Well thank you Will, for hosting us here in Hobart for the 44th meeting of the Council of Australian Governments. And welcome to the COAG leaders’ table for the first time, Gladys Berejiklian and Mark McGowan. Gladys and I have been friends for a very long time, and Mark I look forward to building a strong relationship with you to deliver for the people of Western Australia.
Our agenda today is vital, perhaps more compelling than ever before.
We face today threats to our security from Islamist extremism with an intensity that is growing greater all the time.
We’ve seen a shocking attack in Melbourne this week, following hard on the heels of a terrorist attack in London where two innocent young Australians were killed. An Australian was killed in Melbourne, and of course not long before that young Australian was killed in a terrorist attack in Bagdad.
This is a global threat, it is evolving rapidly and it will be a key focus of our discussion today.
I know that we will all be united in ensuring that we do everything to keep Australians safe and I look forward to our agreement that we will ensure that there is a strong presumption against the granting of parole and bail consistently across the country for persons who have shown support for or have had links to violent extremism or terrorism.
That’s important to keep Australians safe, to keep those threats, those people who threaten our way of life, threaten our safety, off the streets.
We will also be discussing energy security.
Now as we all know for a very long time this topic has been riven with uncertainty, with ideology, with politics, with partisanship. What we need is an energy policy, an energy strategy for the nation that is guided by economics and engineering, and is focused on delivering affordable energy, affordable electricity and gas, reliable and secure energy, and enables us to meet our emissions reduction commitments. Those are the three things we have to achieve. So we look forward to hearing from Dr Finkel with his report that COAG commissioned some time ago, and he is coming to speak to us today.
We’ll also be discussing education. Now the Commonwealth has proposed and set out in the budget, as you know, the real Gonski, actually endorsed by David Gonski, a man whose name is often taken up in political circles. But what we have proposed is a national approach to Commonwealth funding of schools which is rigorously needs-based so that schools in the same circumstances, students in the same circumstances, get the same level of funding wherever they may be around the country. So we look forward to progressing those discussions this morning.
As you know we’ve got important discussions on the National Disability Insurance Scheme and again, we’ve taken, at the federal level, the strong, tough decision to raise additional revenue by raising the Medicare levy by 0.5 per cent to fully fund our part of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. There are many other issues that we’ll discuss but the fundamental point I think is this: the security, the opportunity for Australians, is in our hands as the leaders of Australia’s governments. They look to us, Australians look to us, to be united in that objective, to secure their future, to secure their safety. To ensure they have the affordable, reliable energy that meets our emissions reduction commitments, that gives them the opportunity to build their businesses, to get a job, a better job, to get ahead.
So I look forward to very constructive discussion here in Hobart. Will, thank you for your hospitality and I have to say this is the most magnificent view I’ve seen from a COAG meeting.
So thank you very much.