Keynote Address at the 165th Victorian Liberals State Council

  • Speech, check against delivery

JULIE BISHOP: Thank you Senator Jane Hume for that very warm introduction. You are an outstanding new member of the Victorian Liberal team and I thank you for your efforts, your ability, your enthusiasm. I am absolutely delighted to be here today amongst so many Victorian friends and colleagues in Melbourne, the most liveable city on the planet. I acknowledge Michael Kroger and the State Executive. I congratulate Matthew Guy on his excellent address and for his leadership of the State Victorian Liberal team who will, who must, for the sake of this great state of Victoria, form government next November.

The Liberal Party of Victoria continues to make a significant contribution to the most positive and successful political movement in Australia's history. The modern Liberal Party founded by Robert Menzies has dominated the political discourse in this country, based on our timeless values and ideals of freedom and choice and enterprise, with a fundamentally optimistic view of what Australia can achieve when Australians work together and our optimistic view of Australia's place in the world.

I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to each and every member of the Victorian federal parliamentary team. Scott Ryan and Tony Smith, Mr President, Mr Speaker, for bringing dignity and respect and efficiency to the workings of the Australian Parliament. Thank you for your service.

To my Cabinet colleagues Mitch Fifield, who is not only the Deputy Leader in the Senate but he is also the Minister for Communications with a very fine appreciation of our flourishing arts community. Thank you Mitch for all that you do for the Liberal Party. To Josh Frydenberg, an outstandingly energetic, enthusiastic member who has taken on the very challenging portfolios of Energy and Environment with gusto. Greg Hunt our magnificent Health Minister who has brought stability and certainty and is helping deliver a fairer health system across Australia. To Kelly O'Dwyer, one of my sisters in Cabinet who is doing a magnificent job in Revenue and Financial Services and is a great advocate for women in her role as Minister for Women. Dan Tehan, our newest Cabinet member who is tackling the very challenging portfolio of Social Services, and what a great job he is doing there to ensure that our safety net supports those who need it most. Alan Tudge, our Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, tackling the complexities of that portfolio, and Michael Sukkar who is assisting the Treasurer and is very busy at present to ensure that the Budget next week delivers for all Australians. I want to thank the Ministerial team.

Every member and senator makes a contribution. Kevin Andrews and Russell Broadbent bring their perspective and their years of experience and wisdom to our party room debates. Our marginal seat holders, without whom we would not be in Government, Julia Banks, Chris Crewther, Sarah Henderson, Jason Wood, what magnificent warriors you are for the Liberal Party.

Speaking of warriors, Tim Wilson, James Patterson, and Jane Hume are all in the battle of ideas, taking the fight to Labor each and every day on Sky News and beyond, and I thank them for the fabulous work that they do for us as well. Ladies and gentlemen, please keep the applause going for our Victorian parliamentary team - for their ideas, for their advocacy, for their energy and for the fine way that they represent their electorates and their state. Thank them all.

The Victorian team will be integral to our chances of success at the next Federal election, and if all goes according to plan, Victoria will continue that momentum commenced by Will Hodgman in Tasmania followed by Steven Marshall in South Australia, continued by Matthew Guy in next November setting the scene for a federal election win in 2019.

Our strengths as a federal party lie in our superior management of our national economy and national security. Our goal through the implementation of policies is to build a safe and prosperous nation; sustaining our growing economy; creating an environment that means more jobs and more job security; restoring the national accounts which we always have to do after a period of Labor government; delivering services efficiently and that are affordable and providing an appropriate level of support for those in genuine need; protecting our people and keeping our nation safe. They are the key tests for government. Let me turn to them.

A key test for any federal government is to create the right environment for the creation of jobs and we are delivering that. Since we came to office our policies have supported the creation of 996, 800 jobs, almost 1 million new jobs. That is a record. We have more employment today that at any time in Australia's history.

