AFL Grand Final: Political Speeches

One of the traditions of the Australian Football League Grand Final is the North Melbourne Grand Final Breakfast.

It is customary for the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader to address the breakfast each year. On occasion, events conspire against their attendance and their deputies stand in.

Here’s a selection from the past decade.

  • 2002

    John Howard (Liberal PM)

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    Simon Crean (ALP Opposition Leader)

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  • 2007

    John Howard (Liberal PM)

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    Kevin Rudd (ALP Opposition Leader)

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  • 2008

    Julia Gillard (ALP Deputy Prime Minister)

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    Malcolm Turnbull (Liberal Opposition Leader)

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  • 2010

    Julia Gillard (ALP Prime Minister) and Julie Bishop (Liberal Deputy Leader)

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  • 2011

    Julia Gillard (ALP Prime Minister)

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    Tony Abbott (Liberal Opposition Leader)

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This is the text of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s address to the 2011 AFL Grand Final Breakfast in Melbourne.

It’s great to be making my maiden appearance at this great national institution, the North Melbourne Grand Final Breakfast.

Ladies and gentlemen, the supreme virtue of Australian Rules is that it’s the one football code that wasn’t invented in England.

My one and only game was a defiant assertion of our national identity: I was playing for Oxford University Australians against Cambridge University Australians.

Unfortunately, no one had told me that a ball kicked out was thrown in by the umpire and not by a player, so I instinctively grabbed the ball and tried to form a line out.

It was at this point that I realised a “balls-up” was not just another way of restarting play – or what happens when politicians try to address the problems of the nation.

My Aussie Rules education continued during last year’s election campaign with Jobe Watson teaching me to handball, badly, at Windy Hill and Harry Taylor giving me marking practice at Skilled Stadium. It was an expensive lesson: we made a $36 million commitment to rebuild the place because Frank Costa drives a hard bargain.

Right now, there seem to be a few parallels between the AFL and politics.

In recent days we have seen someone called Swan labelled the best at his craft in the whole world. Well sorry, Wayne. Dane Swan is the world’s greatest and he thoroughly deserved the Brownlow medal.

I understand that Collingwood has a succession plan that involves Mick Malthouse relinquishing power to Nathan Buckley. It’s just like John Howard planned to hand over to Peter Costello. Lucky there’s an Eddie McGuire to make the deal stick.

Geelong has done magnificently, even after sending their best player to Queensland. It’s a bit like the Australian government after Kevin Rudd was put on the transfer list.

There’s a lot of talk at the moment about everything being too negative and too aggressive with all the focus being on bringing the other side down and I reckon that means Cameron Ling would make a great opposition leader.

Ladies and gentlemen, I want to pay tribute today to two historic clubs and to everyone who’s helped two great sides to get to this year’s Grand Final.

It might not make much sense for our clubs and our pubs but, for politicians on Grand Final day, there is no escaping mandatory pre-commitment. Mine is to the Cats: and by 10 points.

Finally, I should acknowledge that there will soon be an AFL team in western Sydney – a place where Aussie Rules supporters were once as rare as Liberal voters.

I do hope that this new club might further initiate me into the sacred rites of the AFL provided I’m permitted a bit of political evangelism on the side.

Thank you so much, ladies and gentlemen.

UN, USA, Asia: Three Pillars Of Labor’s Foreign Policy, Says Smith

The incoming Minister for Foreign Affairs, Stephen Smith, has outlined the three pillars underpinning Federal Labor’s foreign policy approach.

In a statement issued today, Smith said those pillars were:

  • Our membership of the United Nations;
  • Our Alliance with the United States; and
  • Our policy of comprehensive engagement with Asia.

Smith said: “Federal Labor has consistently emphasised the need to focus our foreign policy and diplomatic efforts on Australia’s national interests within our own Asia-Pacific region.

“With Kevin Rudd, I look forward to working to ensure Australia takes a lead role in addressing our shared global challenges.

“Following Monday’s official swearing in ceremony, I anticipate meeting and consulting with our neighbours, partners and friends.”

These are the speech notes of the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Stephen Smith, at the Annual Diplomatic Corps Christmas Party, in Canberra, on December 3, 2007.

Stephen Smith, incoming Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Rudd Labor GovernmentSecretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Michael L’Estrange. Thank you for that introduction.

Your Excellencies.

My parliamentary colleagues, the Minister for Trade, the Hon. Simon Crean, and the Parliamentary Secretary for Trade, the Hon. John Murphy.

