PRIME MINISTER: How good is Trevor Evans? I’ll tell you how good he is.
So, how good is Trevor Evans?
Take two. Do we have a contestant number three? Okay, on your tables are 40 great reasons why Trevor Evans is doing a tremendous job here in Brisbane. I see a lot of great local members and they’re all on my team. And there are none better than Trevor. The way that he’s applied himself to the role, whether it’s with infrastructure, whether it’s in small business support, whether it is indeed the environment. Whether it’s supporting local sport, I’ve just come from an announcement with Trevor today, supporting local sport here in this community. This what good local members do and you are I think, in great shape with the tremendous work that Trevor has done for your community. I’m really pleased to be here with him again.
This is the third year running that I’ve been up in Brisbane after the Budget. The first time was when we were together with the Chamber up in town, it’s great to be back here with you today, to be here talking about the Budget and Trevor has played such an important part.
Can I also, before we get going much further, acknowledge the traditional Indigenous owners of the land, their elders past, present and emerging. Can I also acknowledge any veterans or servicemen and women who are in the room today. I say simply, on behalf of all Australians, as one Australian to another, thank you for your service.
When I was here earlier this year with Trevor, we were down at the Brothers Rugby Club and I talked that day about an important commitment I was making to Australia. I was outlining once again the strong economic plan that we’ve been pursuing as a Government for the last five and a half years. As a result of that plan, as Josh Frydenberg said when he handed down the Budget last week, unemployment is lower. There are more Australians in jobs, particularly more women in jobs. He talked about how youth employment had particularly grown and how we’ve now set a record for the strongest growth in youth employment, people aged 15 -24 in a financial year, in Australia’s history. We talked about how we’d gotten spending under control, to ensure that we have the lowest growth in Commonwealth expenditure of any Government in 50 years. How we’ve gotten taxes under control and how we as a result of all of this, have been able to bring the Budget back to the first surplus we’ve seen in 12 years.
On that day, I made an important commitment, I said our Government’s economic plan would deliver 1.24 million new jobs over the next five years. Now I’ll tell you how that’s going to happen. You’re going to make it happen. Small and family businesses, medium-sized business, businesses around the country, are the ones who are going to make that happen. How do I know that? Because that’s what you’ve just done. Over 1.2 million jobs have been created since we were first elected back in 2013. Today there are more people who are employed in this country of working age, than at any other time in our country’s history. It is extraordinary. The last time we were in that sort of shape, was back in 2007. In the last 12-18 months we have eclipsed the proportion of Australians of working age in employment, that was previously set by the Howard Government. That was the same Government that left Australia with a $20 billion surplus, $40 billion in the bank. Which, when Labor was elected soon after that, they turned into a $27 billion deficit. A series of deficits which plunged this nation into debt.
I know he’s a son of Brisbane - Swanny was leaving the Parliament this week, just the week passed, in Budget week and I was able to say quite honestly and quite truthfully, that we are in Swanny’s debt.
Think about it, literally we are in Swanny’s debt. But I’ll be kind to him on the basis that he’s a Queenslander and I’m in Queensland today but the legacy is of debt. The legacy is of debt that we’ve been living with as we’ve worked hard to repair the finances of this country. And we’ve brought it back to the point where we were able stand up this last week and announce the first surplus Budget we’ve reached in 12 years.
“So what?” some people will say. What does that mean? What does that matter to me? Okay, you’ve achieved a surplus, so what?
The first step in paying down debt is, you’ve got to get the Budget back into surplus. If we don’t get the Budget back into surplus, then we would be putting a burden on our kids forever. Last time around, when we were in Government the Howard and Costello Government paid off the debt in a decade and that is now our mission. Having achieved step one and gotten the Budget back into a surplus position, we will now be able to start paying down that debt.
And indeed we’ll pay down around $50 billion of it over the next four years and that debt will be gone within a decade or sooner, as a result of pursuing the economic and financial management policies that we have put in place.
Why does that matter? Because the interest bill on debt is about $18 billion. ‘18 thousand million dollars’ and we’ll reduce that on an annual basis by around about $5 billion a year over the next four years. That is a lot of investment we can make back into the services that Australians rely on.
It’s taken us 12 years to get back here and I think it’s important to reflect on this. Whether it’s getting people back into work, or getting the Budget back in the black, it has taken us more than a decade to get back there.
If you vote Labor once, you pay for it for a decade. That’s the lesson of the last time a government was changed from a Liberal National parties to the Labor Party. I think that’s a sobering message and why the contrasting message is so much more important; that is, you vote Liberal, you vote LNP here in Queensland and you can look forward to an economy that’s even stronger, where businesses are backed in.
I remember the last election, at the last election after the Budget that we handed down in 2016, reducing taxes, particularly on small and family businesses, businesses with a turnover between $2 million and $10 million a year. Labor weren’t even prepared to back that. We lifted the definition of small business, now legislated, from $2 million to $10 million. Thousands upon thousands of businesses, employing millions of Australian and Labor said “no”. “No, we want them to pay the highest rate in tax”.
