In the aftermath of the federal election, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has addressed the Liberal National Party annual convention in Brisbane today.
The LNP lost two seats in the July election but still holds 21 of Queensland’s 30 seats in the House of Representatives. One of the seats it lost, Herbert, may be subject to challenge in the Court of Disputed Returns.
Turnbull thanked LNP candidates and praised Michelle Landry for winning re-election in Capricornia, the first time in 60 years that the Coalition has won the seat at two consecutive elections.
Turnbull reiterated his intention to secure the passage of the Building and Construction Commission legislation, to “restore law and order” to the construction industry.
He called upon the ALP to support the government’s omnibus bill to cut government spending.
Much of the speech was taken up with itemising infrastructure projects planned or underway in Queensland.
- Listen to Turnbull’s speech (26m)
Transcript of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s speech to the LNP Annual Convention in Brisbane.
It is great to be here and it great to be a grandfather for the third time too – that’s been a great thrill. Thank you all very much for the good wishes that I’ve had from so many of you.
Ladies and gentleman, Gary Spence, President of the LNP, Richard Alston, Federal President of the Liberal Party, Larry Anthony, Federal President of the Nationals. Senator Brandis Attorney-General and Government Senate Leader and all of my federal ministerial and parliamentary colleagues.
Tim Nicholls, Leader of the Queensland State LNP in the Parliament and Leader of the Opposition and his State parliamentary colleagues.
Warren and Lyn Truss and above all you the members of the LNP – members of a great national movement, the last great grassroots political movement in Australia – it is an honour to be in your company today. Congratulations the election victory was yours – we should all celebrate that win and the hard work that you put in to make that happen.
In just three days’ time, the Federal Coalition returns to Canberra, to the Treasury benches – governing Australia. And it is because of you.
In an election where every vote counted, you can be sure that it was your hard work that got us over the line.
The strong performance of the Liberal National Party was vital, essential to our victory.
It was a long, hard campaign. Your passion and your commitment to our cause has returned us to Government.
We have been returned, as Trevor observed with a working majority in the House, the first Federal Government returned with a majority in its own right since 2004.
Queensland returned 21 Members of the House of Representatives and 5 Senators. We received here in Queensland a two party preferred vote of 54 per cent. At a tough election, this was an outstanding performance.
I want to thank you, all of you, all of our candidates in Queensland and everyone from the LNP here in Queensland, including of course your leaders, President Gary Spence and your State Executive, State Director Michael O’Dwyer and campaign director Lincoln Folo.
And to the many thousands of volunteers who worked so tirelessly during the campaign – all of you here today and thousands more with the same commitment, we owe all of that success to you.
I want to congratulate the new members of our team from Queensland – Ted O’Brien in Fairfax, Trevor Evans in Brisbane – who achieved a swing of 1.9 per cent to the LNP on the primary vote, Andrew Wallace in Fisher, John McVeigh in Groom, David Littleproud in Maranoa and Llew O’Brien in Wide Bay.
Andrew, John, David and Trevor have big shoes to fill succeeding former ministers Mal Brough, Ian Macfarlane, Bruce Scott and Teresa Gambaro and Llew of course, in Wide Bay, succeeds former Deputy Prime Minister, Warren Truss.
I salute Warren and Lyn, two remarkable servants of the party a little later. I’ll have more to say about them in the course of this morning.
All of those former members have made a great contribution to our Coalition parties and most importantly, to the country and we thank them for their many years of outstanding service.
Congratulations to Luke Howarth in Petrie who went into the election with the most marginal seat in Australia and achieved a 1.12 per cent swing to him.
And what about Michelle Landry who held Capricornia – the first time in nearly sixty years the Coalition has won it two elections running, and she won it against a massive, unprecedentedly vicious union campaign. Great work Michelle.
And I pay tribute to Wyatt Roy, Ewen Jones and Joanna Lindgren, all great representatives of our party who were, despite strong campaigns, unable to withstand a dishonest and spiteful Labor campaign.
Campaigns are tough and this one was especially so. Our candidates faced a Labor operation pumped up on union muscle.
Labor’s few policies could not withstand the scrutiny of the campaign. They were overwhelmingly uncosted and unfunded. So they switched to lies, smear and dishonesty.
