Karl Stefanovic: Why I'm so angry at our leaders

Well, a reality-TV star did it in America so why not him? Picture: Tim Hunter
Well, a reality-TV star did it in America so why not him? Picture: Tim Hunter

I DON'T like Muslims. I don't like gays. I don't like the environment and I don't want to preserve it. I need some government handouts. I think there should be more reality television, funded by taxpayers - on Channel Nine.

Now that I have your attention, my name is Karl Stefanovic and I'm running for Prime Minister.

I love being an Australian. I love this country. My dad was born in Germany. My grandfathers were born in Serbia and Great Britain. They both came here by boat. They both worked hard. They raised families. They paid their taxes. They died having contributed to this great country, a war and in peace.

They would both be angry about the leadership of our country. And so am I.

Outside the leafy suburbs, the most pressing concern for people like my working-class grandfathers would be power bills. They came from nothing but they liked to stay warm in the winter.

Their friends who ran corner shops and laboured long hours to raise their families would lament the lack of foresight in building sustainable affordable power for the nation. Business builds business they would say but if business can't turn a profit because it can't keep the door open and the lights on, no-one gets ahead.

So they would probably go a little old school but innovate.

I think they'd go for a sensible response to Australia's energy crisis by being in favour of affordable and reliable power, without costing the planet or our standard of living. That's why I think we've got to be prepared to build new generation coal-fired power stations for Australia's future.

How Aussie is PM Karl?
How Aussie is PM Karl?

Around the world, other nations are building High Efficiency Low Emissions (HELE) coal-fired power generators, places such as Japan, China, Germany and others, and they're burning our coal.

We've got the world's most abundant natural resources - coal, gas and uranium - yet we're paying the world's highest electricity prices. It just doesn't add up. It is all good and well to do our bit for the planet but no-one thinks shutting down Australian industry and costing local jobs makes sense.

It's complex and the constant bickering between the two major parties doesn't help but without a solution, our bills just keep going up.

Can we stop pretending the climate isn't changing?

It's time for some commonsense, which doesn't seem too common in Canberra, my grandfathers would say. If the power companies don't fall into line, let's hit them with a five per cent profit tax to be spent on infrastructure for the rest of the country. Watch how fast they get interested in new-generation coal fired power stations then.

They'd also say we need to build infrastructure. Big infrastructure. And have a fair dinkum plan so that we keep pace with what's needed as infrastructure takes years to plan properly and build.

My Serbian-born grandfather worked in the BHP fuelworks at Wollongong for 35 years.

My British granddad was a Torres Strait Island pilot who guided huge container ships through the Great Barrier Reef and into the north Queensland ports. His job was all about protecting the exquisite reef - and that's exactly what we should be doing today.

A good education system isn't just about throwing money at the problem

I'm proposing a tourist tax - a flat rate of $50 for every international tourist entering Australia - with all revenue going to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, who do such amazing work researching and protecting the reef from the threats it faces, including ocean acidification, more extreme weather events, coral bleaching, land-based run-off, coastal development and illegal fishing.

Kissing babies: Karl Stefanovic with Ben Fordham's son Freddie. Picture: Tim Hunter
Kissing babies: Karl Stefanovic with Ben Fordham's son Freddie. Picture: Tim Hunter

Just on that - can we stop pretending the climate isn't changing? Stick with the research. For whatever reason, the climate is changing. The causes I will leave to scientists - but my interest is in what we can do to preserve our coral.

As migrants themselves, my grandfathers would support others getting the chance they did in a place as magnificent as Australia but they would recognise that immigration must always be in the national interest. Lose that, and we lose our harmony.

Shifting more and more responsibilities to Canberra just lets the states off the hook

We must control arrivals, not people smugglers. They would say keep the borders tight. They learned on the job here but believed in education. So fund people properly to learn English and settle into Australian life. A good education system isn't just about throwing money at the problem, it's about teaching kids properly and supporting the basics maths, science and literacy.

Both my grandfathers died without debt. They believed in paying back what you borrow. They would say Australia should do the same.

I thoroughly support lifting the GST to 15 per cent. It was meant to help states but right now, it isn't fair because states that work hard get punished. Trying to fix the problem by taking money out of the budget to top up WA doesn't work because we're already deeply in debt. The problem has got to be tackled properly, and without hurting the smaller states, and the only way to do that is increase the GST and then reform how it is distributed.

Smart women find it offensive to be given a job just because they're women

I'm talking a lot about tax, so let me be clear that I firmly believe both personal and company tax should be lower. But before we can even think about that, we need to get the budget deficit and the national debt sorted out.

Health is important to all Australians. But it's a mess of cost-shifting. The simplistic answer would be to get the federal government to take over the health system to stop the blame-game. But states are best placed to deliver services on the ground - when Canberra tries this from time to time, it invariably ends in failure. As well, shifting more and more responsibilities to Canberra just lets the states off the hook and drives the national budget further into debt.

Despite the imperfections, anyone who has travelled overseas knows we've got a great health system with Medicare, public hospitals, aged care and now the NDIS. We just need to be able to afford it into the future so states must step up and take responsibility, and the federal government needs to pay its fair share.

Man at work: Karl Stefanovic does an honest day’s work. Picture: Tim Hunter
Man at work: Karl Stefanovic does an honest day’s work. Picture: Tim Hunter

Women are half the electorate but in Canberra, they don't have half the say, far from it. I work with some of the brightest female minds in the country. They're feminists but they also love men - and like them, I think any kind of quotas for female representation in companies or in politics are a mistake. Smart women find it offensive to be given a job just because they're women.

We should think seriously about national service

However, I do believe there should be a tax advantage - let's say a five per cent discount on company tax - for businesses who promote women to higher roles in the company. It's difficult to define exactly how this would work, but I think this is a principle we should debate.

This idea would solve the problem of tokenism. I don't believe for a second any business would hire a woman just for a tax break. Instead, it would prompt businesses to look for the right women to fill the right roles in a merit-based system that still effectively breaks down barriers.

And, while I'm at it, why don't we leave the inscriptions on our statues they way they are? Let's not rewrite history, let's be honest about.

We should think seriously about national service so our young people start life thinking about others before they think about themselves and we should thank God every day we live in the best country on earth rather than come up with new ways to talk ourselves down.

I am running for Prime Minister. Let's build a greater future together. My grandfathers helped build this country. A vote for me is a vote for the future. Let's build this country again. Oh - and I promise to make sure my citizenship papers are in order.

Topics:  karl stefanovic prime minister

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