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Scott Morrison speech: I believe in a fair go for all Australians (Pray for Rain)

Scott Morrison speech: I believe in a fair go for all Australians (Pray for Rain)

Prime Minister Scott Morrison delivers his Menzies Research address as Simon Birmingham, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, Kelly O’Dwyer and Mathias Cormann look on at the Mirambeena Community Centre in Albury, NSW today.

Scott Morrison has seized on Sir Robert Menzies’ declaration that “No party seizes the imagination of the people unless the people know the party stands for certain things,” reiterating the Liberal Party founder’s pledge to “fight for those things until the bell rings.”

In his first major speech as Prime Minister, Mr Morrison cited Menzies’ achievement of taking home ownership rates from 40 per cent to 70 per cent and his emphasis on the importance of a stable job, good pay and accessible health services in setting out his own priorities.

Morrison emphasises his values in first major speech

Mr Morrison listed the things he believes in, including a “fair go for all” and mateship during the address at the NSW border town of Albury.

The headland speech embraced the principles and social values of the Menzies era in a bid to chart a new course for the Coalition government and end the bitter divisions of the Abbott and Turnbull years.

After paying tribute to his grandmother Mardi and admitting the federal government needs to do better on housing affordability, he reeled off a list of his beliefs.

“I believe in a fair go for those who have a go in this country,” said Mr Morrison.

“I think that’s what fairness means in this country. It’s not about everybody getting the same thing. If you put in, you get to take out, and you get to keep more of your what you earn.”

Mr Morrison said people’s capacity to “have a go” didn’t relate to their level of ability, citing young disabled people he met at not-for-profit Youngcare in Brisbane yesterday who he said were an “inspiration”.

“They wanted to live on their own. They wanted to be in their own accommodation, living together, having the same choices as other young Australians,” Mr Morrison said.

“They’re having a go and they’re getting a go.”

The Prime Minister said he also believed Australians had to look after their mates.

“Every Australian matters,” he said.

“That’s why we have a safety net in this country – to protect people – but it works as a trampoline, not as a snare.

“The best form of welfare is a job, and our safety net, our social safety net, enables people either to bounce back up and to get back up on their feet, or it provides them with that place of comfort and support that they need during challenging times in their lives.

“As Australians, we look after our mates.”

In an apparent bid to neutralise Labor’s “Mediscare” campaign, Mr Morrison reiterated that he valued “looking after our mates”.

“As Australians, our goal is to make a contribution, not to seek one,” he said.

“That is what creates a noble society. That’s what creates a growing and benevolent society. A caring society.”

Mr Morrison said a key difference between his values and those of the Labor Party ws that he did not believe others had to “do worse” for him to do better.

“I don’t think you need to be taxed more for you to be taxed less,” he said, pointing at members of the audience at the Menzies Research Centre event.

“I don’t think that, for someone to get ahead in life, you’ve got to pull others down.

“I believe that we should be trying to lift everybody up at once, that we get away from this politics of envy.”

Morrison family’s ‘Mardi-gras’

Scott Morrison has kicked off his first major speech as Prime Minister talking about the importance of rituals, citing a regular gathering he and his family hold to catch up and remember his grandmother.

Mr Morrison said he and his wife Jenny had created a number of rituals with their nine and 11-year-old daughters Abbey and Lily and their extended family, noting that the return to Albury, — where Sir Robert Menzies held a seminal Liberal Party in 1944 — was part of a legacy and ritual.

Mr Morrison said his family gathered on the NSW South Coast every year on his late grandmother, “Mardi’s, birthday.

“She was the matriarch of the family who kept everybody together, because we’re a pretty disparate family, very disparate, all different views, all different walks of life, all different ages, but we all love each other, because Mardi brought us together and after she passed away, we were a bit worried that, well, how are we all going to stay together?” he said.

“We all live such different lives, and we had this idea. We said let’s get together on her birthday, all of us.

“We get together, and we tell our kids, who didn’t get to know Mardi, because she passed away before most of them were born — not all of them — and we tell stories about her and all the funny things she used to do.

“Now, we call this get together the “Mardi-gras.”

