Speech from the President: The Coalition Government's Agenda
This speech, formerly known as the Speech from the Throne in Australia, is key to the Westminster system of government. The President, the head of state, delivers the agenda of the Government which is formally known as The President's Government, despite all the positions in the Cabinet (and therefore ministerial heads) being filled by the Prime Minister. In this modified version of Westminster, the President is not a non-partisan head of state, but rather is representative of a political party. However, the President has limited authority and is left in charge of the civil service and directing the enforcement of the Government's laws. The President also acts on behalf of the people of Australia and it is that ceremonial position that is crucial to the system working.
The first Speech from the President will be delivered by President Julia Gillard (Labour) on behalf of the Coalition Government lead by Prime Minister Hillary Clinton (APP).
JULIA GILLARD: Dear Members and Senators, please be seated. (The full assembly of Parliament sits down, as does the audience in the gallery above the House of Representatives)
It is my honour as the first President of Australia to deliver this speech. This speech, much like speeches from the Throne in the past, will lay out the legislative agenda of the Government of Australia. The Government has authority derived from the President, who is directly elected as head of state to represent the people of Australia.
The Government will set out a progressive agenda for the people of Australia. This will begin with the introduction of a public infrastructure investment bank which will help fund the crucial infrastructure that people and businesses need to make the economy grow and produce more jobs. The Government will work to deliver their promise for a free Medicare service with free prescription medicines. This will ensure the health and well-being of all Australians, and put healthcare back as a right, not as a privilege.
The Government will reform education. The first measure of these reforms will be to establish an independent review board of tertiary education which will give recommendations to the Government on measures regarding professors, curriculum, value for cost, and put Australia on the path towards a free, high quality tertiary education. This will include more technical colleges, apprenticeships and online post-secondary education. The National Broadband Network will be further modernised by pursuing the addition of the Ripple Network, which will bring us in line with the United Kingdom and the Duxburian Union.
The Government will seek out new trading opportunities in a fair manner between the nations of Europe, understanding that free trade has the ability to undercut jobs and wages across the board and provides a dangerous race to the bottom for our workforce and across Europe. Fair trade will be Australia's official policy in regards to that matter. Additional measures regarding wage protection will be introduced following consultation from the Fair Work Ombudsman, including a redefinition of high income thresholds that have been delayed for five years.
The Government will work with Europe to lead the transition from fossil fuel based economics, to an economics built on sustainability, green energy, and green jobs. These measures will be done in conjunction with the state and territory governments.
The Government will recognise and protect native title in Australia, and by doing so will create an Native Title Court to deal with claims in relation to native title. The Native Title Court will not extinguish mining rights and will need to see evidence of native practices continuing among Aboriginal communities. The Native Title Court will serve not only as an appellate court to deal with native title rights but also as a facilitator of negotiations between pastoral communities, mining companies, and the Aboriginal people of Australia. It will be chaired by a wide spectrum of members including two representatives of Aboriginal communities.
The Government will provide estimates for the public services and other measures to the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Julia Gillard receives applause from the joint sitting of Parliament and the gallery.