Bill's Speeches

ADDRESS TO NSW LABOR SUPPORTERS NETWORK RALLY - SATURDAY, 21 MAY 2016

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Good morning everybody. 

And it is a good morning because we can do this in the next six weeks, if we stand up for Medicare.  

If we fight the battle for Medicare. 

If we fight the battle for bulk-billing, the we can for once and for all end the Medicare wars in this country and we can set the foundations that the Liberals will never again Medicare an election issue. 

We can do this. 

There is a battle for Medicare, and it is upon us. 

And the A battle for bulk-billing has begun. 

It's a battle between Labor’s vision for jobs, for health. For education, for renewable energy. For affordable housing and fair taxation

And of course there is the Liberals’ plans for a $50 billion tax cut for big multinationals and a tax break for the fortunate few.

Millions of our fellow Australians are counting on Labor, They're counting on us to win this battle – and to win this election.

And friends we are in it to win it aren't we!

Now, after two weeks of campaigning, I have a confession to make to you: I’m enjoying this election campaign.  

Now, I know that not everyone feels the same way - but if you think that you’ve had a tough two weeks – imagine spending it on a bus with our great Senator Sam Dastiyari!

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

And alongside those formal words of respect, today let us pledge ourselves again to closing the gap in health.

A Labor Government will extend to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples the most fundamental right of all – the right to grow old.  

And I want to thank our hosts here at the Western Sydney University.

6 out of 10 Australian students enrolled here are the first person in their family to go to uni.

It is a good story. 

And this has been the Labor story – especially since Whitlam – extending opportunities to the next generation.

That is why we will never support Mr Turnbull’s plan for $100,000 degrees.

Friends, there is something which I wish to make very clear today.

This election is bigger than the divisive and dishonest scare campaigns of a Prime Minister who promised to be better than this.

Mr Turnbull can keep telling the same tired lies about Labor every day between now and the election – he can indulge in all the Tony-Abbott sloganeering that he wishes to do.

He probably will.

But this election is not about Malcolm Turnbull, it’s not about me.

Ii is about the 24 million people in Australia, this election is about every Australian and positive plans for them, isn't it.

This election should be about who has the best plans for the Australian people and the future of our country.

A contest of policies and priorities.

We will fight this election to the families and small businesses of Australia on the real issues that make a practical difference to lives of ordinary Australians. 

Around our remarkable and special country, right here in the great cities of Western Sydney: from Campbelltown to Liverpool, from Parramatta, Penrith to Blacktown.

We will make an election from jobs with better pay and more security, to investing in every Australian school and funding it on the basis of need.

The Liberals keep saying that Australia has to choose between good schools, decent healthcare, and fair pay on one hand or a growing economy.

It’s is a false choice the Turnbull Conservatives love so much: that you can only have a strong economy or you can only have a fair society but you can’t have both.

We in the mighty Labor Party, we understand that growth and fairness are not mutually exclusive – they are not enemies opposed.

Each depends upon the other and reinforces the other.

Labor knows investing in people is the best growth strategy that Australia ever had and ever will have going forward.

And nowhere is there more powerful proof of the combination of growth and fairness than our proud story of Medicare.

That’s why, this Thursday past, I made our biggest commitment in the campaign so far to date:
 

12 billion dollars to:  

-      end the freeze on the Medicare rebate

-      reverse Mr Turnbull’s GP tax by stealth

-      and protect once and for all bulk-billing for all Australians, a universal health system
 

We will support our GPs – they are the frontline troops in the battle to keep Australians healthy.

We will keep downward pressure on the cost of living for families.

We will ensure older Australians on fixed incomes never find themselves forced to choose between the food for the week – or a visit to the doctor.

We will save Medicare because Medicare it’s more than just a standard of health. It’s a community standard.

Medicare speaks for who we are as a society, as a nation

Medicare is a family policy – it is a comfort when your child has a nagging cough or a high fever.

It’s a reassurance to older Australians on a pension or a fixed income or a self-funded retiree whose measured down to the last dollar and cent how they can structure their finances. Medicare ensures that they can get the important care they need.

And friends Medicare is a driver of economic growth.

It is an investment, not a cost.

It keeps Australians active, healthy, productive at work.

It saves employers and businesses the costs, the red tape the risk of organising health insurance for their workforce.

It saves the nation money – it is the most efficient payment system, for care at the most important time.

But it wasn’t always this way.

Before Labor created Medicare, the number one cause of personal bankruptcy in Australia was hospital expenses.

Every year, for tens of thousands of Australian families, getting sick meant going broke.

In the United States – with its two-tier health system - this is the reality for millions of people.

As a percentage of GDP, the United States of America spends nearly twice as much as Australia on healthcare.

More money for less access, worse care and a shorter life expectancy.

Instead of getting early treatment from the GP, people are funneled into over-crowded emergency rooms.

Pressure is poured upon time-poor and under-resourced, over-worked nurses and doctors in a hospital system that cannot bear the strain.

People are turned away, people are denied care, or not given help until things are far worse – and much more expensive

That is not the future we want for Australia.

We are not – and must not become - a nation where profits go before patients, and we will not allow this.

Where wealth determines your health.

This is exactly the consequence of the Liberal policies in healthcare. Freezing the rebate to our frontline GP’s forces our GP’s into an untenable situation.

