Sir Robert Menzies

  • Scott Morrison Prime Minister, Member for Cook

Well thank you very much for that
very kind introduction. I want to come back to Josh in a sec, but first
let me begin by also acknowledging our traditional owners the Boon
Wurrung and Woiwurrung peoples of the Kulin Nation here in Melbourne.
Can I also particularly acknowledge the servicemen and women who are
here with us today and any veterans today. I simply say to you, thank
you for your service. There are few things that I have greater pride in
than saying to an ex serviceman or woman or veteran around the country,
to simply offer them appreciation for their services wherever they
happen to be and I know those in this room certainly share that view, as
many do and I’d say all Australians do around the country. Can I start
particularly by welcoming Michael McCormack the Deputy Prime Minister
here today.

Is there anyone who knew better than Sir Robert Menzies the
importance of a Coalition partnership to deliver good government to
Australia? No one knew that better than Sir Robert Menzies and in fact
when he went to Albury and to other places when he would speak, he’d say
that was the key to good government in Australia and the partnership
that we have with our colleagues in what was then the Country Party,
today is the National Party. And can I tell you, the relationship I
enjoy with Michael is a strong one, but importantly it’s one based on
our shared values and our shared passion for our country and our
absolute commitment to ensure that Bill Shorten never sets foot in the
Prime Minister’s shoes in this country.

In the same way that Ming and Black Jack worked so well together over
all of those years, I can tell you that ScoMo and Big Mac over here –

We’re doing exactly the same thing today. It’s a strong bond and it’s
a partnership that is important for our nation and for the things that
we hold dear as Liberals. To Josh, yes, you will get to deliver that
surplus Josh and you deserve to, the way you’ve applied yourself as
Treasurer, the way you’ve gone about the task. I know what that task
involves and I know that you’ll deliver in just under a month’s time,
what will be the first time this country has seen a surplus Budget in a
decade and more.

To all my other colleagues who are here, there are too many to
mention so I won’t do that today. But I do want to acknowledge all the
tremendous work that you are doing as we prepare for what will be the
battle of battles, that is the next election. It will be just that, it
will be just that. I know it, I’ve known it from the day I stepped into
this job just over six months ago. I knew what was riding on it, I know
what is at stake and I never take on a task that I don’t believe I can
accomplish. I’ve had experience in politics where there have been people
telling me that; “This can’t be achieved and that can’t be achieved.” I
go quietly about the business and on the other side, I remind them of
what they’ve said before.

To Ron Wilson and Members of the Sir Robert Menzies Lecture Trust
thank you very much for what is a very humbling invitation to come and
to join you all here today as Prime Minister, to deliver what is an
important address in the history of our movement and in the life of our
movement. Feel free to book me in for next year so I can match John’s
two in a row.

I’m sorry John can’t be here because I suppose between Josh and I we
bring together the finest of the Menzies and Howard traditions as a
partnership as we look to our heroes in the Party. It’s great to have
Menzies family members represented here today and one of the finest and
loveliest moments I’ve had as a Prime Minister is one day when I was
with my daughter Abbey at the Federal Secretariat in Canberra, Heather
was there and they got to meet each other. They told wonderful stories
to each other about her time when she was the Prime Minister’s daughter
the first time around, because they were about the same age at that
time. They talked about the room they stayed in and things like that, it
was a beautiful moment for a father and daughters bring tremendous joy
to fathers. My daughter’s name is Abigail which mean’s ‘father’s joy’
and that’s certainly the case, as is Lily.

To Gerard, thank you very much for hosting us here at EY today.
You’re a great partner in these events and we thank you for it. To Nick
Cater of course and the Menzies Research Centre, I congratulate you on
your announcement today about the establishment of the Robert Menzies
Institute located at Melbourne University. That’s a tremendous step
forward and well done. So thank you again for the invitation to give
this lecture during what is the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Liberal Party and the 70th Anniversary of Sir Robert Menzies’ historic win in 1949. I intend to repeat that in the true Liberal tradition.

