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Paul's Campaign Launch Speech

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Campaign Launch

1 May 2022

Many of you in this room worked on my very first campaign, for the December 5 2009 by-election.

The time since then has flashed past.

It is such a privilege to represent this extraordinary electorate - a privilege I never take for granted.

For the sixth time, I am seeking to be elected as the Liberal Member for Bradfield.

Let me emphasise that - the Liberal Member for Bradfield.

I am proud to be a Liberal.   

I joined this party in 1981 when I was sixteen.

Our party stands for timeless values like personal freedom, the importance of the family, and respect for the inherent dignity of every individual.  

Our Liberal values resonate very strongly with the people of Bradfield.

That is why Bradfield – since 1949 - has always been a Liberal seat.

I am running as part of a strong Liberal National team, which offers a clear plan for a strong economy for Australia and a stronger future for Australia.

I am running because I believe this extraordinary community deserves strong and effective representation in our national parliament - the representation that can only be delivered by an MP who is part of the government. 

Under the Stronger Communities program, we have provided grants totalling $806,000 to community organisations in Bradfield since 2009.  

To take one example, Lifeline Harbour to Hawkesbury, based in Gordon, has received funding of over $60,000.  Just a few weeks ago I was there with the Prime Minister and with Lifeline patron John Brodgen announcing a national funding commitment to Lifeline.  You can only do that if you are in government.

I have been able to secure funding of more than $1.5 million to support KYDS, the youth mental health service based in Lindfield. 

The Morrison Government’s JobKeeper payment supported 9,300 businesses and 29,300 employees in Bradfield through the pandemic.

As soon as I came into the Parliament, I began to campaign for the ‘missing link’ between the M1 at Wahroonga and the M2 at Pennant Hills. 

Later, as Minister for Urban Infrastructure, I worked to deliver that project - with $412 million of Commonwealth funding.  

In 2020, this 9-kilometre twin tunnel motorway - now known as NorthConnex - was opened to traffic.

Last week I spent a couple of hours doorknocking on Fraser Road in Normanhurst.

At home after home, I asked, ‘How is Pennant Hills Road now that NorthConnex is open.’

And at home after home, I was met with a smile of relief: “It is so much better.”

I am running because I am optimistic about Australia’s future - and our Liberal National government has a clear plan to seize the future.

Brand Australia is stronger not weaker after the pandemic - and there are very few countries around the world which could say that.

We are a beacon of hope and opportunity for millions of people around the world.

One of the reasons I am so optimistic about Australia is that our ethnic, racial and religious diversity is in my view a source of great social and economic strength.

It takes a lot of drive and energy to choose to go to another country to make a better life for yourself and your children.

I am proud that tens of thousands of people in Bradfield have done just this – coming to Australia from countries like India, China, Britain, Nepal, South Africa, Korea and many others besides.

I was at a citizenship ceremony at Kuringgai Council on Wednesday night.  People from 21 countries became Australians.  

I believe it says something very special about Australia that one of the most affluent electorates in Australia is also one of the most diverse.

I am optimistic about Australia’s economic prospects.

We are the thirteenth largest economy in the world, with a GDP of $1.75 trillion USD.  With 25 million people, our economy is almost as big as Russia’s with its 145 million people.

We have extraordinary endowments of land, minerals, people and other resources.

We are an energy superpower - and we are extremely well placed to become a renewable energy superpower.  

Under our technology not taxes approach to achieving net zero emissions by 2050, we are working hard to capture the opportunities using technologies like hydrogen. 

As global demand for batteries surges, our reserves of lithium are ever more in demand.  

We have great strengths in health and medical research. The Doherty Institute in Melbourne was the first laboratory outside China to grow in culture the virus that causes COVID-19 – and it shared this culture with laboratories around the world.

I am running as part of an experienced Liberal National Team with a plan to capture these opportunities and to build on our achievements as a nation.

But whether we can do that depends on the choice the Australian people make at this election.

If you don’t cast your vote for a Liberal National Candidate then instead of Scott Morrison as Prime Minister you are choosing Anthony Albanese - a man who has never held an economic portfolio and didn’t know what Australia’s unemployment rate is.

If you don’t cast your vote for a Liberal National Candidate, then instead of Josh Frydenberg as Treasurer you are choosing Jim Chalmers - the man whose claim to fame is that in the Rudd Gillard Rudd years he was Wayne Swan’s economic brain.

If you don’t cast your vote for a Liberal National Candidate, then instead of the hard, tough and experienced Peter Dutton as Defence Minister, you are choosing Richard Marles - the man who runs his speeches past the Chinese embassy for pre-approval.