But over the last three years our arguments prevailed. The commitments we made at the last election, to reduce that tax burden on small and family businesses have been delivered and beyond what we said we would achieve. Because in this Budget, we have announced that the instant asset write-off goes to companies with a turnover of up to $50 million. You know those companies, you are those companies and you employ more than half of the people who go to work every day in this country, more than half.
We have delivered a lower rate of tax for those businesses, so you can invest more in the future of those businesses. You can employ more people, invest in developing new products, expanding your markets. In this Budget, we’ve made further allocations available for the export market development grants. Why? Because we get it, that your businesses success is what lifts your employee’s wages. It’s what drives revenues.
I’ll come to climate, don’t worry about that. These investment policies for small and family businesses, investing in their future and investing in their employees. You know, one of the things –
Okay, what I was saying is that this economy that we have been building together, by backing small and family businesses, does something very important. It has enabled us to increase funding for schools, public schools and hospitals by more than 60 per cent over the last five and a half years. It has enabled us to invest and improve the funding for Medicare by 27 per cent. It has enabled us to ensure that bulk-billing for Medicare in this country is at the highest level on record. See, a strong economy is what enables a government to invest in the essential services that Australians rely on. Not higher taxes.
See the more Labor can’t control their spending, the more they have to tax.
The more they tax, the more it slows the economy.
The more it does that, the less there is for hospitals, for schools, for Medicare and for meeting all of the promises they will talk about between now and the next election.
So the question was, what matters a surplus? What matters the economy? What it matters, that is what enables our great Australian society to be as great as it is. To invest in affordable medicines, some $9 billion alone that we’ve invested in 130 cancer medicines to take these courses from hundreds of thousands of dollars for individual medicines and take it down to $6.50 for a concession holder and just 40 bucks for everyone else. That is the mark of a truly great society. I think it’s one of Australia’s greatest achievements. What I know is, we’ve been able to list of these drugs, because of our Budget management and because of the economy that you have been creating and that we have put the fundamentals in place for you to be successful.
And when Labor was last in power, they stopped listing medicines. They stopped it because they ran out of money. So their approach this time is this; every time Bill Shorten looks in his wallet, know that he’ll be looking in yours. Because every time he’s spending, he’s going to be taxing you more and he’s going to be sending you the bill.
Bill will always send you the bill.
On every single occasion. Because if you can’t control your spending, you can’t control your taxes. This is the real, earnest point that I have been urging Australians to reflect on and why the economy is so important; I remember when I went out of university all those years ago, just as young people are going out to university and coming out of apprentices - or perhaps going into them, I met some of them down at Yatala earlier today – that was the decade of the recession, the one that we apparently had to have. That was the decade of the record interest rates that crippled small and family businesses and sent them to the wall. It cause mortgage holders to groan, all apparently what Labor said we “had to have” at that time.
I never want to see an Australian have to face that ever again, ever.
Most of us here would have lived through that at the time. You know, one in two voters at this election, one in two Australians who are voting at this election will never have lived through a recession during their working life. I think that’s a great thing, I think it’s tremendous. I think it’s one of Australia’s greatest achievement. I don’t want my kids or your kids, or anyone else’s kids coming out of school or university, entering into a decade like many of us did a generation or so ago. That’s what Liberal and National policies are designed to achieve; to keep us out of those sort of dangers.
You know, we are facing some twists and turns in the economic road ahead. There’s some dangerous, slippery surfaces down the road and you do not hand the economic wheel over in those circumstances, to someone who doesn’t know how to drive.
If you look at the leader of the Labor Party’s policies on the economy, you can only describe them that way. The risks are great. The housing market is soft, the international trading environment is difficult. The uncertainty that is present, we all know about it. What we need is the stability that our continued economic management can deliver on.
So that’s what this Budget was about; keeping taxes low, both for individuals and for small and family businesses. NCSAEM, their recognized independent modelling belled the cat on Labor. They’ve made it pretty clear that the average full-time wage earner in this country will be $1,000 better off under the Liberals and Nationals than they would be under the Labor Party. That is our record. That's what we've legislated and the same is true for smaller family businesses, who will be better off under a Government that understands the pressures on them and is delivering the policies on taxation, that has already delivered taking their tax rates down to 25 percent.
We're investing in the infrastructure. $100 billion which will continue to transform our economy. $100 billion which most recently include $4 billion right here in Queensland. $425 million for the Bruce Highway announced specifically in this Budget. $100 million for the Gladstone Port Access Road. We’ve got $800 million in there for the Gateway Motorway, for Bracken Ridge to Pine River and then there's the very important urban congestion fund which is enabling us to manage population growth. You won't find a population growth plan anywhere in Labor's policies. We have a population growth plan that deals with sensible migration intake, coordination between state, local and federal governments, investing in the cohesion of our communities, so our communities grow together as we go forward, not grow apart. But it particularly delivers that congestion-busting infrastructure. The Lindum Crossing, there's $85 million for that. There’s the Indooroopilly Roundabout, $25 million, the Gympie Arterial Road at $50 million, the Newnham Wrecker Road intersection an upgrade there of $12 million. These are just some of the pinch points that make a big difference to our cities functioning. That is if you like the economic science, if you like, behind the Budget that we outlined last week; understanding the needs and the things that need to be done.
