This is the transcript of the speech by the Prime Minister, John Howard, delivered at the Queensland Coalition Campaign Launch, at the Sheraton Hotel, Brisbane.
Transcript of speech by Prime Minister John Howard.
John and Julia Anderson, Lawrence and Linda Springborg, Bob and Madonna Quinn, my fellow Australians. It is with a real sense of commitment and a real sense of expectation that John and I have come to be part of this very important campaign launch for the Coalition here in Queensland.
State elections, indeed federal elections, are about a number of things. But most importantly of all, elections are about both sides of politics being held accountable for what they have done and what they have not done over the preceding three years. We had a less than happy result three years ago in Queensland and in the time that has gone by since then, the two Coalition parties have laid the essential groundwork of creating themselves as a viable, acceptable, attractive alternative to the current Government. They have set about building an effective, workable Coalition.
The historic agreement about no three-cornered contests represents a high water mark of Coalition cooperation between the two parties here in Queensland. They know that unity is appealing, they know that unity is essential, they know that enduring unity is the basis for good government. And I want to congratulate both Lawrence and Bob, who have worked together in very close and professional harmony. They have presented to the people of Queensland and they have presented through their party organisations to the people of Queensland, a determination to put difficulties of the past behind them. And that is a very important element because they have used that three year period, and when we look and we bring them to account for what they have done over the last three years, they are able to point to three very productive years in building the basis of an alternative government.
And when we look to the other side, I think what I can say, and I have thought about this quite a bit, but in a way the current Premier of Queensland Peter Beattie typifies that ‘heads I win, tails you lose’ approach to politics. Whenever anything is good, Peter is responsible. Whenever anything is bad, it’s somebody else – it can’t possibly be him. Let me give you two examples. Nobody can argue that the general state of the Queensland economy is good. Of course it’s good. But you know why it’s good? It’s good because of the economic management of the Federal Government over the last seven and a half years, and no thanks to Labor federally or here in Queensland for the success of that economic management. At every step of the way, federal and state Labor have tried to stop us implementing the economic reforms that have made Australia strong. The Queensland Labor Party attacked and opposed taxation reform. They joined their federal colleagues in opposing taxation reform.
But my friends, there is no state in Australia that has benefited more as a state from the introduction of taxation reform than has the state of Queensland. This year alone, Queensland will be the recipient of a windfall of an additional $343 million as a result of the GST. In a five year period, ending in 2007, the Treasury of Queensland, courtesy of the GST that Peter Beattie opposed but rushed ahead of every other Premier to sign the inter-governmental agreement to make sure he got it, the Treasury of Queensland will be $1.8 billion over that five year period better off as a result of the introduction of taxation reform.
We have in Australia at the present time what I can only describe as a golden economic double. For the first time since 1968, an important year in the life of one very important person in this audience, we have inflation below three per cent and we have unemployment below six per cent. It’s the first time in 35 years that we have that. And that has been achieved thanks to the enormous contribution of Australian business and Australian workers who have played a massive part in the expansion and the development of the Australian economy. But importantly for the state of Queensland and importantly for this election campaign, it has been achieved despite the worst efforts of Labor, federally and state, to block the tax reform, the industrial relations reform, the elimination of budget deficits, and all the other reforms that have been necessary to build a better economy in this country.
As Bob pointed out it is the role of State governments to add value to national economic growth and productivity and here in Queensland that hasn’t happened. You never had budget deficits under former Coalition governments here in Queensland but now you’ve had, as Bob said, two in a row. So I would say to the Premier of this State who operates on the principle of heads I win tails you lose, the reality is that the economic strength of this State is due to the policies of the Federal government. And so far as the treatment of Queensland by this government, this national government, this Federal government is concerned no State has been more enriched from the GST than the State of Queensland.
When he complains that he can’t do more for hospitals because of the Federal government ask where that $1.8 billion over five years is going. When he complains about waiting lists ask him about Queensland’s share over and above the GST revenue of the 17% real increase that the public hospital system of this country will enjoy from the Federal government over the next five years.
The reality is you can’t have it both ways. You can’t claim the credit for the good things for which you are not responsible and then blame others for the bad things for which you are responsible.
This is a tough election for the Coalition we know that but I feel that the heart of the Coalition here in Queensland in this State election is good and sound. We are working together. We know how hard it is but deep inside themselves I believe that the people of Queensland don’t regard the present situation as good for democracy or good for good government in this State. They do want the balance restored, they are finding the youthful leadership of Lawrence Springborg, the professional cooperation between Bob and Lawrence both of whom have had experience at a ministerial level in government, they are finding that increasingly appealing.
There is still two weeks to go there is much work to be done, there is gathering enthusiasm for the Coalition cause and ladies and gentlemen that spirit I ask you to welcome Lawrence Springborg the Leader of the Coalition here in Queensland.