Bill's Speeches

ADDRESS TO THE ALP SOUTH AUSTRALIA BRANCH STATE CONVENTION

ADDRESS TO THE ALP SOUTH AUSTRALIA BRANCH STATE CONVENTION


ADELAIDE


SATURDAY, 24 OCTOBER 2015


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Colleagues, delegates, true believers, fellow Australians.

It’s always good to be here in South Australia.  


The first state in Australia to give women the vote – and the first place in the world where women could run for Parliament.


Your state has given our country and indeed the world so much.


Industry, innovation, art and ideas. 


Nobel laureates, Howard Florey and the Braggs.


Australia's first astronaut, Andy Thomas.


Trail blazing women like Catherine Helen Spence and Dame Roma Mitchell. 


Pioneering, progressive Labor Premiers like Don Dunstan.


You are a beacon even for modern multicultural Australia with Governor Van Le.


And just to show you're not perfect, you have given us Christopher Pyne and Cory Bernardi.


I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, I pay my respect to their elders, both past and present. 


Here at a Labor conference, in the first state in Australia to legislate for land rights, those words of acknowledgement always carry extra meaning. 


Not just a nod of respect from the party of Native Title and the Apology but it is the promise every time we do the welcome to country, it is the promise for a better future for our first Australians, in every facet of our lives.


I acknowledge the Premier of South Australia, Jay Weatherhill and I acknowledge my South Australian friends and our Federal colleagues that you kindly elected to the Federal Parliamentary party from SA. 


We are very lucky to have such a group of hard working, talented members of the Federal Caucus that SA Labor and South Australia delivers to the national parliament. 


I look forward at the next election to adding, amongst others, Steve Georganas and Mark Ward.


I know she has flown off overseas today, but I want to congratulate Penny Wong for the work that she has done standing up for Australian jobs, Australian conditions, Australian wages, Australian skills, Australian safety standards - and the fight goes on.


Friends, we have good news to celebrate today. 


You know what it is, Australia knows what it is. Tony Abbott is no longer Prime Minister of Australia.


And Joe Hockey, well, he is no longer Treasurer. Remember, he is the Treasurer who goaded Holden into leaving Australia.


And remember the PM who cheered him on, well they are both gone.


All of you, don't let these Johnny-come-latelys like Malcolm Turnbull take the credit.


I didn't see him alongside you for the last couple of years opposing the dreadful budget cuts, it was volunteers, branch members.


It was the strength of the Labor Party's resistance which proved just too hard for Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey to overcome.


You should be celebrating.


We know the things that count: passion, authenticity, values, consistency. 


Labor always knew where it stood with Tony Abbott and whilst we shouldn't be doing a victory lap today because there is a lot of work to be done, we can afford to take a moment's reflection.


The changes we have written into the Liberal Party started in the Labor Party. We should be proud of what we have done. 


South Australians need no stories about the hardships of the last two years of Liberal Government. 


No State has suffered more from the cuts, from the broken promises than SA. 


Even though the Liberals have changed their salesman, and some of their sales pitch. 


Even though we have swapped three word slogans for the dinner party conversations where we move the salt and pepper shaker and we promise everything to everyone, we still know what needs to be done.


We know that the dud policies and the bad plans are unchanged. 


The same attacks on Medicare. 


Cuts to family payments, single parents, grandparents. 


The same $80 billion cuts to hospitals and schools. 


The same cuts to apprenticeships and TAFE.


The same expensive joke of a climate policy. We are still paying the big polluters to pollute.


The same plans delayed for 12 months for $100,000 degrees.


The same anti-union rhetoric.


All these old policies but there is one new idea, Barnaby Joyce is now in charge of the Murray Darling Basin.


This is a bloke who could start an international incident over two dogs named Boo and Pistol. He is now making decisions about our most important river system. 


This is the bloke who once told South Australians the solution to your problems is "to move to where the water is".


No State has fought harder and worked longer for River Murray reform than South Australia and your Labor Government.


We cannot allow this work and reform to be undone by a back room deal.


Friends, the choice is still sharp and it is still stark. 


We have Labor's vision for a growing productive, inclusive economy, with job creation at the heart.


Against the same tired Liberal strategy, look after the top end of town, go soft on banks, hard on families.


And friends, the stakes are still high. It is a tough struggle.


We cannot be surprised that the vested interests in this nation are not simply going to release their grip on the levers of power.


They will do anything to keep their control of this nation. 


But any victory worth winning will have to be hard fought. 


This is what Jay and his team showed us last year.


I remember standing with you at the Adelaide Oval in March, the opening week of the campaign.


All the commentators, all the armchair experts, they had written Labor off, again.


On that day, Jay did two things.


He released a 216 page policy book, the most comprehensive plan released by any political party in any election for a very long time. 


It was a document that set the terms of the contest. 


Jay, you challenged the Liberals to a battle of ideas. 


A referendum about who had the best policies for the future of SA. 


On that day in March last year, you said the election would be about one thing above all other matters - jobs. 


That is the example which we follow nationally.


It is the message I get wherever I go in this country.


