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The Hon David Littleproud MP – Leader of the Nationals – Address to LNP convention

Transcript

Well thanks Senator Susan, it’s great to have you in our party room and a great addition. Can I thank you Mr President and your executive for your warm welcome here, to my Federal President Kay Hull. As a former a Member of Parliament who now gives back to the organisation that she has belonged to for so long and has given so much but now gives back.

It says a lot about our people that they’re prepared to give back to our movement, to David and his team, the next Premier of Queensland.

We look forward to standing shoulder to shoulder with you up until October to make sure you take the keys to the Treasury benches here in Queensland. To Adrian and his team who have just shown how it should be done. In March this year, it was his hard work, his workmanlike efforts of just getting down to basics and saying to the people of Brisbane, this is the way to continue to grow your city, to be the best city in Australia and the best city in the world. Congratulations.

Well, federal team from Queensland and afar, it’s great to have you here as well, but it’s you the members I want to show and honour in thanking you for your conviction and your courage in being here. Not for financial reward, but for your belief in the values and principles of our movement and the values and beliefs in your community and your country.

You are the ones that drive and guide the decisions that are made by our party. As someone who effectively joined this party as a 6-year-old, handing out for my dad at the Chinchilla Courthouse, I understand the values and the culture that was created in our great party by Sir Robert Sparkes about the primacy of our membership.

And the great presidents have come past like Don McDonald, who made sure as the custodian and the President of our Party, that the primacy of our membership was upheld and honoured.

That’s what drives and guides our decisions and the primacy of what we determine here and why this conference is so important to you and to us, in making sure that we, as your elected officials, as the ones that have been given that privilege and honour, to go to Canberra to make sure that that’s instilled in everything we do. And I’m proud to lead a team that had the courage of their conviction to stand up for our pharmacists who were the victims of a heartless policy by the Albanese government in changing what was a 60-year arrangement around giving them $8 a prescription, to ensure that those community pharmacies, mum and dads, small businesses in our communities, had a financial gain that ensured and underpinned their ability to be able to provide a service.

We all wanted cheaper medicines, we all wanted 60 day dispensing, but to impose that cost on family, community pharmacies was not the right way to go about it.

And we stood shoulder to shoulder with our pharmacists to make sure that we brokered a deal and ensured that they were not financially disadvantaged, because in 342 communities in regional and rural Australia, they are the last line of healthcare that we enjoy while.

The AMA and many lampooned us and The Pharmacy Guild for standing up to this, many of them and their members have already gone from many of our communities.

It’s their pharmacists that are left. Our pharmacists are the ones that stayed in our communities and I’m proud to say that we stayed with them and we won and we want to ensure another pharmacy of regional Australia.

I’m proud of our team that stood up to the Albanese Government’s insanity of introducing a fresh food tax on Australian consumers and Australian farmers. $153 million was to be imposed on Australian farmers to pay for the biosecurity costs of foreign competitors to bring their product to this country and compete with them on our supermarket shelves. In what parallel universe would any government impose a tax on their farmers to pay for their foreign competitors to come this country?

If you pose the risk, you should pay the price. And we made it very clear, not only have we stopped this, but we have announced that we will introduce a biosecurity levy on all imports in this country.

That’s just common sense. And we intend to make sure that the money that we raised for that actually goes back into biosecurity. The Albanese Government was putting it into the consolidated revenue. And so we’ll ensure that those that bring their products to this country and potentially bring their pests and diseases will pay for the processing of that at our ports. When we export our commodity into the ports of countries around the world, they charge us, it’s well within WTO rules so long as it’s all at a cost recovery level.

And in fact, an independent review asked us to implement this. And so the Albanese Government lost the pot in a cost-of-living crisis where they were going to pass this onto the farmer, who would have to passed it onto you. Do you think your grocery bills are expensive? Now that was just another added cost that you were going to bear.