I appreciate what you have been through in standing up for truth and honesty in a campaign that was marred by Labor deceit. And to those candidates who did not win, I know that your loss in these circumstances is especially raw.
We know why Labor and the unions conducted this election campaign with such vitriol. They were not fighting in the nation’s interests – they were fighting to maintain the right to continue the kind of thuggery and illegal activity that was exposed by the Heydon Royal Commission.
Queenslanders especially know how damaging this kind of behaviour is to the economy.
Productivity at key Commonwealth Games sites in Carrara was significantly affected after union officials began two-hour stop work meetings, twice daily. And in some instances tradesmen and women were left with as few as two hours of work a day.
Unlawful industrial action disrupted work at the Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, among many other important construction sites, costing the builder $300,000 a day and delaying and hence denying Queenslanders vital infrastructure.
And in April, it was reported that construction workers downing tools across Brisbane in a CFMEU-organised walk-out cost this state an estimated $6 million.
It is bad for Queensland and the economy.
Yet Labor backs these militant unions every time.
True to our commitment before, during and since the election, we will restore the rule of law to the construction industry with the reintroduction of two very important bills when we return to Parliament.
These bills represent vital economic reforms.
The Australian Building and Construction Commission will put a cop back on the beat in the construction industry, while the Registered Organisation legislation will ensure that unions and employer organisations have to comply with the same standards of governance and accountability as company directors.
This legislation, blocked by the Greens and Labor to protect their union mates, was the reason we went to a double dissolution election.
If the Senate fails to pass them, we have the option of taking them to a joint sitting.
Let me be clear. This is about the future of the Australian economy.
An efficient construction industry, and the infrastructure it provides, is vital for our future prosperity. The added cost of industrial disputes on the cost of construction – as you have seen graphically here in Queensland – is a handbrake on economic growth.
The construction industry employs more than a million Australians who deserve to go to work without bullying and harassment.
And it is an industry responsible for delivering the world-class buildings – schools, hospitals and vital infrastructure that Australians need, at a price we can afford.
Re-establishing the ABCC will restore the industry as a driver of jobs and growth, lifting Australia’s productivity at a time when all the cylinders in our economy’s engine must be firing.
We have serious economic and fiscal challenges ahead of us. The three ratings agencies have warned that walking away from budget repair now will put serious downward pressure on our AAA rating.
We are at a critical juncture.
Our decisions in this term will determine whether we enable our children and grandchildren to enjoy the same standard of living that we do ourselves – or whether we burden them with mounting debt, higher taxes, and fewer and lower quality services.
Central to all our actions must be the question of how we ensure that Australia remains a high-wage, first world economy, with a generous social welfare safety net.
The Australian people I believe expect all parties to work together to answer this question.
Populist politics is not the answer. Nor is hiding under the doona.
We must face up to the world as it is, not as we would like it to be or fondly imagine it once was.
Families know they cannot live beyond their means forever – eventually, the debt collector comes knocking.
The same is true of Governments and of nations. We must balance our books by paying down our debt and ensuring that we don’t spend more than we earn. Only then can our nation afford the standard of living that Australians expect and we look to and expect to deliver for the generations that come after us.
Quality and affordable healthcare and education, good infrastructure, a better environment, parks and playgrounds and liveable cities, the ability to respond to natural emergencies here and overseas, industries that create jobs, securing our nations national security – in short, the Australian way of life that we all cherish – all these things depend upon good economic management and a balanced budget.
Now my Government has a very ambitious agenda for the next three years because we are focussed on the important issues and not distracted by the periphery, we can deliver.
The 45th Parliament will be about honouring our commitments, about delivering. We will pursue an ambitious agenda that is prioritised, well-sequenced and addresses the concerns of Australians. We have a long to-do list, with budget repair right at the top.
We are delivering the most significant reforms to disability care in the nation’s history – and unlike Labor, we will fund it.
We will negotiate with the States on school funding and improve the quality of education at the same time.
We are delivering on our reforms across hospital funding, aged care and mental health, and introducing structural reform to the welfare payments system.
We will make serious changes to the way we approve and build infrastructure and deliver important transport links sooner and more cost effectively.
