Well, thank you very much, Barnaby.
It's great to be back in Queensland, although it's a bit tougher after Wednesday night.
But nonetheless the Blues will be back, no doubt, fitter and stronger next year, but well done to the Maroons! Well done to the Maroons!
Look, it's great to be here in Brisbane. Brisbane is a great global city. It is a gateway to the north, it is an example of the extraordinary prosperity and enterprise of Queenslanders.
But there is so much more to Queensland than Brisbane and the south-east. As you know, and with many of you, with my colleagues here, my federal and state parliamentary colleagues - and welcome to you all and thank you for being here today - we've been right across the State. I've met communities from Winton to the Western Downs, in Bowen and Proserpine I saw the resilience of the people of Queensland coping with the worst that Mother Nature can throw at us.
We've had Politics in the Pub in Dalby, Toowoomba, Rockhampton, among others, been to the Bell Show, a barbecue at Emerald, a solar farm at Barcaldine. The excitement of announcing the new stadium at Townsville. Is Ewen Jones here? Good on you mate, you'll be back, you'll be back.
And the solemn moment of remembering the Battle of the Coral Sea where the courage of Australian and American sailors and aviators saved Australia from Japanese invasion.
This is a vast State. It is a state of great regions and great cities, strong communities. And there is only one party that truly represents Queensland, all of Queensland, all of its people, and all of its diversity, and that party is you, the LNP. Give yourselves a hand.
Now, under the leadership of Tim Nicholls around Deb Frecklington, we are looking forward to the election of an LNP government that will deliver for all of Queensland. There are no greater advocates for your State than your LNP members, at the State level.
But in Canberra, I can tell you the Federal LNP team is formidable, ferocious, passionate in their advocacy for the State of Queensland. Let's hear it for your federal LNP members.
You know, we should not be shy about saying what we have achieved in the last year.
There was an election, a little over a year ago, Queensland delivered an outstanding performance. The LNP ensured the strength of your Party, your supporters, your members, ensured we stayed in Government. We've got a one-seat majority in the House of Representatives, we have 29 seats out of 76 in the Senate, but believe me, my friends, we have done more in the last year than we did in the previous three. We have managed to restore the rule of law to the construction sector, the Building and Construction Commission is back in business. We've done that.
We haven't talked about helping business, you know, gone on about it and given fine speeches. We've delivered it.
We have reduced company tax for businesses, small and medium businesses, that employ half of all Australian workers, up to $50 million in turnover. We did that, you did that, and we did that in a Parliament where we have, as I said, only 29 votes out of 76 in the Senate. We've achieved that.
We've managed to restore a childcare system that is fair and more available.
We've managed to take all of those 27 deals that Labor did, all of those secret deals they did - utterly inconsistent, short-changing Queensland massively on schools funding - and we have for the first time, national, consistent, needs-based funding, absolutely in accordance with our principles and our policy and doing the right thing by this State. That's another one of the things we've done.
We have delivered stronger and tougher laws to keep us safe. We have delivered the legislation for the first time that enables our soldiers and aviators in the field in the Middle East, to kill terrorists wherever
they are, not simply when they've got a gun in their hand. Where there was a legal barrier to them having unrestricted targeting access, as soon as that was raised with me, I dealt with it. I got on with it and dealt with it.
We’re taking real action to deliver the results that Australians need, to deliver the opportunity and security though need. Now, let me turn now to the question of security, because I see that the initiatives that Tim is taking today, it's foremost in the minds of the state Party as well.
The first responsibility of every government is to protect its citizens. The global threat we face from Islamist terrorism has been cruelly brought home to us recently again, with four young Australians murdered in Melbourne, in London and in Baghdad. Last week, with the British Prime Minister Theresa May, I visited the London Bridge and Borough Market where the young Queensland girl Sara Zelenak and the South Australian nurse Kirsty Boden, were murdered. I met and thanked the first responders who rushed to help the injured, including the two young Metropolitan police officers who performed CPR, doing their very best to save young Sara. I thanked them for that. My unrelenting focus and the focus of our Government, is to keep Australians safe while maintaining our way of life, our values and our freedoms.
Since September 2014, our law enforcement agencies have disrupted 12 planned terrorist attacks.
We've given our agencies the powers they need to keep Australians safe through the strongest counter-terrorism laws. We are actively hunting down the terrorists in the conflict zones, and at their supporters and the terrorists in Australia will continue to be monitored, prosecuted and jailed.
We've passed legislation to keep terrorists in prison after their sentences expire, if they continue to pose a risk. They will not be allowed back onto the street. I want to welcome Tim Nicholls' announcement today to increase the detention periods for terror suspects in Queensland . To support the initiative that I took at the COAG meeting of state and territory leaders recently, to ensure that whether it comes to bail or parole, there is always a presumption against granting bail or parole to people who have advocated or had connections with terrorism. The citizens’ safety must always come first.
