It was a slightly odd Sunday morning up in the Lower Blue Mountains. I was listening to the news about the Thomson resignation from the ALP on my car radio. I parked the car in my local shopping centre carpark, only to see the NSW Senator Doug Cameron in the same car park, about to go home. To, as it turns out, do phone interviews with David Speers on Sky News. Business As Usual, I thought. And so it goes.
However, that’s not the main topic of this blog. There will be a lot of colour, light and bluster expressed this week about the End Times of the Gillard Government. What is more interesting is that over the weekend we received a rare glimpse into just what the inevitable Abbott Government will be about, from the Forestville Front Rower at an address to the Victorian Liberal Party State Council. It makes for interesting reading. His words are in italics, my attempt at translation of the meaning after each paragraph.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, I hope the response is as enthusiastic at the end of the speech as it has been at the beginning. It is so good to be here. It is so good to be in the presence of so many enthusiastic Victorian Liberals. It’s great to be with my Deputy, Leader Julie Bishop. It’s tremendous to be in the presence of the Premier, Ted Baillieu, for this, the 154th State Council of the Victorian Division of the Liberal Party and for this, my 51st visit to Victoria since the election. And I know you are always happier to see me when Margie is by my side and it’s good that she is here to see the strength and the passion of the Victorian Liberal Party. It is so good to be here.
Hello, Victorians, I have been here 51 times since the last election – that shows how keen I am to try to arrest the swing against me that occurred then. As you can see, I also like a bit of self-deprecation, in the guise of saying my wife is better to see than me.
I want to say to you that, yes, we are on track to win the next election, but this is not about winning elections; this is about building a better country – and that is one of the things that sets us apart from the contemporary Labor Party. We do not just want to win elections, we do not just want to hold on to power at any cost, our passion, our vision is to build a better Australia, to give our country the better government that a great nation deserves.
My approach to sell a persistently negative message about every thing the government does is working. We will win the next election. This speech, though, is about us and what we actually intend to do. We want to sell ourselves as a party that doesn’t act like the Labor Party and “hold onto power at any cost”. This is a vision and passion speech.
We want to build a better Australia and we want to build a better Australia on the best values of the Australian people. And we, my fellow Liberals, are fundamentally a party of values and of principles. As Liberals, we want smaller government, lower taxes and greater freedom. As conservatives, we want to support the family and values and institutions that have stood the test of time. But above all else as Australian patriots we support policies that work and that will make a great country even better in the future, that will make our country more prosperous, more cohesive and more widely admired right around the world in the years ahead. That is our vision ladies and gentlemen.
We in the Liberal Party have Values, Principles and Patriotism. Those Values are Money. Ensuring Governments cost less money to run. Except for giving money to families – we will still support them as much as we ever did. By making a smaller government that costs less, we will make Australia have more money, more cohesively patriotic and admired for the money we have, as well as the cohesive patriotism. Under me, there will be cohesion in the way we see Australia, whether people like it or not. That’s because we will be cohesive.
And as I look out over this hall full of very enthusiastic Australians, as I look at all of you, I see a snap shot of modern Australia. I see mothers who want a better future for their children. I see tradies who take pride in their work. I see public servants who want people to be proud of the work of government, not embarrassed by it. I see migrants who came to this country – not because they wanted to change us, but because they wanted to join us. I see small business people working long hours to serve their communities and I see retirees who don’t want to be a burden on others. And, you know, I see as I look out on this concourse of my fellow Liberals, I see lots of union members, because you see, these days the union members come to the Liberal Party’s meetings, it’s only the union officials who go to the Labor Party’s meetings.
You are all Australians. This is Australia right here. No homosexuals, no asylum seekers. That’s good. Now for a checklist. Mothers – I will mention you first because our polling says I am not popular with women. Tradies – I know you like me because I’m a rugged bloke who likes using his hands, like you. Migrants – the fact you are here means you like our Assimilation policy, rather than that multiculturalism stuff that tried to change us into a nation of diversity. Small business people- I know you like us, because you are scared of the carbon tax. Like you were of the GST. Retirees – I know you always like us. I mentioned you last because I don’t have to really beguile you with my vision. I will finish with a snarky comment about union members liking us now and faceless union officials. I make this comment because I suspect you won’t like our next workplace relations plans that we reveal after the next election.