Another key test for a government is investing in productivity - enhancing infrastructure, and we are delivering. Here in Victoria, for example, we look forward to working with Matthew Guy and his team as we deliver $5 billion for the new rail link to the Melbourne airport, as we upgrade Monash Freeway, as we upgrade the M80 Western Ring Road, the Great Ocean Road, Tullamarine Freeway, Western Freeway, Princes Freeway, the $1.4 billion in regional rail in the Ballarat, Gippsland, North East lines, and the funding that has been derived from the interest generated from our $3 billion investment in the East West link - $70 million will be used to upgrade suburban roads in and around Melbourne. That is delivering infrastructure.

Another key test for a federal government is to ensure affordable and reliable electricity given the vagaries of state Labor governments around this country, and we are delivering. The National Energy Guarantee will provide incentives for electricity generators to deliver affordable and reliable power and embrace new technologies to achieve that. This is a scheme that has been endorsed by no less than our greatest Prime Minister in recent history John Howard. John Howard has said this is the way to go. It is embraced by the big businesses who are generating electricity. It is embraced by our big businesses like BHP and Rio and Dow Chemicals, and the National Farmers Federation. The National Energy Guarantee will help deliver affordable and reliable energy and I thank Josh Frydenberg for his indefatigable advocacy of this policy.

Liberals, let's be clear. Labor are the party of unaffordable, unreliable electricity. Daniel Andrews has put a moratorium – I can't believe this – Daniel Andrews has put a moratorium on conventional onshore gas development, despite 40 years of domestic gas supply underground. He's banned it. That puts Victoria at a huge disadvantage. He is ending the use of coal as a reliable source of baseload power leading to the closure of Hazelwood. The Australian Energy Regulator has found that wholesale prices skyrocketed after the closure and Daniel Andrews is to blame, make no mistake. The Liberal Party is the party of affordable and reliable energy.

Another key test of any government is to tackle cost of living and we are delivering. For example, we are making childcare more affordable and accessible and we are targeting supporting parents who need access to childcare so they can work or train or study or volunteer.

Another key test of any government is to ensure a fair tax system, and we are delivering. Cutting corporate tax for over 3.2 million small businesses, giving them the opportunity to invest more in their business and to employ more people. That is what a corporate tax cut does, Labor knows it. We've reduced the income tax for over 500,000 middle income earners. We will fight tooth and nail against Labor's $200 billion of additional taxes should they come to office - taxes on electricity, on small business, on incomes, taxes on homes, taxes on savings and investments. Only the Liberal Party will deliver lower and fairer taxes.

Another key test of any government is affordable and accessible health care, and we are delivering. For example, GP bulk billing is now at about 86 per cent. We've listed over 1500 new and amended medicines on the PBS. Greg Hunt, that's $7.5 billion invested in the health and wellbeing of the Australian people. Thank you for the work you are doing as Health Minister.

Ladies and gentlemen, Medicare is guaranteed. No more Labor dishonest 'mediscare' campaigns, Medicare is guaranteed in legislation with the Medicare Guarantee Fund and through our economic management, we no longer need the Medicare Levy hike. Under Greg Hunt it is not just Medicare, its 'Medifair'.

Another key test for any government is the capacity to repair the financial mess left by the Labor government. This is a key test for every incoming Liberal government. Invariably, inevitably, Labor have mismanaged our finances, and we are delivering. We are increasing revenue, we are decreasing costs, we are on track to deliver a surplus. We have maintained our AAA credit rating, interest rates are low, wage growth is recovering, business confidence is high and we have taken action to hold the banking and financial sectors to account by strengthening the regulatory powers, by increasing penalties and by establishing a wide-ranging Royal Commission. The Turnbull Government is delivering and I thank Kelly O'Dwyer for her work in that regard.

