Bill's Speeches

ADDRESS TO THE LABOR CAUCUS

ADDRESS TO THE LABOR CAUCUS

 

LABOR CAUCUS ROOM, PARLIAMENT HOUSE

 

TUESDAY, 23 FEBRUARY 2016

 

 

Good morning everyone

 

Yesterday we saw what happens when Malcolm Turnbull gets under pressure.

 

He channelled his inner Abbott. There he was at the despatch box holding forth, you know we are in for a doozy when glasses are double clutched.

 

He was shouting his captain's calls and you could see the bewilderment on the faces of his cabinet. In the case of Barnaby Joyce, business as usual.

 

This is a man, remember, he said: “Everything's on the table, we're in for a new age of policy Aquarius where it was all a thousand flowers in bloom.”

 

He promised a consultative, methodical cabinet government, remember that? Good government 3.0.

 

And then he announced new tax policy halfway through question time…as all good governments do.

 

We know that he's rattled.

 

And we know that he's falling back on the only trick in the Liberal Party recipe book - fear and smear.

 

He has no plan and he's backed up by a Treasurer who has no idea.

 

You know, you've got poor old Scott Morrison, he's strived and toiled to get to the sort of upper pinnacle of Liberal life, being Treasurer of the nation. He thought he didn't have a big high-jump bar to emulate, Joe Hockey, our man in Washington. Now he's chasing pixies and unicorns in his top paddock.

 

We haven't won the battle of ideas - but we are engaged in the battle of ideas for the future of this country.

 

And we've been announcing positive plans for Australia's future.

 

We have made it very clear that jobs is at the centre of what we do. We've been standing tall for defence manufacturing, we're very committed to renewable energy and the technology and jobs and innovation that come with that. We're standing up for the steelworks at Whyalla, making sure that gets the attention and support it deserves.

 

We've got: Your Child. Our Future, which means every child in every school gets every opportunity.

 

We're pushing on TAFE and we'll have more to say about that.

 

We're pushing on our social policies and we'll have more to say on that soon.

 

And, of course, universities. We're the only party in the field who is not proposing to increase fees but to keep downward pressure on university fees.

 

We're the only party that's going to properly fund research. We don't believe you can have an innovative future when you take away thousands of scientists’ jobs.

 

The other thing we're ripping up the rule book on is our policies are fully funded and they're costed.

 

Our economics team is working incredibly hard. You know, last year they were laughing at us, at 'Labor ideas', they're not laughing so much anymore.

 

We're going to do this in part by making multinationals pay their fair share.

 

For those Senators here, watching the Liberals, it's like a poor man's edition of Green Left Weekly, the way they talk about it. You've got Scott Morrison: he will decide what companies come here and what they will pay.” As if anyone's listening to him.

 

But they're sort of trying to out-Che-Guevara each other on multinationals because their talking points say that people are unhappy with multinational taxation, with us being treated like a doormat by the tech giants.

 

The problem is the Liberals don't know what to do about it. They love to say they're fair dinkum on it, yet they pass laws and they still can't tell us how much money is going to be raised.

 

I don't know if you saw some of the footage yesterday, Scott Morrison doesn't know but that's hardly a surprise.

 

Malcolm Turnbull, quick pair of hands, moved it to poor old Mathias Cormann standing next to him. You can see Mathias thinking "Why am I standing next to this guy?" And Mathias says: "Well actually, I don't know, I'm the finance guy, not the Treasurer guy."

 

If I ever catch you using a demarcation saying you don't know the basics of multinational tax, that would be disappointing.

 

But of course, the latest battleground and perhaps, in some ways the most significant because it's really what's triggered the inner rage of Malcolm Turnbull, is our policy to cap negative gearing in the future and our policy to reduce the capital gains discount from 50 per cent to 25 per cent.

 

These are good policies. They're good policies because they engage in budget repair.

 

They're good policies because, unlike the Liberal Party who thinks that the Australian dream is to negatively gear your seventh house, we think the Australian dream is to able to afford to buy your first house.

 

We are finishing the unfinished business of the Keating and Hawke era. Now people have said for 30 years it's too hard, you can't go there. And we've seen Malcolm Turnbull sort of trot out the predictable sort of jibberish from the elements of the Property Council.

 

I mean don't you love it when people - I'm not referring to Turnbull himself - but don't you love it when the Property Council and some in real estate say: “What you're going to do is you're taking away a taxpayer subsidy we get.”