At the G20 meeting in Germany last week, Australia led the debate and the consensus that the rule of law must prevail online as it does offline. We have to do all we can to ensure that the internet is not used as a vehicle for spreading terrorist propaganda or planning terrorists attacks, unable to be seen by our security agencies. Yesterday Senator Brandis and I announced that we will introduce new laws to require the big online service providers to assist us in finding and defeating the terrorists and other criminals who take advantage of encryption technologies. The privacy of the terrorist or the child molester or the drug trafficker can never trump the safety of the Australian people and our children.
We have secured our borders. There has not backpack a successful people smuggling expedition to Australia for more than 1,000 days and we are strengthening and reaffirming the value of Australian citizenship. Last month Peter Dutton introduced legislation that will require anyone who seeks citizenship to respect Australian values, pledge allegiance to our nation and reach an acceptable standard of English.
We are a proud and successful multicultural nation. Our democracy is founded on shared values, common principles, the rule of law, freedom, equality, mutual respect, the equality of men and women. We make no apology for asking those who seek to join our Australian family to demonstrate their commitment to the values that define us, the Australian values that define us and unite us as Australians.
These, you would think, are common-sense changes, yet the Labor Party opposes them. Labor lost control of our borders and public confidence in our migration system was damaged as a result. At the G20, it was clear, talking to the other leaders, that Europe is still grappling with the consequences of
uncontrolled migration flows. Many leaders describe it as an existential threat to their societies.
Weak borders fragment social cohesion, raised community concerns about national security, and they undermine the consensus required to sustain immigration and indeed the harmonious multicultural society we enjoy in Australia today.
Our success is built in large part, in fact it is built on the foundation, of the confidence of the Australian people that it is their government and their government alone that determines who comes here, the terms on which they come and how long they stay. That is Australia’s sovereign right.
Now, we are strengthening the migration system by abolishing the 457 visas. Australian visas should not be an easy pathway to permanent residence and citizenship. We must always prioritise the interests of Australians in every aspect of our migration system; prioritising Australian job-seekers, ensuring that wherever possible local jobs are filled by Australians. We know how important jobs and job creation is here in Queensland. The 457 visa will be replaced with new temporary visas, underpinned by skills lists that are focused on skills shortages. It will give business the incentive to employ Australians first. It will help train Australians to fill the skill gaps.
Originally, the 457 visa was designed to fill gaps in the workforce that could not be filled by Australian workers. Labor used it to fast-track foreign workers into jobs ahead of Australians.
Employment Minister Bill Shorten was the Olympic champion of granting 457 visas, granting a record number during his time. So when he comes here and talks a big game about jobs, his actions and his policies reveal a different agenda. Shorten is a hypocrite and an opportunist. He prefers to play on the fears and the vulnerabilities of hard-working Australians, rather than support policies that will support them and their businesses.
Like State Labor, Federal Labor's policies will kill economic growth and destroy jobs.
I ask you, what single policy does Federal Labor have that would encourage a business to invest a dollar or hire an additional employee?
I tell you, they have none.
Their recipe is higher taxes, more regulation. Higher taxes, more regulation, more debt. They are not prepared to back the enterprise and the business that is the engine room of our economy.
We are. We are the party of business. Above all of small business, of hard-working, enterprising Australians. Robert Menzies' Forgotten people if you like; farmers, small business, professional people.
That's who we are backing.
That's what our tax changes are backing and that's why we are seeing now the growth in employment, a consequence of the economic leadership we’re providing.
Now one of the greatest threats to Queensland's prosperity is the reckless energy policies of this Palaszczuk Government, backed in by Federal Labor. The Queensland Government has pursued energy policies based on ideology and politics. Power bills have soared. The reliability of the grid has been compromised.
In contrast, my Government and Tim and Deb's state LNP team are united in our commitment to growing Queensland's economy. We will not undermine the affordability and reliability of the energy system. Our commitment is to make power more affordable and more reliable.
Queenslanders are paying much more for energy than they should, because the State Government has failed to put consumers first. The Queensland government-owned electricity generators are allowed to impose a de facto electricity tax on this State. As Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg pointed out last week, Queensland had almost double the number of spot price spikes above $5,000 a megawatt hour of any other state in recent years.
At the same time, the State Budget for 2017/18, forecast a $1.5 billion windfall from the government-owned generators over the next 4 years - a 110% increase on the dividend outlined in the 2015/16 Budget.
The gaming of the system has meant that between January and the end of May, Queensland has had the highest wholesale prices in Australia; $157 a megawatt hour, 30% above the national average. That is fuelling price spikes. And refusing to provide competitive pricing to big industrial users is leading to avoidable job losses in manufacturing, like the 100 jobs that were lost at the Boyne Island Aluminium Smelter in Gladstone when the company had to cut production by 14%.
