Australian Government coat of arms

Prime Minister of Australia

The Hon Tony Abbott MP

Press Conference, Parliament House

Monday, 16 September 2013

Parliament House

Prime Minister

Tags:

First Abbott Ministry

E&OE

TONY ABBOTT:

Today I am very pleased and proud to announce the incoming Coalition Ministry. This is the team to provide strong and stable government. This is the team that builds on a strong and effective, united and cohesive opposition.

It is, I believe, one of the most experienced incoming ministries in our history and I think it’s important to have experience as you move from opposition to government.

Our task, as you know, is to purposefully, methodically, calmly, implement the commitments that we made to the Australian people in the election and to respond intelligently to the events of the day and I believe this is a team more than up for that task.

If you go through the list you will see that there is enormous stability in this team but there have been, as well, some significant promotions. If you look at the list of the Cabinet, Mathias Cormann enters the Cabinet as the Minister for Finance. Andrew Robb becomes the Minister for Trade and Investment.

If you look at the outer ministry, you will see that entering the outer ministry is Senator Fiona Nash, as the Assistant Minister for Health; Senator Michaelia Cash as the Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection; Jamie Briggs as the Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, who will be particularly responsible for the commitment that the Coalition has to building the roads of the 21st century; and of course my friend and parliamentary colleague Senator Arthur Sinodinos who was previously my Shadow Parliamentary Secretary.

If you look at the ranks of parliamentary secretaries, the newcomers are Steve Ciobo, who is returning to the executive after an absence of three years; Paul Fletcher who is the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications; Josh Frydenberg and Alan Tudge who will be parliamentary secretaries to me, and Michael McCormack who will be the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance. Others have previously served in the opposition executive.

You may notice that one of the things that I have attempted to do with this new ministry is avoid the proliferation of titles, the sometimes grandiose titles of the former government, where it sometimes seemed that ministers needed an extra-large business card to contain all of their various titles. For instance, I note that Mr Emerson, in Ms Gillard’s final ministry, was the Minister for Trade and Competitiveness, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Asian Century Policy and Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research. I’ve tried to avoid all of that. Most ministers have a very simple title. The ministers in the outer ministry are mostly described as ‘Assistant Minister’ for health, education, infrastructure, whatever it might be, because I am determined, as far as is humanly possible, to have clear lines of authority and a back-to-basics government.

You’ll notice some absences. Obviously, Sophie Mirabella cannot serve at this point in time in the ministry. I hope Sophie does manage to claw back in the fight for the seat of Indi but I certainly regret her presence from the Ministry. She was an outstanding Shadow Minister for Industry. She was a staunch opponent of the carbon tax and a very strong advocate for manufacturing in particular.

Bronwyn Bishop, with my very strong support, has indicated that she wishes to be the Liberal Party’s candidate for the Speakership and I believe that Bronwyn would make an outstanding Speaker, should she be chosen by the Party Room and ultimately by the Parliament.

I’ve asked Warren Entsch to chair an important new parliamentary committee for northern development and Warren has agreed to take on that role. Warren is the embodiment of northern Australia and I can think of no better person to advocate on behalf of northern Australia than my friend and colleague Warren Entsch.

I am pleased and really delighted to say that Philip Ruddock has agreed to take on the job of Chief Government Whip. There will be some 30 new Coalition members of the House of Representatives and I can think of no better person to act as tutor-in-chief to our new members than Philip Ruddock, the Father of the House, a man of unrivalled experience, knowledge, insight, judgment and character, and I can think of no better person to give to the class of 2013 the kind of insights necessary if they are to have long and successful parliamentary careers.

I am proud to lead a great team. I hope to lead a strong and successful government and I am looking forward to the swearing in. I’ve asked the Governor-General if she would be prepared to accommodate us for a swearing in on Wednesday morning.