In the history of nations there are always giants. They are the
handful of men and women who through their courage, their perseverance,
their intellect, passion and will, they change the course of their
nation. In the life of Australia, Sir Robert Gordon Menzies certainly
fits that bill. He is one of our greatest, if not our greatest giant
when it comes to the history of modern Australia.

For those interested in records; thirty years on the front bench.
Almost twenty five years as a party leader. Eighteen and a half years as
Prime Minister of Australia. These are records that will never be

But for others and I suspect all of us here, myself included, the
significance of Sir Robert is not the records he broke – because that’s
not what it was about, I believe for him – it’s the Party he built, the
movement he founded and the values he championed that we have inherited
and now have the privilege to steward and I do, as the party leader
today and as Prime Minister.

Menzies did not name the Party after himself, that’s for populists,
that’s for those who don’t look out into the future. Instead, he reached
out and built a Party based on enduring truths; the truths of
liberalism and liberal democracy that outlive any one individual or the
fashion of any one time, truths that unite a rich breadth of thought
across our community. He understood, as Margaret Thatcher said in her
Menzies Lecture almost forty years ago that; “Pragmatism is not enough”.
Unlike Labor, we are not the party of shallow deals, transacted by
vested interests to favour some, in order to punish others. That’s not
how we roll, that’s not what we are about. Our Party is based on the
individual beliefs that guide the decisions that we make in our own
lives, that we make in our own families and our communities. Our values
and our beliefs come from the ground up, they are proven in our own
individual experience, they’re not appropriated from above. They come
from in here and then they come together with others.

Our foundation is the personal responsibility and unique worth of the
individual, drawing meaning, purpose and strength for life, for our
families and for our participation in the community.

Our families and the homes we live in are the scaffolding of our
character and the values that will sustain our lives. It’s why Menzies
spoke of; “Homes material, homes human and homes spiritual”.

From this sure foundation, comes civic mindedness, mutual respect,
personal responsibility and a people that understand that the most
satisfying thing is to contribute in life, rather than take.

As my parents taught me, they said; “Scott, life is not about what you accumulate, it’s about what you contribute.”

This is the wonderful, civilising tension that Sir Robert understood –
that people need incentive, reward and opportunity to carve out their
own path. But equally, that nations are not just the sum of individual
efforts, they are also the result of the ties that collect us all up
together. It is these ties that responsible political parties always
seek to strengthen.

It’s why, Liberal and National Coalition Governments govern – in the
words of John Howard – not for some of us, but for all of us. Our nation
is named after that very pact, known as the ‘common wealth’ of
Australia. A Commonwealth is a shared future, it’s a commitment to each

When individuals grow and prosper, we all benefit.

When one excels, we all cheer, because it lifts all of us.

We know that effort, work, drive, enthusiasm and risk-taking is the
foundation for all human progress and when individuals face lifes’
trials, we support each other. Because lending a hand is the foundation
of what it means to be genuinely human.

We understand that a strong economy is the foundation by which we can
provide Australians with the essential services they rely on and they
need. That the prosperity we are creating lifts all and we keep faith
with each other and with future generations by focusing on this.

Under our Government, over 1.2 million new jobs have been created in
the last five and a half years. These demonstrate the values that Sir
Robert gifted to us. The women’s workforce participation rate is at an
all time high. Women are in 712,500 jobs that they weren’t in when we
came to Government, that’s how many jobs for women have been created
under our Government. That’s over 55 per cent of all the jobs created
under the term of our Government.

Participation by Australians over the age of 65 is also at a record
high. Australians are living longer and healthier and this is also a
positive sign reflecting a better view of ageing in our workplaces. As
we remember Menzies today, it’s worth recalling that when he retired at
71, he handed the reins to a man he called “young Harold” who was 57.
Seeing more older workers remain in the workforce, because they choose
to, is a trend that will continue. As well, young people – a lot younger
than “young Harold” and me – are benefiting absolutely from this jobs
growth. Nothing brings me greater joy, previously as a Treasurer and now
as Prime Minister, than seeing a young person get a job, because it
transforms a life and indeed can transform a generation.

