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  • Written by Malcolm Turnbull


Thank you very much President Ruddock, State Director Chris Stone, all of my Cabinet and parliamentary colleagues, including former PM Tony Abbott who will be with us shortly. Of course the Premier Gladys Berejiklian will be joining us in a moment and she’s joined by so many  - oh there she is! Gladys good on you! And of course she’s joined by all of her state Cabinet and parliamentary colleagues.

 

Gladys and I were at Point Clare yesterday with Lucy Wicks and our ministerial colleagues and we were meeting some of the families who are at the heart of our pledge to fully fund and guarantee the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

 

NSW is the first state to sign up to the full roll-out of the NDIS, giving everyone who relies on this essential service, security and certainty.

 

It just shows what you can achieve when you have two Liberal governments, both with a proven record of responsible financial management, working together. 

 

We couldn’t afford the NDIS, or other essential services like our healthcare system, Medicare, our education system, unless we were managing our budgets responsibly, and ensuring that we have a stronger economy and more jobs.

 

Gladys it’s wonderful to work with you and Philip is absolutely right, there’s nothing more important for our party than ensuring that your government is returned and our government is returned in Canberra in the next 12 months.

 

Now the Liberal Party is the greatest and most successful grass-roots party in Australia and that above all, above all of us, is thanks to you, our members.

 

We have no more important political mission than electing Liberal governments and keep Labor out of government.

 

And we have a bigger threat from Labor than ever before. Unbelieva-Bill Shorten is the most left wing, anti-business, high taxing, job destroying Labor leader in generations.

 

And as we explain our positive, pro-growth, pro-jobs policies we must not and will not relent in pointing out the risks of Labor and its shifty, untrustworthy leader. Unbelievea-Bill Shorten.

 

And our best spokesmen are you - our members.

 

So the growth of our party is more important than ever.

 

It is critical that we draw on the talent and the enterprise, the ideas and ingenuity of all Australians.

 

That means making a much better case to and for women: to join us, to advocate for us, to guide us on policy, preselect candidates and become candidates and members of Parliament, leaders, Cabinet Ministers.

 

And that’s why it’s so important to have more strong women leaders in our parliaments. Like Gladys, like our Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, our Defence Minister Marise Payne, their example and that of many others who are with us here today is proof that our party is committed to ensuring that women play a leading role in all of our forums whether in government, in our party or in our Parliaments.

 

And I want to just say, give a shout-out to a great Victorian Kelly O’Dwyer, the Member for Higgins and Minister for Revenue, for establishing a fighting fund to support Liberal women parliamentary candidates. That’s great work Kelly.

 

Now, we farewell Sir John Carrick today, I want to thank our former Prime Minister John Howard for his very moving eulogy that we’ve just seen. John Carrick was a soldier, a statesman, a magnificent Liberal - one of the greatest.

 

And one of our wisest mentors. When he said you can't fatten the pig on market day he was not offering advice on animal husbandry, notwithstanding Hollie that we represent more regional and rural electorates than any other party.  But he was focussing on the need always to have well thought out policies founded in Liberal values and effectively delivered.

 

And that’s what we have done. We promised jobs and growth in 2016 on more than one occasion and we had the policies to deliver it.

 

Last year 415,000 new jobs, the largest jobs growth in any calendar year in Australia’s history; and just last week we celebrated the creation of more than one million jobs since the Coalition returned to Government under Tony’s leadership in 2013.

 

Here in NSW, more than 150,000 new jobs were created in the last 12 months alone, the majority of them full time and 67 percent of NSW’s new jobs have been filled by women.

 

And I’m pleased to report that we now have the lowest number of working age Australians on welfare in more than 25 years.

 

The best form of welfare is, as John Howard has often said, a job.

 

Now business and consumer confidence are both up, and there has been more investment - all of it underpinning and enabling that record jobs growth

 

And it hasn’t happened by accident. We have created the conditions that give Australians the confidence to invest, to hire, to have a go, to get ahead.

 

It means that when we face the voters in 2019, we can say we kept our promise to deliver a stronger economy and more jobs.

 

Most importantly, it means Australians can trust us when we explain how our economic plan will continue to deliver for them.

 

Now, the Federal Budget that Scott Morrison delivered a few weeks ago is the next instalment of that plan. It harnesses the economy’s momentum and it builds the platform for stronger growth and more jobs.

 

But it also provides a clear path to continued budget repair, ensuring that these gains are long lasting, and benefit future generations and not just our own.

 

We have legislated $41 billion of budget repair since the last election, and real growth in spending is forecast to be the lowest of any Federal Government in 50 years.

 

That is a real Liberal achievement, living within our means. That’s living our values.

 

It means we will bring the Budget back into balance a year earlier than previously forecast bringing it back into balance in 2019-20. 