 

Australia was not designed, and our taxation system is not designed, to provide tax subsidies to people who don't need tax subsidies.

 

It is not right that this Government will fight to the last drop of their blue blood to fund the ability for you to get taxpayer subsidies for your seventh and eighth investor house, yet you get no help for your first house.

 

Now Malcolm Turnbull, as I said, and we're going to hear more about this today, and Chris Bowen gave him a mighty exocet this morning on the doors, these guys are just inventing capital gains tax policy as they go.

 

In question time yesterday, he ruled it out. He ruled it out. I mean looking at some of his colleagues' faces they weren't aware he was going to rule out, but he ruled it out.

 

What is unacceptable is that his spinners later on said: “no, he didn't rule it out.”

 

This guy doesn't have a real clue why he's there.

 

The real issue is that he says one thing and does another. Beforehand he was the everyman for the Liberal Party, now he's just for the vested interest.

 

And this comes to us. I said this at the ALP conference, two Saturdays ago, that we, collectively, have been a strong Opposition, probably stronger than people realised.

 

If we had said two and a half years ago, imagine back then: we'll see off Abbott, we'll see off Hockey - I didn't predict the Washington angle - that we'll see off Bronwyn Bishop, that we'll see off the 2014 budget, that we'll see off the 15 per cent plans they had for GST and that we will start holding them to account on a range of their ministers.

 

If I had predicted to you two and a half years ago that in the space of the last six months they'd have 14 ministers change, you would have said: 'Oh, Bill'.

 

But that's exactly what's happened. And we've been doing that because we are a team.

 

We've ticked the boxes of being a strong Opposition.

 

Now is it time for us, with the hard work that we've done in the last 2 and a half years, to start ticking the boxes of being an alternative government.

 

Australians don't want fancy rhetoric, they want straight talk.

 

Australians want costed policies, they actually know we've got to get the budget into a better position, they know we don't want to have needless government waste.

 

But they also know that they need a government who has got a plan to properly fund our schools and our universities and our TAFEs and indeed our early years of learning.

 

They want a government who has got proper plans to fund our hospitals and defend our Medicare.

 

They want a government who has got proper plans on renewable energy and a plan for jobs in Australia and they want a government who will have fair taxation.

 

We must get rid of this system over time where the amount of money you have is what decides how much tax concession you can get. That is an unfair system of taxation.

 

So we're now starting to tick the boxes of being an alternative government.

 

Now the Government wants to camouflage everything they're doing on the big issues.

 

They want to talk about everything else except their economic plan.

 

And I predict, watch this, one, they will throw the kitchen sink at us and try and scare everyone.

 

It's a sort of almost an anti-Mabo style campaign where there's the Hills hoists that are going to lose to land claims. They want us to have reds under the bed, Labor under the bed, they're worried about anything.

 

They will run their union scare campaigns. They will run their scare campaigns about penalty rates, they'll run their scare campaigns about us having proper policies.

 

So now is the time we have to dig a little deeper.

 

We can have no, I believe, acceptance or tolerance of giving up. There are millions of people who count upon us.

 

This is the time that we have to dig a bit deeper, this is the time where I believe in this team. I've got to know all of you, you cannot only be as good as you believe you can be, you can be better than you realise.

 

I actually think this is a time when we could even use the example of Turnbull to be an example to us.

 

See, I believe that he is quite a bright fellow. But I think his fear of losing his popularity, his anxiety not to be, you know, clapped on the back, is dimming his mind and it means that he's not doing what he said he would do.

 

We need to use that as an example to us.

 

We think that the Liberals, and for five months we've listened to the Liberals being everything and the super race and they've got this election all covered and no point Labor even turning up.

 

We need to recognise that what we've seen with the Liberals this last four weeks, they're giving up on the 15 per cent GST because we are staunch.

 

We’ve seen their visceral, violent, ignorant and prejudiced reaction against our modest and reasonable changes on negative gearing.

 

What that should tell us is this: when people aren't ready, and this Government are not ready, when people do not act as a team, and they are not acting as a team, then they're no better than anyone else and no one person's popularity can mask all these difficulties.

 

I think Labor's greatest strength is that we don't give up being a team.

 

Our greatest strength is when we act in a fashion which indicates we are ready to govern.

 

This election is there for the winning. It's going to take a team effort from all of us but I can assure you I believe in winning, there's millions of Australians who believe that we should win and we just need this team to carry it down to the line.

 

Thank you, everyone.

 

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