“I know there are other events that have that name and good luck to them too but that’s our family Mardi-gras.

“But what it does is we get together and we remember what holds us together as a family, the things that she taught us, the things that we loved.

“This is why I’ve come here today with the next generation leadership of the Liberal Party. “This is an important ritual, for us to come here today, where Robert Menzies came, all those years ago, to come here and pledge to that legacy, to that heritage as a ritual, and to show

the things that we believe in today are the things that he believed in then and things we will always believe in as a Liberal Party.”

Mr Morrison said the 1943 election was a “horror election” for what were then known as the non-Labor parties.

“Robert Menzies at that time – 75 years ago, almost to this day, it was in August of 1943 – he wrote to the president of what I think was called the Australian Council of Retailers – and he said this to him in his letter: ‘There is a great opportunity if we are ready to seize it.’ That’s what he said.”

Just 15 months later, in Albury, the modern Liberal Party was formed.

Mr Morrison said the Liberal Party had been the most successful political party at a federal level of any party in Australian history, including in six of the last eight elections.

“They write us off every time, and every time we come back, and we come back hard, because of the things that we believe in,” he said.

“On that day, when he brought everybody together, there were 18 different political organisations and parties, 18.

“And he got them together, and the only thing they had in common up until that point in time was what they were opposed to. They were known as ‘the non-Labor parties’.

“What held them together at that point, loosely, was what they were opposed to, but Robert Menzies brought them here to unite them about what they believed in, because you can’t just be about what you’re opposed to.

“You’ve got to be about what you’re for – as a country, as a political party, as an individual, as a family.

“It’s about what you’re for. Not just what you’re against.”

Mr Morrison said that like Menzies he had not come to Albury with a “to-do list of stuff”, but to speak about what’s in the hearts and minds of his team.

“When Menzies came here, he didn’t bring a to-do list or a manifesto, he brought a list of beliefs that they had agreed in Canberra a few months earlier.

“Let’s talk about what some of those beliefs were that he brought together: Menzies’ vision – and all of those who joined him – it all began and started with the individual.

“It’s all about the individual, and the capacity and value and sanctity – the inherent virtue of every single human being that has the privilege to call themselves an Australian, whether by birth or by pledge.

“And he understood that, for the individual to be successful in life, and to be able to realise what they wanted, to realise for themselves, they needed some very important things.

“If they were fortunate enough, they would have a family that loved them. And not all Australians have that. If they were fortunate enough, they would have a family, and the family would support them. That is the first building block of any successful country, community, society – family. That’s what it is for me and Jen. That’s the family we’ve come from, and we have been blessed beyond measure when it comes to the love of family. And my heart breaks for those Australians who don’t know that. And I hope that they will. In one way, shape or form.”

Mr Morrison also highlighted the importance of community in his and Menzies’ visions for Australia.

“Menzies talked about the other things that were needed, you know, he talked about a ‘comfortable home’ and an ‘affordable home’, as important today as it was then,” he said.

“One of Menzies’ greatest achievements was the increase in home ownership, and affordable home ownership.

“I think it went from around 40 per cent to around 70 per cent.

“We’ve slipped back a bit from there. We need to do better on that score.”

Mr Morrison also highlighted the Menzies prioritisation of accessible health services.

“What’s more important in regional and remote parts of the country than ensuring we have accessible, adequate, indeed better than adequate health services accessible to all Australians?

“(Menzies) talked about having a stable job and good pay.

“Those who think that the Liberal Party aren’t interested in pay. We are. Because we know a job changes a life, and a wage changes a life and a family, and I know Kelly O’Dwyer, my Minister for Industrial Relations, which we say proudly, is very keen on ensuring that people get good wages in this country, and that they have jobs.”

Mr Morrison also highlighted Menzies’ vision of employers and employees “being on the same page” of protecting Australia for “aggression” in the aftermath of the Second World War, and of the importance of freedoms of faith, religion, speech and association.

“That’s great place to start a party, I reckon,” he said. “And it’s a great place to continue to run a party from, and so, in coming here today, a new generation of Liberal leaders are embracing all of those beliefs.

“They remain as relevant today as when he first said them.”

