My friends, I can report that based on the advice I have from the party officials, we can have every confidence that we will form a Coalition majority Government in the next Parliament.
It is a very, very close count. It is a very close count, as you know. And right now, right now, right now nearly 30% of the votes are yet to be counted. The pre-poll will continue to be counted until 2am.
But I don’t suggest we should wait around for that. And then the commissioner advises us there will be no more carding tomorrow or on Monday and they will count the postal votes on Tuesday.
And we may, the final results in terms of seats may not be known until then. So we will have a wait a few days. But as my distinguished predecessor, mentor, former boss John Howard well remembers ...
We have seen this before in 1998. And this is an experience not unknown in the parliamentary history of the Liberal Party. And of course the really critical thing is this, my friends — the values that we have and the policies that we brought to this election meet the challenges of our times.
The Labor Party, the Labor Party ran some of the most systematic, well-funded lies ever peddled in Australia.
We have never, the mass ranks of the union movement and all of their millions of dollars, telling vulnerable Australians that Medicare was going to be privatised or sold, frightening people in their bed and even today, even as voters went to the polls, as you would have seen in the press, there were text messages being sent to thousands of people across Australia saying that Medicare was about to be privatised by the Liberal Party.
And the message, the message, the SMS message came from Medicare. It said it came from Medicare. An extraordinary act of dishonesty. No doubt the police will investigate. But this is, but this is the scale of the challenge we faced. And regrettably more than a few people were misled. There’s no doubt about that.
But, the circumstances of Australia cannot be changed by a lying campaign from the Labor Party. The challenges, the fact that we live in times of rapid economic change, of enormous opportunity, enormous challenges, a time when we need to be innovative, when we need to be competitive, when we need to be able to seize those opportunities, those times are there.
No politician can give a speech, can write a policy, can send a message and change the reality of the circumstances in which we live and the policies that will enable us to meet those times with success.
And they are the values of our parties because they are the values of freedom, of business, of enterprise and entrepreneurship. And the alternative, the idea, the idea, the idea that the answer to Australia’s economic challenges, as Labor would have it, Labor with the second lowest primary vote in its history, but Labor would say that the answer is more debt, more deficit and higher taxes.
Seriously. Seriously. So, my friends, I’m sure that as the results are refined and come in over the next few days with all of the counting, we will be able to form that majority government. But, let me say this, let me say this without any fear of contradiction.
The Labor Party has no capacity in this parliament to form a stable majority government. That is a fact. Now, I want to thank the millions of Australians who have placed their trust in us, in our party, in our policies, in our candidates. I want to thank them for believing in the policies that we brought to this election.
And we will continue to deserve that trust, and seek to deliver those policies because they are the right ones for our times, because the alternative, my friends, is that we just fall off the back of the pack of leading nations. That is where Labor would have us. That is where Labor would have us.
Higher debt, higher deficits, higher taxes. That’s their formula and that’s a formula for failure. Now, I want to thank all of my colleagues, all of my parliamentary colleagues, my cabinet, I wants to thank Barnaby Joyce, the Deputy PM, the Leader of the National Party, I want to thank my own Deputy, Julie Bishop, the Foreign Minister.
Nobody covered more miles than her. The Treasurer and all the other cabinet ministers and all of my parliamentary colleagues, I want to thank all of our candidates right across the …
want to thank all of our candidates right across the country and I want to give a shout out to Julia Banks in Chisholm in Victoria for her extraordinary efforts.
I want to acknowledge the great work and leadership shown by the Federal campaign direct, Tony Nutt, and our whole campaign team, and all the Liberal and National Party workers in every electorate and every polling booth often having to stand up to intimidation and threats in there.
I want to thank every single one of them. I want to thank my own team. I want to thank them, thank them for the team and the Prime Minister’s Office for the remarkable work they’ve done over this long campaign.
And then, above all, I want to thank Lucy and my family who, apart from the youngest ones, are here tonight. I want to thank them so much, because, as you all know, as you all know; this political business is a challenging one.
And you cannot do it without the love and the commitment and the passion and the loyalty and the support of your family and I salute you, Lucy. My children, their partners for all of the love and support you’ve given me.
Now, I want to also address a matter that I know has been raised earlier today or this evening about the calling of the double-dissolution election. Let me remind everybody of why that occurred.
That was not a political tactic. It was not designed to remove senators or get a new Senate because new senators are better than old senators or whatever.
It was simply this. We need to restore the rule of law to the construction industry. At the moment the CFMEU has over 100 officials before the courts on more than 1,000 charges of breaching industrial law or agreements.
There is a culture of thuggery and intimidation, and bullying in the construction sector, which John Howard recognised years ago and set up the ABCC.
Bill Shorten and Julia Gillard abolished it. The Hayden royal commission investigated again and made it perfectly clear that the same problems were there, only worse.
And we had no choice — we did have a choice — we could have walked away and said it was all too hard and we weren’t committed to our principles of cleaning up the construction industry and ensuring the rule of law applied. We could have done that.
I don’t think that’s consistent with the values and the principles we share and our party have or I have or the alternative was to take the matter to a double-dissolution so you could present it to a joint sitting. That is the only alternative we had.
For those that say we shouldn’t have called a double-dissolution election are saying we should have just let the CFMEU with getting on with doing what they like and never challenge them. And that is not in Australia’s interests. It’s not right. It’s weak.
We have to stand up for what is right to restore the rule of law in an industry that employs over a million Australians.
So the hour is late. And I don’t expect us to be waiting till 2am, until the final pre-polls are counted. But, as I said, based on the advice I have from our officials and advisers and strategists within the party, I am confident that we will be able to form a majority government.
And certainly, certainly we are the only parties that have the ability or the possibility of doing that. All will depend on the counting.
And we await the completion of that. In the meantime, I want to say to all Australians those that voted for us, those that voted for other parties or candidates, this is a time when we must come together.
We must stick together. We face enormous challenges. We face, we face challenges in a rapidly evolving global economy that we do not anticipate that will surprise us, the opportunities will surprise us, but so will the headwinds.
We need have a common purpose. We need to have a commitment to the economic plan that sets us up for success. We have that plan and we will in Government be seeking the support of all Australians, all members of the parliament, to the program that alone can deliver us success in the years ahead.
Because it is a program, a policy, a plan that is based on what is best in us, that is based on our confidence, optimism, on our courage, on our entrepreneurship, the alternative is hiding under the doona and pretending the world is not what it is.
It’s form of political escapism that you can only continue for as long as you can keep on running up more and more debt. We have got to stop that. This is a time for clear-eyed assessment of our challenges, our opportunities and a plan that enables us to meet them.
We have that plan. All Australians we will seek their support, their commitment to support us in Government, all of us, we will reach out to unite Australians with that common purpose of ensuring that we can compete, that we can succeed, because without that, my friends, there is a road to debt, to deficit, to higher taxes, to stagnation.
That is what our opponents offered. They offered it under the guise of some scare campaigns, so dishonest. But yet in some quarters so effective, that they boasted about it how skilfully they had lied and how effectively they had deceived.
A pretty shameful episode in Australian political history.
Well, the election is over. Only the counting remains. And now is the time to unite in Australia’s aid, in Australia’s service to ensure that we can have truly the very best years for our country ahead of us. Thank you all very much.