• Hannah Phillips

The Prime Minister Impresses at the Federal Council

Shortly after a speech in which he portrayed himself as the political heir to Sir Robert Menzies, Malcolm Turnbull delivered a speech to the Federal Council of the Liberal Party that set out the values that he believes the party stands for.

“You know, our values are timeless because they are based on freedom. They are values which say that government’s job is to enable you to do your best. To realise your dreams, to get your business going, to get your career going, to see your kids getting ahead and getting a great education, to ensure that you get the best health care and the latest drugs – life-saving drugs – listed on the PBS. That’s what we want every Australian to do. Those are our values!

“You know, those values are timeless and they are more timely now than ever because they are under challenge from Labor now, more than they have been in generations,” he said.

The Prime Minister told delegates that to have the strongest economy the nation needs to have competitive businesses which meant that the tax rate applied to them must also be competitive.

He also came out in strong support for free trade in a pointed rejection of the Trump mercantilist approach.

He told the Council: “But we know in Australia – as John Key reminded us last night in New Zealand as well – free trade, open markets, means jobs. And my job as your Prime Minister is to ensure more Australians have jobs and more Australians have well paid jobs.

“That’s why we’re supporting free trade.

“And we don’t give up on it. When Donald Trump pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a huge regional trade deal, a lot of people said it was dead. Well, we stuck with it.”

The Prime Minister vowed that Labor would not get away with a ‘Mediscare’ style campaign again.

He said the party was preparing a social media approach to neutralise Labor propaganda.

The rest of the Council meeting was a mixed bag. John Howard gave a rousing speech, telling the party it could win the next election even though it had been behind in the polls since the last election.

The conservatives fired a shot across the moderates’ bows by voting for the replacement of moderate Vice-President Trish Worth by conservative Teena McKenzie.

More contentious are the resolutions to move the Australian embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and to privatise the ABC.

Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten, has leapt on the latter resolution to claim that the government will privatise the ABC after the next election even though Communications Minister, Senator Mitch Fifield, has made clear this is not government policy.

The resolution is an obvious free kick for Labor who can use it to mount another ‘Mediscare’ style campaign.

Campaigning in the regional Tasmanian seat of Braddon ahead of the by-election there on July 28, the Opposition Leader said regional Australia would end up with a “Sydney-centric” media if the ABC was sold.

“What’s happened is the Liberal Party has come out two-to-one and said we want to sell the ABC, so we know what the Liberal Party thinks,” he said.

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