Speech to Young Liberal National State Convention, 30th April 2011


Brisbane, Queensland

Thanks very much Tommy and in recognising you and your executive, I congratulate you on the very the great work youve done this year. Its tremendous to see so many people again at a Young LNP Meeting.

Ladies and Gentlemen, as Tommy has said, and Im glad he said it because you may not have believed it, but once I was a member of the Young Liberals, one of the forerunners of the Young LNP. And all those years ago, I joined the Young Liberals because I thought that our way of life in Australia was worth fighting for. I guess many of you have joined the Young LNP for the same reason.

In those days I wanted to support people like Bob Menzies and Harold Holt, Frank Nicklin and Gordon Chalk who had made Australia and Queensland the very wealthy and caring Country and State that they were in those days. And I worked out in my early days that in Australia, by hard work and by enthusiasm you could achieve whatever dreams you might have. It didnt matter what your background was or what your circumstances were. We had the freedom in those days to do our own thing providing we didnt interfere with the rights of others. It was a society where those of us who were able to do so, did help those less fortunate in our community. I believed that Governments were better run by Political Parties that represented all Australians regardless of race or creed or occupation or background rather than Parties that were comprised of and worked for, particular groups like the Unions or Industry sectors.

So I joined the Young Liberals back all those years ago. Mind you, it wasnt all altruistic, my reasons for joining. Young Liberals in those days had the very best parties and for those here last night, I hear that tradition has continued. We also had the most attractive, what we used to call in those days, chicks and I guess thats still correct, but that was certainly a magnet for the membership that we had and it was through Young Liberals that I met and eventually married my wife Lesley. Since that day we have together worked very hard for the Young Liberals, the Young Nationals, the Liberal and National parties over many years.

I can say to you, and this may be of interest to many of you, that the Young Liberals, my involvement in a young political group has been good for me as well. I remember when I first ran for the Burdekin Shire Council, where I was a Councillor for 11 years, that the knowledge I had gained, the expertise I had received in running elections, was very useful to me in running my first political campaign myself. In those days too I met a lot of people that have continued to be of assistance to me throughout my life. These were very influential people, people like Don Cameron, who some of you may remember was the Member for Moreton for about 23 years, he is still very much involved in the LNP at an organisation level.

I was involved back in my Young Liberal days with David Russell, again who many of you would know for the work he has done in the LNP. I knew a bloke called Kevin Martin who was a president when I joined, hes the father of the current General Secretary of our Party and Jane Prentice, the current Member for Ryan and I and her husband Ian were very much involved. Greg Vickery, as those of you involved in the Law, would know is one of Australias leading Lawyers, was very much involved, he was another President, Ian Walker, also very significant in the Legal World these days and one of our Candidates at the State Election coming up was someone I met and knew in my early days in the young political party. Graham Quirk our current Mayor was there, Philip Ruddock was the Federal President when I was involved in Young Liberals. And so the list goes on and I only mention that to say to you all that any of you that do have an interest in politics and who some day might aspire to elected office, your involvement in the Young LNP will help.

Can I say at this point how pleasing it is to see here today two very significant Parliamentary colleagues of mine in the State sphere, Lawrence Springborg the Member for Southern Downs and a Life Member of the YLNP and also Mr Mark Robinson, the Member for Cleveland. Can I, while Im there, recognise as well, Councillor Adrian Schrinner, the Deputy Mayor of Brisbane, who has had a long involvement with young politics over many, many years. It is always a pleasure for me to appear on the same podium as Bruce McIver who, as Tommy said earlier, has done a fantastic job in getting LNP going and getting it to where it is, on the cusp of being in Government both at State level and Federally.

I did want to acknowledge, as well, the fine work done by members of the executive of the LNP. It is tremendous to see Greg Newton here. I dont think theres a meeting I go to in the south of Queensland where Gregs not at and its great to see also Damien Tessman, great to see him here and Id like to say hello to Shane Goodwin as well if I could. I think he is still recovering from last night, if hes not then I would be very surprised, and Rod Schneider the Federal Vice-President of the Young Liberals.

But ladies and gentleman getting back to history, its interesting for me to look back ,and some of the great issues of the then period were issues which the Young Liberals and the Young Nationals had advocated for. Some of you may know the Burdekin dam up on the river adjacent to which I live, it was an issue for many, many years but one of the first Young Liberals conferences I attended was where we passed a motion calling on the then Fraser Government to build the Burdekin dam. Of course thats there now, its been doing tremendous things and were hopeful that the next Abbott Government will actually increase the size for that dam and for hydro-electricity.

Back in those early days it was the young political parties of our persuasion that advocated for the protection of the Great Barrier Reef. The Greens political party would have you believe that those sort of environmental masterpieces were their doing when in fact they originated in forums such as this many, many years ago. The Vietnam war was contentious in my day, particularly the conscription issue, but in those days the Young Liberals and Young Nationals were very much in favour of the war and of conscription and did a lot of work to help the then government to move forward with those issues.

