An angry Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, stepped into the Wentworth Ball Room a place that has been home to highs and lows for decades for the Liberal Party, a conservative political party in Australia. His speech failed on so many levels, accountability, respect for the office, compassion and commiserations for colleagues who had lost their seats. Various commentators have already had their say, my dance is to re-write the speech.
My fellow Australians and Party members– thank you for coming out tonight to join me in raking over the coals on what has been a long campaign. These past eight weeks we have traversed the nation, I have listened in to the broken hearts of Tasmanians who lost their homes and livelihoods in floods, I have laughed along with children in schools taking in more STEM subjects to prepare them for the new economy which is already here and that they will be shaping, I have jumped on trains, trams and buses and made promises to consolidate the transport infrastructure our capital cities will need to be competitive and attractive to investors and workers. I have been humbled by the wonder and creativity of our greatest minds, entrepreneurs and risk takers willing to step up to the challenges ahead and inspire us to finance their ventures.
Tonight we sadly farewell those who have stood alongside of us in the battle for the hearts and minds of our fellow Australians. Everyone who lost their seat on our side of the house took their electorates to the wire – I personally want to thank Wyatt Roy and Peter Hendry for their support and I am sorry I won’t have them to call on in the next Parliament.
I am shocked there isn’t a clear result tonight, and we have to hear what this means for our Australia – while there is a division and uncertainty ahead – it is time for us to take a collective breath and realize that our vision and dreams for this country are not shared. People are worried and scared that they will be left out and left behind, the poorest communities moved further away from our values and into the arms of populist politicians and some even to the very edge of the most racist and acrimonious of views.
I take responsibility for the result. I could have called the election earlier and ridden on the wave of the honeymoon when I was first elected by the party room, I could have waited a few more months to the time when the election would have been due and not pulled the double dissolution trigger, I did neither – I took us to an election to get a clear mandate for industrial relations legislation to be passed by both houses – that was clearly a mistake as tonight’s result shows. The Senate will be less unified than it was 2 months ago and I am not sure we will be able to form even a minority government, only the days ahead as our wonderful Australian Electoral Commission staff, plough their way methodically through each and every ballot paper to make sure every vote counts.
Having a vote is the right of every citizen and we will honour that right by allowing the AEC to take the time they need to do that work without political interference.
I turn to my staff, my friends in the party and most of all my family and say thank you for all you do for me and for our nation. Your steadfast belief in our shared values is like oxygen to me and tonight while my heart beats furiously and I am somewhere between shame and fear and feel starved of air, it is your care and love that will help me through the night and the days and nights ahead as the results of the election are revealed with each ballot counted.
Living with uncertainty and managing complexity is the challenge for all modern leaders. During these days and nights, while we wait, I will look carefully at the results and listen to what the electorate has said and notice what the votes mean around the country and for my leadership and for the leadership of our party.
Thank you to all of you staying up so late and waiting with me in what feels a bit like the Garden of Gethsemane and I look forward to fronting you again in a few days with news that is clearer than what we have tonight.