Chief of the Defence Force, Air Chief Marshall Angus Houston.

Peter Shergold, and other Department Heads,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen.

It is a great pleasure to be here this evening with my Cabinet colleague the Minister for Trade, Simon Crean.

As you know, I was sworn in this morning and as a consequence, this is my first official function as Minister for Foreign Affairs.

For over the last decade your host has been Alexander Downer – Australia’s longest-serving Foreign Minister. I had the chance to speak with Alexander this afternoon.

He asked that I pass his thanks and best wishes to you and express his appreciation for the work of your missions over not just the past year but his period in office.

I also take this opportunity, whatever our policy differences, to acknowledge his personal contribution in our national interest in the Foreign Affairs portfolio.

It is a great privilege for me to be here tonight as Australia’s 35th Foreign Minister, the sixth from Western Australia and the sixth Labor Foreign Minister since the Second World War.

I am very conscious of the role my Labor predecessors have played in helping to establish Australia’s name and reputation in international affairs. I aspire to carrying on that Labor tradition of service.

At the heart of the new Rudd Labor Government’s foreign policy approach lies the responsibility to protect, defend and enhance Australia’s national security, to maximise our economic opportunities and to advance Australia’s national interest across the range of international issues.

There are three pillars that underpin the Labor Government’s approach to foreign policy.

First, our relationship with the United States. Australia’s alliance with the United States was forged during the Second World War.

John Curtin is a hero in my own State of Western Australia, not because he lived in Cottesloe, but because through his forging of the US alliance, he saved our nation at its moment of greatest peril.

That alliance has since been supported and developed by both major political parties in both of our countries since that time, Labor, Liberal, Democrat, Republican.

It remains a key pillar of our foreign policy approach. Our friendship with the United States is deep and valued by both sides. I look forward to pursuing that in a way which advances both our nations’ mutual interests.

Second, our membership of the United Nations. The international legal obligations and responsibilities that brings is another fundamental pillar of our foreign policy approach.

Australia, through Prime Minister Ben Chifley and Foreign Minister Herbert Vere Evatt, was instrumental in helping to found the United Nations. We took, for example, an active role in the first phase of United Nations activity, helping Indonesia achieve its independence.

We will work cooperatively with and in the international community on the mutual challenges we face. We will play our part in finding solutions to what are sometimes difficult issues.

Third, our strong focus on Asia and the Pacific. We are in a unique position as a nation state, a country of 21 million people nestled in the Asia-Pacific region. Our diverse region is our home and home to many of our closest friends and neighbours.

We have important relationships with New Zealand and the Pacific Island countries. We have significant relationships with the countries of South-East Asia. We are closely linked to the economic powerhouses of North-East Asia. Our relationships with our traditional post World War Two trading partners, Japan and Korea, and our relationship with the rapidly developing powerhouse, China, are crucial to our future economic and social prosperity and our national security.

We will build on the strength of these relationships – both bilaterally and through our regional and multilateral diplomacy – in the period ahead.

These three pillars are the framework through which we can achieve our foreign policy goals and enhance Australia’s national interest.

In Government, the great task of the Australian Labor Party is twofold; to uplift the lives of our citizens and to uplift the spirit of the nation – to give working Australians the opportunity to realise their dreams and give our nation the opportunity to realise its potential.

Australia is a great trading nation. Our social and economic prosperity has always depended on international trade. That remains the case even more so today. To uplift the lives of working Australian families, we must continue to look outwards.

Governments also represent their people and should reflect their national characteristics, values and virtues. For an Australian Labor Government, that means reflecting the quintessential Australian value of a “fair go”. It means putting out a helping hand to those less fortunate and standing by them.

Just as we want a “fair go” at home, we must deal with other nation states with civility, dignity and respect. That is a good basis for a government dealing with its nation’s citizens. It is also the basis of being a good international citizen.

Civility, respect and dignity: at home and abroad.

I am unashamedly a proud Western Australian. Sometimes I look at the world from a Western Australian perspective. In the past this may have been seen as parochial. Not today. And not for the future.

The great outlying State of Western Australia underlines the importance of international trade to our nation’s economic and social prosperity. Western Australia looks naturally to the Indian Ocean. When the sun sets in the West, it sets on the Indian Ocean, not the Pacific.

I believe it is essential to ensure that Australia looks to our important neighbours and partners to our west. India’s remarkable development only encourages me to bring us closer together. I look forward to working with the Indian Government and the Indian people to add depth and vigour to our relationship.

