Photo: AAP Image
PRIME MINISTER: First of all let me say welcome. The next generation of Liberal and National Party leadership sits around this table and sits around this room today. I want to congratulate you on the oath of office that you’ve taken today. It’s both a very solemn moment for us all, reminding us of the most important of all things, but equally it is a time, I think, to spend with your family and your friends and I’m glad you’ve been able to do that. But the time for those sentimentalities has finished, because now is the time to go to work.
Now, for each of you today, I gave you a lapel pin with the Australian flag on it. I’ve been wearing this now for many, many years. I can’t remember when I first started doing this. The reason I wear it is because it reminds me every single day whose side I’m on. I’m on the side of the Australian people. That’s what I’m saying to myself, that’s who I think about first, every single day. Now I know you all feel the same way. I’m sure you had other devices and other things you do to keep that focus, and we’re going to keep that focus. So I gave that to you as a reminder today of how I remind myself: we are on the side of the Australian people. That’s who our clear focus must be on. It’s because we share their fundamental beliefs and values. We believe in a fair go for those who have a go. That’s what we believe, that’s what they believe. We do not believe, as our political opponent’s do, that for someone to do better, someone has to do worse. That’s not fairness. We’re going to redefine what fairness means in this country. Fairness means a fair go for those who have a go. When I think of all the people who have come from all over the world to make this great country, that’s why they came here. That’s why they stayed here, and that’s why together we are all Australians and we can be proud of those values. Those values, those Liberal values, those National values, will be the basis of everything we continue to do, as it has been ever since we have all walked into this place. We must remind ourselves of those things every single day.
Our job now is to provide stability, to provide a unity, and a unity of purpose for the task that we have ahead of us. We have some immediate priorities and yesterday I was pleased to be with Michael and Bridget and David up in Quilpie and the drought. What I was particularly impressed with yesterday was there wasn’t a sense of despair; there was a sense of optimism and a sense of hope. Stephen Tully showed me this picture of a paddock which was brown yesterday, but two and a half years ago, the grass was up to your knees. That’s the hope that sits inside his head, every single day when he thinks about his kids. And so as we provide relief and we restore in rural Australia for the drought, then we need to provide people with that hope, with that assurance, that we will achieve this with them together.
We’re going to get electricity prices down, Angus. That’s what we’re going to do – they’re going to go down, those electricity prices. Absolutely. The Minister for getting electricity prices down. And that is something that I think will demonstrate to all Australians how just how much we are on their side. There will be continuity in our policy in this area, but there will also be new ideas in this area, to ensure that we get those prices down. We’ve got to move quickly, Dan, as you know, and I commend
Simon for the work that you’ve done in that area, taking on your new responsibilities. I know you’ll be working together on this. Our needs-based education funding model that was introduced by Malcolm Turnbull was a bold vision for this country and how our schools are funded. We’re going to bring that home and we’re going to bring everybody in the schools sector with us, from every part of that sector. We’ll be reaching out and concluding the work that Simon and Malcolm started and ensuring that we can complete that job.
There are many other things that we’re going to be having to be doing over the weeks, months ahead, and we’ll get about that around this table, working together. Just like it has been done under the former Prime Minister and the Prime Minster before that. Again, I particularly want to thank Malcolm and Julie, who have both made various statements in recent days. They have been great contributors to our country and I thank them all for the opportunity from us who have had the opportunity to serve around a table with them.
I stood with Tony Abbott when we stopped the boats. I stood with Malcolm Turnbull when we balanced and brought the Budget back into balance - that’s where we’re heading. And now you’re all standing with me to create an even stronger Australia. Where we keep our economy strong to guarantee the essentials that Australians rely on. Where we keep Australians safe. There are a few people not here today, Dutts is up there at the Five Eyes meeting, at work, along with Christian, on this very task – keeping Australians safe. And we’re going to keep Australians together. At all times we’re going to remember one thing when we look at this on our lapel, and we’re going to remember – we are on the side of the Australian people. Thanks colleagues.