Ladies and gentlemen, another key test for a federal government is to ensure that it creates opportunities for our exporters. Australia is an open, export-oriented market economy. Our standard of living depends upon our ability to sell our goods and services around the world and under Labor you saw nothing in terms of free trade agreements. Under the Coalition we have seen the most significant free trade agreements with China, Japan, Korea and the agreement they said couldn't be done, the Trans Pacific Partnership 11, which is providing us enormous, unprecedented opportunities to sell our goods and services around the world. Again, we are delivering for the Australian people.

A significant test, a fundamental test for a federal government is keeping our people safe and our nation secure, and we are delivering record funding to our law enforcement agencies, to our intelligence and security agencies. We are giving them unprecedented powers, we are giving them unprecedented funding to counter terrorism, to counter radical extremism, to keep our public places safe and to capture those who would do us harm.

We have ensured that our voices and our actions make a difference on the world's stage. Whether it is in Syria or Iraq, Afghanistan, or the Philippines, we are fighting terrorism and extremism to ensure that our people are safe at home.

On that note, I must also say that Australians played a significant role in the international campaign to exert maximum pressure, diplomatic, political and economic on North Korea to bring North Korea back to the negotiating table and with the leadership of the United States, of China, Japan and South Korea, we have seen the historic summit yesterday between the leaders of North and South Korea. We cautiously welcome the summit but we know that much must be done to verify North Korea's statements that it will aim for denuclearisation and a permanent peace agreement. Australia has played its part and will continue playing our part in posing maximum pressure on North Korea to ensure that it does abide by the numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions that make illegal its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

Ladies and gentlemen, Jane Hume spoke about the contrast between me and Bill Shorten. Let me just talk to you about the comparison, the contrast, between Labor and the Coalition. It could not be more stark. You see, the leader of the Labor Party Bill Shorten was a union organiser, and he still is. He wants to run Australia like a union. That is very interesting but just recall how he ran the unions when he was a union boss. He traded away the penalty rates of low paid workers in exchange for secret kickbacks into union slush funds. He broke the trust of the people who put their faith in him. That was his idea of running the union.

Today he is a pathetic excuse for a populous. Pathetic. When he was in Queensland he was addressing the coal mine workers and he told them that he supported the development of the Carmichael mine and then he popped back to Victoria in the Batman by-election and in an attempt to outflank the Greens on the left, he said he wasn't in favour of the Carmichael mine. And then when he was flying in a private jet, as Labor leaders do, with an environmental activist, he assured him that should he become the leader, he would rip up the mining licence for the Carmichael mine. I mean, don't worry about the sovereign risk, not one mine worker anywhere in Australia can be confident that their job won't be traded away by a Labor government for Green preferences. That is their record, that is what they do.

Talking of being a pathetic populous, he is even more pathetic as a hypocrite, seriously. I mean, does he think we don't have memories? There he was in government advocating tax cuts as the best means of driving more investment and more jobs and now in Opposition he opposes the very same corporate tax cuts.

He is unable to curb the propagate spending policies that the Labor Party are renowned for. What he is doing now, Bill Shorten, is going after the savings of low-income earners and retirees. Taking away their franked dividend cash rebate is attacking the savings of low-income earners. No one can be confident. When Labor runs out of money they will go after your savings, your investments, and as Maggie Thatcher said 'the trouble with socialists, they eventually run out of other people's money'.

Bill Shorten has gone back to that age old socialist game of class warfare. He has declared war on companies, on retirees, on trusts, on investors, on self-managed superannuants, on property owners. Bill Shorten leads the most anti-business, anti-enterprise, anti-opportunity Labor government in living memory. Bill Shorten is not fit to lead the Labor Party. He is not fit to lead Australia. He should never become Prime Minister of this country.

The Liberal Party stands with the aspirational people of Australia who want to get ahead. Our goal is to unite the Australian people in common cause. Our rejection of Labor's class warfare must be ongoing. We must reject this destructive narrative of Labor - pitting Australian against Australian.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Liberal Party gives hope and opportunity to all Australians. We want all Australians to have a brighter future for themselves, for their families and for our nation. Thank you for supporting us in those worthy goals.

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