We’ll fight for those things until the bell rings’

Mr Morrison quoted Menzie’s declaration as he left the 1944 meeting in Albury, apologising for having to write it down to remember the words.

“(Deputy Liberal leader) Josh (Frydenberg)” has a much better memory than me,” he said.

“I wasn’t very good at remembering verses at Sunday school either, but (wife) Jenny was a cracker. She could sing them, too. I don’t think she’s going to do that today.

“Robert Menzies said this in Albury: ‘No party seizes the imagination of the people unless the people know the party stands for certain things, and we’ll fight for those things until the bell rings.’

“Well, we’re here today to affirm ourselves to those beliefs that I’ve just outlined, and I pledge ourselves to them until the bell rings,” Mr Morrison said.

Tomorrow marks five years of Coalition government

Mr Morrison then fast-forwarded to the present, noting that tomorrow will mark five years since the Coalition won government.

“Tony Abbott led us back into government after those six years of the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd Labor administration, and I pay my respects and my honour to Tony for what was a Herculean task, to take our party from opposition back into government,” Mr Morrison said.

“And over the last five years, both under Tony’s leadership and under Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership — who I also pay respect and honour to today for his three years of service to his country — over those five years, we’ve been doing what we said we would do at that election.”

Mr Morrison cited stopping the boats, getting rid of the carbon tax, repairing the budget, creating a million jobs, signing free trade agreements and cutting taxes for small and medium-sized businesses as key achievements which were promised and delivered.

“We’ve been meeting our emissions reduction targets in a canter. We smashed the Kyoto 1 and 2 and, I believe, we’ll absolutely be able to deal with our present target out to 2030 with no impact on electricity prices at all,” he said.

“That’s why we’re focusing on getting electricity prices down — simply by the key measures that relate to how energy is priced, how energy is delivered, and how the regulations protect us as Australians from the companies who can sometimes take a bit of a loan of us. So we are making progress.”

The Prime Minister highlighted “nation-building, congestion-busting” infrastructure and investment in defence as other key commitments.

“Between now and the next election, you will hear a lot of promises. You know that. You’ve heard politicians make promises for decades, and you’ll make up your mind about whether you believe those promises or not,” he said.

“But I’d give you two suggestions about how you can weigh them up: a) Can they pay for them? If you don’t have a strong economy, it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on. A strong economy enables everything else to happen.

“The other thing is, do you trust them that they believe it? And you assess that based on their own beliefs.”

‘I know things are tough’

Mr Morrison said he realised things were tough for a lot of Australians.

“Some are doing well. I’ve been in drought-stricken areas and I know how tough they’re doing it,” he said.

He said fairness would not be achieved by penalising those doing well.

“I want to see all Australians succeed, and none at the expense of another,” he said.

The Prime Minister highlighted the importance of a strong economy to pay for social policies such as the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and National Disability Insurance Scheme.

“You can’t take for granted, can you, Josh? – 3.4% growth through the year,” he joked to his successor as Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg.

“He’s only been Treasurer for two weeks and he’s already smashed my growth records!

“I know Mathias would have a lot to do with that. That’s the consistency,” Mr Morrison said, paying tribute to Finance Minister Mathias Cormann.

‘Pray for rain’

Mr Morrison then turned to the drought affecting many rural and regional parts of eastern Australia, highlighting his appointment of former Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce as a special envoy and urging Australians to pray for rain.

“It’s a big mobilising effort, and we’re on the task,” he said.

“But the one thing we need to remember is keeping those towns alive. It’s great to see it raining here in Albury today.

“I pray for that rain everywhere else around the country. And I do pray for that rain. And I’d encourage others who believe in the power of prayer to pray for that rain and to pray for our farmers. Please do that.

“And everyone else who doesn’t like to do that, you just say, ‘Good on you, guys. You go well.’ Think good thoughts for them, or whatever you do.”

The Prime Minister said $1 million grants for drought affected shires would help keep towns alive.

“We can’t make it rain, but we can keep those economies going until it does.”

Mr Morrison said he had been thrilled to find hope rather than despair when he visited Quilpie, in southern Queensland.