Our fellow Australians are worried above all else about jobs. 


The jobs of today, and the jobs of the future. 


The jobs that we want our children to do and find. 


For Labor, jobs has always been the ultimate test, the gold standard of whether our economy is growing as strongly as it should and as fairly as it should. 


Jobs is how Labor measures our transition beyond the mining boom, into the next wave of future industries and opportunities.


Jobs is how we judge whether or not everyone has a stake in our society, the chance to climb out of poverty, disadvantage and dispossession. 


It is why in the last two years, the Labor Party I lead is producing more work than any Federal Opposition in a generation. 


We understand that the challenge of jobs, the challenges before Australia cannot rely on politics as usual. 


We know that creating the jobs of the future demands that we be honest about the economy of the present. 


For the past two years, our economy has been wallowing in mediocrity.


Unemployment is too high.


Growth is too slow. 


Insecurity at work is too common.


Inequality is at a 75 year high. 


It is tougher than ever before for young people to find a job or indeed form a deposit for a house. 


The moment before us requires more than high blown rhetoric. 


You can't just wave your glasses and make it all magically disappear. 


Australians cannot overcome these new challenges with the same old failed Liberal idea of trickledown economics.


You cannot create a skilful and smart work force when you are cutting education and training. 


 You do not create a more productive country by making it harder for people to go to the doctor.


 You do not help working families help make ends meet by slashing their support.


 You do not create jobs by smashing the car industry and breaking promises on submarines. 


 You do not create jobs by attacking penalty rates or spending $80 million on a polluted Trade Union Royal Commission.


 Malcolm Turnbull, today has celebrated his birthday by talking about industrial relations.


 He is setting an IR test for Labor.


 I thought today I would set an industrial relations test for Mr Turnbull.


 One, how about reducing serious injuries and fatalities at work, including real action on industrial diseases, including asbestos, and mesothelioma?


 Two. Right now the minimum wage is falling further behind average wages. It is already hard enough for Australians to pay the bills and make ends meet. 


How about admitting that the current system of enterprise bargaining and low paid bargaining is proving disappointingly ineffective at setting industry standards and competitive contracting industries like security and cleaning. 


How about a test in industrial relations which recognises that allowing a system where existing standards can be contracted out of by starting new employees in labour hire on lower rates makes everyone insecure.


 If you want to talk about industrial relations, Mr Turnbull, let's talk about the unacceptably low wages that early childhood educators receive in the most important generation of teaching we need.


Actually, Malcolm, if we want to talk about industrial relations, let's talk about the spread of sham contracting arrangements, the scamming by subcontractors of employment to another company where people are employed on half of the minimum wage and look  no further than 7-Eleven.


If we want to talk about industrial relations in this country, let's talk about right now, the 800,000 plus visa holders with temporary work rights in Australia who are being exploited in many cases.  


At the same time we have 800,000 of our fellow Australians unemployed, another 800,000 of our fellow Australians on the Disability Support Pension, treated as second class citizens, and another 1.3 million Australians underemployed or in insecure employment, not satisfactory to their dreams and aspirations. 


That is the conversation to have about industrial relations.


Malcolm Turnbull, we are going to have that conversation.


While we're at it, let's talk about jobs, Malcolm, not just your job.


Let's talk about the jobs of Australians.


We need a Government which is as ambitious, brave and optimistic as Australians. 


But we have to make sure that Australians, all Australians are at the centre of what Government does. 


Government does have a role and a responsibility to invest in the drivers of growth, jobs and productivity.


We want to build an economy which has economic growth, good quality economic growth and fair economic growth. 


We want to put the shared energy of the Commonwealth of Australia behind Australia's best resource.


The skills, the smarts, the capacity of our people.


Only our party, the Labor Party, the Labor movement, has the courage and imagination to back in all Australians. 


We have put forward, in the last month, a plan to fund infrastructure by borrowing money. 'Socialism,' they would cry, except Malcolm just announced it today as he plagiarised our speech from last month.


We are the ones who said, in response to the hopeless second Budget of Abbott/Turnbull/Hockey, that we want to see science and research be 3 per cent of our economic effort by 2030.


We are the ones who want to see the funding go into the schools, more qualified teachers with science degrees, more support for innovations and startups. 


Amanda Rishworth will make sure that is going to happen.


We want to make sure we have a health care system where our hospitals are properly funded, our health workers are fairly paid.


A health care system where it is your Medicare card, not your credit card which determines the level of health in Australia and Tony Zappia is going to help us do that.


Labor has not and will not surrender on the proposition that our schools should be funded according to need and no other criteria


and Kate Ellis is going to help bring that home.


 And we understand we need to create jobs in South Australia.


 We need to help create industries in South Australia. 


 We are going to do that by backing in clean energy.


 You know where I am going here. Mark Butler is going to help us do that with a 50 per cent goal in renewable energy.


 SA Labor understands this. We are not part of the book-burning club of climate change.


 We are the political party who is always consistent. 


 What is more, if we form a Government, we are not going to back in Tony Abbott's plan in order to get the votes of the far right of the Liberal Party.


