Address at the WA State Liberal Party Conference

August 11, 2018
Speeches
Transcripts

E&OE…

PRIME MINISTER:

Well thank you very much Julie. It’s wonderful to be here.

Here with Julie, Mathias Cormann, with our State Opposition Leader Mike Nahan, former Premier Colin Barnett, the entire state and federal Liberal team.

I want to acknowledge our Federal President Nick Greiner, former Premier of New South Wales, State President Norman Moore and State Director Sam Calabrese, fresh from Alyssa Hayden’s triumph in Darling Range – great work.

It’s good to be back here in Western Australia.

And it’s good to be here as the only leader and the leader of the only party that has a plan for this state.

A plan for a stronger economy. A plan for a fair GST. And a plan for investment in roads and rail projects that the people of Western Australia need.

Western Australians can be assured they have a Government in Canberra that backs them. A Government that listens, that responds and delivers.

I want to thank you all for your support and your hard work.

Friends, you have an outstanding Parliamentary team representing your state.

They’re out there every day fighting for you and for every Western Australian.

Julie Bishop, our deputy leader and Minister for Foreign Affairs, is a trailblazer. She makes us proud every time she steps up to represent us on the world stage.

[Applause]

Mathias Cormann is doing an extraordinary job. Mathias of course, is born in Belgium. He sounds like Arnie Schwarzenegger, but I tell you what, he is a patriot and he’s doing an incredible job. He combines a ferocious intellect with the negotiating skills that have enabled us to navigate one important reform after another through the Senate.

And he’s enabled us, in that way, to deliver lower taxes for Australian families and businesses.

And of course, in my Cabinet and Ministry, the other strong Western Australian voices are very prominent. There’s the steel-trap legal mind of Attorney-General Christian Porter.

The energy, the absolutely irresistible energy of Michaelia Cash and her determination to do everything she can to create more jobs.

The vital work of Michael Keenan who has joined the Cabinet in one of the most crucial portfolios - Human Services and assisting me with digital transformation.

And Ken Wyatt, whose calm wisdom and serenity is a really good match for the important challenges of Aged Care and Indigenous Health; a great friend and a great colleague.

And Melissa Price, a recent appointment as Assistant Minister for the Environment, is doing a fantastic job working with Josh Frydenberg.

But I want to thank the entire West Australian team. Senator Linda Reynolds, like all of her colleagues, a strong advocate for Western Australia’s shipbuilding and defence industries. Andrew Hastie, Steve Irons, Ian Goodenough, Rick Wilson, Dean Smith and of course Nola Marino, the first female Government Whip on our side who keeps us all on our toes. They’re a phenomenal group that we have on our side.

Now since we last met we have achieved a great deal for the state and the nation.

So today I want to talk about a couple of areas of special importance to Western Australia.

Two years ago I stood here and I addressed you all, just weeks after the last general election, and I acknowledged that Western Australia was not getting a fair deal on the GST.

I stood here and acknowledged a fact that every West Australian knows very well.

It was simply this: Western Australia was getting a raw deal. It wasn’t fair.

I said that fixing the problem would not be without political difficulty.

But I committed to delivering a long term reform of the GST that would be fair to Western Australia and to all States.

And I have delivered on that promise.

Now we knew the GST formula did not pass the pub test in Bunbury, but our job was to persuade Australians that it did not pass the pub test in Burnie or Bundaberg either.

And we did, and your Western Australia team – every single one of them doing the work, making the case – leading to the Productivity Commission Inquiry, a careful process that enabled us to persuade all Australians that there was a problem that needed to be fixed.

And working especially closely with the Treasurer and Minister Cormann, Finance Minister, Leader of the Government in the Senate, we have delivered a solution that not only ensures that Western Australia receives its fair share, it also ensures that injustice never happens again.

We gave the plan very, very careful consideration. It was the subject of three separate Cabinet meetings – a great example of the collegiate, traditional Cabinet Government I lead.

Under our plan, GST payments to the states and territories will be benchmarked in accordance with the principles of horizontal fiscal equalisation, which of course, is all designed to ensure that every state and territory is able to provide competent levels of services.

In accordance with that, it will be benchmarked to the fiscal capacity of either New South Wales or Victoria, whichever is the stronger.  No longer to the strongest state.

Now that benchmark, by the way, has been around for quite some time and historically it generally had been New South Wales or Victoria, but we’ve not been able to find any evidence of any political decision made as such.

