Address To Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue

Prime Minister

I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet and I pay my respects to their elders past, present and emerging.

I thank our hosts, the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue.

And I acknowledge all my colleagues here today, every one of them a champion for this great part of our nation.

Western Sydney reflects the aspiration that drives Australia.

The courage, compassion and community spirit that our Government works every day to reward and to nourish.

The enterprise and initiative of small businesses.

The construction workers and apprentices building the new homes and infrastructure our nation needs.

The workers of the care economy: our early educators, health care workers, aged care workers and disability carers. So important to our national quality of life and so central to the future strength of our economy.

Young people striving to save for a first home, or looking to start a family of their own.

And everyone studying hard at TAFE in Blacktown or Richmond or Mount Druitt or at Western Sydney University, many of them the first in their family to gain a qualification beyond secondary school.

In all this, Western Sydney tells the bigger story of Australia.

Every parent wanting better for their child, every generation determined to do better in the future, every one of us making a contribution to our nation’s success.

And I’m here today because I recognise that Western Sydney is also a place where these aspirations are under pressure.

Western Sydney has made a significant contribution to the 820,000 jobs that have been created in our first two years in Government.

Here, and nationwide:

Inflation is down.

Business investment is up.

Productivity is up.

Participation is up.

Annual real wages growth is back.

We are projecting back to back Budget surpluses, for the first time in nearly two decades.

Unemployment remains at a near 50 year low.

And the gender pay gap is at a record low.

Achieving this powerful economic combination in a time of global uncertainty is a tribute to the resilience of Australian businesses and Australian workers.

But we understand that there are still people doing it tough right now.

And I know that when you are living week to week, it’s hard to even find the time to think about the future, let alone plan for it with confidence.

That’s where economic security – from fair wages to reliable services – is not just about making ends meet, it’s the foundation for aspiration.

And that’s why last week’s Budget was about delivering on the two things that have driven our Government for two years.

One: helping people with their cost of living.

Two: making our future here in Australia.

These are the priorities that drive us – and this is also the balance that defines us.

Managing the immediate pressures and challenges people around our nation are facing.

And doing so in a way that builds and invests for the future.

Two years ago – almost to the day – I promised as Prime Minister to lead a Government for all Australians.

Our Budget kept faith with that in every way:

A tax cut for every taxpayer.

Help with energy bills for every household – and for small business.

Getting wages moving again for workers in every industry.

Making Medicare stronger in every community.

Adding superannuation for every working parent on government paid parental leave.

Expanding access to TAFE and university for everyone in the suburbs and regions.

And building more homes and new infrastructure in every part of our country.

All of this continues and expands the work we have done for two years now.

Making child care cheaper for over 1 million families.

Making medicine cheaper for everyone.

Over 350,000 fee-free TAFE places.

Increasing Rent Assistance two years in a row – and expanding access to the single parent payment.

At the last election, we promised to open 50 Medicare Urgent Care Clinics.

58 are open already – including in Rooty Hill, Penrith and Westmead – and have helped hundreds of thousands of Australians see a doctor for free.

And in last week’s Budget we funded another 29 of these clinics.

For two years we’ve been focused on helping people deal with the economic shocks and aftershocks of the pandemic, conflict and the most significant international energy crisis in half a century while also learning and applying the lessons of what we’ve been through.

Taking pressure off families – while putting downward pressure on inflation.

Working to build an economy and society that is more prepared and more resilient ahead of the next shock.

And acting on our responsibility to go beyond that.

Because while it is important that Australia is ready to weather the next storm – we must also be ready to seize the next wave of opportunity.

That’s how true security and lasting prosperity are made – not just responding to change but anticipating it and shaping it.

And while economic shocks are – by their very nature – unpredictable, the biggest change underway in the global economy right now, indeed the biggest economic change of our lifetimes, is signposted for all to see.

Nations representing 92 per cent of the global economy – and 97 per cent of Australia’s trading partners – are signed up to Net Zero.

To get there, every one of these countries will need much more clean energy – and much more of all the resources and technology that go into it.

The metals and minerals, rare earths and resources our nation has in abundance.

Today I make this point: if you could have designed a global opportunity for Australia, you could not have chosen a better starting point than this.

And I say ‘starting point’ very deliberately.

Because this moment of opportunity must be about more than us extracting and exporting a new mix of resources to a new range of markets.

More than just shipping things overseas, watching someone else, somewhere else, create the jobs and add the value, and then buying them back.