Our team has a proven track record.  In this term of government we faced the most serious global pandemic in over one hundred years.

Thanks to the sustained hard work of the Morrison Government, we have been able to deliver public health and economic outcomes better than most countries in the world.

Every death is a tragedy – but in Australia the cumulative number of COVID deaths per million of population is around one tenth of the US and Britain.

That did not happen by accident.  It happened because we took tough decisions - like shutting the borders to China, where the virus originated, in March 2020.

And thanks to our policies, Australia’s economy has come through the pandemic, is already bigger than it was before the pandemic hit, it is growing at 3.4 per cent, and unemployment is down to 4 per cent and tipped to go lower

But we haven’t just been dealing with the pandemic.

We have been working on many other fronts.

We have entered into a new security pact with Britain and the United States under which Australia will acquire nuclear powered submarines.

We are responding to the challenge of climate change, with Australia’s emissions now more than 20 per cent lower than in 2005 - better than Canada, the United States or New Zealand.

We have reached an interim trade agreement with India, creating new opportunities for Australia’s exporters.

And in my own portfolio there has been plenty going on.

We legislated the news media bargaining code to require Google and Facebook to agree fair commercial terms when they use content generated and paid for by Australian news media businesses 

We completed two auctions of radio frequency spectrum for 5G mobile services, one in the sub one gigahertz range and one in the 26 gigahertz range.

We are supporting our screen production sector by increasing the tax offset for Australian television production from 20 per cent to 30 per cent.

We are building the digital games sector with a new 30 per cent tax offset for digital games.

We have driven the number of premises connected to the NBN from 5.5 million to 8.4 million – while reducing the debt NBN owes to taxpayers from 19 billion to just over 7 billion.

We are upgrading the NBN so that by 2023 eight million premises around Australia will be able to order a speed of up to 1000 Megabits per second - that’s blazing fast broadband.

We passed a new Online Safety with tough new powers for the eSafety Commissioner including a new scheme to deal with serious cyber abuse of Australian adults.

We introduced automatic mobile location across three mobile networks and 24 state and territory emergency services locations – so when you call 000, your location is automatically provided to emergency services to an accuracy of within five metres outdoors.

We delivered some $500 million of pandemic specific arts funding, including the $220 million RISE fund which so far has supported 541 individual arts events, productions, festivals and shows.

We completed and opened to the public the $32 million new art gallery at Bundanon on the Shoalhaven River near Nowra, the property gifted by artist Arthur Boyd to the nation in 1995.

We negotiated and signed the South East Queensland City Deal, between the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments and eleven councils.

We are nearly 30 per cent complete at Western Sydney Airport, with almost 28 million cubic metres of earth moved and construction underway on the runway and taxiways, the terminal and the landslide roads and buildings.

In every portfolio you will find there is a similar track record of achievement. 

The choice at this election, then, is between a Liberal National team with a proven track record of delivery and a clear plan for Australia’s future - and a Labor Greens Government led by a weak leader with no credible plan for Australia.

Indeed one of the most remarkable features of Labor’s campaign is that they cannot give the Australian people a clear reason to vote for them.

Mr Albanese is running a small target strategy.

His promise appears to be that if you elect Labor, you will get the same policies as the Liberal National Government, just delivered by a different group of people.

This is a completely implausible claim.

For one thing, many of the policies which Mr Albanese says that Labor supports, they do not actually believe in.

Apparently if you vote for Labor they will continue the strong border protection policies of our Liberal National Government.

Yet Mr Albanese himself, as recently as 2015, argued passionately against a boat turnbacks at a Labor Party Conference.

Some fourteen Labor MPs are on the record as opposing key elements of our successful border protection policies.

Let me give you a tip - you want a government that will implement Liberal National policies, the way to make that happen is to elect a Liberal and National government. 

Mr Albanese is not the soft, cuddly, unthreatening figure he is pretending to be.

He talks about ‘safe change.’  He name checks Bob Hawke and John Howard.

I first came across Anthony Albanese in 1984 on the Sydney University Student Representatives’ Council.  

He was a hard left operative.

He recently claimed to have an economics degree from Sydney University.

Let’s be clear – it was political economy.  That’s Marxist stuff about the oppression of the working class and the theory of surplus value.

The Australian people should not be fooled - Albanese is the most left wing figure to lead the Labor Party in many decades.

And Mr Albanese’s track record as a Minister raises serious concerns about what we could expect from an Albanese government.

Look at Western Sydney Airport.

From his first speech in parliament in 1996, Albanese talked up the need for a second Sydney airport in Western Sydney.

In 2007, after eleven years of speaking about this, he became Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.  Now he had the chance to deliver.

