Address to the 2018 Liberal National Party Convention

7 July 2018

Thank you very much Gary. To the Prime Minister, your State Leader Deb Frecklington, the Lord Mayor Graham Quirk, the Federal Nationals’ President Larry Anthony, and of course appreciating the Federal Liberals’ President Nick Greiner is overseas.                                             

To one and all – colleagues – it is great to be here in Brisbane for your convention.

Ten years of LNP delivery. Ten years of commitment to Queensland. But more than that, too, ten years of delivery for our nation.

Because it’s not just about Queensland – even though it is all about Queensland – it’s also about growing our nation. And that is what you people do. By growing Queensland you grow our nation. And that is so very important.

I also would like to acknowledge the Young LNP members in the room because they too, we must always remember, are very much our future. Your future.

I want to acknowledge the outstanding efforts of the Federal Parliamentary team of the LNP and also the potential new members of the LNP Parliamentary team.

And if I could I would like to get them to stand and I would like you all to give them a clap. So please, all the LNP Members of Parliament, Senators, please stand.

What we see here is a tremendous force working for Queensland. Working for metropolitan areas, working for rural, remote, regional areas of Queensland each and every day. They dedicate themselves to growing this state and in doing so growing our nation. And they are doing it very, very effectively.

As part of the Turnbull Government they are making sure Queensland comes first. They are making sure Australia comes first.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Liberals and Nationals Federal Government isn’t just working to get re-elected.

We’re working to earn the trust of people right across Queensland and beyond, delivering what they are asking for, what they are needing, what they are deserving.

And in turn that is how we build our credentials. That’s how we build our trust with you in this room but also all those people who place their trust in us when they go to that ballot box. When they go to their local health provider. When they visit a doctor. When they go to the supermarket. When they go to a sporting event – whatever they are doing. They know you are helping to build a better Queensland.

In 2013, we said we would do all we could to deliver a million jobs in five years. Well you know what? We did it five months early – and that’s what it’s all about. It’s all about jobs.

And now we turn our attention to two million jobs in ten years – and hopefully we can do that ten months early too!

With your help, making sure that the fine, outstanding work that’s done by our Members and Senators is replicated throughout each and every corner of Queensland, each and every corner of this nation.

We said we’d put an end to Labor’s reckless waste of money – of precious taxpayer dollars.

We all remember those six, sorry years of Rudd, Gillard and then Rudd. We don’t want to go back there. No we don’t.

And we have put an end to that reckless spending. Real spending growth remains below 2 per cent – that’s the best performance by any Government in the past 50 years, dating back to the Menzies/Blackjack McEwen era.

And when you have a strong economy, as the Treasurer says and often reminds us, you can spend more on the essential services our communities need, want, demand, expect and deserve.

The Federal Liberal and Nationals Government is also delivering policy wins through infrastructure building, especially in Queensland, with a record $75 billion ongoing pipeline of works.

The 2018 Budget included $3.3 billion for new priorities on the Bruce Highway, bringing the total commitment to date to $10 billion.

This includes $880m for Pine River to Caloundra and $800m for construction of Cooroy to Curra Section D. And I know there is no one in the room who fought harder for that than Llew O’Brien.

When you stand at a press conference and you stand alongside, shoulder-to-shoulder, one of your colleagues who gets quite emotional about it – and Llew O’Brien did get quite emotional about it because he spent many years as a police officer doing the 3am death-knock to tell somebody their loved one wasn’t coming home. To tell somebody because of the road and because of circumstances beyond anyone’s control, that loved member of the family wasn’t coming home.

So it meant so much to Llew O’Brien – he fought and campaigned so hard on it – and when it was finally announced that delivery was going to take place, he was quite emotional.

That’s what being a parliamentarian is all about. It’s about delivering. And it’s about delivering because it’s the right thing to do. And that’s what the LNP does.

We don’t play the politics – we do it because it’s the right thing to do.

And another right thing to do is the Beerburrum to Nambour rail line – how good is team Queensland? How good are our mates Andrew Wallace and Ted O’Brien, the Members for Fisher and Fairfax? They too deliver!

Queensland will also share in the $1.5 billion allocation to northern Australia from the new $3.5 billion Roads of Strategic Importance – a really important initiative. It’s not necessarily the highways as much as the byways – those secondary roads – which would otherwise perhaps not gain the federal attention they need or demand.

And it’s going to make sure we link those regional communities to ports to access those markets thanks to the trade agreements we have been able to broker.

I know my Assistant Minister in the infrastructure space, Keith Pitt, has done such a mighty job. Fighting hard to deliver those roads of strategic importance and our work on all the other infrastructure projects throughout Queensland.

Now George ‘Beyonce’ Christensen has his own way of pushing his infrastructure measures, but maybe we will leave that for another day!

And the Outback Way across the top end has a further $160m in this year’s budget, bringing the total commitment to $330m.

So we are delivering right across Queensland. We are delivering right across the nation.

