In the past two years, I’ve had meet-the-member public meetings all round Warringah for voters to tell me their concerns. Almost to a person, they’re sick of over-development and the traffic jams that make the best suburbs in the world a misery as soon as you want to go anywhere else.
I’m running again so the Northern Beaches tunnel finally gets built. Yes, it’s the Liberal state government that’s going to do the work but the money is only there because of the Liberal federal government and its funding partnerships. Even though the tunnel is now finally close starting it still needs a champion to get it across the line.
Local people need the tunnel if we’re to get our lives back from spending hours in traffic gridlock. It’s the only local issue that can improve every local person’s life forever and I’m the only local federal candidate who’s 120 per cent for it.
I’m also running to keep a good government in Canberra that knows how to keep our country safe and our economy strong. In a seat like Warringah, voting for anyone other than the endorsed Liberal candidate would just bring a Labor government closer. And that would mean that 10,000 local retirees would lose thousands of dollars a year in franking credits as well as a much weaker economy due to all the extra taxes and union control that Labor would bring.
Thanks to the people of Warringah, I’ve had the chance to lead the Liberal Party out of opposition and into government; where we stopped the boats, repealed the carbon and mining taxes, unleashed the biggest infrastructure programme in our country’s history, and finalised the three big FTAs. Sure, my 2014 budget struggled in the senate but thanks to consistent good management the budget is now finally coming back into surplus and more tax cuts are in the offing.
Before that, I was a frontbencher throughout the time of the Howard government and, for much of it, the PM’s one man Praetorian Guard. I was largely responsible for stopping the Keating government’s proposed sale for development of defence land around Sydney Harbour and for the Howard government’s preservation of it forever in the Sydney Harbour Federation Trust.
I haven’t just served the people of Warringah in the parliament but in a host of practical and personal ways too: on patrol on the beach at Queenscliff and on the truck as part of the Davidson Rural Fire Brigade. Then there’s the annual Pollie Pedal charity bike ride that’s so far raised about $7 million, including for local causes such as the Pioneer Clubhouse, the Royal Far West, Bear Cottage, and the Manly Women’s Shelter. Margie and I have always encouraged our girls to take community service seriously but you can’t really preach it unless you live it.
As is well known, I didn’t support same sex marriage but I gave change a chance with the plebiscite and accept that it’s now the law of the land.
Climate change is real, mankind makes a contribution and we should take sensible action to deal with it but, with Australia responsible for just 1.3 per cent of global emissions, there’s no point damaging our economy in futile green gestures. And if we’re fair dinkum about drastically cutting emissions, we should at least end the legal prohibition on nuclear which is currently the only feasible form of emissions-free baseload power for Australia.
The idea that our parliament should lose people with a proven record of achievement and the insights that only experience brings just because they’ve already been PM is absurd, especially if they’re as fit as most people 20 years younger. Likewise, the idea that backbench MPs should refrain from speaking and writing or somehow dilute their ideas lest they be accused of “wrecking” doesn’t bear scrutiny.
I’d be proud and honoured to serve another term as the Member for Warringah and to devote all the clout that a former prime minister has to the service of my area. And when you think about it, only a dyed-in-the-wool Labor voter would want to deprive the parliamentary Liberal Party of a most effective political warrior.
This article first appeared in the Sun-Herald under the heading “Warringah, I’ll fight for you” on 10 February 2019