Last financial year, young people aged 15 to 24 filled more than
100,000 jobs in this country, which is the strongest level of youth jobs
growth in Australia’s economic history. Of all the things our
Government has achieved, I can’t nominate one of greater importance than

Because we have the right settings on taxes, trade, skills, small
business and infrastructure, we can confidently set a target based on
our track record of performance, of delivering 1.25 million new jobs
over the next five years, by sticking to the economic plan that has
delivered so handsomely for Australia over the last five and a half

“The strivers, the planners and the ambitious ones”; this is what
Menzies described when he referred to the mums and dads, the small
business people and workers that our country relies on. That’s why we
are against Labor’s taxes – higher taxes on your electricity, taxes on
your property, taxes on your retirement and more taxes on your income.
Because it’s an attack on the true strength of Australia; ordinary
Australians having a go, who should be able to keep more of what they

A fair go for those who have a go, I’ve described it as. We do
understand these “strivers, planners and ambitious ones,” as Sir Robert
described them, that they are standing beside millions of small
businesses that are propelling Australia forward and providing these
jobs and they’ll continue to under the policies of our Government. But
it’s at great risk under the polices of the alternative in Labor.

We are a great nation of entrepreneurs and may it always be. Under
this Government, 230,000 additional small businesses have been created.
In coming years, our country’s 3.3 million small and medium businesses,
employing around seven million people – that’s more than half the
workforce in Australia – will benefit from tax cuts that we’ve
introduced and have brought forward recently by five years.

Tens of thousands of Australian businesses export overseas and they
are being strengthened by export agreements with countries such as
China, Japan, Korea and the 10 other nations of the Trans Pacific
Partnership. As of last week, you can add Indonesia to that, with an
export agreement signed by the Minsters for Trade both in Australia and
Indonesia just last week. A deal that Labor are threatening even as we
speak, on their hit list for their abuse of power should they ever be
elected to government. Under this Government, the coverage of our trade
agreements has increased from 26 per cent of our two-way trade, to
nearly 70 per cent. That is transformational. That has taken place in
only five and a half years.

With more jobs, more businesses and more trade, we are bringing the
Budget back into balance. We have maintained our AAA credit rating under
extreme international pressure and we are providing much needed tax
relief to Australian households – legislated – and Australian small
businesses. In addition to tax cuts for Australia’s small businesses,
our Personal Tax Plan will see 94 per cent of taxpayers pay no more tax
than 32.5 cents in the dollar, by 2024/25. We are abolishing an entire
schedule in the tax system. There are Australians who will enter a
decade under this plan, who will never face bracket creep throughout
their entire working life, because of our reform to the tax system.

Now, this is not a goal that Labor shares. They have actually
rejected it. They have taken a $144 billion plan and they say they will
reverse, that they will abolish, they will rescind this plan if they are
elected to Government. They’ll strip out $70 billion in tax relief to
hard-working Australians. They don’t share our views and that’s what
they will do.

Unlike the false promises of higher taxes, the prosperity of a
stronger economy is what guarantees the essential services that
Australians rely on. That’s what enabling us to keep our Commonwealth
compact to look after each other. Labor thinks higher taxes deliver
hospitals. No, it just slows your economy down so you can’t afford
hospitals. Under our plan for a stronger economy, we have the highest
level of hospital funding in Australia’s history.

Under our Government, our pharmaceutical benefits scheme has listed
2,000 new life-changing medicines worth over $10 billion, helping
countless Australians who are facing illnesses and sicknesses of almost
every kind. And it was under Labor that they didn’t list medicines,
because their Budget couldn’t support it. That is the cost of the
alternative set of values which drives our opponents.

Bulk billing rates are at record levels and we’ve committed to a new
hospitals agreement, providing around $30 billion in additional funding
over five years. Medicare has never been stronger than under this
Government, quite contrary to the lies Labor told at the last

We’ve fully funded the National Disability Insurance Scheme, without
an increase in the Medicare levy. We’ve backed in the system because we
know the NDIS is all about enabling people living with disabilities, for
them to realise their potential.