“They’ve been going through the drought for six years,” he said.

“I found young families with kids, little dogs running around, kids going to school… I found hope, and they showed me a photo of the pasture which had grass up to here 2.5 years ago.

“They said, ‘We know this place can work. We’ve just got to get ourselves to that point. And we thank Australians for backing us in.’

“Let’s not think of those who are going through only with despair – I know many are, that’s why we’ve got mental health counsellors out there – but let’s get give them hope as well. Let’s encourage them about how they think about hope.”

Keeping Australians safe

Mr Morrison highlighted the importance of national security, saying Coalition governments could always be counted on to keep Australians safe.

“I’ve already talked about the achievements of our government and how we’re continuing to work in areas of cybersecurity to keep our kids safe from predators and the work that’s done by the team, and I commend (Home Affairs Minister) Peter Dutton for the work that he’s been doing, particularly,” he said.

“You all know (from) him about stopping boats and things like that, which I know a bit about too,” the former immigration minister said.

“But one of the things Peter has done and been passionate about is making sure our kids are safe from predators, and kicking those people out of this country who would be predators against them.

“They’re the people we’ve got to keep an eye on.”

The Prime Minister also appealed to John Howard’s notion of sovereignty and famous declaration that “we will decide” who comes to our country.

“That’s very much a key direction for my government,” he said.

Mr Morrison finally highlighted the importance of “keeping Australians together”.

“I don’t want to send Australians against each other. I want to bring them together,” he said.

“I’m bringing my party together around the values and the beliefs that I’ve outlined to you today. Beliefs I hold.

“Values are things politicians talk about. Beliefs are things that, you know, you and I talk about.

“You talk about what you believe to your kids. You talk about what you believe as a community, and keeping Australians together to ensure that we respect our senior Australians so they have dignity in those years, that we respect our young Australians by listening to them about their hopes for the future and their concerns for the future – whether it’s environment issues in particular – my ears are very alert.”

The Prime Minister made reference to the ABC series War on Waste, saying he “gets” that young people are concerned about the environment.

“That’s what’s focusing and concerning them, so that means it matters to me too,” he said.

“That’s how you bring Australians together. You take all of their concerns seriously. And you work with all of them.”

‘We’ve got to love all Australians’

Mr Morrison concluded his speech by talking about the importance of loving all Australians.

“We all love Australia. Of course we do. But do we love all Australians? That’s a different question, isn’t it?” he said.

“We’ve got to. That’s what brings a country together. You love all Australians if you love Australia, whether they’ve become an Australian by birth 10 generations ago, when my ancestors came – not by choice, but in chains, rocked up in 1788 – they did alright…! Or if

you came last week…

“If you’ve chosen to be here in this country, that’s even more special, in some ways, isn’t it?

“(Belgian born Finance Minister) Mathias (Cormann) knows that.

“Let’s love all Australians. Let’s love this wonderful country. That’s what I believe. That’s what you can expect from me.

“That’s what you can demand from me. That’s what you can hold me to account for and all of my team. So we’re just going to get on with it. Thank you very much for your attention.”

Mr Morrison concluded his speech by talking about the importance of loving all Australians.

“We all love Australia. Of course we do. But do we love all Australians? That’s a different question, isn’t it?” he said.

“We’ve got to. That’s what brings a country together. You love all Australians if you love Australia, whether they’ve become an Australian by birth 10 generations ago, when my ancestors came – not by choice, but in chains, rocked up in 1788 – they did alright…! Or if

you came last week…

“If you’ve chosen to be here in this country, that’s even more special, in some ways, isn’t it?

“(Belgian born Finance Minister) Mathias (Cormann) knows that.

“Let’s love all Australians. Let’s love this wonderful country. That’s what I believe. That’s what you can expect from me.

“That’s what you can demand from me. That’s what you can hold me to account for and all of my team. So we’re just going to get on with it. Thank you very much for your attention.”

Rachel Baxendale

Reporter

Rachel Baxendale is a federal political reporter in the Canberra press gallery. She began her career in The Australian’s Melbourne bureau in 2012 before moving to Canberra ahead of the 2016 election.

 

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