This section contains a selection of speeches prior to 2010 and more comprehensive additions from the resumption of Parliament in 2010. Full collection of speeches can be found on ParlInfo

Address to Public Service Graduate event at Parliament House

Some years ago as I was campaigning in Tasmania I stumbled across a sandstone quarry and I stopped there and talked to a number of the workers. There were three workers there and I asked them what they were doing. The first said, “What does it look like - splitting rocks.” The second turned and said “I’m here earning a living for the Mrs and the kids.” The third, when I enquired, told me that he was helping to build a cathedral. All three of them doing exactly the same job, but one had a broad vision about what his actual role was.

As you commence your career in the Australian Public Service could I invite you not to think of yourselves as rock-breakers or paper-shufflers or simply ‘it’s a job’, but see yourselves in the role of building a cathedral or in helping to build our nation.

Yours can be, I understand, a very, very satisfying role. If you have the broad vision you can, and will, make a very real difference, not only for yourselves but also for your nation.

You are a fortunate this morning to also hear from the Secretary from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Dr Ian Watt, and from the Australian Public Service Commissioner, Mr Stephen Sedgwick. Both have distinguished careers in the public service and hopefully you will be inspired by them and by what they have achieved in their careers thus far.

In short like any job, the job and the career you have embarked on, will ultimately be what you make it.

You have entered the much respected calling of the public service. Sure, like politicians, you will be the butt of jokes, of criticism, and thinly disguised envy. But, more importantly you will be engaged in the business of nation-building, advising the democratically-elected Government of the day, giving full, frank, and professional advice to a Minister or Government. That is highly rewarding, responsible and satisfying. As a Minister, it is absolutely essential and I rely on it every day.

You will be, and already are, in the engine room of informing, delivering and implementing the Government’s agenda. A wise Government will use the public service as its preeminent source of advice. We, the Government, however, are there to decide. So, in brief, the idea is that we Ministers make our own mistakes but we do so fully informed on the advice that you give us.

You will be serving in a sound and stable democracy based on a rich history of tradition. Never forget that and always respect it.

We are one of the oldest ongoing democracies in the world, with freedoms and wealth untold, and the envy of the world. We change Government without loss of life, Ministers vacate their offices in an orderly fashion, and most public servants feel able to continue to serve the elected-Government of the day.

You have embarked on a noble career; a career where opportunities are boundless, a career where satisfaction can be high; a career where you are helping to build our nation; a career where you can make a real difference for your individual fellow Australians.

Please, like I have to remind myself, remember your salary and Departmental expenditures are only possible courtesy of the contributions of your fellow Australians make through their taxes.

That is why a strong and healthy economy has to be front and centre of responsible Government decision-making.

Without a healthy economy we simply can’t afford to pay for hospitals, schools, roads, or public servants.

As a Minister it is encouraging to see approximately 600 young Australians dedicating their careers to the service of the public. Can I also say, it’s especially good for me to welcome those that have chosen the Department of Employment for their careers. I congratulate you on your choice and wish you well in your careers.

Enjoy the day, and thank you very much. 

Address to the Master Builders Association of Victoria


We as a Government know that it is our job to set the overarching policy but it is people like you that actually create jobs. We know that it is people in this room who have taken out mortgages on their houses to finance their businesses. So, can I start by saying to each and every one of you – thank you for the work that you do in this State.

As an aside, I should note that speeches to Master Builders Victoria by Coalition politicians often have unforeseen consequences. When the now Prime Minister addressed this gathering, he later found himself sued for defamation by John Setka. I hadn’t intended to make any comments about Mr Setka today, other than to observe that his two best mates at the moment appear to be Mick Gatto and Daniel Andrews. Hopefully none of those three individuals finds any defamatory imputation in such a comment.

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Address to the Sydney Institute "After the Thirty Years War"

When Martin Luther initiated the Reformation and posted his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the church in Wittenburg, the reverberations ultimately led to a major war between Protestants and Catholics - the Thirty Years War - which wracked Europe in the first half of the seventeenth century. As a Protestant, I won’t blame Luther for starting the war.

Workplace relations devotees might say that when Gerard Henderson posted his nine page “Industrial Relations Club” Thesis in the pages of Quadrant in 1983, it had similar but more immediate consequences.

Supposedly the devastating length of the Thirty Years War convinced many people that neither side could be absolute victor, and consequently the two sides ultimately learned to live together, albeit on rather strained terms.

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Address to the Young Liberal Federal Convention - 25/01/2014

You will be pleased to know that the anti-bullying provisions in the Fair Work Act came into operation twenty-four days ago.

I note that Aaron Lane wrote about those provisions in The Australian just last week.

I understand that resort to these anti-bullying provisions will not be needed in the settlement of any electoral contests for your new executive – congratulations to the incoming President Ben Riley and Vice President Chris Browne and Executive.

I wish you success as you build on the legacy of your predecessors.

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‘Our ABC’ – the Actual Bias Corporation? Or the Apprehended Bias Corporation?

Address to the 2013 Mainstream Policy Forum, Sydney 


Thanks to an extra $10 million given to the ABC by the Greens/ALP Government outside of the normal budget process, or the triennial funding arrangements, and at a time the budget is hopelessly in deficit, we will now have the ABC’s Fact Checker, along with a Vote Compass, to assist us in the upcoming election campaign.

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“And the medal for idiocy goes to….”

Address to the 7th Annual Workplace and Industrial Relations National Conference, Sydney


In recent times, the Coalition has announced its Policy to Improve the Fair Work Laws.

Our policy will help make Australian workplaces even better, by improving the Fair Work laws to provide a stable, fair and prosperous future for all.

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Suspension of Standing Orders on Recognition of Local Government Referendum

I seek leave to move:
That further consideration of the Constitution Alteration (Local Government) Bill 2013 be an order of the day for the first day of sitting after the government provides for equal funding for both the yes and the no case, to ensure that the Australian community is properly informed about the arguments for and against the proposed change to the Constitution.

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Harnessing the Ageing Boom

Opening Address to the A Future without Age Conference, NSW Parliament House, Sydney

 Check against delivery.

‘You know you are getting old when the candles cost more than the cake’ – so quipped Bob Hope.

And as more Australians are experiencing that (only) welcome cost of living increase, it is important that we as a society engage in discussion on Productive Ageing.

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About Eric

Eric Abetz has been a Liberal Senator for Tasmania since 1994 and has served in a range of Leadership, Ministerial and Shadow Ministerial roles.

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