We will continue the successful roll out of the NBN – remember Labor connected 50,000 homes to the NBN in six years – we connected over 1.2 million in three years and 80,000 last month!
And we will deliver the Defence White Paper and shipbuilding plan, of vital importance to our national security and economic prosperity.
In the May Budget we set out a carefully-considered roadmap for responsible fiscal management that will deliver economic security and when we return to Canberra we will proceed with our budget commitments.
We will pursue our tax reforms to create jobs and growth to ensure greater equity and fairness in the tax system and greater incentive to invest.
And we will introduce an Omnibus Savings Bill with around $6 billion worth of savings measures that Labor told the Australian people during the election that they supported.
If Labor’s word means anything, they will vote for this bill and we will be a step closer to addressing the serious financial challenges that we face.
But Mr Shorten’s comments this week reveal that he is not ready for the challenges of these times.
His so-called compromise in offering up Labor’s policy on abolishing negative gearing and increasing capital gains tax for discussion shows Labor will cling to its ideology ahead of the national interest.
We ask Labor to pass savings measures they say they support – Labor wants the Government to back policies we have always opposed.
And we oppose Labor’s new taxes because they are taxes on investment which will result in less investment and fewer jobs.
Now Mr Shorten says that Labor will oppose the Government’s important flexibility measures on superannuation – particularly the carry-forward provisions on unused concessional contributions which will benefit around 230,000 Australians, especially women who have experienced interrupted work patterns.
That he has revealed Labor’s superannuation policies the week before Parliament resumes, rather than subjecting them to scrutiny during the recent campaign, exposes his tactics as being just that – tactics.
Labor is making it clear it will play political games; it plans on turning the bear pit into a sandpit. It is focussed on the old politics of distraction, division and negativity.
It is not the way forward for this Parliament and Labor risks being left carping on the sidelines as those of us who can work together get on with the job of governing.
Much has been written about the Senate crossbench by commentators who delight in pessimism and gloomy predictions that the Parliament cannot work.
Let’s get down to some facts.
There are 76 Seats in the Senate – the Coalition has 30, the Crossbench 11, Labor and the Greens have 35. A majority is 39.
In the last Parliament there were 8 cross benchers, six of whom had been newly elected at the 2013 half Senate election. Had there been a half Senate election this year, instead of a double dissolution, we could have reasonably expected another six crossbenchers being elected for a total crossbench larger than what we have now.
We have had constructive discussions with all the crossbenchers and we are confident that we can find common ground with them in order to achieve our objectives.
Of course there will be negotiation and compromise.
That is what parliaments are for and it has been ever thus in the Senate.
I urge Bill Shorten, Labor and all the parties to do the same – meet us in the sensible centre. To act otherwise would badly misread the mood of the vast majority of Australians who want us to work together to secure their future.
This term must be about the bread and butter issues that occupy people’s thoughts when they get up in the morning and when they lay down at night – their jobs, their health and education, whether they can pay their bills, their opportunities to get ahead, their security.
This term is a test of our political system. We must bring our creativity and optimism, and our best attitude to collaboration.
By acting together in the national interest we can improve the budget position, stimulate growth and create the industries that will produce the jobs of the future.
It will allow us to implement policies that support Queensland’s economy which is in transition.
Our Enterprise Tax Plan provides immediate tax relief for the more than 140,000 incorporated businesses in Queensland with annual turnover of less than $10 million.
Our $840 million Youth Employment Package will help the growing number of young Queenslanders who cannot find work, with measures that encourage entrepreneurship and self-employment, improve skills and offer work experience.
We will invest $70 million across Queensland as part of our Regional Jobs and Investment Package to create local jobs and growth, help diversify regional economies and build strong communities.
Businesses in Central Queensland will benefit from our $2.25 billion deal with Singapore to expand two of Australia’s most important military training facilities. Singaporean investment in our defence bases in Townsville and Shoalwater Bay will create thousands of jobs in construction over the next few years, and in all the industries that will support an increased presence in the area for many years to come.
We will also spend $24 million upgrading the Cairns Marine Precinct, in addition to our $420 million investment to develop additional wharf space and other support facilities over the years at HMAS Cairns.
