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Speech in Parliament – Abbott Government

27 November 2014


Mr ALEXANDER (Bennelong) (15:41): Australia is a great country. As someone who has travelled widely and lived overseas for a good portion of my life I am able to say this with some authority. We have been the Lucky Country from riding on the sheep’s back and through mining booms. The tyranny of distance at times has been our best friend, but now the world is a smaller place and more competitive, and it is now up to us to make our own luck. Australia is a great country, a lucky country, but can we withstand bad government and bad leadership? The governing of a country is a serious business. It impacts every one of us and can impact generations to come. The government can change the direction of the very future of our country and our people. We have suffered six years of irresponsible and wasteful government, littered with poor judgements, motivated only by tomorrow’s headlines. Short-sighted in the extreme, Labor’s only concern was their popularity—no concern about how much that might cost.

On election night our Prime Minster announced that Australia was under new management, open for business, and would provide stable and certain government for business and all Australian families: ‘We will build the roads of the 21st century. We will be a government of infrastructure.’ The moment of elation was followed swiftly by attack after attack. He, as he did in opposition, worked with his team, and what a team it is. It is a team that reflects the very definition of ‘team’: a group of people with a full set of complementary skills required to complete a task, a job, or a project. Team members (1) operate with a high degree of interdependence, (2) share authority and responsibility for self-management, (3) are accountable to the collective performance and (4) work towards a common goal and shared rewards. A team becomes more than just a collection of people when a strong sense of mutual commitment creates synergy, thus generating performance greater than the sum performance of its individual members. This is a pretty apt description of our team, our government.

In the face of adversity and criticism of work undertaken, our policies have been implemented—policies that were reduced to a few words and ridiculed but that have in fact stopped the boats and rid us of the carbon tax and the mining tax. In the face of tragedy, our team leaders have maintained their calm and their dignity and have represented us on the world stage in a way that made all of us proud and comforted us during these times of distress. During all of this, our team have put the foundations in place for a golden era, with free trade agreements with our most important trading partners in the region—Korea, Japan and China. In this short period our team has rebuilt the live cattle industry and restored our tattered reputation for sovereign trust—a reputation hard-earned but so easily sullied and harmed by the previous government. Our team has also worked to repair the damage done by the previous government in installing the ambitious NBN program, now on track.

I know our Prime Minister in a number of ways. He is a loving and considerate husband; he is a loving and caring father. He is highly intelligent and educated, and he is a very hard worker—and one hell of a tough competitor. He provides his party with leadership that inspires. He has not sold his achievements well enough. In the party room the other day, he said, ‘I do not have a degree in skiting.’ I would much rather have hard work, intelligence and results than empty promises of things that never eventuate.