We are keeping our compact with future generations of Australians with $37.6 billion in additional funding for schools.

And we are supporting Australians suffering from drought and flood
all around the country – I’ve met with them, I’ve walked with them and
I’ve held them – with record funding and urgent action, most recently up
in far north Queensland where the livestock industry has been almost
literally washed away.

We are providing over $5.7 billion – and I acknowledge Michael
McCormack – from day 1, as a team, $5.7 billion to help combat the
unrelenting pressures of drought. That includes the $5 billion drought
future fund, which we passed through the House of Representatives – and
the Labor Party, amazingly, voted against – for the formation of a
future drought fund.

We have kept faith with what it means to be a Commonwealth, by
reforming the GST distribution system that was corroding our federation,
to ensure a fair go for all States and Territories. We did what other
governments hadn’t dared to do. We got in there and we fixed it.

I have said many times in recent months that this Government will
keep our economy strong, keep Australians safe and keep Australians

The strength of Australia is in our economy, it’s in our security and
it’s in our cohesion as a society well. Sir Robert understood this; the
social fabric of a country matters. It’s a foundation as much as our
economy and our security. It is real and we understand the role that
schools, sporting clubs, environmental groups, service clubs and
suburban churches play in strengthening the bonds between us all.
Keeping Australians together is about the values and beliefs we hold,
together as a community.

Ensuring older Australians are treated with dignity and respect and
can maintain their independence and choices in retirement, including
accessing the care they need – which is why I initiated the Royal
Commission into Aged Care soon after becoming Prime Minister.

Raiding their savings, the savings of retirees and pensioners, through Labor’s retirees tax, defiles these principles.

Keeping Australians together is also about listening to and
encouraging young Australians. Now, having a Budget under control and
that won’t rack up debt in into the future, that means future
generations are not saddled with maintaining our way of life,
maintaining our services and dealing with our cost of living. Keeping
our intergenerational compact with a cleaner environment, meeting our
responsible commitments – not the reckless targets of others – but the
responsible commitments to reduce our carbon emissions by 2030, without
denying future generations the economic opportunities we have enjoyed.
That’s really what Labor’s 45 per cent emissions target does; it steals
the opportunities of future generations that we ourselves have enjoyed.
How is that fair? That we have been able to enjoy our prosperity and
opportunity in life, but they want to deny to future generations? This
is why we have responsible targets and we’re not drawn to extremes.

Our liberalism is about strengthening the bonds between all of us and
in lifting all Australians, no matter their age, their gender, their
religion, class or sexuality. Our approach is not to pitch one
Australian against another, to punish one in order to reward another. We
do not believe one Australian has to fail for another Australian to

This is a fundamental difference between the movement that Sir Robert
Menzies started in the Liberal Party and our opponents in the Labor
Party – that is the politics of envy, to see one Australian fail, so
another can succeed.

Our Party, the Party that Sir Robert started, is the Party of aspiration, not the Party of envy.

Our Party understands that mums and dads who are investing in
property are not rorting the system, but providing for their future out
of their own hard work and effort.

Labor will deny them this opportunity at the next election if given
the chance. It’s another one of their envy taxes. They aren’t wealthy
these Australians who are doing this, they’ve paid their own way and
their investments support the supply of much-needed rental accommodation
without which rents – as the Treasurer, as Josh will tell you – will
only rise.

As Liberals we see a champion in every Australian, regardless of their abilities and regardless of their life’s circumstances.

By contrast, Labor sees only victims and oppressors, ensnaring
Australians in a prison of want and envy, unable to see their true
potential and worth.

That’s why I say under our movement, which I know is shared in the
National Party, we see a champion in very single Australian regardless
of what age they are, whatever level of ability they are, whatever
challenges they face. There is a champion in every single Australian and
it’s our job as custodians of the movement which Sir Robert started, to
ensure those champions are realised.

