Jeremy Hanson MLA – Leader of the Opposition Address

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Tonight I am here to share with you what a Hanson Liberal government would bring to the people of Canberra, the values that have shaped that vision and how, by building on our strengths as a party, we can win government in 2016.

Ladies and gentlemen, my vision is shaped by a lifetime of support for Liberal values.

Those values were first instilled in me by my hard working parents, strengthened by experiences in the military and crystallised as a party member and MLA.

They are expressed in the Army in simple words embodying deep meaning: Courage, Initiative, Teamwork, Respect.

They are values I have lived by for all my adult life and I bring them with me to the task that lies ahead.

We must have the courage to stand by what we believe as Liberals, because the Liberal way is the better way for the future of Canberra, of that I have absolutely no doubt.

We must take the initiative, we won’t wait for events to unfold around us but fearlessly fight for what we believe in.

We must work as a team, united as a Party and speak with one voice.

And we must continue to show respect to the people of Canberra. We must always remember we do not serve ourselves – we serve this great city and its people.

And I want to make this point clearest of all – we are here to serve all the people of Canberra.

The builders, the tradies, the small business owners, the nurses and teachers, the public servants and retirees, the parents and families.

All working hard to get ahead, treasuring their homes and local communities, but often feeling neglected by their government.

That ends ladies and gentlemen when a Canberra Liberals government is elected.

And serving these people is our heritage as Liberals. It is one of our great strengths.

In his 1942 Forgotten People speech, Menzies spoke of the people who had made Australia the great nation it had become, but had been left behind by the social elites and the Labor Party.

John Howard reached out to these same people.

And we will do the same.

My vision for Canberra is not focused on minority interests and narrow ideological agendas. Or making laws we don’t need or plans we can’t afford.

Ladies and gentlemen, making Canberra the best place for everyone to raise a family, make a living and get ahead is what I want us, as a party, to make a reality.

My team and I have been working hard to refine the priorities that will make that vision a reality.

Firstly, we will unashamedly pursue economic prosperity for all Canberrans.

We will pursue a bigger Canberra with a true city heart and vibrant town centres while ensuring the suburbs where we live keep their character.

We will improve our planning laws and fix the system that is grinding development in this city to a halt.

We will do all we can to make Canberra a city where home ownership is attainable, encouraged and respected.

If family is the most important thing in most people’s lives – your home is where you build that family.

But under Labor, home owners in Canberra will be slugged an extra billion dollars a year in rates by 2031.

That is not ‘progressive’, it is punishing.

Another great challenge must be to fix our health system.

Under Labor health planning has been chaotic and our hospitals are full. Tens of thousands of Canberrans have waited longer for surgery and emergency treatment than anyone else in the country.

And now the Chief Minister is going to reduce health spending to pay for Labor’s other priorities.

With the outstanding quality of our Canberra health professionals we should not aim just to make our health system better, we should aim to make it the best health system in Australia.

As it was when the Liberals were last in government.

We will build a better culture in our health system.

We will create a greater emphasis on prevention and community care.

We will provide better coordination, ensure the public system has sufficient capacity, and that the private system is utilised more.

Equally important, we should have the best education system in Australia.

We will build excellence and capacity across all our schools, be they public or independent. We will encourage choice. We will support our teachers and principals, with increased autonomy and more options.

We will encourage good behaviour and a positive culture and we will make sure school communities have a genuine say in their children’s education.

Most importantly, we will put our kids and our schools first.

In 2013, Katy Gallagher signed a deal with the then prime minister Julia Gillard that reduced the amount of federal funding coming into ACT schools by $30 million dollars.

At the same time, other state Premiers fought for every single dollar and got millions in extra funding for their schools.

I will never sell out our children’s futures.

And another key difference between the Labor party and the Canberra Liberals is that we are strong supporters of business, in particular small business.

We will always be the friends of the hard working honest business owners who create jobs, who create wealth and drive the economic prosperity of our great city.

Let me be clear, we will do everything we can to make Canberra a place where people want to do business.

We will remove unnecessary regulation and duplication which is strangling business and restricting growth.

And when people travel in our city, to work, or to do business, or to visit friends and family, they will be in a city connected by the best road system in Australia.

We will make the roads work. We will support public parking and we will not force people in the suburbs out of their cars.

Labor are driven by a misguided ideology and by political imperative to pursue a tram system that is simply not viable.

Canberra’s small population but large geography will not generate sufficient usage for a tram.

The business case has not been made

And ultimately the money will not come from anywhere but the taxpayers of the ACT.

And given their record, I am sure this will not be delivered on time, and most certainly will not be built on budget.

Put simply, $614 million is the price Labor put on securing Shane Rattenbury’s support to form government, and it is a debt that Canberra families will be paying off for generations.

We will maintain the transport corridors for a light rail system, but we will not proceed until Canberra has sufficient population to make a light rail network viable.

This is a major difference between the Liberals and Labor – they are focused on some of the people – we will build for all of Canberra.

Ladies and gentlemen, although there is much to celebrate about Canberra, many in our community are doing it tough, and we will always support those in real need and protect those facing real hardship.

To do that, we need a society that is safe and compassionate.

We will restore the balance of justice in Canberra.

We will make sure that victims are not let down, that the police and DPP are properly resourced and empowered, that delays in our courts are reduced, that violent and repeat offenders are properly punished and bail isn’t simply a revolving door.

And for those suffering hardship, we will expand and enhance partnerships with the community sector in delivering services for the most vulnerable in our society.

And we will not forget that the quality of life includes other areas.

Together with local communities, we will support and promote Canberra’s cultural, sporting, and recreational opportunities that are so important to our way of life.

