Abbott reaffirms Coalition support for Israel

July 20, 2010 Agencies
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The man who would be Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, has reaffirmed the coalition’s support for Israel…

Tony Abbott was speaking at an Australia Israel Chamber of Commerce function in Melbourne.

J-Wire reproduces his speech in full:

Tony Abbott

Well, I’m running for office and I’m running to get here. Thank you very much Silvio. Thank you very much, Leon. Thank you very much ladies and gentlemen for the warm welcome, but particularly, I want to say thank you to the Australian Jewish community. First, for the invitation to address this vast concourse of people. Second, for the contribution that Jewish people and families have made to our economic, cultural and philanthropic life here in Australia. Third, for the contribution that the Jewish people more generally have made to western civilisation, which is absolutely inconceivable without what’s so often called the Judeo-Christian heritage. But fourth, I want to thank the organisers of today for giving Sir Gustav Nossal the chance to introduce me. No mention of health cuts, just a doubling of medical research funding and the claim that Tony Abbott was a terrific Health Minister. That is the grab of the day, ladies and gentlemen.

But it would be wrong of me to let this day pass without celebrating for a few moments the contribution that Israel and Jewish people have made to the wider world and to this country. Outside Israel, the only country in the world where Jewish people have occupied the highest offices of State, Chief Justice, Chief of Army and Head of State itself is, in fact, here in Australia.

It’s obvious to any visitor to Israel, certainly it was obvious to me when I visited Israel again in 2008, that Israel is a beacon of democratic pluralism, a bastion of western civilisation in a part of the world where the rights of minorities and the value of respectful dissent is not especially well appreciated. And, of course, the Israeli Government, from time to time, makes mistakes. What Government doesn’t, from time to time, make mistakes? But Australians should appreciate that a diminished Israel, diminishes the west. It diminishes us. And I have to say that it’s a little disappointing, given the deep affinity between the Australian people and the Israeli people that the current Australian Government has somewhat weakened our long standing bipartisanship on Israel. I want to reiterate here today the Coalition’s unshakeable commitment to Israel’s security and I want to assure you that a Coalition Government would never support a one-sided UN resolution against Israel to curry favour with an anti-Israel majority in the General Assembly. And we would never over-react to any international incident, because we appreciate that Israel is under existential threat in a way that almost no other country in the world is. I think it’s important to make those points to such a gathering.

Ladies and gentlemen, the great stories, the cultural narrative that has shaped our civilisation so often refers to giving people what is their due. The parable of the talents. The parable of the labourers in the vineyard. Even the parable of the prodigal son. They all stem from a mercantile culture where people were expected to pull their weight. And I want to say that the Coalition appreciates, in a way that not all political parties always do, that you cannot have a community without an economy to sustain it and you can’t have a functioning economy unless people are reasonably free to take risks and are reasonably rewarded when their judgement is vindicated. And I want to say to this audience, in particular, that when it comes to the economy, I concede that the Hawke/Keating Government got it. When it comes to the economy, the Howard/Costello Government got it. But the Rudd/Gillard Government does not.

It is the reforms of the previous governments that are responsible for this country’s fundamental economic strength, not the spending spree of the current Government. The contemporary Labor Party pretends to be the Liberal Party before an election, but reverts to big spending, Labor type afterwards. They’re economic conservatives before an election. They’re scourgers of neo-liberalism and ferocious denouncers of  market fundamentalism afterwards, but what more could you expect from a government whose members have almost no personal experience of working in small business, let alone starting a small business and sustaining it for the long term?

Now let me say to you that the Government, the Rudd/Gillard Government should have consulted on the mining tax before it was decided and announced, not afterwards. Of course, it should’ve consulted on this. But much more importantly than the failure of due process here was a fundamental failure of sound instinct. The Government should not have needed to consult to understand that raising the tax on mining from 37 per cent to 57 per cent, from a competitive rate to the highest rate in the world was not a smart thing to do. They should not have needed to tell them that. They should’ve understood in the marrow of their bones that clobbering the one industry that was responsible above all else for Australia weathering the global financial crisis, that potentially killing the goose that’s laid the golden egg for Australia, that was a moon beam from the larger lunacy. They should not have needed anyone to tell them that. They should not have needed the victim to complain before they knew that it was the wrong thing to do and they should not have verballed the mining industry after they’d mugged it.

They fact that no one in the Gang of Four that was running this Government understood this, or understood it well enough to alert others to the dangers of this disaster in the making, shows that this Government is fundamentally unfit to run our country and please don’t think that the Government has changed it’s ways, just because it’s changed it’s leader.

The new mining tax is quantitatively, rather than qualitatively, different. By singling out one sector, just because it’s successful, and by subjecting it to a punitive tax, it sends a clear signal to every business in this country. Do not succeed or do not succeed too obviously, lest you be next. And the last thing that this country needs is an economic version of the tall poppy syndrome. That’s why the Coalition will oppose the mining tax. We will oppose it whether it’s a 57 per cent tax or a 45 per cent tax. We will oppose it in Opposition and we will rescind it in government. And I say this to all of the people who have been concerned by what this says about sovereign risk that the best way to tell the rest of the world that Australia is once more a secure place to do business is to punish the government that brought in this bad tax.

