that protects its citizens and stands up for itself in the face of aggression and coercion and interference, and to stand proud and tall and to ensure we have the self-sufficiency to achieve that. Our government has invested and is investing some $270 billion to restore the strength of our defence forces. As Peter Dutton reminds us constantly in the Parliament that when we came the government had had $18 billion stripped out of our Defence Forces, undermining their capacity, the lowest level of defence spending since the Second World War. And over these many years, we have fought hard to restore that. True to the principles of Sir Robert.

And then there is the dignity friends, of which every soul in the world aspires to. And that is the dignity of freedom, the freedom of faith, the freedom of speech, the freedom of association and an understanding that those freedoms come on the basis of a platform of understanding the responsibility that goes with that. It's on a foundation of responsibility, of each and every citizen that our liberties are afforded to us. Too often these days as I remarked to the United Israel Appeal recently, we used to think of these liberties as protections from the state. Too often these days, their considered and conceived in entitlement of the state. When we understand that what we are responsible for as citizens is more important for our nation than what we think we're entitled to, then our country will be even stronger than it is today. And I think that is a foundational principle of our party. What we're responsible for is more important than what we think we are entitled to.

So, friends, these great principles are what Sir Robert founded the party upon. The dignity of the individual, the dignity of opportunity, the dignity of access to services Australians rely on, the dignity of living in a nation that is self-respecting and above all, the dignity of freedom for each and every Australian. Two years ago, when we met here, none of us could have conceived the events that would have unfolded over that period of time. But the thing about being in a political party that was founded on principles such as that, is whatever the circumstances are, you will find those principles and those values to give you a guiding light through the challenges that we face. And I had no doubt Gladys's programs have been amplified and lit up by those very principles we're speaking about, same with Steven and Peter. It certainly has lit up the way ahead for us as a government, as we've sought to combat these many challenges. And though they have come and they're not restricted to the pandemic. Droughts, floods, fires, and indeed the mice plague in New South Wales. A ferocious and soul destroying act that has, I think, just sought to rob farmers of their hope and regional communities, and again, I commend the New South Wales Government's response to that.

There have been so many challenges, friends, but overarching and particularly in relation to the pandemic, we've stood tall and we faced them like few countries have and had a success like few countries have had. And we're living, in a way, in this country today that very few countries can claim to. Some 30,000 lives and more have been saved by our collective actions. There are more people in work today than there were before the pandemic began. This has not happened by accident. This has happened because of a series of actions and in the Federal Government's case, more than $310 billion of investment to protect Australia and sustain Australia at one of its most difficult hours. And those actions have been careful and they've been principled. They've been well-considered. They've been collaborative and cooperative with the states and territories through the National Cabinet. They have been decisive and timely. And they have been responsive as each and every day the virus seeks to rewrite the rules and how it seeks to impact on our nation and so many others. But we are staying there and we are staying resolute and we are saving lives and we are saving livelihoods. And we must continue in that way. We must continue to do what has worked. We must continue to follow the same disciplines that we have that have taken us to this point because there is still a long way to go. And so in this year's budget, it was aptly framed around the message of securing Australia's recovery because that's exactly what it is. We understand that what we've achieved in this past year and 18 months, has not been by accident. But we also know that it can be lost, that if you take an alternative path, if you decide to put up taxes or seek to undermine the initiative in the enterprise of people right across this country, you can lose your way. You can go a different way. And so it's important that we understand that what has been achieved can easily be lost by the wrong decisions and the wrong approach. And so we must stay that course.

I said when I became Prime Minister, there were three things that we would seek to do. To be stronger, safer, together. And that's what this budget does. Firstly, stronger. To strengthen our economy so we can guarantee the essential services Australians rely on. Lower taxes, more jobs, encouraging investment, building the infrastructure that is so necessary for Australia to be successful. Providing the traineeships and apprenticeships, some 170,000 in this budget alone. Leading our way through the digital transformation to make sure Australia is one of the most advanced digital economies in the world. Cutting the red tape, delivering reliable and affordable energy and lower emissions. 19 per cent fall in our emissions since 2005. Other like-countries like Canada, zero per cent fall since 2005. 19 per cent fall. So we are achieving both ends. Affordable, reliable energy through our policies, but also lower emissions at the same time to meet our targets and get electricity prices down, which is the pointy end of that policy to ensure that it's there not just for households and families and businesses, but those heavy industries in particular that rely on this. And Josh has mentioned them. Whether they're in Gladstone, whether they’re in Bell Bay, in Portland or the Hunter or Tomago or any of these places, or Whyalla, or in the Illawarra. All of those regional places around the country, in Western Sydney and in Pakenham, that depend on reliable, affordable energy. Yes, it is our goal to get to net zero as soon as possible. Of course it is. There is a new energy economy coming and we need to be ready for it and we need to be part of it. And we need to make sure that Australia will succeed in it. But that will not come at the cost of our heavy industries and our manufacturing industries across our regions and suburbs in this country under our government. It will not come through taxes. It will come through technology and innovation and the entrepreneurship of great Australians, including Twiggy Forrest, who is leading the charge on hydrogen around the country. That's how we will achieve those goals, and we'll do it by securing those industries, our agricultural sector, our resource sectors, our modern manufacturing initiative. That is what is in the economic plan that is set out in our budget to secure Australia's recovery.