 

We have turned the corner on debt - net debt is expected to peak at 18.6 percent of GDP this financial year and is projected to fall to 3.8 per cent of GDP over the following decade. 

 

And it means we can responsibly afford tax relief. 

 

Liberals never forget that Australians know how best to spend their money, not the Government.

 

That’s the big difference between us and Labor. After all, deep in our DNA we know that government’s job is to enable Australians to do their best. The Labor Party, deep in their DNA, believes government’s job is to tell Australians what is best.

 

Big difference. We back Australians and their enterprise:

 

Personal income tax relief encouraging and rewarding working Australians; tax relief for businesses so that they invest more and create more and better paid jobs; record investment in infrastructure to get people home sooner and safer, get our products to market, around Australia and around the world; and, cutting electricity bills through our National Energy Guarantee.

 

And our plan for a stronger economy means that we can afford to:

 

Guarantee essential services with record funding for hospitals, schools and Medicare, guaranteeing the funding for the NDIS; delivering an aged care package that gives older Australians real choice about where they live for how long they work; secure our borders so that we determine who comes to Australia not people smugglers and criminals; keep Australians safe, whether it is extra security at airports or the latest capabilities for our defence force.

 

And the gap between us and the Labor Party is widening every day. And nowhere is the difference more stark than on tax.

 

Labor will impose a massive tax hike of at least $220 billion, hitting just about every corner of the economy: on workers and businesses, on companies and trusts; companies large and small; on property, by banning negative gearing; on saving, with higher taxes on superannuation; and on investment, with their hike in capital gains tax.

 

Not to mention what is probably the most shameful tax grab of all of Shorten’s tax grabs. The $5 billion a year assault on the savings of self-funded retirees and older Australians.

 

It is one of the most shameful assaults.

 

I was with Jim Molan just the other day in Queanbeyan with some older Australians. I was sitting with a lady who is in her 80s. She and her husband had worked hard and saved and invested in Australian shares, put a portfolio together.

 

Shorten’s cash grab, his assault will mean that that old couple in their 80s will lose 28 percent of their income.

 

It is shameful, it is wrong, it is unjust and why is he doing it? Because he thinks he can get away with it.

 

Why did he keep ineligible politicians in the parliament for months and months after it was perfectly clear they shouldn’t be there? Because he doesn’t care any more about the truth than he does about the constitution, any more than he does about fairness.

 

Those older Australians are facing massive reductions in their income were we ever to have a Labor government led by unbelievea-Bill Shorten.

 

Now our tax plan, by contrast, boosts the economy by leaving more money in the pockets of all Australians.

 

From next financial year, 2018-19 more than 10 million low and middle earners will get up to $530 in tax relief each year.

 

It’s a modest measure because Australians have made it clear that the priority is repairing the budget.

 

But it’s also affordable, because we are living within our means and bringing the Budget back into balance, as I said, a year earlier. And unlike Labor, our plan doesn’t rely on jacking up taxes on family businesses and ripping away tax refunds from retirees. 

 

Stage Two of our personal income tax plan locks in this tax relief for low and middle income earners and it protects middle income Australians from bracket creep, where as we all know, increases in wages are often eaten up by moving into a higher tax bracket. As everyone knows it’s a real disincentive.

 

In Stage Three in 2024/25 - we abolish an entire tax bracket, the 37 cent bracket, ensuring that 94 percent of Australians will never face a marginal tax rate higher than 32.5 cents. 

 

Think about this. Our values, our party believes that government’s job is to enable Australians to do their best. Not tell them what is best. Enable them to do their best. And that means to be able to get ahead, to have a go, to start a business, if it doesn’t work out dust yourself off and have another go. Go for a promotion, go for a better job, do some more hours. Do everything you want to to get ahead and realise your dreams for your family.

 

And what this reform will mean is that from $41,000 all the way up to $200,000, every extra dollar you earn will only pay 32.5 cents in the dollar. You won’t pay any more. You can go all the way up to $200,000 and you know to those people in the Labor Party who say this is unfair, this is unfair. Think about this, under this tax reform, which the Treasurer laid out on Budget night, in 24-25 a person on $200,000 will earn about 5 times as much as someone on $41,000 obviously. But they’ll pay nearly 13 times as much tax.

 

In fact, more, just a bit more, of the total tax take will be paid by people on the 45 cent tax bracket than is the case today.

 

So it is fair, it is progressive, it maintains the progressive nature of the tax system. But above all it reaches out to hard working Australians, hard working families on middle incomes and we say to them, ‘We want you to be able to realise your dreams and we are doing everything we can to ensure that the tax system gives you every encouragement to have a go, get ahead and advance your family’s dreams and opportunities,” and that is the Liberal way.

 

Owing to the immense eloquence of the Treasurer and all the colleagues who spoke in the debate the Labor Party voted for the tax package in the House of Representatives last week.