This is about using the comparative advantage of our clean energy – our solar and green hydrogen – and our skilled workers to add value here in Australia.

Making things here again.

Moving up the international value chain.

Creating a new generation of jobs in clean energy and advanced manufacturing and design and technology.

And all the flow-on opportunities that will bring, economy-wide.

That ecosystem of economic growth that drives new breakthroughs and innovations and supports them into commercialisation.

So, just as our Government’s plan for cost of living is about helping every Australian under pressure, our plan for a future made in Australia is about bringing new jobs and opportunities to every part of our country.

Western Australia and Western Sydney.

The resources industry in our regions – and small businesses in our suburbs.

Drawing on the talents of all our people, to build an economy and society and environment that is better for our whole nation.

And so while Western Sydney may not have vast reserves of nickel or lithium – you are home to a wealth of resources that are absolutely critical to our future.

Great universities and researchers.

Australia’s largest health and biomedical research precinct.

One of the largest industrial and distribution hubs in the southern hemisphere.

Dynamic small businesses and start-ups.

Skilled workers in every field: engineers and architects, designers and manufacturers, cybersecurity and digital experts.

And diaspora communities that help build and strengthen our international relationships and trade ties.

Like the new headquarters of the Centre for Australia-India Relations in Parramatta.

A vital connection between Western Sydney, the third biggest economy in Australia – and India, on track to be the third biggest economy in the world.

A reminder that the success story of modern multiculturalism is a powerful national asset.

And our social cohesion is not something we’ve lucked into, it’s something we’ve built together over generations.

You see it here, people of every background and faith and tradition, living side by side.

That respect and harmony is something all of us can take pride in – and in testing times such as this, it’s something that all of us must work to uphold and defend.

Our vision for a future made in Australia – like our plan for cost of living – has people at the centre.

On election night, I spoke about opening the doors of opportunity – and widening them.

Nothing does like that education. That’s why we are expanding university for Australians in growing suburbs – and making the student loan system fairer, for everyone.

We’re funding more fee-free TAFE places to train the carpenters and electricians and plumbers we need to build new homes.

We’re supporting the next generation of nurses and teachers and social workers, with paid pracs.

And we’re recognising the extraordinary contribution of this generation of aged care workers and early educators, with pay rises.

After a decade of neglect that allowed the national energy grid to fall into disrepair, we’re putting cleaner, cheaper and more reliable power back into the system.

And after a decade in which so many funding decisions were degraded by a pathology of pork barrelling and political conflict, we’ve created a National Anti-Corruption Commission to help restore people’s trust in our institutions.

And we are restoring integrity to the infrastructure process as well, co-operating with the state government and local councils – and backing that up with real funding dollars.

We continued that work in last week’s Budget.

Partnering with the New South Wales Government and delivering record investment in social housing, public housing and affordable housing.

$1 billion for crisis and transitional accommodation for women and children fleeing family violence.

And new funding for urgent works required to support new residential construction.

Because too often a delay in one minor project – like a local road upgrade, or access to energy or water – holds up work on hundreds of new homes.

We’re building new homes for this growing part of Sydney and we’re building the infrastructure to service that growth.

To make local roads safer, to make moving freight easier.

And to make sure that people spend less time stuck in traffic and more time where they want to be.

This year’s Budget takes our total investment in Western Sydney infrastructure to $17.3 billion.

We’re backing 14 new projects, including key upgrades to:

Mamre Road Stage 2.

Elizabeth Drive.

Richmond Road.

Garfield Road East.

Memorial Avenue and Appin Road.

We are doubling Roads to Recovery funding for every local council.

And providing $20 million to work with the New South Wales Government to expand the scope of South West Sydney Rail Planning, including extending that line to Macarthur.

We’re matching this investment – and this ambition – with proper planning.

On Tuesday, I was in Westmead.

A major housing public-private housing project that our Government funded within our first six months in office.

Four hundred new units, half of which will be affordable homes.

Meaning that essential workers in Westmead’s health and service will be able to afford to live closer to their work and closer to the community where they are needed.

Good economic policy – and good social policy.

It reminded me of something my mentor, Tom Uren, often used to say about his time as Minister for Urban and Regional Development:

‘We can’t deal with things in boxes’.

Because in a fast-growing, fast-moving community, everything is interconnected.

You can’t wait until a project is complete before you start thinking about supporting infrastructure or public transport links.

That’s especially important right now, when we are two years away from the first plane landing at Western Sydney Airport.