We're safer by protecting Australians and standing up for Australia, whether that is keeping them safe from COVID and their health security, or keeping them safe from organised criminals, who don't take the pandemic off, I've got to tell you. They're not having a holiday. They're working harder than ever before. And the work that's being done by our federal police, now led in the Home Affairs portfolio by Karen Andrews and by Peter so admirably for so many years before that. They haven't missed a day. And nor have our police authorities and law enforcement authorities funded and resourced to a level they have never known before, because we understand that you have to fight on many fronts and we continue to work each and every day to keep Australians safe, whether it's from the organised criminals or the terrible, insidious individuals who would seek to take advantage of our children online or in any other place, we keep that fight up as well. We're enhancing our self-sufficiency through our defence industry. And Melissa Price is doing a wonderful job there, building that capability so we can be self-sufficient. So when I stand with our allies and partners, sure, we can look to those who are like-minded with us and our partners, but we don't leave it to them. And it is with a sense of great pride that I can sit with the President of the United States, or the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, or the President of France, who I will in the weeks ahead, and be able say Australia will carry its load. We'll carry our water and we'll carry it with you, because it is important that we continue to nurture the like-minded relationships, both to have a free and open Indo-Pacific, but a world that favours freedom. And we will continue to work with our allies and partners to achieve that.

And finally, together. Together. It was John Howard who said that we must govern for all of us, for every single Australian. We are not the party of conflict. We are not the party of Twitter. And we are not the party of identity politics. That is for others. But that is not us, friends. It is not our purpose to set Australians against one another. It is our purpose and my purpose as Prime Minister, particularly in times such as this, to bring Australians together to fight the many things that we face as Australians. And so as some might seek to fight us, I'll just keep fighting for Australia. And that conflict, that conflict comes in many ways that people seek to divide Australians and we stand against it. And Sir Robert understood it well. Economically, he said it's better to seek the fountainhead, then divide up the little streams. What he meant by that, is that you don't have to hold some Australians back to let other Australians go ahead. This is not a competition. We want to float every boat. We want to do that for all Australians. And we don't engage in the class-envy politics that others do, because we know we can enable all. Whether it's the essential services that support a young mum, who I met down in Launceston in Ravenswood just last week, this time last week, with Bridget and Wendy, in a program called Brave, which is changing the lives of young women who come from tough circumstances and they're turning their lives around. Those services aren’t about just providing some comfort, but they are about empowering and enabling. Or indeed, the lower taxes that keeps more of what you earn in your pocket so you can make decisions about your own lives and where you're going and the self-sufficiency it provides.

We understand you don't have to hold people back to enable others to be lifted up, and that's a core value for us. But the other one is this. We do believe in the unique identity of every single individual. And I want to quote you something that I said at the United Israel Appeal event just a few weeks ago. We must never surrender the truth, that the experience and value of every human being is unique and personal. You are more, we are more, individually, more than the things that others try and identify us by. In this age of identity politics, you are more than your gender. You are more than your race. You are more than your sexuality. You are more than your ethnicity. You are more than your religion, your language and your age. All of these, of course, contribute to the complex web that makes us who we are. But we are more than these individual paths that make us unique human beings with a sovereign dignity that is provided to us. When we reduce ourselves to a collection of attributes or divide ourselves even worse, on that basis, we can lose sight of who we actually are as individual human beings in all our complexity, in all our wholeness and in all our wonder. This is why I will have no part of some sort of narrative that seeks to identify individual Australians on those things. We are all unique. We all have a unique contribution to make. And when Sir Robert founded our great party, he understood that. He understood that our nation would be made great by every single Australian.

And so here we gather around these values once again, governments at a state level, governments at a federal level governing according to these principles. And it was Sir Robert, indeed, who implored us before his first election as Liberal Party leader. Let us fight for these things until the bell rings. It ain’t rung yet and we're going to keep fighting. Thank you all very much.