Labor thrives on conflict, with policies designed to turn Australian
against Australian. Menzies called this the class war, a false war. It’s
why he warned us against those who focus on sectional interests, rather
than national interests. So we aren’t about turning retirees against
pensioners; or setting parents of students at state schools against
those at independent schools; or Catholic schools against other schools;
or small businesses against large businesses, or people from one suburb
against someone from another. Unless it’s about AFL, same as the NRL I

Or the city against the bush, which our great partnership with the Nationals demonstrates, that this is a common project.

The class war has no place in Australia Bill Shorten, no place
whatsoever and we stand here to defy that thinking, as Menzies did. It
was not right in Menzies time and it is not right today. To extend, as
Labor seek to do – Margaret Thatcher had that great saying about
socialists; eventually, their problem is they run out of other people’s
money. I’ll extend that; under this politics of envy, you run out of
other people to blame. That’s what it means; Labor will run down this
hole, they’ll want to blame anyone for people’s life circumstances. Our
tradition is different. Our tradition begins with the personal
responsibility of every single Australian. That’s where you start and
when you set Australian against Australian, as Labor propose, all you do
is make our country weaker.

I’d like to finish today and I appreciate your patience, by sharing
my experience during my most recent annual summer break which is a
wonderful time I get to spend with Jenny and the girls. We’ve been going
down the south coast of New South Wales for many, many years to
different places. There we were, locals, holiday-makers staying at local
caravan parks, small business people from western Sydney – we were
staying at a house just outside of town – members of the local surf and
fishing clubs were there, as well as the rural fire service. There were
professionals, kids, mums, retirees, pensioners. You find yourself at
these little village communities on the coast of New South Wales, as I
know you do across Victoria. There we all were, enjoying the flathead
and chips at the Heads Hotel overlooking the wonderful Shoalhaven River,
raising money for a whole bunch of charities and organisations. All of
those people, Sir Robert called the forgotten people, I call them quiet

You won’t find them among the angry, shouty voices on the fringes,
pretending to speak for all Australians. You won’t find them there,
those shouty voices telling us all what we’re supposed to be angry and
outraged about every single day. They haven’t got time for that. They’re
too busy paying taxes, raising kids, helping with homework, running
their businesses, going to work, paying power bills, caring for their
parents, looking after their grandkids, putting out the soccer nets on a
Saturday morning, doing their patrols for the local surf club or
working at the roster at the RSF, or working at the school canteen, the
list goes on. That’s what they’re busy doing. They haven’t got time for
armbands and all the rest of it, trolling people on Twitter and all of
that nonsense. They’re too busy creating a very strong Australia.

And you know, while confronting their own challenges in life, those I
met, that wonderful group of people, they all had their challenges, but
they maintain a refreshing and positive outlook on life, thankful that
whatever they’re facing, they know they are ahead because they’re facing
it as an Australian in Australia, which is what gives them the
advantage. As I have travelled this country, not just in my role as
Prime Minister but as I have in other roles, I have listened to and I’ve
heard the stories of quiet Australians all around this country.

Here’s what they’ve been telling me.

They say; “We want secure jobs and to be treated fairly and with respect at work.

We want our economy to be strong.

We want our incomes to keep up with the cost of living and even
better, allow us to get ahead. But we know that money doesn’t just fall
from the sky and governments can’t just produce money from nowhere for
people’s wages.”

They understand that the company they work for has to actually do
well in order for them to do well. That’s why they work so hard, they
know someone has to pay for it.”

“We get,” they say to me, “that we have to pay taxes, but you know,
politicians should be keeping their spending under control and not waste
money, so those taxes can be as low as possible.”

They say; “We want the services we rely on like Medicare and
affordable medicines through the PBS taken care of, no excuses, full
stop. That’s your job.”

They’re more than happy to pay for a welfare system. Australians are
generous, but they’re not mugs. They know they need a system that looks
after those who are less fortunate and they’re always quick to recognise
those who are doing it tough. But welfare should never be a free ride,
there’s a mutual obligation. There should rules and obligations at the
end of the day, because they know the best form of welfare is a job.

