Governments should secure freedom by protecting borders, making streets safe, commerce trusted and merit respected.
Australia is one of the world's treasured democracies. It should always fight on the side of democracy, but never against a democracy. It should vigorously recruit new citizens, but never accept those who are unwilling to play by its rules.
In recent decades, government has not so much civilised capital as derailed it. It has not failed to offer protection to the poor so much as smothered and pandered the non-poor. It has made too many a client of government. They are the poorer for it.
The High Court has taken it upon itself to invent threats to rights, for example, to free speech, where none existed. Governments have appointed commissioners to tell Australians how to behave: they were never asked to do so. Above all, government must never tell Australians how to think or to speak. Australia must remain a vigorous democracy.
There is an unwritten contract between a government and its electors. Government should be a backstop only for those in need, an umpire for those in conflict. But it should never offer to solve problems that government cannot hope to solve.
Most Australians do not need the assistance of government, but where they do it should be available within a capacity to pay. In return for assistance, each person has an obligation to contribute at all times, either by paying tax or fulfilling obligations. Mutual obligation is strong civil glue. Whether original inhabitants or the last person in the door, the rules are the same, the obligations are the same.
Business does not need government help to create wealth. Every business program and every regulation that prevents wealth creation should be abolished.
I agree with the Productivity Commission, there is still a long "to do" list to achieve Australia's full productive potential. The market system creates and destroys businesses every day. The government's duty is not to protect business, but to enhance the skills and mobility of workers to jump to new opportunities.
Civil society, for the most part charities, does not need government help. Charities preceded the formation of the welfare state, but in recent years charities have spent too much time lobbying government for a bigger welfare state.
Charities spend too little time being charitable. Too much of the taxpayer dollar flows to the charity, too little to the donor and the recipient. I would go further than the Community Council of Australia: all tax concessions should go to the donor, not the charity. Charities should inform donors how their money is spent.
The commonwealth is built on competing jurisdictions. Australian governments have smothered the best of competitive federalism in a blanket of bribes. Australia needs a more vigorous federation. States should run schools and hospitals without federal interference. These are not the business of the federal government.
Because the commonwealth does not administer schools and hospitals, it has no practical advice to give. The commonwealth has accumulated powers that it may be reluctant to give up. But these powers have purchased interference, not solutions. Different ways of delivering education or health are not bad. Indeed, states constantly look to their fellow states for advice.
The commonwealth can raise money for services, on behalf of the states. On an agreed basis, federal taxation dollars should be distributed to the states as a right. Discussion about constitutional change is a waste of time.
Only the politicians can solve the problems created by smothering and uncompetitive federalism. Only the politicians can remake the federation so as to advantage both the national economy and the services that are best delivered as locally as possible.
British Prime Minister David Cameron promised to give citizens the chance to vote on whether to stay in or leave the EU. He did so not because he wants to leave the EU, but because he wants EU bureaucrats off the backs of Britons.
For Cameron, the European Union is a "means to an end . . . not an end in itself". So, too, is Canberra a means to an end. The federal government should not be used as everyone's backstop.
Canberra has become synonymous with handouts. The federal government has overreached. It cannot keep its hands off our lives and our livelihoods.
The federal government should make all funds transfers to the states transparent, all services outcomes measurable in comparable terms, but it should deliver none. It should act as record keeper and umpire, not as a player.
A competitive and reinvigorated federal compact can create a national unity for individual freedom and vigorous diversity.
This I pledge.