Bill's Transcripts

ADDRESS TO FEDERAL LABOR CAUCUS

Good morning everyone, and before we start to talk about the Budget I’d just like to welcome two of our newest and most impressive recruits to the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, Senators Jenny McAllister and Katy Gallagher, you are most welcome.

 

12 months ago to the day, we stood here and we said that we would fight - that Labor would fight for fairness.

 

And I can report to you that 12 months on we have most certainly fought for fairness, for all Australians. You should all be very pleased with what you've accomplished.

 

And you know the roll call of the battles that we’ve had. The pension cuts that they insisted had to happen, we have defeated so far.

 

There was the GP tax, one, two, three, four, five and we've even gone through a Health Minister in the battle of it, but we have so far defeated that intention.

 

There are of course the $100,000 university degrees. We’ve defeated it twice, we’ll have to do it again. We’ve done it twice and we’ll do it again.

 

But what I want to say to you today is that in the wisdom of hindsight there are some who say it was always inevitable that Tony Abbott's Budget would be defeated.

 

Well let us not rewrite history. It was not inevitable 12 months ago that the Budget of unfairness – arguably the most famous or infamous Budget of unfairness in Parliamentary history – it was by no means a sure thing it would be defeated.

 

12 months ago they were flocking to say this was a great Budget, this was a Budget for its times. The truth is it's a Budget for the rubbish bin.

 

But it hasn't just been about the poor salesmanship of the Government. Although that is true, they are poor salespeople.

 

And it isn't just about the mediocrity of their Ministers. Although it is true they have mediocre Ministers.

 

The reality is that this Liberal Budget has been defeated thus far because of the choices that Labor has made, the choices that we have stood by, the values which we have fought for.

 

Australians still, though, experience the calamitous and the shocking damage to the national confidence of the 2014 Budget.

 

Productivity is down, unemployment is up. We see growth flat lining, yet we see the Government's cost of living measures putting pressure on families.

 

We see the suffering of the economy, whilst we see the ranks and the queues of the unemployed extending, and you only have to look at the challenges in Western Australia to see this is a Government without a plan for jobs.

 

But the first Budget of the Abbott-Hockey Government last year did show their true colours. It showed their true intentions, if given power.

 

And what I say and what we know in this room is a leopard cannot change its spots.

 

Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey may be changing their tactics but they are not changing the destination to which they wish to take Australia - a bleaker, meaner, narrower more unequal society.

 

Now I notice the Government today saying that their Budget is all about jobs.

 

Well, there is an element of truth in that - it's about two jobs: Tony Abbott's job, and Joe Hockey's job.

 

Now, we’ve seen that the Government keeps using the word 'fair'.

 

They’ve discovered the word fair, I think Tony Burke said they bought it on eBay.

 

But I would have to say that when I see Joe Hockey use the word fair, I can't put it any plainer than this: I do not trust a man who says poor people don't drive cars to understand what fair means.

 

And I have a message for Tony Abbott and for Joe Hockey - you can't just buy fairness.

 

Fairness is something you believe in. Fairness is not what you say on one night in a year and it's not using a word count on a computer to see how many times it appears.

 

Fairness is something you believe in and you do every day. You are fair, you be fair, you do fair. You just don't talk about it and that's what this Government does.

 

There is no trademark for the Liberal Party to simply purchase to save their job. They cannot just buy the trademark of ‘fair’ to save their own jobs.

 

Remember for the last 365 days, remember the patronising lectures that Australians were subject to by Tony Abbott. Remember when he said that we and all those criticising the GP tax just didn't get it, we were standing in the way of progress?

 

Well we were right, and he was wrong.

 

And remember all of the times with our relentless questioning in the Parliament, spearheaded by Jenny Macklin, but all of us in the high streets, in the suburbs, in the country towns, and the big cities where we’ve said that the pension was being cut.

 

The numerous times that Tony Abbott said the pension wasn't going to be cut, it was going to go up.

 

If it was such a good idea, Tony Abbott – your ideas on the pension – why have you dropped them?

 

If it was such a good idea for age pensioners, why have you run up the white flag for the time being? And I stress the time being.

 

If these people could manage to get through these changes again, they do not resile from what they have said.

 

They do not ever say they were wrong and they’ve changed their minds, they’ve just taken a temporary retreat while they regroup and regather.

 

I do not believe the 2015 Budget will be about lasting fairness. It will be about a Prime Minister and a Treasurer not focusing on the next 10 years in the future of Australian jobs, it will be them focusing on keeping their own jobs to the end of the year.

 

So in summary, in 2014, 55 Labor members of the House of Reps, 25 Labor Senators took up the fight for fairness in this country.

 

And so far we have been winning that battle.

 

In 2015, 55 Labor members of the House of Representatives and 25 Labor Senators, it falls to us once again to pick up and to fight for the future of this country.

 

In 2014, we fought for fairness.

 

In 2015 we have the privilege of fighting for the future of Australia.

 

I look forward to the fight.

 

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 4053