Being remote doesn’t have to mean being ignored – not under this Government – we’re investing $208m to upgrade infrastructure, including road access into Cape York from the south – benefitting the local communities and industry including of course that very important sector, and that is mining.

We’re also engaged in true nation-building infrastructure with visionary projects such as the $9.3 billion Inland Rail project connecting Brisbane and Melbourne. Inland, of course, through NSW and through southern Queensland.

We want to make sure we get this project right. It is going to build Queensland. It is going to build the nation.

And the benefits are huge. The Inland Rail Business Case reveals that for every dollar the Government invests, it will return $2.62 to the Australian economy.

Water is lifeblood of our regional communities and the livelihood of our farmers – we all know that.

But many of these areas are being badly affected by drought – a lasting drought, a crippling drought. In some areas it’s been going for seven years. And this is why the PM, Agriculture Minister David Littleproud, Regional Development Minister John McVeigh and Deputy Nationals’ Leader Bridget McKenzie, Senator Barry O’Sullivan and I embarked recently on a listening tour to assess the latest conditions and talk to people on the ground.

In response, we’ve moved to extend the Farm Household Allowance from three to four years to ensure our farmers receive more immediate and effective drought support.

And that doesn’t come easily. That doesn’t come lightly. It comes because people like David Littleproud are in there fighting for the best interests of the people they represent. It’s because David Littleproud is sticking up for the farmers who we know are providing the food and fibre to support not just our nation, not just your state, but indeed the entire world. And I compliment him on the job he’s doing in that regard.

Water policy is not just about the short term – it’s about having a long-term vision.

One example where your Liberal and Nationals’ Government is working towards long-term water security is the Rookwood Weir. That has been allocated $176.1 million by the Commonwealth.

It will help secure the future water needs for residents and industry, including irrigators, across Rockhampton, the Gladstone region and the Stanwell-Gracemere Industrial Corridor.

A new weir capable of supplying 76,000 ML per year of high-security water will be built, providing up to 42,000ML of water for irrigated agriculture in the Fitzroy Basin and around 34,000ML for industrial and urban use in the Gladstone region.

Made possible because of the great work of Michelle Landry and Ken O’Dowd. They are fighters, they are do-ers, they are deliverers.

And we have a plan to help hardworking Australians get ahead, to help them with their bills and provide much-needed tax relief to all Australians.

Recently, the Liberals and Nationals passed our $144 billion personal tax cut package which represents a clear point of difference – yeah, you can clap if you like. It’s a great achievement.

It’s a clear point of difference between the Turnbull Government and the very shoddy, poor, desperate Labor alternative.

At each stage of the negotiations, Labor has stood for nothing but higher taxes, with Bill Shorten pushing a plan to increase financial pressures on all families and on all businesses.

We know that. You know that. But don’t just keep it in the room – tell everybody. Because we do not need Bill Shorten in the Lodge, let me tell you!

Small businesses will keep more of their hard earned profits – and as a former small business owner myself, I know when you get a bit of tax relief you don’t do what you should do, you don’t take the holiday.

You actually invest in your own business. You buy that capital equipment you need, possibly through the instant asset write-off that we have extended for another twelve months. Or you invest in human capital, the most importance resource that any business has.

You hire more people. You pay them more. That’s what you can get when you have tax relief. That’s what you get when you have a Turnbull Government committed to making sure businesses are thriving, to making sure the economy is prosperous. To make sure we are creating more jobs for our communities, for Queensland, for the regions.

But not content with opposing personal tax cuts, Labor Leader Bill Shorten was forced into an embarrassing back-down – we all saw it. That’s not the sort of leadership this country needs, wants, demands or expects.

While he back-flipped on that decision, the Labor Party’s compromised position means they are only going to jack taxes up. They are only going to make less jobs. And they are only going to look after themselves.

Labor’s high-taxing, indecisive and muddled approach is not what this country needs. Not now. Quite frankly, not ever.

While Labor builds on its anti-business attitude and class warfare agenda, the Liberals and Nationals are determined to forge ahead, to build our economy, to make sure we have got even more trade arrangements in place to help our farmers, to help Queensland, to help our nation.

We are delivering more doctors to the bush. Better health outcomes. Better education. More schools funding. We are also focussed on an energy policy that’s enshrined in common sense and pragmatism.

And speaking of pragmatism, I was reminded just before I came in here by our new, fantastic LNP Senate candidate Susan McDonald, who told me we should be talking up our stewardship of the environment.

There is no better example of what we’ve done than what the Turnbull Government’s done for the Great Barrier Reef.

And as the Member for Riverina – a land-locked electorate in NSW – I know how important the Great Barrier Reef is to all Australians. Because last year I received more correspondence about the Great Barrier Reef than I did about any other federal topic.

That is, as I say, from a NSW land-locked electorate.

But let me tell you we are doing everything we can, we are doing more than Labor ever did for the Great Barrier Reef because of the Prime Minister’s commitment to the environment.