QUESTION:

One change of trade to trade and investment, and you’re the first Coalition Prime Minister in many years to put a Liberal back in that spot. Can you tell us what message are you sending with that shift?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, I’m very pleased that Andrew Robb has agreed to do that job and there are essentially two components to that role. The first is to try to ensure that the momentum towards the conclusion of advantageous trade agreements is resumed. There was a disappointing lack of progress under the former government after considerable progress under the last Coalition government. But I also want people here and abroad to understand that Australia welcomes foreign investment. It’s got to be the right foreign investment, it’s got to be foreign investment which is in our national interest, but one thing we can’t do is build walls against the world. If we build walls against the world, the world may very well build walls against us and we don’t want that to happen.

One thing though I wouldn’t want to do, Phil, is pre-empt any judgments that the Treasurer might find himself making on applications that come under the purview of the Foreign Investment Review Board. Obviously in the past there have been high profile rejections as well as high profile successes.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, there is one woman in Cabinet. Do you think that gender imbalance compared with the general population is an issue?

TONY ABBOTT:

Hugh, I’m obviously disappointed that there aren’t more women in Cabinet and if Sophie Mirabella had been clearly ahead in Indi, Sophie would be in the Cabinet. So plainly, I am disappointed that there are not at least two women in the Cabinet. Nevertheless, there are some very good and talented women knocking on the door of the Cabinet and there are lots of good and talented women knocking on the door of the ministry. So I think you can expect to see, as time goes by, more women in both the Cabinet and the Ministry.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, why then is there only one woman who’s a Parliamentary Secretary? If you want to prepare for the future and the appointment of women into the Cabinet, shouldn’t you be bringing women into the lower rungs right now? Why only one woman there?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, as I said, there are strong and capable women knocking on the door of the Cabinet and there are strong and capable women knocking on the door of the Ministry and two of the four new faces in the outer ministry are female. I did, as all of you would know, have to shrink down the overall opposition executive. There were, I think from memory, 47 members of the opposition executive prior to the election. Under statute, I am limited to 42. So there were inevitably going to be some people who would under other circumstances have been in the ministry but can’t be today.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, have you made any progress on the Commission of Audit or your carbon tax repeal? Two of your key policies.

TONY ABBOTT:

As you can imagine, I have been deep in briefings with senior officers of the public service over the last few days and they know what our priorities are. They know that the first substantive item of business for the new parliament will be the carbon tax repeal legislation and I expect that that legislation will be ready for the resumption of parliament. Similarly, on day one, which will be Wednesday, I expect Operation Sovereign Borders to commence.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, water was a big issue in opposition. You don’t have a dedicated water minister. There was talk that it may be put with agriculture to increase focus on production but also that maybe infrastructure could be where it sits, given the focus on infrastructure spending to deliver water. Where do you think it sits?

TONY ABBOTT:

Look, the administrative arrangements order will be finalised over the next couple of days and will be released by the Governor-General after the Ministry is sworn in but water will be with the department, with the Environment Ministry, with the Environment portfolio and Simon Birmingham, who was a very effective Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Water will continue to do that job in Government. Michelle?

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, there’s been a lot of speculation about Arthur Sinodinos. Could you explain why he didn’t get into Cabinet and could you also comment on the fact that one issue was that he might be called to the corruption commission?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, I want to absolutely scotch any suggestion that there is a cloud over Arthur Sinodinos. There is not. I wouldn’t be appointing Arthur to the incoming ministry if I thought there was any cloud over him. Arthur is a man of distinction. He is a man of integrity. I’ve known Arthur and worked closely with him for a very, very long time indeed and I expect him to be an outstanding Member of the new Government. One of the things you have come to expect of me I hope is a stable, measured, calm approach to doing things and part of a stable and measured and calm approach is orderly promotion, orderly succession and that’s what we’ve got here. We’ve got Arthur moving up from the ranks of Shadow Parliamentary Secretary to the ranks of the Ministry. Andrew?