Well, he delivered a Green Paper.

He delivered a White Paper.

He commissioned a joint study with the NSW Government looking at potential sites.

It recommended Badgerys Creek – and he immediately ruled out an airport at that site.

After six years as Minister for Infrastructure, Mr Albanese had not only failed to turn a sod on the airport, he hadn’t even chosen a site for the airport.

It took our Liberal National Government to get on with building Western Sydney International Airport at Badgerys Creek.

Look at the NBN.

After six years of the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd Government, and six billion dollars being spent, barely more than 50,000 premises were connected to the fixed line NBN.

The project we inherited in 2013 was a trainwreck – and Albanese was the Minister.

In 2013 he said: “This is the largest infrastructure project in Australia's history [and] you can't click your fingers and just get it done.”

When we got into government we showed that you could get it done.

Today, 8.4 million premises are connected - roughly 165 times the number Labor had connected to the fixed line.

And let’s look at Albo’s repeating party trick - high speed rail along the east coast of Australia.

Before the 2013 election, it was $52 million to establish the High Speed Rail Authority. In 2019 it was $1 billion towards corridor preservation for east coast High Speed Rail.

In January this year, Albanese went to Newcastle to announce that, if elected, Labor would commit $500m towards high speed rail from Melbourne to Brisbane in its first term.

On any credible estimate, east coast high-speed rail would cost between $200bn and $300bn. 

So this was like somebody saying, “I am going to buy myself a house in Sydney (median price $1.5m) and I am setting aside $3750 for that purpose”. 

Now it could be that Albanese fully intends to spend several hundred billion dollars, but just will not admit it before an election.

The other possibility is just as troubling: Albanese knows it will never be delivered, he just loves to talk about it. 

I have spoken about the choice we face nationally - and argued that Mr Albanese’s background and approach make him quite unsuitable for the job of Prime Minister.

But let me turn now to the choice we face in Bradfield.

Because the choice is the same right here as it is in every electorate.  

If you want an experienced team led by an experienced Prime Minister with a plan for a strong economy and a stronger future, the only way to achieve that is to vote for the Liberal candidate in Bradfield.

A vote for any other candidate simply makes it more likely that we have a Labor-Greens government with Anthony Albanese as Prime Minister.

Some candidates will tell you they are the community candidate.  

Let me tell you, if you are the Liberal candidate you are absolutely the community candidate.

The Liberal Party is a community organisation which has been around for more than 70 years.  Here in Bradfield we have several hundred local members and many more locals who support us and work on our campaigns.

Those members chose me as the Liberal Party’s candidate through a democratic process in 2009 - and I am honoured to have been chosen again on several successive occasions.

Of course our members are not just Liberals - and they are parents in local schools and parishioners at local churches and synagogues and volunteers with scouts and local sporting clubs and volunteers with the SES and RFS and are deeply embedded in the community.

Some candidates will tell you they offer a new brand of politics.

What does that mean in practice?

It means funding your campaign with money from wealthy investors in renewable energy who will benefit personally if government subsidies for renewable energy increase.

It means claiming that it’s a total coincidence that there are some 20 candidates around Australia who happen to use the same branding and same campaign plan and receive funding from the same group of wealthy investors - but it is not a party, apparently, you just occasionally call each other for emotional support.  

It means pretending it’s also a coincidence that not one of the seats in which these independents are standing is a seat held by the Labor Party. 

It means pretending that although several of those candidates are former members of the Labor Party, you are politically not aligned.

It means keeping quiet about which party you would support if there were a hung parliament - rather than being up front and honest about your plans.

It means making the completely implausible claim that government would be better if no one party had a majority in the parliament - a claim utterly at odds with the lived reality of chaos, uncertainty and instability which Australians experienced from 2010 to 2013, the last time we had a Labor Greens minority government supporting by left-leaning independents who got into the Parliament by deceiving and misleading their electorates about their true leanings.  

It means, quite frankly, insulting the intelligence of the electorate by presenting yourself as something you are not.  

As the Liberal candidate in Bradfield, everybody can know exactly where I stand.

If I am elected, I will support Scott Morrison to be Prime Minister.

If I am elected, I will support and work to deliver the extensive suite of policies developed and announced by our Party.

Friends, this election presents a very important choice - across Australia and here in Bradfield.

Governing Australia is a heavy responsibility.

There are big opportunities for our country - but also some serious dangers to guard against.

My promise to you is very simple.

If I am elected as the next Member for Bradfield on 21 May, as part of a Liberal National Government, I will work every day for a better and stronger Bradfield and a better and stronger Australia.

Thank you for your support - and let’s get out there and run a great campaign!