They say; “We reckon small and family businesses and farmers deserve a
fair go,” because they know how hard they work, the risk they take and
the sacrifices they make.

“We want to take care of our environment” they say, “especially
locally.” That’s where they play and live with their families. “So we’re
sympathetic to the big global environmental challenges, because we owe
that to our kids. But we also know the need to get the balance right.”
So let’s just have a sensible plan and get on with it. “But please, can
we do it without being asked to pay higher and higher and higher taxes,
or shell out unaffordable taxpayer funded subsidies for the privilege?”

“Of course we want our schools and hospitals to be well-funded.
That’s what the Government is supposed to do”, they say, and fair
enough. But they also say; “Surely we can do this without having to
raise taxes all the time to do it, that just makes it harder on all of
us. Get the spending under control and make sure the economy is running
well and we can have the schools we need.”

“And we’ve been around long enough,” they say, “to know that it’s not
only about the money in education. Give me a good teacher for my kids
over a new school hall any day of the week. We want our kids to be safe
and not get bullied at school and to spend time with them as a family as
often as possible. We just want to see a smile on their face.” Gold.

That said, I’m a parent, Josh is a parent, we talk about this a fair
bit – we really worry about the world our kids are going to live in.
It’s all much more complicated now. Of course we worry about their
education, the skills they need and jobs that will be there for them,
but we have all know kids and families who haven’t been able to cope –
eating disorders, depression and the tragic and devastating impact this
has on families – it scares the hell out of us.

“And we have nothing at all,” they say, “against migrants. We
understand that migrants helped build this country. Seriously, just
because we are frustrated with traffic jams or crowded trains, does not
mean we want to shut the place down or insult our neighbours. Just get
the migration settings right,” they say, “make sure we build the houses
and roads we need and get migrants into jobs and not onto welfare.”

Sounds like a plan. That done, how good is it in Australia, that we
all get along as well as we do? With so many people from so many
different backgrounds, starting with our Indigenous Australians who were
here first and we deeply respect.

“And we want to be kept safe. Whether it’s our kids at school or
predators online, women and older Australians from the cowards who abuse
them, or when we’re out and about at the beach, the local park or mall
with our families, to be kept safe from terrorists.”

This is the Government’s most important job.

“We expect all those we ask to do the job of protecting us, our
police and our defence forces, to get the resources they need and the
respect they deserve.” That includes our veterans. Thank you for your

“We know,” they say, “that Australia is not perfect. But we’d rather
be here than anywhere else in the world. Sure, there are things we
could have done better,” we are an honest people, “but we’d rather be
here than anywhere else in the world. There are things we must do better
in the future, but there is no place like Australia and we want to keep
it that way.”

That’s what they’ve told me. That’s what I believe, that’s what my
team believes. I said it in my maiden speech to Parliament eleven years

“My vision for Australia is for a nation that is strong, prosperous
and generous. Strong in our values and our freedoms, strong in our
family and community life, strong in our sense of nationhood and in the
institutions that protect and preserve our democracy. Prosperous in our
enterprise and the careful stewardship of our opportunities, our natural
environment and our resources. And above all, generous in spirit, to
share our good fortune with others, both at home and overseas, out of a
compassionate heart and a desire for justice.” I think Sir Robert would
have approved of those words.

There will be a clear choice at this election, between aspiration and envy.

Between a stronger economy with lower taxes under our Government, or a
weaker one with higher taxes under Bill Shorten and Labor.

A safer Australia under the Coalition, or a nation with weak borders under Bill Shorten and Labor.

A Party that understands that the strength of our country is best
found in a united people, or a Labor Party under Bill Shorten that
thrives on conflict and division, setting Australians against each

It’s a choice between a stronger Australia and a weaker Australia.

Our Government has the record and the plans to keep our economy
growing, to keep Australians secure, to keep Australians together.

To keep Australia strong, staying true to our Menzian tradition.

Thank you so much.

/Public Release. View in full here.