Welcome back John Alexander.
Welcome new Senator, General Jim Molan.
Her life is an inspiration. A life lived as she says herself, with liberal values - a life of enterprise, of passion, of love, of self-sacrifice for her family - welcome to the Liberal Party Senator Lucy Gichuhi.
Our Liberal National coalition is the coalition that delivers opportunities for Australians to realise their dreams.
We do not believe that government knows best, as the Labor Party does, we believe the government’s job is to enable Australians to do their best.
And so in 2016 at the election we promised that we would deliver the economic leadership that would create more opportunities and deliver the jobs and growth that Australia needed.
And last year we saw 403,000 new jobs created in Australia.
Over 1100 jobs a day, it is the largest jobs growth in any year since records began, and that is because of confidence, of investment, of small and medium family-owned Australian businesses having a go. Receiving the incentive and the encouragement from government with our tax cuts for small and medium businesses – up to $50 million a year turnover - that’s not a giant international corporation, but do you know what? Those businesses collectively, thousands and thousands of them, employ more than half of all Australians. And they are the ones that are hiring.
And I know all of us over the break have been visiting with those businesses, the length and breadth of the nation – they are filled with confidence. We are seeing job ads growing at 14 per cent over the year. There is an air of confidence. We’re seeing strong economic growth and we’re seeing that jobs growth.
And what we are doing too is ensuring that we’re putting more money into the pockets of hard-working Australian families. The Treasurer has already delivered one middle income tax cut by moving the $80,000 threshold up to $87,000.
And our focus this year is on doing more.
Clearly we’re not going to compromise our return to surplus. So timing will depend on the state of the budget.
Look at the record – child care reforms are putting child care within the reach making it more affordable for lower-middle income families and lower income families so they’re better able to balance work and family and stay in the work force.
And of course at the same time we introduced for the first time in the history of the Commonwealth, national, consistent, needs-based school funding.
And on energy, what a full court press. We have provided relief in the here and now, getting the retailers to the table and getting them to deliver and ensure that people are on the right plans. Thousands of families are saving hundreds of dollars a year on their energy bills. We have brought the wholesale price of gas on the east coast down substantially over the year and that of course is saving thousands of jobs and again putting downward pressure on energy prices.
And there is so much more to do - the National Energy Guarantee, Snowy 2.0 - we have a full court press on energy to ensure that energy is affordable, reliable and of course we meet our commitments under the Paris Agreement.
We’ve got a lot to do this year. We’ve got a lot to do to continue delivering that economic growth, the jobs that Australians need and our children and grandchildren are counting on.
This is going to be a year of delivery.
Welcome back to Canberra. Let’s get on with the leadership that Australia needs and is delivering the opportunities Australians deserve.