And our focus will be local.

Local sporting groups, local community groups and local artists.

And lastly ladies and gentlemen, and if we are to deliver on all the great promise Canberra has to offer, we must give this Territory better economic management.

The Labor government and the Greens proudly say they want to be the most extreme government in the country.

But our conversations with Canberrans suggest they want the opposite.

They reject extremism, and would rather a government that would interfere less in their lives and affairs, but focus more on the services that affect their lives every day.

They are increasingly concerned with the costs that come with a Labor Greens government who are running amok with the cheque book – writing cheques that ordinary families have to pay.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the highest taxing government per capita anywhere in the country.

The borrowings of this government are already $2.7 billion and rise to over $3.5 billion in the next three years.

The accumulated interest bill in the current budget totals over $650 million.

Canberrans are generous people, but they are also smart. They understand that no government can continue to spend beyond its means without long term consequences.

The decades of delays and hundreds of millions of dollars of waste in this territory is a disgrace.

The GDE – took longer to build than the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The Jail blew out by millions, was late, is already full, and is now costing us another $54 million dollars to make it fit for purpose.

The Emergency Services Headquarters went from $13 to $76 million.

The secure mental health facility went from $11 to $25 million and although the government promised it would be open three years ago – work hasn’t even started.

The Cotter Dam – from $120 to over $400 million.

The litany of failures is simply too long to list tonight.

And Labor’s only answer is more debt.

Andrew Barr thinks that increasing debt is an economic plan.

It isn’t.

It is the cycle of national and state politics in this country that the Labour Party spend like a bunch of teenagers with someone else’s credit card.

And it is the Liberal party who is left to restore budgets, build the economy and pay off that credit card.

This is just as true in the ACT as it is federally.

We will get the budget under control, we will reduce costs on families and business and we will run this economy better;

We are Liberals, it is in our DNA, it is what we do.

Those, Ladies and gentlemen, are the key areas my team and I have been working on for the past 18 months for the future of this City.

We are getting support and ideas from the broader community and we will continue to engage closely with all Canberrans.

Tonight, I am inviting all party members to be part of that process.

I am asking anyone who wants to get involved to join policy sub committees that will be established to work with the MLA’s in developing our policies.

On the day of the AGM in the later part of this year, we will hold an all day, policy convention where party members will have a real voice in the development of our policies.

The results of the sub committees and the policy convention will form an important part in developing our alternative platform.

This will be an ongoing process that will become part of the way we do business in this Party.

And the Party’s Policy convener will be giving you all more details soon on how you can get more involved.

Ladies and gentlemen

We will have many passionate debates and discussions about policies and initiatives before the next election and I look forward to them all.

I welcome the fact that the Liberal Party is a broad church with room for a diversity of views on a range of issues.

And although this diversity can create its challenges from time to time – it is also our great strength.

And as the Federal Government makes hard decisions in coming weeks and months I will stand up for Canberra and stand up for every Canberran.

I will be forthright and honest with our Federal colleagues, publicly if needs be. But I will never attack my own Party simply for political expediency.

Between the work your MLAs have already done.

The engagement with the community and industry groups we continue to do, and your active involvement.

We will improve policy discussion in the Territory, and we will use it to build a better Canberra.

Ladies and gentlemen, although I have travelled Australia and the world with the Army, it is in Canberra that I have found a home, and where I am raising my family.

Like so many others I came to Canberra because our city has so much to offer.

And my team and I are now working hard to give this city the government it deserves.

The Labor/Green vision for Canberra is increasingly one that is aimed at smaller and smaller groups of people.

People who want to give prisoners syringes to inject drugs.

Who want to ban plastic bags or piggeries that don’t exist?

Or make it a breach of human rights for a headmaster who tries to stop his school children from wagging.

Our values are different, and they are values that have served us successfully in the past.

When we look back to the successful ACT elections in 1995 and 1998, economic management was the main issue.

In 98 we campaigned strongly against Labor’s proposed $123 million dollar ‘bankcard’.

Instead, we offered prudent promises, focused on what we knew would help the Territory as a whole, not the ideologies of the minorities.

We supported small business, employment programs, education, health, justice and programs for seniors. We offered to build good basic services.

And we won.

The next time we reached the 1998 heights was 2012, when, once again, we ran our core liberal messages of local services and lower costs.

No, we didn’t win government but the Canberra Liberals did win more votes than Labor and a record number of seats.

We must build on that success.

Throughout recent history in the ACT, when we have stayed true to our core liberal messages we have scored our highest support.

Not only is this electorally successful, it is the core of what unites us as Liberals and has proven to deliver good government.

It is what drives me and where I will lead the party.

Those Liberal values have shaped some of the greatest governments we have seen in this country, and they are based on remembering to work for all the people.

For all those who choose different schools for their children.

For all those who live in the outer suburbs and who need the roads to be better.

For all those waiting longer than anywhere else in the country for surgery or emergency treatment.

For all those who work hard only pay the highest rates, bills and taxes in the country.

For those paying more and more but getting less and less.

For all those who believe they can make their own choices, know how to spend their own money, and want to live their own lives.

For all of them.

Ladies and gentlemen, I hope tonight you have gained an understanding of what we will deliver as a government.

The values that drive me.

And that you share my confidence that, if we build on our strengths, we can win in 2016, and with your support, we will win.

And when we do, we can fulfil what I believe is our most important goal, the reason I came into politics, and that is to make Canberra the best place for everyone to live, raise a family and get ahead.

That is worth fighting for.

And ladies and gentlemen I am up for that fight.

Thank you.