QUESTION:

I understand that Tourism is going to come under the Foreign Affairs and Trade. What’s the thinking on that front and what does it mean for Tourism Australia?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, domestic tourism to the extent that it’s a federal responsibility will be in the Industry portfolio. Overseas tourism will be in the portfolio of Foreign Affairs and Trade – specifically with the Minister for Trade and Investment. I want to promote tourism, obviously. Tourism has suffered greatly in recent times, partly because of the strength of the Australian Dollar, partly because of additional regulations in a whole host of areas here and I welcome the fact that it should be easier for our international tourism industry, with the Dollar coming off and I certainly intend through our deregulatory agenda to make it easier for the tourism industry, both domestic and foreign.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, you’ve put sport into the Cabinet as a Cabinet position I think for the first time. I’m wondering given that you also said you’d like to see sport on the front page, why you specifically put sport into the Cabinet and what’s your response to the concerns that have been raised about match fixing in soccer and have you been approached by the AFL and the Victorian Government about the concerns they have about match-fixing and the requests that they’ve made for police to be able to share your information to sporting organisations so that sport and the integrity of sport can be clean?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well Phil, there’s quite a lot in that question. Let me start by saying that I think sport should be clean and fair. I absolutely think as a citizen that sport should be clean and fair. Now, in the end, the prime responsibility for sport has got to be with sports administrators and I really don’t think that the Prime Minister of the day should be attempting to micro-manage sport and the conduct of sporting codes and the conduct of sports officials and representatives. I just don’t think that’s the job of the Prime Minister of the day. Now, I think that it’s good that sport is represented by a Cabinet-level Minister, just as I think it’s good that Arts are represented by a Cabinet-level Minister. As for any changes to the law in respect of sport, well that’s something that I would seek to, well, I will ask the incoming Minister to seek an urgent briefing and if there’s anything that the Government should do, we’ll do it.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, I’m just wondering if there’s much of a reorganisation of the public service behind this? For example, Ian Macfarlane’s in charge of Industry and that there’s Resources and Energy. Do they just become one department? Do you anticipate much of a reorganisation to fit in with this Ministry?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, again, what I’ve tried to do is to avoid long and sonorous titles, because once you start mentioning one lot, you’ve got to start mentioning everyone or they feel that they’re in some way neglected. Inevitably, yes there will be a reorganisation of portfolios that will flow from this particular Ministry and as I said the administrative arrangements order will be published after the swearing in on Wednesday and some reorganisations inside the public service will obviously follow from that. Lenore?

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, will you be issuing new Ministerial guidelines to your new Ministerial line-up and also, have you given any thought to the potential for a perceived conflict of interest between Clive Palmer’s position with his party votes in the Senate and possibly in the lower house and legislation that may impact on his business and how that sits in the general conflict of interest rules?

TONY ABBOTT:

They will be substantially the same conflict of interest rules for the incoming Government as for the outgoing Government. The public expect the highest possible standards of probity from their Government and its Ministers and I think they’re entitled to know that it is a straight, clean, honest Government and that’s certainly the Government that I intend to lead. There may be some slight changes, but they will be relatively slight and, if anything, they will toughen up the rules that the former Government had in place. As for Clive Palmer, look, I welcome the fact that people who have succeeded in business are interested in running for parliament. I welcome that fact. Obviously, he’ll be subject to the ordinary disclosure rules. Backbenchers, I hasten to add, ordinary Members of the Parliament I hasten to add, are not subject to the stricter rules that apply to Ministers.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, seeing as this is your first time before the press since being elected, can you give us your latest thinking on the return of Parliament, when that will happen and also your plans to visit Indonesia?

TONY ABBOTT:

Mark, look, I want Parliament to come back as soon as it reasonably can, but I’m not going to rush it back until we’ve got a very substantial legislative programme. One thing I’m not going to do is call back the Parliament for show. When it comes back, it will be for substance. The last thing I want to do is to use this Parliament as effectively a giant and expensive photo opportunity. That’s not what I want and the incoming Government will shun that kind of Government, because frankly one of the reasons why the former Government turned out to be such a disappointment even to its strongest supporters was because there was too much spin and not enough substance. So it will come back as soon as it can, but it won’t come back until we’ve got a very solid legislative programme. As for my trip to Indonesia, I want it to happen as soon as possible. I will be going to Indonesia, in any event, for an important international conference for the APEC meeting in Bali and I think that starts on about the 5th or the 6th of September – October, sorry. I would like to go before then, but that’s obviously subject to the schedules of people in Indonesia. Mark?

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, is there still a Budget emergency or have your briefings with Treasury alleviated the problem?