And ladies and gentlemen, when I say that we are determined to give Australia the better government a great country deserves, don’t we need a better government in Canberra after five years of Labor. I have often heard it said that the Gillard Government is the worst government since Whitlam, but let me say again that that statement is very unfair to Gough Whitlam who unlike the current Prime Minister did have some vision, did have some standards and certainly would never have sold the soul of the Labor Party to the Greens under Senator Bob Brown.
More comments on how bad the Labor Party is – that being our biggest selling point. Not only are they bad, they also have no vision – to prove that I am going to make a religious reference about the ALP being really under the thrall of the evil, Godless Greens, led by the other man I have spent so much time demonising, Bob Brown. I am mentioning him again because I’m a bit annoyed he has gone. I haven’t had enough time to work out how to demonise Christine Milne – I’m disappointed they didn’t make Lee Rhiannon the leader. She would have been easy to target with Three Word Phrases, all involving “watermelon”.
As Liberals we know, but as Australians the whole country knows that we have a government which is good at politics, which is good at being the epitome of sleazy influence peddlers. It’s a government that can execute a Prime Minister but it can’t execute an efficient government programme – that is what’s wrong with our country right now.
I am not speaking of our vision quite yet – I have some catchy lines to recycle first. Unlike Wil Anderson, I don’t see the need to make a new show with a new title.
It is the most incompetent and the most untrustworthy government in Australia’s history. They could not put roof batts into people’s houses without causing more than 200 fires right around our country. They could not build school halls without rip-off after rip-off. They are now spending $50 billion digging up streets near you so that your home can have fibre whether you want it, need it or are ready to pay more for it – three times as much in fact as you are currently paying for your broadband service.
I will give you more lists of how bad the Government is. So, I will repeat the same misrepresentations I have been selling to the media for 2 years. The fires They Caused, not the installers. Conflating that small number of cost overruns on the BER project – none of you have the long, boring report about that stuff. Also, some made up figures about how much your broadband service will cost. That vision thing – I will get to that.
This is a government which closed down the live cattle trade with Indonesia in a panic over a TV programme. This is a government which is progressively closing down the forestry industry in Tasmania because it can’t say no to Bob Brown and now, ladies and gentlemen, the most incompetent government in Australia’s history is going to hit us with the world’s biggest carbon tax. The world’s biggest carbon tax is just eight weeks away and still this Prime Minister and this government can’t tell us who the 500 biggest emitters are – shame on them, shame on them. This is going to be a monumental disaster that if the government isn’t changed will haunt this country, not for years, but forever. This is why we need to change the government.
Before my vision, more about this terrible government. A government that shouldn’t have investigated expressed concerns about the live cattle trade. One that wants to look after the environment instead of the financial interests of Gunn’s. And of course, say it with me – The Carbon Tax. A Monumental Disaster. I like using the word Disaster – it plays well on television. So does the word Haunt.
This is a government, ladies and gentlemen, which is spending $2 billion in the state of Victoria, not to give you cheaper energy, but to give you more expensive power. This is a government which is spending $2 billion to close down two of the biggest power stations in this state, power stations on which Victoria’s record as the manufacturing heart of this country utterly depends. This government is so incompetent that they are spending $2 billion, not to create jobs, but to destroy jobs, and that is why this government must go.
The long term environmental health of Victoria doesn’t matter. That’s why the brown coal plants should stay. That’s my environmental policy.
But ladies and gentlemen, you can trust the Prime Minister, can’t you? Kevin Rudd could trust Julia Gillard when she said that she had more chance of playing full-forward for the Western Bulldogs than becoming Prime Minister. He could trust her, couldn’t he? The people of Australia could trust Julia Gillard when she said “there will be no carbon tax under the government I lead”. Andrew Wilkie could trust the Prime Minister when she said: “there will be mandatory pre-commitment under the government I lead”. Well, ladies and gentlemen, the only people it seems who can absolutely rely on this Prime Minister’s support, the only two people in this country who can absolutely trust this Prime Minister to stick behind them, you know who they are – they’re Peter Slipper and Craig Thomson.
I can’t go on without referring to the deposing of Kevin Rudd. It’s something that I’m always asked to do. It is to me what a Chopin Polonaise is to a concert pianist. Plus, not only that, but Gillard took from our hands a highly suspect MP, he’s now a millstone around her neck. This stuff just writes itself.