 

I must say, Scott, I have to say, as we observe, they are only human. They had to be swayed by your powerful oratory.

 

But I have to say with characteristic shiftiness and duplicity they will play games in the Senate.

 

Labor thinks that every dollar of income, every profit earned by an Australian business, belongs by right to the Government. And this is very clear. They describe lower taxes as a ‘handout’, or a ‘giveaway’.

 

You can’t give away something you don’t own. The money belongs to the people who earned it, not the Government.

 

And that’s why Liberal governments will always look for ways to reduce the burden of tax on workers, on families and businesses. Labor will always do the opposite.

 

Again, this is about values. We know, we understand, we believe, that the money that people earn is theirs. The government obviously has to tax some of it in order to pay for all the essential services we need.

 

But we do understand that it is their money. Labor thinks that it is the government’s money and whatever is left after tax is a gift or a handout. That’s a fundamental difference. It disrespects the people. It disrespects enterprise. It undervalues the aspiration, the optimism, the enthusiasm, the confidence on which our economy depends.

 

Now we know we often hear as we go around, all of us hear this, people say ‘we wish politics was less partisan’. Well that’s a good aspiration perhaps but we cannot let Labor’s lies go unchallenged.

 

They accuse us of cuts to health and hospitals. The budget shows funding for health rises from $77.6 billion this year to $85 billion in 2021-22 - each year a record. Under our new hospitals agreement - signed by three Labor governments and three Liberal governments -including Gladys’ - we are providing an extra $30 billion to lock in record funding in each year of a new five year agreement in every state and territory.

 

And of course to get these lies from the Labor Party who when they were last in Government so badly lost control of the Budget that they had to stop listing new drugs on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. 

 

They accuse us of cuts to schools. Funding for schools alone rises from $18.3 billion to $23.5 billion - each year a record.

 

They say infrastructure spending is not real unless it is all set out in the four year forward estimates. That just shows a hopeless misunderstanding of the scale and complexity of the long term projects we are undertaking - projects that Labor didn’t have the conviction to pursue in government such as the Western Sydney Airport, the Melbourne Airport Rail Link, let alone Snowy 2.0 and the Inland Rail.

 

I want to acknowledge Paul Fletcher for the great work he’s doing as the Minister for Urban Infrastructure.

 

They claim our tax plans favour the wealthy. As I’ve said the reality is, and you can see set out today on the front page of the Australian, our personal income tax plan benefits overwhelmingly hard working middle income Australians.

 

It is a Liberal plan founded in Liberal values of supporting aspiration, investment, self reliance and reward for effort.

 

And Labor says they will cut taxes. That is laughable. Although they refuse to release any costings, we know because they’ve set it out already they are increasing taxes on households, on savers, on small businesses, large businesses, self-funded retirees and pensioners.

 

Their tax bill is $220 billion plus, and rising.

 

And you don’t need a rolled gold guarantee to know that Labor means higher energy bills! Much higher energy bills.

 

And do you know what the biggest lie of all is? That you can afford any of these things without a strong economy.

 

But you can’t keep lying forever and as I’ve said to Shorten again and again in the House, repeating a lie doesn’t make it true. You get caught out.

 

Shorten’s latest attempt to deceive the Australian people on citizenship has been exposed and finally, three members, Labor members have resigned from the House.

 

And now he’s complaining over the date of the by-elections, set by the Speaker on the advice of the Australian Electoral Commission. By-elections that were the consequence of his own duplicity. He refused to do the right thing and make his MPs resign last year, when the High Court made it clear that anyone who was a dual citizen when they nominated, was ineligible.

 

He thought he could get away with it. This is the way he operates. He has no regard for the truth, he is only focused on short term political advantage and whether he can get away with it. And we can’t let him get away with it.

 

Just like he thought he could get away with raiding the savings of older Australians - cutting the lady in Queanbeyan’s income by 28%, in her 80s. And from people who deserve support and respect, not a smash and grab at their cash from Labor.

 

His biggest failure is credibility. That’s why he is unbelievea-Bill. He will say anything to get elected.

 

He has no plan for the economy. And he wants to tax and spend his way into government.

 

Now Australia has a clear choice. This is not one of those times when the Labor Party is trying to tack to the centre to pretend that they’re progressive economic managers. Bill Shorten has adopted the Jeremy Corbyn plan: he is left-wing, anti-business and anti-jobs.

 

Labor is for higher taxes. We're for lower taxes. We're for a stronger economy, they're for a weaker economy, we're for more jobs, they're for less jobs.

 

We’re for aspiration and confidence, they're for negativity, resentment and envy.

 

The Liberal Party stands for responsible economic management and on every measure we’re delivering for Australia— lower taxes, a stronger economy, more jobs, more funding for essential services and living within our means.

 

Our Liberal values are timeless, but they have never been more timely.

 

Never more needed to advance Australia.

 

Thank you very much.

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