TONY ABBOTT:

There is a very serious deterioration in our budgetary situation – a very serious deterioration. The deterioration is not markedly different from the situation that was revealed in the PEFO and just prior to the start of the campaign. It’s not markedly different from that. Nevertheless I want to stress that we will bring the Budget back into surplus as quickly as we responsibly can, consistent with the election commitments that we’ve given.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, just on the public service, you’ve changed a lot of departments. Will there be changes now to departmental heads and how responsible do you expect your ministers to be for answering to the Parliament and their jobs?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, I think all of my incoming ministers appreciate that they have to be accountable to the Parliament. Ministers are accountable at a range of different levels. They're accountable to me. They're accountable to their electorates. They're accountable to the parliament and obviously, as members of the Liberal and National parties, they're accountable to their parties as well. But all of my ministers will know, because if they don't know it already I'll tell them, that they are expected to act with absolute good faith before the Parliament and, as we all know, the ultimate sin as a minister is misleading the Parliament.

As for departmental secretaries, I'll have more to say about that later in the week. There will be some changes there but I would like, through you, the people of Australia and the public service, to understand that I respect the Australian public service. I have worked with the Australian public service very closely for nine years as a minister. I think the public servants that I've worked with at a senior level closely and over many years know that I respect the public service. I understand that there's almost nothing that government can do other than through the public service and you won't see anything from the incoming government which indicates a failure to respect the professionalism of the Australian public service.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, just on Indonesia, Julie Bishop said today that Australia would seek Indonesia's understanding not necessarily permission to implement its border protection policy. Does that mean the Coalition would implement the policy regardless of Indonesia's views on whether it should happen? And secondly, there doesn't appear to be a Pacific Island affairs parliamentary secretary as Labor had. What message is that sending to the region?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, again I am trying to avoid a situation where unless something is specifically mentioned in someone's title it is unimportant. Everything that is significant is obviously of concern to an Australian Government but it is possible to take things very, very seriously indeed without feeling they need to be included in people's titles because we are just getting to a situation of title inflation and frankly I want to avoid title inflation. Thankfully I think we've got some title deflation as a result of this ministry. Pacific Island affairs will be handled by the ministerial team in Foreign Affairs and Trade, as you'd expect, and I'm sure they'll do a very good job.

As for Indonesia, I have been very clear that in many respects this is our most important single relationship. By virtue of its size, proximity and potential, this is an extraordinarily important relationship to Australia and it was a relationship that wasn't always well handled by the former government. I'm determined to get the relationship off to the best possible start and the best way to do that is to indicate to you that I'm not going to conduct discussions with the Indonesians via the media. I want to have as far as I humanly can face-to-face discussions before I start pontificating on aspects of the relationship. Suffice to say that between President Yudhoyono and John Howard there was a very strong and close relationship in times past. I would hope to have a similarly strong relationship with President Yudhoyono and any successor.

QUESTION:

But does suggesting you don't need to implement your policy, does that get the relationship onto a good start?

TONY ABBOTT:

Again, I'm just not going to offer a running commentary on the relationship. It's a very important relationship. At times it's been less smooth than it might have been. I want it to be a stronger and better relationship in the future than it's always been in the past. I certainly look forward to a very good relationship with President Yudhoyono and I know that my ministers are looking forward to a very good relationship with their Indonesian counterparts.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, John Cobb been the shadow ag minister since 2008. He's missed out on your front bench. Have you spoken to him and how do you feel about him missing out?

TONY ABBOTT:

Cobby missed out because of changes inside the National Party and because of changes to the representation of the National Party inside the Coalition under the ordinary Coalition arrangements. Cobby hasn't missed out because he did a poor job. He did a good job. He did a very good job. There are a number of people who were in the opposition executive who performed strongly. They haven't missed out because of poor performance. They've missed out because I've simply had to make some changes, many of them because of the effect of the legislation on the number of people who could be on the government front bench. I'm very confident though that Barnaby Joyce will do a really outstanding job in this portfolio. He'll be ably assisted by Senator Richard Colbeck. Barnaby knows country Australia like the back of his hand. While he hasn't been a farmer all his life, he certainly has a lot of farming experience, a strong farming background and Richard Colbeck has a very strong experience in agriculture from his days in government and opposition.