When we talk about environmental stewardship, we know our farmers are the best environmentalists in Australia, in the world. They are.

David Littleproud, the Ag Minister, he knows that. I know that. You all know that. But we need to tell other people.

And we need to make sure the native vegetation law changes the Annastacia Palaszczuk Government has introduced does not become the national thing because let me tell you it will if Bill Shorten gets in. Rest assured it will. And we need to fight against that each and every day in every single way.

Now energy policy is of course a topic of hot discussion. Our prime goal is to deliver real and practical results for all Australian households and businesses – big and small – by providing more reliable energy supply and lower electricity bills.

It just makes sense – lower prices and reliability. Affordability. Reliability.

In contrast, our Labor opponents seek to dig for dirt and mine the depths of ideological fantasy – they do – to spark vague interest from the Greens’ voters at election time. And we all saw that at the recent Queensland elections. We see it in the by-elections and how they are carrying on.

Bill Shorten says one thing when he’s campaigning in north Queensland and another thing when he’s campaigning among the latte set in Melbourne.

The ideologically-driven risk of Labor working with the Greens was demonstrated no more clearly than last year’s power blackout in South Australia which gave that state a black-eye economically, but it shined a light – so to speak – on the so called ‘energy crisis’ we are now confronted with because of what Labor does in the states.

As always, our answer is based on economic pragmatism and what works best for the people we care most about. Businesses, families, you people, Queenslanders.

This attitude is shared by my colleagues in The Nationals – including those from your home state of Queensland – in regards to the National Energy Guarantee.

Like my colleagues, I support a sound energy policy with the prime goal of achieving reliability and affordability.

Making sure of that especially for those people in rural and regional Australia who The Nationals represent.

I appreciate this is an LNP convention and I appreciate the Prime Minister is here, but of course I am The Nationals’ Leader and of course you would expect me to say that.

Like other Nationals, and those in the Liberals too, I support the NEG and its purpose of bringing about consistency in the energy supply arrangements through a COAG process.

All governments in Australia have a role to play in this process – especially in Queensland where the Government already owns the poles and wires and runs the generators. They can help to fix the problem of energy prices tomorrow.

My Nationals’ colleagues know this all too well, as Queensland Senator Matt Canavan said only this week in an interview – an excellent one, as always – on Sky News.

“We need to get on with the job of establishing a stable energy policy for Australia – that includes the National Energy Guarantee, that includes a pathway to our Paris commitments – in a way that’s affordable, and maintains reliable power supplies.”

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Like Senator Canavan, I too want to get on with the job of establishing a NEG to provide reliable energy supply while helping Australia meet its Paris commitments to achieve emissions reductions of 26 per cent.

We are already meeting them. In fact we are more than meeting them. And we have to play our part.

While the Greens and Labor continue to hold back pragmatic policy outcomes by having ideological renewable targets – which quite frankly would just send businesses broke – and which would force Australians, Queenslanders, to not even turn their air-conditioners on in summer and certainly in the southern states not to be able to afford heating costs in winter.

We know that we have got a reliable, affordable policy which just simply makes sense.

Another of my Queensland colleagues – the Ag Minister David Littleproud – also has an eye on pragmatism.

In a speech in parliament in May last year, he said he was ‘proud to be part of a government that is approaching energy policy in such a sensible and pragmatic way’.

And of course that is what it’s all about.

But of course coal has to be part of the mix. We are very much pro-coal in the LNP. Of course we are.

And I would like to see some of those latte sippers from Sydney and Melbourne go up to Mackay, go up to Gladstone or Cairns – indeed anywhere, Rocky, you name it – and tell those hi-vis workers that we don’t want you to work. We don’t want your jobs. We don’t want you to dig up coal for exports or for domestic use. No, of course they wouldn’t.

Coal has to be part of the mix. But it annoys me also, it is not always just the hi-vis workers. There are many people who wear white collars. People with jobs in coal mines who work so hard. They are not all just people who are digging black stuff out of the ground, indeed they are many, many white collar workers who rely on a successful coal mining industry for their work, for their success and for Queensland coal is a success.

Now someone else who is delivering real results in every which way is your Prime Minister, our Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. He is getting policy wins each and every day, in so many ways.

Indeed, under Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership, the Federal Government has signed unprecedented trade deals.

We are building on that. It’s making Queensland even greater than what it already was.

We’ve also cracked down on multinational tax avoidance by international companies, delivered media reforms, enhanced rural communications by building more mobile phone towers.

We have improved the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to make sure that more and more life-saving drugs and medicines are on the PBS for ordinary, everyday Australians. To keep them alive, to give them a better quality of life.

That doesn’t happen by chance – that happens because we have a strong economy.

That strong economy doesn’t come by chance either – it comes because we have a Prime Minister like Malcolm Turnbull doing his utmost, every day, in each and every way, to build a better Australia, a better Queensland.

Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

Sam Edwards