And don’t let anyone say that the mining industry somehow wants this tax. Oh, no. Let not anyone pretend that the mining industry, somehow in its heart, wants this tax. They don’t. All the three big miners did was conclude that this was the best deal they could get from a bad government.

Now, ladies in gentlemen, tax will be a big part of this election campaign and let no one suggest that Labor’s mining tax and Labor’s coming carbon tax are in some way comparable to a relatively modest levy to sustain the Coalition’s paid parental leave policy. If the Labor Party had not turned Australia’s $20 billion surplus into a $57 billion deficit, this visionary social change could be funded in other ways. But make no mistake, a fair dinkum paid parental leave scheme is important economic reform. It is a vital economic reform. It helps to address what might otherwise be a demographic destiny. It tackles, in fact, the three P’s, highlighted in Peter Costello’s intergenerational reports. It should help to give us a higher birth rate. It should help us to have one for the mother, one for the father and one for the country, as we were so famously urged to do just a few years ago. It will boost productivity and it should definitely boost the participation of people who might otherwise feel excluded from the workforce. Over time, paid parental leave will give us the stronger and more productive economy that this country needs after three years of hard Labor.
Let me say this, ladies and gentlemen. Lower spending is the only way in which we can have sustainably lower taxes. Lower government spending is the only way in which we can have sustainably lower taxes and taxes should always be lower under the Coalition because spending will always be lower under the Coalition. I want to pay tribute to my distinguished senior colleagues and friends. Joe Hockey and Andrew Robb, both of whom are here today, for their work in identifying spending reductions. They have already announced $47 billion worth of spending reductions. I also want to salute the courage of my predecessor, Malcolm Turnbull, who opposed Labor’s second stimulus package, because he knew it was too much, too soon. I suspect that Malcolm had a premonition of the coming disasters with pink batts and overpriced school halls. Certainly, he knew that Labor could not be trusted with public money. But above all else, our spending cuts, our prudent and frugal economic management is inspired by the example of my friend and former colleague, Peter Costello, who established the gold standard in cutting Labor’s deficits and in repaying Labor’s debt.

Ladies and gentlemen, it always falls to the Coalition to clean up Labor’s fiscal mess. It’s happened in the States. Here in Victoria, in New South Wales, in Western Australia, in Queensland, it’s happened in the Commonwealth. The fact that this Labor Government has run up debt more than twice as fast as the last one shows that the real risk in this coming election is that we will give a bad government the second chance that is doesn’t deserve and that Australia certainly can’t afford.

Over the past three years, businesses and households have certainly had to tighten their belts. Now, it’s time for government to tighten its belt too. Government can’t keep on spending borrowed money. It can’t keep on borrowing $100 million a day; $3.5 billion in the course of this election campaign, because that’s money that might otherwise be available to fund productive investment by business. We can’t have a Treasurer who announces a $12 billion tax and then, just a few weeks later, has to admit that it was actually a $24 billion mistake. Sorry about that, a $24 billion tax. We just can’t have this attitude in the people running our economy and we can’t have a Prime Minister whose economic credibility speech had to carefully omit any reference to the $16 billion Building the Education Revolution program, which she has so comprehensively mismanaged, or the Computers in Schools, which she has so comprehensively failed to deliver. We have a leader who can execute a prime minister, but we do not have a leader who can execute a government program and the only way to end the incompetence in government is to change it. The only way to end the incompetence is to change the government and, ladies and gentlemen, the only way to for Australia to move forward economically if for the Labor Party to move out.

Ladies and gentlemen, I am buoyed and inspired by the great concourse of people before me. People who are steeped in the traditions of business, people who understand the traditions of our culture and let me assure you that, as a Liberal, I believe in lower taxes, smaller government and greater freedom. As a conservative, I want a fair go for families and I want to respect the values that have stood the test of time. As an Australian, I want policies which work and which don’t trifle with our country’s future. Mine is a genial and pragmatic political creed, but it is pragmatism based on values. Above all else, it is based on respect. Respect for our hard working people and families. Respect for the values which underpin our culture and respect for the civilisation that has shaped our society.

This is the golden thread that runs through the policies that the Coalition will take to the election. Policies that demonstrate that the Coalition is ready to govern and that the Coalition, once more, can be trusted with the government of a great country.

Thank you so much for the opportunity to be here today. I don’t think I have ever been blessed with such a large and appreciative audience. Certainly, never before have two such luminaries as Sir Gustav Nossal and Professor Itescu been as generous as they have been today.

Comments

One Response to “Abbott reaffirms Coalition support for Israel”
  1. Harry says:

    Despite the fact I don’t like the term ” Multicultural” I agree that it is desirable to live in peace with all
    religious and ethnic groups in Australia.
    Regarding the visit of Mr. Geert Wilders : He expresses his views as a
    citizen and polititian in the Netherlands where influx of radical Islam has produced considerable social change partly reflected in the brutal murder of a Dutch journalist, the threat of assassination of a former politician who was forced to emigrate and who is still guarded in her present domicile and the constant necessity of bodyguards for Mr. Wilders wherever he goes.
    If Mr. Wilders would be airing his views about any other political or religious group I doubt if he would have to be guarded 24 hours per day. This in itself illustrates the influence of radical Islam in Australia in particular and worldwide in general.

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