QUESTION:

Without wanting to encourage title inflation, a lot of people watching this may be wanting to know who's going to handle some of the portfolios such as aged care, mental health and disability. Can you indicate which ministers will be in charge?

TONY ABBOTT:

Peter Dutton will be responsible for mental health so that will be handled at a Cabinet level. Mitch Fifield will be responsible for disabilities and aged care under the overall ministerial responsibilities of Kevin Andrews as Minister for Social Services and Mitch Fifield will do aged care. Again, I want to get away from this idea that unless you have a minister with your specific interest in his or her specific title that there is going to be any lack of concern. Obviously there are a whole range of federal government programmes as everyone will see when the administrative arrangements order is published. All of these programmes will be under strong ministerial supervision and we are going to deliver for seniors. We are going to deliver for people with disabilities. We are going to deliver for farmers. We're going to deliver for Northern Australia. The fact that not all of these groups are specifically innumerated in ministerial titles doesn’t mean that people aren't going to get a fair go because, let's face it, there are some things which are so important that in a sense every minister should be concerned about them.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, already you've had since the election 470 people plus arrive on seven boats. By week's end, what difference will you have made?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, as I said, Operation Sovereign Borders will commence on Wednesday and it will start to make a difference from day one. Do I think that the boats will stop dead on day one of an incoming government? I wish but it may not happen. But from day one the people smugglers and their customers will start to notice a very significant difference. Interdiction operations in the seas to our north will change and become more forthright. Cooperation with the authorities in Indonesia will become more vigorous. What happens to people who make it to Australia will change. They will much more swiftly be transferred to places like Manus Island and Nauru. So Operation Sovereign Borders will commence on Wednesday when the new ministry is sworn in and from day one it will start to make a difference and I am absolutely confident that we can and will stop the boats.

QUESTION:

Will the three-star officer be named on Wednesday? Will it be that quick?

TONY ABBOTT:

That may not happen on Wednesday but certainly it will happen very, very soon after the swearing in of the new government.

QUESTION:

From Wednesday, say a boat arrives on Wednesday, will the new rules be issued straight away?

TONY ABBOTT:

As I said, Operation Sovereign Borders will commence from Wednesday. Not all of the elements of Operation Sovereign Borders will commence instantaneously on day one but, nevertheless, it will commence on day one and it will steadily be put into effect and I am confident that we can stop the boats. I've been extensively briefed, as has the incoming minister for Immigration and Border Protection, as has the incoming Minister for Foreign Affairs on various elements of Operation Sovereign Borders. I think that the governmental apparatus generally is keen to make a very substantial difference from day one. I don't think anyone in the official family has liked the fact that our borders have been so porous in this area and I have been only too happy to assure them that I am absolutely determined to stop the boats as quickly as we humanly can. This is one of those stand or fall issues. It really is. It's a stand or fall issue. We will make a difference. We will start from day one.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott what are your expectations for MYEFO, will MYEFO come out in January and would you be setting that up as a mini Budget, kind of a reset to the economy?

TONY ABBOTT:

Again, I think it's very important that everyone understands that Australia is under new management. Australia is open for business and Australia will live within its means. Australia will live within its means. We will get MYEFO out at the appropriate time. I understand that there have been some years when it has come out in January as opposed to November/December. The important thing is to get the right policies in place as quickly as we can so that when MYEFO does come out, it does so in ways which reassure the Australian people that the economy is under stronger management than it might have been over the last few years.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, what can you tell us about deliberations over Syria and given the situation we have where you haven't yet been sworn in and Mr Rudd remains care-taker Prime Minister, have you had to have any discussions with him about that or any other matter in the past 10 days?

TONY ABBOTT:

I haven't had any discussion with Mr Rudd about Syria since the election but I did have a discussion with Mr Rudd about Syria prior to the election under the care-taker conventions. I have obviously spoken to our senior public servants about this. I have been briefed on Syria. I am not aware that there are any developments on Syria that require any response from Australia. Obviously if the situation changes I'll respond appropriately.