So this was quite a process that your Western Australian team initiated. It was one of persuasion, it wasn’t just one of banging the tables in Canberra and saying, “we want more”. They set out thoughtfully, every single one of them.

I’m looking at Senator Smith right in front of me, he was very eloquent in this regard. Made the case that we needed to have a conversation and an understanding that the system was not working.

So this will recognise, under the new arrangements, that every Australian deserves to have the same standard of government services as those living in our two most consistently performing States.

The new model will remove any outliers – such as Western Australia was at the end of the resources boom, when the amount of GST your state received relative to its population share plunged to less than 30 cents in the dollar.

We will build a new relativity floor of 75 cents in the dollar into the system and ensure that no state or territory will ever again suffer Western Australia’s fate.

The Commonwealth will provide a permanent annual increase to the GST pool - an injection of additional funds, which will ensure that every state and territory will be better off under our proposal.

It will mean that Western Australia will receive $4.7 billion in extra funding between now and 2026-27.

That’s $4.7 billion extra to spend on schools, hospitals and other services over the next eight years.

And where’s Labor? Bill Shorten and his WA Labor members have not endorsed this reform and they have no plan of their own.

And of course they have no plans to deliver the stronger economy that in turn delivers the revenue that enables us to do it.

We have delivered a fair deal for Western Australia on the GST as we said we would - and the greatest threat to that fair deal would be a Labor Government.

Now, talking about fairness - let me say a big thank you to so many Western Australians who have been providing support for drought relief on the East Coast. From farmers sending over fodder to young 9-year-old Maisie I spoke to this week, who donated two years of saved pocket money - $193 to help the farmers on the East Coast.

[Applause]

When nature throws her worst at us, it brings out the best in Australians – Western Australia is a big state, we’re a big nation and we have a big heart, thank you.

[Applause]

What does a stronger economy mean for the people of Western Australia?

Well, over 14,000 new jobs have been created in WA over the past 12 months.

Since we came to Government in 2013, as Julie described, over a million jobs have been created across the country. 770,000 of those in just the last three years or so, and we have the lowest percentage of working age Australians on welfare in 25 years.

Now all of that means we have stronger revenues to guarantee essential services.

Our tax relief for low and middle income families will benefit more than one million Western Australians this year.

416,000 of them will receive the full tax relief this year - that’s $530 in their pockets. So that will make a real difference.

A typical family - say a tradie and a nurse - will receive $1,060 back with their tax return. It will help pay for rego, a new fridge or cover much of their power bill.

It’s real tax relief now - and guess what? Labor voted against it.

And they won’t stop. They want to increase taxes on housing, investment, superannuation savings, on pensioners and retirees. 

That means higher taxes on teachers, nurses, policemen, and firefighters. 

More than $200 billion in higher taxes - with billions ripped out of Western Australia - and no end in sight.  How does that create a stronger economy? 

Well, unlike Labor, aspiration is not a mystery to us.  It’s in our DNA. 

We are the party of aspiration and enterprise and Labor in 2018 under Bill Shorten has become the party of grievance and of envy.

Now when our personal income tax reform is complete by 2024, 94 per cent of Australians will face a marginal rate of no more than 32.5 cents on any extra dollar they earn.

What a great reform that is. How long have we talked about the disincentives of marginal tax rates, people earning more going into a higher tax rates losing more of their money to the taxman?

This is a phenomenal reform. Long overdue as many reformers and experts would say.

But we’ve got it done, we’ve got it through the Senate. Again, I want to thank Mathias and our Senate team for that leadership.

Labor voted against it, and will they will reverse it if they get back into government. 

The only thing they know about aspiration is how to tax it. 

At the same time, we’re reducing taxes for millions of Australian small and medium businesses - overwhelmingly family owned.

Here in Western Australia more than a quarter of a million family businesses are now paying less tax. It allows them to grow their business, invest and employ more workers.

Again, I was with Michaelia this week and Steve Irons at a family business, Thermo King West, meeting two of their new apprentices and that is a great example of what’s happening right across the country. That’s why we’re seeing record jobs growth, because businesses are investing.

Now Labor wants all of those small businesses to face a higher tax rate. Just how is that supposed to increase investment, employment and wages?  

It doesn’t end there. Retirees and pensioners will get the same Labor treatment.