Then there is the proposal for a massive surge of renewables in Queensland, a target of 50% by 2030, and this week a declaration of a unilateral, net zero emissions target by 2050. All without any plan for security or reliability. Remarkably, we have already seen this play out in South Australia. We know where it ends. We know what happens if you allow left-wing ideology and politics to drive your energy policy. You get unreliable and unaffordable power and business is driven out of your State.
Now, what the Palaszczuk Government is seeking to do here, is undermine your competitiveness in the interests of chasing Green votes in the inner city.
You can't allow them to get away with it, and we won't.
With the support of Tim and his team, we've taken decisive action on energy prices.
We've intervened in the gas market so that households and businesses can access gas they need at prices they can afford.
We’re stopping electricity companies from using the courts to overturn regulators' decisions on prices and empowering the ACCC to uncover and prevent anti-competitive and anti-consumer behaviour in the gas and electricity markets.
As Barnaby noted, we are not the afraid of getting on and building things.
We are building Snowy Hydro 2.0, a massive battery in the centre of the national electricity market which will make renewables more reliable, baseload generation more valuable and bring more power options into the system. Storage matched on a smaller scale by the Kidston solar and pumped hydro project, we are also backing in Far North Queensland, west of Cairns. Now, Tim has stated his support for a new state-of-the art, high-efficiency, low-emission, coal-fired power station in North Queensland.
Those people who say coal and other fossil fuels have no future are delusional. They fly in the face of all of the economic forecasts. Right now, we need hard-headed, practical, ideology-free approaches to energy. We need reliable, affordable baseload power. That can be provided by more than one technology. ‘All of the above’ is the best approach. We have plenty of energy options. Let's make sure they are judged on their merits.
But to repeat what I have said for many years - best part of a decade in fact - as the world's largest exporter of coal, we do have a vested interest in demonstrating that modern, coal-fired technology can play an efficient part in a modern, lower-emission energy future.
Now, our LNP Coalition Government has made the tough and pragmatic decisions to put the Budget on a sustainable footing and return to surplus.
All new spending has been paid for in full by reducing spending elsewhere in the Budget.
Average real growth in spending under our government is lower than the average of each of the previous five governments.
We remain on track to return to surplus in 2020/21.
Because we've slowed the rate of spending, we are able to deliver on and pay for our promises. We've locked in, in the Budget, more than $14 billion for Queensland infrastructure, including an extra $844 million for the Bruce Highway priority projects as part of our 10-year, $6.7 billion upgrade.
That includes more than $530 million for vital upgrades to the Bruce between Pine River and Caloundra, great news for all who call the beautiful Sunshine Coast home. Ted O'Brien and Andrew Wallace, of course particular advocates for those communities.
We are investing $10 billion for passenger rail under the national rail program, not just for capital cities, but to fund rail links like the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast.
We've cut taxes for 540,000 small and medium Queensland businesses. Labor thinks tax cuts are a handout to business. That's how they describe it. We know that tax cuts mean more investment and more jobs.
We've extended the instant asset write-off for another year and to business with a $10 million turnover.
We've delivered tax cuts to 85,000 middle-income Queenslanders by ensuring they don't enter the second highest tax bracket.
Now Queensland farmers continue to benefit from our big export deals with China, Japan and Korea. I want to pay tribute to the Deputy Prime Minister who alongside the Trade Minister Steve Ciobo, assisted by Keith Pitt, are driving better returns for farmers through the farm gate. We are always working to expand our trade deals and at the G20 this week, you would have seen I secured strong commitments to proceed to conclude trade agreements from the leaders of the EU, from Indonesia and the United Kingdom.
We've restored, as I said, the ABCC to bring an end to the thuggery and lawlessness on work sites in Queensland and across Australia. When Parliament returns, we will introduce legislation to allow the
courts to ban union or employer association officials from holding office if they repeatedly break the law, and deregister or put into administration those organisations that are no longer serving their members' interests, or have otherwise become dysfunctional.
So we are getting on with our strong, Liberal National agenda. We've achieved a lot in the first year since the election and we've got a lot more to do over the next two years.
Now, Queensland is a powerhouse State, and the Coalition Government is focused on delivering for you.
There is a lot more to do, but through the hard work and the passionate advocacy of all our LNP members, Queensland has an even brighter future.
Tim and Deb have a clear plan focused on the jobs and infrastructure required to build a better Queensland.
They will get Queensland moving after the years of do-nothing Labor government.
Their economic plan will take Queensland once again to the head of the pack. Now, we will continue to work with them, as will our entire Coalition team, to ensure the election of an LNP government for Queensland. Under the strong leadership of Tim Nicholls and Deb Frecklington, the coming State election is the moment when Queensland's fortunes will be turned around. Their leadership, their partnership with us in Canberra, will ensure Queenslanders get the leadership, the investment, the progress, the prosperity that they deserve and we are determined to deliver for them.
Thank you so much for your support.
Speech to LNP State Conference - 15 July 2017