Even in more recent times, the Young Liberals and Young Nationals have been at the forefront of debates on weighty issues like whether or not Australia should have reformed taxation system with the introduction of the GST.

So those issues were important. I even remember one person who is now a very prominent member of the LNP, leading the debate when a motion was moved that Joh Bjielke-Petersen should be sent back to New Zealand. Fortunately wiser heads prevailed and the motion was defeated. But there were over those years a number of interesting motions debated by the Young Libs.

Today ladies and gentlemen I believe we face, and you as the tomorrow generation face, perhaps on our nations greatest challenges both politically and democratically. This challenge has come because of the quite unique combination of the extreme left and the extreme right in our Federal Government at the present time. To my way of thinking the management of the climate change issue can have far reaching and very serious challenges to our way of life, to our system of government and indeed to our democracy.

I dont mean the climate change issue, as such, the carbon emissions and their portrayed impact on the changing of the climate but the approach of the Gillard-Brown Government in dealing with that climate change issue. Because I believe that under Gillard and Brown there will be very substantial increases in the cost of living, with all of the consequences that will bring. Their proposals for carbon taxes or emission trading schemes will destroy what is left of Australias manufacturing industries. It will create huge unemployment, particularly up my way in central and north Queensland. Unemployment, we dont often think about this, will have huge impact on the personal investments that all of us make, all of us want to make, all of us have made in our own houses. If you lose your job you lose your house and in places like Mackay, Townsville, Gladstone, Rockhampton, Cairns and Mt Isa, peoples livelihoods will go and so will their major saving vehicle, their own home.

The economy will be weaker and will weaken the country and will make us increasingly dependant on foreign capital and foreign institutions. It will make us eventually reliant on imported food. This sort of unrest, unemployment, people losing money, causes social instability and political chaos. All of this will happen without any benefit being made to the world environment. Nothing we will do in Australia will make one iota of difference to or impact upon the changing climate of the world. But it will destroy many of the institutions of our country. When you have civil unrest you do have real challenges to democracy. For those of you who have studied history, particularly in the middle part of the 20th century, you only have to look at what happened in Germany and Italy and Spain in times following social unrest and massive unemployment to see how these things can really impact on us. In the last decade you just have to have a look at Greece and Ireland and Iceland and Portugal to understand the difficulties that are caused by the social unrest that follows unemployment and a failing economy.

Perhaps you say I am being over-dramatic by associating what could happen in Australia in the next few years with whats happened in the last decade. But can I tell you we have to be forever vigilant to make sure in our society those sort of things dont happen. This is where you people; the Young LNP can play a very significant part. It is in fact your generation which through a misguided altruism is giving Julia Gillard a significant part of her ever dwindling support base and thats by proxy through the Greens political party. Young people seem to have tuned out, certainly to the old means of communication, and certainly seem to have tuned out to the politicians of the current era. Thats why I think the Young Liberal National Party has a critical role, to spread the message, to explain to your generation the truth of government and how it works, through your social networking and other forms of communications, by getting out the alternative, the right message. Of course you can do that even more directly and increase your own influence by expanding the membership of your party.

I think we need to expose the Looney Left that is the Greens political party and show to the young people particularly, that there is a better and easier and more substantial way of addressing issues. For example in Climate Change, there is a direct action plan that will achieve as much as if not more in the reduction of greenhouse emission from Australia. But it wont be done at a cost. It wont allow a left-wing government to use taxation and churn, to transfer money from one section of the community to another, to deal with their view on society and where it should be.

I know that those of you in this room can help us in the Federal Parliament, the State Parliament and at the city council level in achieving this goal. Exposing the Greens and the Labor Party and promoting the decent sort of policies that are what Australia needs. I know you can do it because I have seen with some amazement and pride what many of you did with the University of Queensland Student Union elections last year. What those of you who were involved did, Im sure its many of you, is just fantastic. It shows what young people can achieve when you set your mind to it, when you plan properly, you can achieve those results. If you could change the voting system, well not the system but the voting results, in Brisbane and Queensland as you did at the University of Queensland, then we would be in for along term of very decent and successful government at State level.

Ladies and Gentlemen you are a very important part of the political process and in that way you can as a group and individually, help in preserving that way of life, that democracy that served us so well in my generation and if preserved, I know will continue to do so in yours.

Ladies and gentleman can I wish you all the best for what will be a very successful, lively and robust conference. I am indeed as a great supporter of the young political movements of our parties, so I am delighted to see so many people here. Back in my day, and I know that people will hate people saying that, we did have state conventions of three and four hundred people. In more recent decade the numbers have dwindled down but Im absolutely delighted to see the number here today. Its a great pleasure to be with you. Tommy to you and particularly to your successors can I continue to offer every support that I can give, its always been a policy of mine in my time as a federal parliamentarian to ensure that young people form a substantial part of my office and that wherever I can, I do anything within my power to legally assist the goals and aims of the Young LNP.

Good luck for the future, thanks very much for having me with you. Its always, as I say, a delight for me to be with active enthusiastic young people. Good luck for the future, good luck for convention.

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