Opening that airport, will open the world to Western Sydney – and it will re-align the dynamic of Sydney.

For the first time, instead of everything turning in, towards the CBD and Sydney Harbour.

The city will be looking outward. We’ll be looking to the West.

To the new state of the art airport and the new jobs of the Aerotropolis.

Two of the biggest generators of economic activity a region can have are an airport, or a university.

Western Sydney will be home to both.

And we’re building the infrastructure and housing and energy to make sure this region and our nation get the best from both.

I’ve spoken to the Western Sydney Leadership Dialogue before about the contribution infrastructure makes to our economy and our community.

The role the Commonwealth can play in the health and strength of our cities and suburbs and regions.

It’s something I’ve been passionate about for a long time – and it takes patience as well as passion.

Earlier this year, I opened the Moorebank Intermodal Interstate Rail Terminal.

A world’s best practice project – public private partnership, fully powered by renewable energy.

Saving 3,000 truck journeys a day – especially on the M5.

I’ve been a supporter of that project since 2008.

Whereas I advocated for a new airport for Western Sydney in my first speech in the Parliament back in 1996.

Building big, building to last, building for the best – that always takes time.

It’s true for infrastructure, but it’s true for the work of Government as a whole.

And in the same way that you can’t evaluate an infrastructure project on the basis of whether or not you’ll be around to open it, you can’t decide whether or not to tackle a problem based on how quick or simple it is to solve.

Government isn’t about making the easy decisions – it’s about making the right decisions, for the right reasons.

That’s the approach my colleagues and I have taken.

In job creation and job security, wages and productivity.

In Medicare. Aged Care. Child Care.

Energy and education and the environment and housing and infrastructure.

Equality for women – be it pay, opportunity or safety.

It’s true here at home – and on the world stage.

The work we have done to invest in our capabilities and invest in our relationships.

To get Australia back at the table as a respected voice, a valued contributor and a trusted partner, particularly in the Indo-Pacific.

To stabilise our relationship with China and clear away impediments to trade.

Of course, in all these fields, we know there is more work to be done.

There are still problems we have to solve – still opportunities we must grasp.

What I want every Australian to know is that the challenges we have faced through the past two years have only strengthened my determination to deliver and my confidence that our country can succeed.

I’ve always been an optimist about Australia.

And everything I have learned and seen as Prime Minister has only made me more optimistic for our nation’s future.

In my first speech as Labor Leader, back in 2019, I talked about Australians suffering from ‘conflict fatigue’.

The frustration and exhaustion people felt at the fact the then Government treated every issue as just a pretext for picking a phoney fight with Labor, with the states, with local government, with unions, with scientists and experts, with each other.

We’ve made it a priority to change that.

To consult, to co-operate, to listen, to respect people’s views and seek common ground.

By contrast, my opponent goes around telling business leaders who look to work with us that they are ‘supine’ and weak.

But there is a world of difference between talking tough and working hard.

In politics, wrecking is always easier than building. And looking for someone to blame is much simpler than finding a solution.

But that’s not strength – that’s the soft option. And we know where that takes us.

We’ve seen what happens when the only test that politicians apply is their political self-interest.

We saw it with Scott Morrison, we’re seeing it again with Peter Dutton.

Saying no to everything is the easiest thing to do in Opposition – but it builds nothing, it helps no-one and it takes our country nowhere.

Governing Australia requires more than soundbites – you need substantial propositions.

The stakes right now are too high for the shallow and shambolic approach we see too often from the Opposition.

The challenges we face are too urgent for a retreat to denial and delay.

The progress we have made together is too important to go back to fear and division.

The opportunities we have before us are too big for small-minded negativity.

And Australians have worked too hard to be dragged back to the era of conflict fatigue.

Serving as Prime Minister is the greatest honour of my life.

I count every day of the two years I’ve spent in this job as an extraordinary privilege – and I’m determined to make every day count.

Because the true privilege of public life – at every level – is the opportunity to make a positive difference to people’s lives.

I understand Australians are doing it tough right now – and I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to struggle and strive.

To worry about your family’s economic security, to wonder if you’ll get the opportunity to pursue your aspirations.

That understanding drives our Government:

Helping with the challenges Australians are facing here and now.

Building for the opportunities of the decade ahead.

Delivering the reforms that ensure no-one is held back.

Achieving the progress that sees no-one left behind.

So Australians can make a good life for themselves.

And so we can make our future, right here in Australia.

/Public Release. View in full here.