QUESTION:

I understand the title issue but in the education sector it's a huge sector, can you just explain to us whether your senior and junior Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries will split up higher education, schools and particularly the science issue or would Christopher Pyne have overall responsibility for all of them with others being delegated for some issues?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, science will largely be in the industry portfolio where it's been. Obviously, schools, higher education, early childhood education and childcare curriculum, such matters will be in the education portfolio. In the end, the divisions of responsibility inside the portfolio will be settled by Mr Pyne and myself over the next couple of days but I think it would be fair to anticipate that Sussan Ley, the Assistant Minister for Education, would continue to have responsibility for childcare and early childhood education. It's quite possible that the incoming parliamentary secretary, Senator Ryan, will have responsibility for curricula amongst other things, but higher education and schools I think will largely remain the responsibility of Mr Pyne.

QUESTION:

What about science, that's not listed in any of these. Will that go in industry?

TONY ABBOTT:

Science, as in the CSIRO, that will be in Industry, where it's been.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, just in terms of the mechanics, are you intending to continue having Cabinet meetings on Mondays? The last Prime Minister, actually I've lost count of who it was but Kevin Rudd at one point said that he was going to have press conferences after Cabinet meetings. Are you proposing any kind of transparency like that?

TONY ABBOTT:

I'm not going to make up promises that I don't end up keeping and I am not going to commit to talking unless I've got something to say. I think that there's been far too much empty talk from people who should know better at senior levels of Government over the last few years. I really do want to begin as I mean to continue. I expect this Government to be a Government which means what it says and then acts in accordance with its statements. If there's something to say after a Cabinet meeting, there will be the appropriate announcement. If there's not, there won't be. I expect that when parliament's sitting Cabinet will continue to meet on a Monday. Outside parliamentary sitting weeks it may well be that Cabinet meets on a Tuesday or some other appropriate day.

QUESTION:

Ian Macfarlane in the Howard Government was Industry Minister was a good friend of the car industry, Mitsubishi springs to mind. Now, you're in government, can you tell us a bit more? Are you going to be more supportive than what you were saying in Opposition when it comes to handouts for the motor vehicle industry in particular or stick with the position you took in?

TONY ABBOTT:

Phil, we'll stick with the position we took to the election. There will continue to be a high level of assistance to the motor industry but we expect the motor industry in return for that high level of assistance to provide us with a reasonable indication of how it is going to increase volumes, particularly increase export volumes. I want the car industry in this country to have a long-term viable future. I don't want it to live from hand to mouth. I accept that government has a role in bringing this about but I also think the industry has a role of bringing this about and I am looking forward to further discussion.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, just back on asylum-seeker policy, how committed are you to buying back boats from Indonesian fishermen and if so, when would that start?

TONY ABBOTT:

I am committed to stopping the boats and during the campaign we committed to establishing a fund that would be available to Australian and Indonesian officials operating appropriately and cooperatively in Indonesia that would be there to try to ensure that local villagers are working with us rather than against us when it comes to the people smuggling trade. Now, that money will be available to do what is reasonably necessary to get good results rather than bad results.

QUESTION:

Mr Abbott, Warren Entsch's brief sees him chairing the joint parliamentary committee. What sort of timeframe do you want to see for some sort of plan?

TONY ABBOTT:

Well, effectively, this committee will be the parliamentary reference group for the Green Paper and White Paper process that we have committed to on northern development. The Green Paper I think from memory was promised within six months, a White Paper from memory was promised within 12 months. This is a Government which is serious about developing our north. We accept that this is a long term project but nevertheless when it comes to approvals, when it comes to infrastructure, when it comes to sensible citing of governmental institutions and agencies, there is - when it comes to water storages - there is more that can be done and, as I said, Warren is the embodiment of Northern Australia. He's been a cattleman, a businessman, a crocodile shooter as well as a distinguished and at times colourful Member of Parliament for Northern Australia and I can think of no better person to lead this charge for a stronger and more developed Northern Australia. I want Northern Australia not just to be an after thought in our country, I want it to be much more central to our national life in the decades to come and that's why Warren has been given this very important advocacy role.

Thank you.

[ends]