 We will keep leading the nation in terms of solar power and wind power and that will be driven from your home state of South Australia.


 I probably don't need to say it, because it has been such a struggle of South Australian Labor, the South Australian community, the South Australian unions and of course Federal Labor. 


 Only Labor can be trusted, because we have never changed our mind, to build, maintain and sustain the next generation of Australian submarines right here in Port Adelaide.


 We, in the house of Labor, understand that Government is never a matter of choosing between a strong economy and a fair society.


 We understand these principles are twins, inseparable.


 A fair society and equality are the only way to generate meaningful growth in this country.


 We meet at a time where inequality has not been higher for 75 years.


 Our tax system is a leaky bucket. It is riddled with holes, allowing some people to pay less tax on particular types of income or pay it later, than they would if they had just earned it as wages, like the vast bulk of the Australian people.


 We know that these holes are disproportionately used by the highest income earners in this country. 


 Taxpayers in the top bracket are much more likely to earn income in tax privileged forms and to earn more of it than taxpayers in the lower tax brackets. 


 In the financial year 2012/13, 55 of Australia's largest earners paid no income at all, not even the Medicare levy.


 They were below the $18,200 threshold. So despite earning more than millions of dollars, these people legally managed to write their taxable income down below the tax free threshold. 


 The various deductions and loopholes in our system are two and a half times more likely to be used by the wealthiest Australians. 


 It is hard, as some observers have said, to accept that the existence of such discrepancies, the bell shaped tax system, where if you earn no money you pay no tax, but there is a clear disadvantage in that.


 Then there is everyone in the middle of the bell, and at the other end, if you earn enough money, you can manage to minimise your tax to practically nothing. It is bell-shaped.


 There is no legitimate public policy argument for this to continue and it is impossible to describe this system as fair. 


 All the time this goes on, the ability to reduce tax liabilities, disproportionately used by those who are already the most well off. 


 This is not class warfare, this is just an unfair system.


 This is not the politics as envy, as some will say when they hear this speech today - how on Earth can we have a system where, if you have a great deal of income and you are already comfortable and we salute and recognise that, that you can still keep getting subsidies from the rest of the taxpayers in your tax system? 


 It is long overdue to have a debate about inequality in this country and it starts here and it starts now.


 The middle class, the great group of people who go to work every day, pay their wages, don't claim much in deductions. They are being squeezed. 


 Did you know other than Italy, in the whole of the OECD, more Australians than proportionately citizens of every other country have to go to a tax agent just to do their tax.


 We have a system that is not fair and we have a system that is not simple. Time to change it, I think. Time to change it. 


 When we look at how divided our society is becoming, let's understand the consequences of growing inequality.


 The more divided our society becomes in terms of wealth, the more reluctant the wealthy are to spend their money on the infrastructure, the basic research, the education and society's needs.


 Inequality leads to less investment in public goods.


 Inequality leads to polarisation, leads to lower social trust, it leads to greater rent-seeking and where inequality grows, it moves to the centre of Government policy that is why we need a Labor Government.


 We have never had an existential crisis about which party to join in our lives.


 We have always known.


 We know the hardest decision in life is not what party you join, who will have you, who you can lead.  


 We understand no Australian is expendable.


 We understand we don't leave people behind, that is why Labor has driven the National Disability Insurance Scheme.


 You and I, the millions of people who trust Labor, we understand and empathise with the midnight anxiety of ageing parents and carers, awake wondering who will love their adult children with impairment in the same way that they do.


 Empowering people with a disability and their carers is not just good social justice, it is good economics.


 The more we treat people as consumers and not charity, the more we empower what every human being has within them, the better it is.


 That is why Labor leads the way when it comes to social housing. Tackling homelessness.


 And it is why today, we rededicate ourselves again to the equal treatment of women in our society.


 Many of you are champions of this but no-one can take anything away from the work of your own Senator Anne McEwan in helping push for the equality for the treatment of women.


 If we want to pick an example of the need for equality, it is that 72 women this year have died at the hands of someone who once said they loved them. 


 This is Australia's shame. It is Australia's shame. 


 If the Labor Party in Government did nothing more than reduce the horrendous rates of family violence.


 If we insisted that women make up 50 per cent of Commonwealth Government boards,.


 If by 2025 we keep our promise that half our Federal members will be women.


 If we do something about equal pay cases, for early childhood educators.


 We will make this country the most rich and equal society the world has ever seen.


 These conferences are times where we come together, where our ideals bind us.  


 Where we listen to the accomplishments of remarkable Labor Governments, such as the one led by Jay,  


 And where we plan for what we can do for this nation.


 We welcome the debate of ideas.  


 Today, I promise you that when it comes to climate change, when it comes to properly funding our hospitals.  


 When it comes to needs-based funding in our schools and prioritising Australian jobs, when it comes to the fair treatment of people at work and the equal treatment of women in our society.  


 When it comes to tackling inequality, because it is a drag on our economic growth and prosperity as a nation.  


 I promise you this - the promises of Labor in Opposition will be the policies of Labor in Government.


 We will keep our promises.


 We will advance Australia.


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