And the Cairns Marine Precinct will also provide $400 million of maintenance work on the replacement fleet of up to 21 Pacific Patrol Boats, bringing our investment there to nearly $1 billion.
The Coalition’s $50 billion infrastructure investment program will make significant road and rail investments in Queensland.
Our recent Budget includes up to $6.7 billion for the Bruce Highway, over $1.2 billion for the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing, up to $914 million for the Gateway Upgrade North, and $95 million for Stage 2 of the Gold Coast Light Rail.
In North Queensland, our recent commitments to improve the transport network total more than $290 million.
And we will invest $215 million to provide long awaited upgrades to the M1 Pacific Motorway in South East Queensland.
Strong, vibrant regional communities sit side-by-side with our cities as partners supporting Australian farmers, small businesses and innovators. So we will establish the Regional Investment Corporation to streamline the delivery of billions of dollars of Commonwealth drought and water infrastructure loans.
And the $200 million Jobs and Investment package will deliver more opportunities for regional businesses and families.
We are getting started on building the Inland Rail, which will open the door for regional Australia to the freight corridor between Melbourne and Brisbane.
And we are supporting regional Queensland with the continued rollout of the NBN, which is critical for improving economic activity around the country.
As you know I have a special interest in that project. We inherited a complete mess – the biggest corporate mess in my career. The NBN, we have turned it around – it is one of the very rare cases where a bad project doesn’t get worse, where it actually gets better.
We have built 305 fixed wireless towers in Queensland, regional Queensland and have more than 26,000 premises connected to fixed wireless service
These are all premises, all families who had no broadband at all. Not people in the city who had pretty good broadband and its better. This is transformative and we are delivering it. We are delivering it with a speed and a price that compares so favourable to what Labor proposed. If the Labor party had their way, this project would’ve taken 6 to 8 years longer and $30 billion more and would have been unaffordable so we’ve cleaned up that mess and we are delivering.
Combined with the Mobile Black Spot Program, which has delivered 68 new or upgraded mobile base stations to Queensland, all of this provides better and faster communications services to regional and rural communities.
The vast parts of your state help to make up Northern Australia will benefit from our Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility, offering $5 billion in concessional loans to ensure that Northern Australia fulfils its promise.
Our $1 billion Reef Fund, which forms part of our comprehensive plan to Protect the Great Barrier Reef, will protect this precious area for future generations, tourism and for all of the jobs that flow from it.
We know Queenslanders have experienced electricity price rises of $200 a year or more because of network charges. The COAG Energy Council has agreed to examine the power companies’ appeal process and will consider now whether it should be abolished leaving only legal matters, the same as in the telecommunications sector.
We understand the importance of water infrastructure and dams in this state. Your Liberal National Government will invest $150 million in Queensland, including up to $130 million to build Rookwood Weir. Michelle and I flew over it and inspected it with Barnaby. It will unlock an additional billion dollars in agricultural production, creating over 2,100 jobs.
Gas plays an increasingly important role in ensuring the security of our electricity system and last week at that meeting under the leadership of our Energy Minister, Josh Frydenberg, Federal and State Energy Ministers agreed the most significant reforms to our gas markets in decades. These reforms will increase competition and make the supply of gas more secure and affordable. They will benefit all gas users here.
The way Matt Canavan, Resources Minister, Josh, responsible for environment and energy are working together to secure more affordable energy for Australians that drives growth is a great example of the talent that I am privileged to lead in our parliamentary party and I thank you both for that.
Unlike the State Labor Government here, we are not just talking, we are implementing policies that make a difference to you. We are acting.
The poor performance of the Palaszczuk Government over the past two years is very very regrettable – it comes at a real cost for Queenslanders and for the nation.
But as you know there is good news on the horizon.
I am confident that your Liberal National Party state team, led by Tim Nicholls and Deb Frecklington, will win the next state election and restore good government and strong economic leadership for Queenslanders.
The next state election cannot come soon enough. It can’t come soon enough for Queensland or soon enough for Australia.
In the meantime, your Federal Government will be working hard for Queensland and governing in your and the whole nations interests. As we head back to Canberra on Monday, all of us know our responsibility to deliver, to achieve for you, for your future and that of your children and grandchildren has never been greater.
Thank you so much for your support.