The only person in this country, who seems to think that Peter Slipper can go back into the Speakership of the national parliament before sexual harassment allegations against him are resolved is Julia Gillard. And the message that she is sending to everyone in this country who might have been a victim is: ‘you bring that claim forward and I’ll accuse you of being involved in a political conspiracy’. Well, shame on the Prime Minister for sending that terrible message to the people of Australia.
The Liberal Party have a long history of respecting the right of victims of sexual harassment and homosexual people. Look at our record on that. Actually, don’t. But look at the ALP. They are terrible, aren’t they.
The only person in this country, who still expresses full confidence in the Member for Dobell Craig Thomson is Julia Gillard.
Now, ladies and gentlemen, there was a leadership challenge inside the Labor Party just a few weeks ago. It might turn out to be the precursor of another one in just a few weeks time. But didn’t they carpet bomb the former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd? Didn’t they show you just what they would do to people who they didn’t like or who they didn’t agree with. We had one backbencher – a backbencher in 2007 who was telling us that for the future of Australia there was nothing more important than the election of Mr Rudd as Prime Minister – one Victorian backbencher who told us just a few weeks ago that Mr Rudd was a psychopath with an ego problem. And we had the Prime Minister herself who said of her predecessor that he had paralysed his own government and he had sabotaged hers. What does it say then about the current Prime Minister and the government of Australia when 31 members of the Labor caucus preferred a psychopath to the incumbent Prime Minister? What does it say about the government we have?
Yes, the Government provides me with a constant stream of three word phrases and media outlets with constant copy. It’s easy being me.
You know, Australians were recently polled on which was Australia’s best government. Ninety six per cent nominated a government other than the current one. Fully 50 per cent, I’m pleased to say ladies and gentlemen, nominated the Howard Government, the government in which I was proud to serve, the government in which my Deputy was proud to serve, the government in which fully 16 members of my shadow ministry served – and we have learnt the lessons of the Howard Government and we are the inheritors of the strength of the Howard Government and the longer this government lasts, doesn’t the former government look like a lost golden age, ladies and gentlemen?
Before I get to what my government will look like, I will talk about the previous Liberal Government. That was good, wasn’t it. I can see you all nodding at that. I will try to make my government look like that one – without much reflection on what it didn’t do well.
You probably watch a fair bit of political television, as I do, and I couldn’t help but notice the other day the Leader of the House of Representatives, Anthony Albanese, almost crying on national television as he lamented the state of the modern Labor Party, saying that he just wanted to get on with the job of “fighting Tories”. And what was he doing yesterday as part of his desire to fight Tories? Well there he was defending Peter Slipper’s use of Cabcharge dockets. That’s what the modern Labor Party, ladies and gentlemen, has come to. The party of Ben Chifley has become the party of Craig Thomson. Chifley’s light on the hill has evolved, has degenerated into something so much worse. What perhaps? Well, Craig Thomson’s red light on the hill. And in place of that noble vision of Ben Chifley, what do we have? Today we have the faceless men scurrying towards their red light on the hill waving the union credit card around. That’s what we have.
I have some new material, people – now I am using old Labor imagery as the basis of the new stuff. Red Light on the Hill. Funny, no? No member of the Liberal or National Parties have ever used prostitutes, I’m sure. Or if they did, they certainly didn’t use traceable credit cards.
Well, ladies and gentlemen and fellow Liberals, our job, our job as Liberals, our job as members of the Liberal National Coalition is to reassure the people of Australia that it doesn’t have to be like this. It never should be as bad as this and it can and will be so much better than this. We have a plan, ladies and gentlemen, for a strong economy. We will get spending down, because if you can get spending down, you can get taxes down and if you get spending down, you can get borrowing down, and if the government is not out there borrowing $100 million every single day, then the pressure can come off interest rates and so homebuyers and small business people can flourish again as they should in this country which ought to be the best country in the world.
Now. Our plan. Our vision. Money. We will spend less to make interest rates come down. The same way interest rates aren’t coming down now.
We have a plan for stronger communities and at the heart of that plan is giving the whole country the better schools and the better public hospitals that they deserve and to that end, we will do what we can working with the states to try to ensure that we do have the kind of community controlled public hospitals that Jeff Kennett gave us here in Victoria and we do have the kind of independent public schools that Colin Barnett is giving us in Western Australia.