Ladies and Gentlemen it is a great pleasure to be here with you tonight. I hope that this is just the first of many meetings. I look forward to working with you, and through you, your governments, in the period ahead. Whatever issues, difficult or otherwise we confront, the Labor Government, on behalf of Australia, will deal with them and your Governments in a cooperative and productive way.

Thank you.

President Bush Addresses Australian Parliament; Greens Ejected

United States President George W. Bush has addressed the Australian Parliament during his visit to Canberra.

The speech was punctuated by interjections from Greens senators Bob Brown and Kerry Nettle.

  • Listen to President Bush’s Address:

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  • Listen to Opposition Leader Simon Crean’s Speech of Welcome to Bush

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  • Text and Audio of Prime Minister John Howard’s Speech of Welcome to Bush

Transcript of President Bush’s address to the Australian Parliament.

Governor General Michael Jeffery, Prime Minister John Howard, Speaker of the House, Leader of the Senate, Leader of the Opposition Simon Crean, distinguished members of the House and the Senate, Premiers, Members of the Diplomatic Corps, ladies and gentlemen: Laura and I are honored to be in the Commonwealth of Australia. I want to thank the Prime Minister for his invitation. I want to thank the Members and Senators for convening this session of the Parliament. And I want to thank the people of Australia for a gracious welcome. [Read more…]

Simon Crean’s 2003 Budget Reply Speech

This is the prepared text of the Budget Reply by the Leader of the Opposition, Simon Crean.

In responding to the government’s budget, Crean made a series of commitments on Medicare, education, water and corporate salaries.

  • Listen to Crean’s speech:

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Simon CreanMr Speaker.

Tuesday’s Budget should have improved life for Australian families. That’s the test any government budget should meet.

Australian families are under growing pressure. They are working longer hours and paying record taxes. The last thing Australian families need is to pay more for vital services like health and education.

But that’s what Tuesday’s Budget was all about.

A civilised society demands health care based on medical need and education for all based on ability.

I believe that health and education are not just about providing services to individuals. They are public goods, for all Australians. We must invest in these vital services.

But under the Howard Government we are heading in the opposite direction.

Instead of improving life for families, this Budget is making things worse. It is giving Australian families a miserly $4 tax cut, while destroying Medicare and charging them more for education.

The Howard Government failed the test on Tuesday night.

It’s time for something new. [Read more…]

An Independent Speaker: Howard vs Crean

This is the text of a media statement from Simon Crean, Leader of the Opposition:

An Independent Speaker: The PM’s Comments

In 1996 when John Howard was elected Prime Minister, he said:

  • You will never have a completely independent Speaker in this country unless the Opposition is prepared to come halfway and commit itself to not opposing the Speaker at a subsequent election.
    – (John Howard, ABC AM, Tuesday 2nd April 1996)

Prior to the election, he promised:

  • I will have an independent Speaker, and the great weakness in Parliament over the last few years is that we have not had an effectively independent Speaker. You have had a Speaker who has not been truly independent of the Labor Party and if I become Prime Minister, I will adopt a system of having a completely independent Speaker who can be just as tough on me and my Ministers.
    – (John Howard, The Great Debate, Tuesday 25th February 1996)

Last week I wrote to the Prime Minister proposing a range of reforms to the Parliament, including a truly independent Speaker, drawn alternately from Labor and the Coalition regardless of who is in power. The Speaker would by agreement hold the position for two terms of the Parliament.

I look forward to working with the Prime Minister to help restore community confidence in our Federal Parliament.

Kernot Quits Democrats To Join Labor

Senator Cheryl Kernot today defected from the Australian Democrats to join the ALP.

Kernot resigned as leader of the Democrats, as a member of the party, and from the Senate.

She said she stood ready to contest a Liberal-held marginal seat for the ALP.

Transcript of Cheryl Kernot’s resignation press conference.

Cheryl KernotI have called this press conference today to inform you of my decision to resign as Leader of the Australian Democrats, and as a member of both the party and the Senate.

I fully appreciate this decision will come as a shock to members of a party I have served for 17 years. But it is a decision which, in the past 18 months, has grown unavoidable for two reasons. One, my personal and growing sense of outrage at the damage being done to Australia by the Howard Government. And two, my concern that from my position in the Senate I had a limited capacity to minimise that damage.

The change of Government in 1996 and the actions of the Howard administration since, especially the first Costello Budget, have been a defining episode for me. I have reached the conclusion that, for me, the imperative at the next Federal election lies not in battling to extract a share of the third party vote to keep balance of power in the Senate. [Read more…]