But what I’m most proud of is The National Party team and our principled position in November, 2022 when no one else had come out. We took a principled position on the Voice. It was a lonely position, very lonely position, but we undertook a very respectful process. We listened to both the ‘yes’ and the ‘no’ case within our party room and our lived experience of our Members and Senators from across regional and remote Australia. We got to the position that this was repeating the mistakes of the past. We’ve had a representative body before it was called ATSIC and we lived with the consequences of that every day in rural and remote Australia.

But there was a deeper principle that we couldn’t go past, that deep principle, not only here but in The National Party. And I believe in Australia that all 27 million of us are equal, no matter your race, no matter your religion. And every Australian has a voice to Parliament through our 227 politicians and the House of Representatives in the Senate, I’m proud of our nation has elected 11 Indigenous Australians. Not to represent Indigenous Australians but to represent us all.

And I’m proud to say that we had the conviction of our courage to stand there and to turn a position where only 30 per cent of Australians supported us, to one where 60 per cent believed us. We made the right decision. Let me say in those first few weeks and months, the Gallery, with much gratuitous advice, was telling us that we would be on the wrong side of history. We made history and we changed history because we stuck by our values and principles and we have a better Australia, with your values and principles is shaping our future and the policy direction that our two great parties are putting together.

We believe in living up to our international commitments. We must, if we don’t, your farmers will have a border adjustment mechanism put on them in a tariff, our miners the same. Our financial markets, both private and public, will weight our capital, somewhere between one and a half and 3 per cent. We have to engage with the world, we’re a trading nation. And so we can face up to our international commitments with using uniquely Australian ways of doing it, making sure that we’re addressing the fundamentals of keeping the lights on and keeping industry going.

And we are doing that with the courage of our conviction in transitioning seven of our coal-fired power stations to nuclear plants, to give the base load power that we need, to give industry what they need to keep going, to give manufacturing the certainty that they need.

The Albanese Government wants to continue to announce billions of dollars in subsidies to manufacturing.

We want a future made in Australia, but ultimately you can’t subsidise it because your money runs out. You have to fix the fundamentals and base load power is what’s required. So transitioning those coal-fired power stations across to nuclear power plants, bringing in more gas, but still a place for renewables in the right place, because a future in regional Australia isn’t one littered with transmission lines, wind turbines and solar panels.

Our future is bigger and brighter than that and your food security is at risk from that.

So regional Australians in the seven locations have been very clear, they want a different future than that. Anthony Albanese is posing in an all-renewables approach. Why shouldn’t we have a say in our future? Why shouldn’t we have a say in your food security? Why shouldn’t we have a sensible approach of not having concentration risk in putting all our energy eggs in one basket? Common sense says you spread the risk. The world says you spread the risk. There is no country of the industrial scale of Australia that is going down an all-renewables approach.

It is folly. And if you are not prepared to fix those fundamentals, then it doesn’t matter how much you’re going to subsidise manufacturing in this country, it will not survive. We’re taking the courageous position, Peter Dutton and I, to give Australians an alternative way, an alternative way to ensure their future, not for the next 15 years, while a turbine lasts, but for the next 80 to 100 years. That’s vision.

But you’ve guided and driven us also around vaping policy. The biggest scourge in our communities that we can see is vaping and children. We need to protect our children from this scourge. And what we’ve done in the past hasn’t worked. I supported Greg Hunt on the prohibition model. I was wrong. I was wrong. I’m prepared to say it because this is something we have to face up to. We have to face up to it to ensure that children in the future aren’t hooked on these through nicotine.

And we need to look at history and see what has worked and how we regulated cigarettes and saw in the initial years an 80 per cent reduction in juvenile use of cigarettes by selling them at licenced retailers to 18 plus. Protecting the packaging and the ingredients is just common sense. Making sure that the revenue, the excise that we earn on your behalf doesn’t go to organised crime, goes back to you.

It goes back to ensuring that we can not only increase our law enforcement, but our education and our health system and imposing this on our pharmacists without even any consultation is a botched policy. And in fact, one that they can’t even excise. So we’ll have the health outcomes but without the revenue, to keep our health system going. Where’s the common sense in that?