We are backing those who are investing in skills 80,000 more and new apprentices. We're backing our rural and regional communities here in Queensland, no less so than those who have suffered one of the most horrific natural disasters west of the range, in north Queensland where we have been quick to respond. Whether it was in Townsville where $39 million in in flood support went out the door within one week, within one week in north Queensland. I'll tell you what; they knew the Commonwealth Government was there standing with them, when that was happening. And over the range out to Cloncurry and Julia Creek, in Richmond, Hughenden and all through those parts, they know we're standing with them, through there through the north Queensland livestock industry recover agency which Shane Stone is heading up and delivering a programme of reform which will enable all of those pastoralists to rebuild what is a very important part of Australia and our economic success into the future.
When we make these investments, we enable ourselves to invest $461 million dollars in the biggest plan to combat youth suicide in this country and youth mental health challenges. And the value will be no different, no different at all from the pressures that are involved in young people just trying to get through each day to day. It is a curse on our society and we're going to break that curse by working together to tackle youth suicide, with Headspace programs and building up the mental health of young people right from the very young age. We've learned so much through people like Dr Pat McGorry and others who have invested so much in our understanding of how we can address these issues. We are investing in them and we are backing them, in just like we're backing small family businesses around the country.
So there's much more to do as we go into this next election. And there is an alternative and it's an alternative that causes me to stop and pause and reflect on the sort of economy that might otherwise be lived in if we don't stick to the current course.
We are investing in reducing our emissions. It's been raised already as you've noticed in today’s discussion. We've invested $3.5 billion in meeting our targets. You see our Government inherited not just a fiscal deficit when we came to power, our Government inherited a climate deficit from the Labor Party when we came to office. To meet our Kyoto 2020 targets we were off - inherited from the Labor Party - more than 700 million tonnes of carbon abatement when came to office. That's the track we were on, courtesy of the Labor Party before we came to office. We are now going to beat that target in 2020, by 369 million tonnes. A 1.1 billion carbon tonnes turnaround, delivered not by wrecking the economy, not by putting the price up on everything, not by telling you what car to drive. But just by doing sensible things that have reduced our emissions and met our targets.
See as Liberals and Nationals, when we make a promise, we deliver it. We make the commitment, we keep it. And we've committed to our 2030 targets and we're going to meet them and we've set out a plan to meet them. We are going to, of course, use the carry over credits that we have earned because of our ability to overachieve and on our Kyoto 2020 targets. I mean why you wouldn’t use those would be beyond me, I mean it’d be like getting to half time and you’re 12 points up ad you go; “You know, what? I think we’ll send the score back to zero all,” for the second half. Who would do that? We’ve achieved as a country. There are so many other countries who don't want to use those carry over credits. You know why? They don't have any. We do. We earned them, we’ve achieved them, you’ve achieved them.
When Australia goes forward, I'm not going to hold you back. I'm not going to increase the burden. I'm not going to increase the penalty and that's what Labor's policies do if they're given that opportunity.
We have a positive plan. We have a plan that has been keeping our economy strong, so we can invest in the essential services Australians rely on.
We've got a strong plan to keep Australians safe, as we have whether it's on our borders or whether it's supporting our Defence forces on their deployments all around the world. Or their new capability, 2 per cent of GDP which we will achieve in 2021 ahead of schedule. Or whether it's the threat of $326 million we're investing in the Fourth National Action Plan on domestic violence Or whether it's legislating - as we did last week - to hold social media companies to account and not allow these social media platforms to be weaponized by terrorists. That's what we do. We take action and we take it now, on every single occasion.
And we're keeping Australians together, whether it’s building sporting facilities for girls to have change rooms at the cricket oval, or the AFL oval, or the rugby league, or whichever sport you’re picking, the basketball court, hockey field. We want girls and boys to be able to engage in our great sporting life in this country and we're seeing that happening. It's a great thrill because it brings communities together.
We are investing in the social harmony of our cities and we're reaching out to our fellow Australians in rural and regional areas and giving them the support they need, to stand with them as they go through the toughest drought that they've seen in generations.
This is what we're doing. Now is not the time to turn back. Now is not the time to turn away from the strong course we're on.
You know Labor, they haven't changed. They haven't changed and that means they will change it all if they're given the opportunity to once again run this country. We will remain committed to the course we have set, the strength of our economy, the safety of our citizens and the togetherness and unity of our people. That's what we set out in this Budget and I know that's what Trevor is standing for here, right here in the middle of Brisbane. I want to thank you, those of you who've been supporting him in that in that great task. We will continue to deliver the country that all Australians deserve. That's our promise to Australia. That's a promise we're making, it's a promise that will always stand and be respected and honoured by the Liberal and National parties.
Thank you so much for your attention today.