Bill Shorten’s plan to steal $46 billion worth of franking credit tax refunds is targeted not at the rich Shorten rails against, but its targeted at self-funded retirees with hard-earned investments in Australian listed companies and little or modest taxable income.

Of course, the wealthy investor will be able to offset franking credits against other taxable income - so Shorten’s retiree tax is aimed squarely at older Australians who have saved for their retirement.

It’s a raid on the family budgets of 85,000 West Australians to the tune of a quarter of a billion dollars a year in WA alone.

Some people will lose 30 per cent of their income.

How is that fair? How does that make our economy stronger? How can that create a single new dollar of investment, create a single new job or lift a single wage? 

It is nothing less than another shameful act of betrayal.

Another Labor risk Australians can’t afford to take.

Now, by contrast, our vision for our nation is positive, optimistic, enterprising.

We know that it’s only with a strong economy that you can guarantee the essential services.

That’s why, for example, we are working hard to bring down energy costs. Most of the action over the National Energy Guarantee has been over east of course. Western Australia is not part of the NEM. But you can see how we are working with overwhelming support from business and consumers to bring down energy prices.

That is the goal of our energy policies: more affordable, reliable electricity, guided by engineering and economics not the toxic Green-Labor cocktail of ideology and idiocy.

Now, this year we have committed another $2.8 billion to vital road and rail projects - bringing our total infrastructure investments in Western Australia to $11 billion.

Our investments include a further $1.1 billion towards METRONET, supporting around 17,000 direct and indirect jobs.

The Northlink project - which Christian and I were at yesterday opening a new bridge - an $820 million investment, and that’s 80 per cent of the cost of the project I might add, and I’m told the single biggest main roads project in the Western Australia’s history.

$944 million for a Perth congestion package, including $581 million for the Tonkin Highway, to alleviate congestion on commuter and freight networks, creating over 7,000 jobs.

$560 million for the Bunbury Outer Ring Road long argued for by Nola Marino.

As part of the Roads of Strategic Importance initiative, Western Australia will receive $1.5 billion, along with Queensland and the Northern Territory, to seal roads, improve flood proofing, strengthen and widen roads, opening up corridors to provide a more reliable road network in Northern Australia.

We also remain committed to the Perth Freight Link. Our offer of $1.2 billion to build it still stands.

I’m pleased to announce today an investment of $19.5 million through the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund for upgrades to the Pippingarra Road in the north of the state. That will assist the Pilbara Minerals lithium project to grow, export, and create more jobs.

[Applause]

The Labor Party would have you believe that we have to choose between policies that grow our economy, like a competitive tax system, on the one hand and funding for schools and hospitals on the other.

But the truth is you can’t have one without the other. 

You cannot make life-saving medicines cheaper without a stronger economy.  You just heard Julie describe the way Labor stopped listing lifesaving medicines onto the PBS because they couldn’t afford them.

You cannot increase spending on hospital beds every year without a stronger economy.  

You cannot increase funding to schools without a stronger economy and the revenues that come with it.

Now Labor, dripping with grievance and envy, more resentful of business and enterprise than ever, wants only to redistribute wealth and has no plan, no policy whatsoever to create it.

It has taken us five years to get the budget back to the point where we have turned the corner on debt and will bring the budget back into balance a year early – 2019-20. That is five years of discipline, difficult decisions, jobs and small business policies that have strengthened the budget and strengthened our economy.

Turning around the structural problems we inherited from Labor has been hard, deliberate work. It’s like turning around an aircraft carrier. We haven’t been able to do it on a dime but we’re now starting to see the results: a stronger economy, more jobs and starting to pay off Labor’s debt.

Now, we cannot afford to send Australia backwards with Labor.

Back to Labor’s reckless spending.

Back to their anti-business and job destroying policies.

Back to Labor’s higher and higher taxes that will strangle our economy right at the very time we’re seeing stronger economic growth.

And of course, back to Labor’s crippling debt.

And we certainly cannot afford to let Labor once again outsource our border security to people smugglers as they have done before and undoubtedly would do again.

So my friends, if you want job security, if you want guaranteed funding for schools and hospitals, if you want a stronger budget where we’re paying down debt, if you want a stronger economy that makes it all possible, only our party and the National Party, together in government, can be trusted to deliver for you and your family.

Thank you very much.

[ENDS]

Press Office of the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, Prime Minister, Can

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