And I’m proud to say that last week we drove a policy that I believe goes to the heart of cost-of-living crisis. Australians every week feel when they leave a supermarket, they spend a lot, for not a lot. And so this isn’t about fixing prices. This isn’t about us walking in and closing down Woolworths or Coles tomorrow. This is about fairness and transparency from the farm gate to your plate. This is about making sure that we change the culture where there is a concentration in market, where we spread that and ensure that there is fairness for those farmers and consumers.

We saw clear evidence in June last year, a 60 to 70 per cent reduction in sheep and beef prices at the farm gate, but only an 8 per cent reduction at the checkout. Someone was cleaning up. I’m not against them making profit, but the Albanese Government had an opportunity. When that evidence was clear, we asked them to bring forward and give them support for a Mandatory Code. It took them another six months to announce that Review. And what we have put in place, the policy that we have put in place, respects the existing Codes of Conduct and consumer competition rule.

So there’s no extra regulatory burden or financial burden to the supermarkets. Anyone that says this is going to drive up food prices obviously hasn’t understood what they’re talking about, but are more seriously about scaremongering than about reality. We’ve actually increased the penalties where we want to change the culture with infringement notices.

The greatest infringement notice that the Albanese Government put in place is $187,800.

That’s the highest. They could walk in to any Coles or Woolworths in Brisbane and pull that out of the till. It’s just a cost of doing business. You don’t change the culture unless you increase the penalties where you go up to $2 million and then for a court to determine, a $10 million fine or 10 per cent of the turnover, but divestiture with safeguards to ensure that jobs aren’t lost because competition will come in and take its place.

That’s common sense. That gives protection to farmers and consumers. And when the Albanese Government talks about this being a Marxist policy, he supported our divestiture laws in 2019, in the energy sector. He passed them with us. And when he was prepared to stand up and fight the energy companies, why wouldn’t he stand up and fight against supermarkets?

How gutless is he when there are Australians out there today, families who are going without meals, in a country where we produce enough food for 80 million people. Wouldn’t you think the privileged position that all of us have, in going to Parliament that we do something about it? And there are, there are parents that are sending their kids without lunch in our lunchbox because they can’t afford it. Wouldn’t you think we’d do something about it? Or we are.

We have the values and principles that do something about it. And we have, as an Opposition, set the agenda for this Government better than any other Opposition, ever in history. We are driving the agenda and we won’t bring in 1.67 million, people more than the city of Adelaide. We’ll bring in people, we’ll bring in those that have our values and principles with the skills that we need and where we want them to go, because we are giving these people the greatest gift anyone can get in the world. And that’s a ticket to Australia.

We are going to bring back the live sheep exports. Australia don’t cut and run, but Albanese does. And what this will do is see the senseless death and horrific death of millions of sheep from other parts of the world because they don’t live by our standards. We have the best animal welfare standards in the world and this market will continue, whether we’re there or not. This is about their food security and this is about their culture. And they’ve respected us in living up to the welfare standard that we’ve asked of. And we should respect them. So our first piece of legislation that I’ll be writing is to reinstate the live sheep exports.

And the first trip I’ll be doing is going to Qatar and Kuwait and Jordan.

We’re not going to rip an extra 450 gigalitres out of the Murray Darling, take it away from farmers driving up your food security. We’re going to keep it with farmers who are environmental stewards of second to none in the world. They need the tools to be able to produce your food and fibre.

And can I say that it has been a proud moment for me to stand in our Coalition party with Peter Dutton. I don’t believe that our two great parties have ever been as close as what they’re today. And that’s founded on one simple principle, trust. I trust Peter Dutton. He’s a man of great integrity, of strength, of character and courage. And that is what we will go to the next election saying to the Australian people, looking them square in the eye, how it is and what we’re going to do to fix it. And above all, we’re going to take some common sense to Canberra.

Thanks for having me.

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