While we will cut our spending, somehow with that reduced spending, we will make better hospitals and schools. That will be by doing what Jeff Kennett did to hospitals in Victoria and what is being done to teacher unions in WA. Independent Public Schools mean those teachers don’t have the same job security as they used to have – and that will make for a healthier school system.
We have a plan for a clean environment, because we will actually get emissions down. We won’t just make everyone’s life harder. We won’t just make everyone’s cost of living worse by hitting everyone with a great big new tax on everything that not even Labor is prepared for or understands.
Despite us continuing with brown coal power stations and chopping Tasmanian trees, as outlined earlier, we will cut emissions in a way I am not going to outline or even provide hints about right now. But we will. After making mention of the Great Big New Tax. I can’t resist doing that line. It is to me what “Chicky Babe” was to Bruno Lucia on All Together Now.
We do have a plan for more secure borders – and don’t we need more secure borders on this day, on this day when the 300th illegal boat arrived on our shores because this government lacked the magnanimity and the judgment to leave well enough alone. So, we will put back in place the policies that worked, the policies that stopped the boats under the Howard Government, the policies that Julia Gillard has been too stubborn to implement.
One of our biggest selling points is selling the scary image of asylum seekers breaching our borders, so I can’t go on without mentioning them. Our plan is to bring back John Howard’s policy. Don’t listen to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship telling people that Indonesia won’t accept the boats or that Nauru doesn’t deter people. The Indonesians will listen to us and Nauru will work – and will be well catered for.
And ladies and gentlemen, we do have a plan for the infrastructure of the future. Oh yes, we believe as much as anyone in faster broadband and we will deliver faster broadband but you are not going to get faster broadband by restoring a government-owned telecommunications monopoly. You are not going to get faster broadband with the great leap backwards to the 1960s and you should not spend $50 billion of government money, of borrowed government money on faster broadband when we still have trains that don’t turn up on time, ports and airports that don’t work properly and when millions of Australians try to get to work every day are stuck in traffic jams on roads that have so often become little better than the worlds longest parking lots.
We have an alternate vision to the NBN. We aren’t telling you what it actually is, but it’s better than a plan that insists on getting broadband to towns that private companies wouldn’t service. As you are all Liberals in Victoria, there aren’t many people from outer suburban areas or country towns here, so you will assuredly agree that private enterprise will be as good with broadband as Optus and Vodafone have been with rural mobile phone coverage.
Ladies and gentlemen, there is a better way and we will put it in place.
No, still not telling you.
Just in the last month my colleagues and I have unveiled a series of new commitments that will make our country better. They say we’re negative. I say what is so negative about proposing a joint parliamentary committee to have a bipartisan approach to the National Disability Insurance Scheme so that we can get this important national innovation in place in a responsible and timely fashion. What is so negative about a Productivity Commission inquiry to ensure that the families of Australia, the parents of Australia get the flexible child care that they need, which acknowledges the fact that hundreds of thousands, millions of Australian families have work patterns that are no longer accommodated by eight til six institutional models of child care. What is so negative about saying that the 457 business visa programme, introduced by the Howard Government, won’t just be a component on the sides of the immigration programme of the next Coalition Government but will be its mainstay, because nothing would be more calculated to restore the faith of all Australians in the integrity of our immigration programme than the absolute confidence that everyone in this country is pulling his or her weight.
I am not negative. Most of this speech has not been negative. It’s been a positive vision about how bad the government is. I do have some other visions, though. I like the ALP’s disabilities plan. So, we’ll take that. Plus, there’s my new Nannies Plan, which we will achieve whilst making government smaller – we can’t tell you how that will happen yet, but it will happen. We will bring back the 457 business visa, because people made so much money from those migrants who didn’t insist on joining pesky unions. The unions that encourage people to not work. Except those union members sitting here, of course. But, speaking of unions…
And today, ladies and gentlemen, I announce a new commitment, a new commitment that will ensure that we have responsible and well run unions in this country. You might think that’s impossible but it can be done. You see we think that the business of unions ought to be protecting the interests of workers, not running protection rackets for former union bosses.
And a New Policy! Finally – you see, I’m not negative. I want to police the unions. That’s not negative or pursuing a pursuing old shibboleths at all.
So our commitment today is to ensure that essentially the same governance rules that apply to businesses and that you adhere to in your business life, will apply to unions and union officials as they go about the business of running their unions.