Taking massive cuts to their own incomes or forcing patients to pay more at the doctor or the surgery.

There is no health textbook in the world which says that by making people pay more and to go the doctor – by making people discouraged from going to the doctor when they’re sick by the barrier of increased upfront fees, there is no health book in the world – no scientific evidence to support, no evidence in the history of our society that discouraging people from going to see the doctor makes sick people better.

It makes sick Australians sicker.

And make no mistake, the Coalition deep in their bones – they hate bulk-billing – it is a prejudice against the idea that people can universal healthcare.

And in the past three years:

-      The Liberals have cut Medicare.

-      They have taxed Medicare.

-      And in their Budget this year, we found proof they want to sell Medicare.
 

$5 million for a secret government taskforce to investigate the fastest way to privatize parts of Medicare.

First Tony Abbott tried to kill it – now Malcolm Turnbull wants to sell it.

Either way, the Liberals may have changed their leader, they may have changed their tactics, but when it comes to Medicare they never change their minds.

And this election we have an opportunity to give a political lesson to the Liberal Party on behalf of Australia. No Government, no party seeking Government should be entitled to form a Government if they will not priorities the health needs of Australians first.

And no Prime Minister who can change his priorities to prioritizing the healthcare of Australia deserves to be Prime Minister, and we will send that message loud and care.

Through the suburbs and the country towns and the great cities of Australia.

Medicare is an election issue and this election is a referendum on the future of bulk-billing and Medicare.

Make no mistake, every ounce of their energy, every lever Mr Turnbull pulls, is designed to undermine bulk-billing and eliminate universal healthcare.

And let us here today give a guarantee to the Australian people.

Under Labor, Medicare will always be in safe hands and in public hands.

And if you want to keep bulk billing in this country – vote Labor on July 2.

Friends, on the future of Medicare – and on so much else - this election offers Australians the strongest policy contrast in living memory. 

There is a clear choice between:

  • Labor’s commitment to fulfil the Gonski promise.
  • A ten-year guarantee so every child, in every school, gets every opportunity for a great education.

Or the Liberals’ $30 billion cut to schools – and Mr Turnbull’s stated grand ambition to take every single Commonwealth dollar out of every single government school. No choice could be clearer in this election.

A Labor Party will be seeking to clean out the dodgy private training colleges and backing public TAFE all the way. Or, a Liberal party cutting TAFE.

You’ve got a Liberal Party who would slash support for training and reduce the number of apprentices. Labor is the party of apprenticeships and will make sure that working class and middle class kids – if they have the inclination to pursue a trade that they will get the best chance they can under a Labor Government after July 2.

There is a very clear choice.

Between a Liberal Party paying big polluters to keep polluting, or a Labor Party taking real action on climate change – by investing in renewable energy.

There’s a Liberal party whose only plan for housing affordability is telling Australians to get rich parents. You couldn’t write this stuff.

Or a Labor party leveling the playing field for first home buyers in the future, putting the great Australian dream back in reach of working and middle class families.

And indeed amongst these clear choices there is a choice, between a plebiscite, inflicting tax payer funded prejudice on Australians who identify as gay, or marriage equality in the parliament within the first 100 days if Labor gets elected. [Applause]

Now I said before this campaign started that the Liberals would throw everything at us.

That they would run a desperate campaign, that they had effectively stopped governing some months ago, that Mr Turnbull's grand promises had shrunk into a Liberal Party relying on negative fear and lies and smears to try and justify another three years on top of the first hopeless three years.

I didn't predict though that they would lie about migrants. I didn't predict that somehow in this country the great immigrant story of this nation, would somehow become the source of demonisation and denigration. We are a better country. [Cheers]

And I have to say on Wednesday when we made clear that we were not going to go down the path of Mr Turnbull's and Mr Dutton's lies about the contribution of migration, I couldn't have been any prouder of the support I received from the entire Labor Party. We are the party who will stand up for all Australians. {Applause]

And they will come at us again in the next six weeks. The last weapon this empty government led by a hollow-man have in their political armoury will be their lies. They will lie about the Budget, they will lie about the successes of NBN. And we have to stick to our guns. We have seen this week how tough the fight will be.

But on your behalf, on Labor's behalf, I say that we will see their lies and their negativity off. We will fight on our positive plans to build a better Australia.

 We have a great story to tell in this country. And Labor has a great story to tell about the future of our nation.

Now we need you to help spread the word. To tell your family, your friends, your colleagues, your classmates, your workmates, your team mates, just what is at stake on July 2. Already over 5000 volunteers have knocked on 80,000 doors and nearly 140,000 phone calls.

But we haven't even begun to fight yet, have we? [No] Within the next six weeks we're aiming for much, much more.

 As a party we dedicate ourselves to the idea that by July 2, we will have given Australians everything that we have to offer.

 That we can have one million conversations with Australians during our campaign about our plans for a positive future, our vision for the country. One million conversations - is that within our capacity to deliver? 

My word it is. This is all about the choices. Labor has found its voice again. We are united. If we on Election Day are able to ensure that Australians know what our party stands for, together we can deliver real progress in this country.

Together, even though we are the underdogs, we can make history. Because we will go one day longer, one conversation longer, one more bit of energy and energy longer. Because a Labor government will always put people first.

Thank you very much.


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