We want to make sure we cash in on the Craig Thomson business as much and for as long as possible during this election campaign. Each time I mention this policy his face and name will be instantly recalled to voters. Maybe even appear in ads.
In particular, if the same offence is committed, the same penalties will apply. You see, we know offences have been committed in the Health Services Union because we finally got a report out of Fair Work Australia – we haven’t got the main report, but we have got one report – and that report clearly revealed that offences had been committed. Now, those offences, as things stand, attract fines of just $2,200 from union officials under existing legislation. If the same offences had been committed by company directors, they would be liable to fines of $200,000 and potentially exposed to five years in jail. Well, the same offence deserves the same punishment and that’s what will happen under the next Coalition Government.
The New Vision of Australia is about fining union officials. A bit like WorkChoices was about locking unions out of workplaces and workplace agreements. But I’m not mentioning WorkChoices. I am targeting the officials at this stage.
And there will be a new cop to ensure that these rules are properly enforced. We won’t have the same person or the same conflicted entity enforcing the rules and mediating between the warring parties, we will have a Registered Organisations omission that will ensure that unions are well run in practice as well as in theory, and I tell you what, under the Registered Organisations Commission it won’t take more than three years to investigate an open and shut case of wrongdoing.
People like to hear about new “cops”, “probes” and the like. So, there will be a Union Official Cop. He won’t be faceless, though. Or perhaps he should be – maybe I will make that joke next time.
So, ladies and gentlemen, as we meet today in this marvellous venue – yet another tribute to the energy of a great Victorian Premier, Jeff Kennett – I think we should feel confidence in ourselves and hope for our country. We know that it can be better, we know that it will be better, we know that all it requires for our country to once more enter into what is rightly its inheritance is a change of government.
I have chosen Jeff’s Shed to speak in because people laughed at this place when it was built – a waste of money, they said. But they were Wrong, like they were wrong to belittle Jeff. Now people are starting to change what they write about John Howard, we are feverishly rewriting the history of Victoria to cast Kennett as being one of the greatest Premiers this state has ever had. Even a political writer for that lefty Fairfax mob is in on the action. And I mention Kennett to assure you that I am a better choice for leader than Malcolm Turnbull, who probably doesn’t like him. That is my vision – to remake Australia by drawing upon the ideas and vision of John Howard and Jeff Kennett.
I have a great team and I am thrilled to see so many of them here today. Julie, obviously. My other colleagues I can see in this audience; Andrew Robb the Shadow Minister for Finance, Kevin Andrews the Shadow Minister for Families, Bruce Billson the Shadow Minister for Small Business, Mitch Fifield the Shadow Minister for Disabilities, Michael Ronaldson the Shadow Minister for Veterans and my other colleagues, my other parliamentary colleagues we are a great team. We are a united team. Sophie Mirabella, there she is between my wife and David Kemp. We have a great team but the team is not just us, the team is not just the Members of Parliament and the frontbenchers, the team is all of you and it doesn’t just stop in this room. The team must be all of the people with whom you network – your families, your friends, the people you play sport with, the people who go to church with, the people you shop with, your neighbours, because we need a better government for a great country, we will get a better government for a great country if all of us keep working together to that end.
I know we don’t see a lot of my team on the media – my three word phrases work a treat, but here is a chance to see them. Remember Kevin Andrews? No? Well, he’s here. You might not know the rest, but surely you know Sophie Mirabella. We know you like her, even if they don’t seem to like her on that Q and A show. Terrible show, people questioning the Three Word Phrases. We are a team, with Victorians in it. You all shop together, play that funny game you play down here together, so that proves that they are human beings – and that’s a good thing, isn’t it?
That’s what I am doing. That’s what every single member of your parliamentary team is doing. That is the great end to which I am directing every fibre of my being. We won’t let you down and we know that you won’t let us down and we know that together we can make this country again everything that it ought to be.
Thank you very much.
That’s it – that’s the vision thing. I am working hard to enact it. We are working as a team to enact it. The vision is – that we aren’t the current government. We will endeavour to direct every one of our new policies to show what is bad about the current government. The other policies – well, they will be Howard and Kennett’s ideas. You like those, don’t you. That’s what our country ought to have.
There is Abbott’s “vision”. A bold vision of yesteryear.