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Friends, let me declare today: we can do this.
We can win Bennelong, can’t we?
Friends, let us send a message from Bennelong that the nation will hear. And let us send Kristina to Canberra!
I acknowledge the traditional owners of this land upon which we meet, I pay my respects to elders both past and present.
And can I take a moment – I want to thank Linda Burney for your welcome to country, Linda.
Linda, I and your Labor family cannot begin to imagine the last few weeks, the sadness and the loss for you and your family.
But please, Linda – it may not be adequate consolation, nothing can be – but you are strong, you are admirable and you are loved by everyone here and the whole Labor family.
Thank you very much.
How lucky, not only am I, but how lucky is the Labor Party and the labour movement to have such an outstanding Deputy Leader of the Labor Party, Tanya Plibersek.
Tanya is currently leading our fight against the dreadful $17 billion cuts to our schools – government, catholic and independent – and she is doing it with trademark Plibersek determination, trademark strength, trademark authenticity.
Because she – like every member of my united Labor team – want the best education for every child in Australia.
I want to, as I have thanked Tanya and thanked Linda, I want to thank all of you who are here.
You give this movement and you give our campaign for Bennelong the best possible start. Thank you one and all for being here today.
And I thank you because you are the people who, not only the electors of Bennelong are counting upon, but indeed, the eyes of a nation are upon.
We start this election as undisputed underdogs.
It is a very steep mountain we have to climb in the next 27 days.
If you look at the result in July last year, all of us here, we have 9000 people to change their minds in this election in 27 days.
That’s where all of us, the mighty Labor Party, the mighty labour movement, come into our own.
We need you.
We need you to knock on doors.
We need you to talk to people in the workplaces and the railway stations.
We need you to make the telephone calls.
We need you to help persuade people to give their first vote to Kristina Keneally.
We in the labour movement, we understand what it’s like not to start with the vast wealth of the vested interest of Australian society.
I don't imagine anyone here has a couch down the back that a lazy $2 million that has slipped down like the current Prime Minister.
They can have the vested interest. They can have all of the wealth.
But what they don't have is one per cent of the fair-dinkum, no-nonsense passion of the people in this room, and our party and our movement.
Friends, as your presence here indicates and the interest of the nation highlights, this is no ordinary by-election.
Bennelong has the chance to speak for Australia and to send a message to Mr Turnbull and his Liberal Party.
A message to tell the Liberals in Canberra to stop cutting our Medicare.
To stop the erosion of bulk billing. To stop making it harder for GPs to be able to see you without them increasing the price of your visit.
A message to tell Canberra, Mr Turnbull and the Liberals, stop always picking the side of the private health insurers with their insatiable increases for health insurance premiums
It is an opportunity to tell Mr Turnbull and the Liberal Party :
- to stop cutting funding for schools.
- to stop cutting the funding to TAFE.
- to stop making it harder for people, regardless of postcode, to be able to dream of their kids to be able to afford to go to university.
There are millions of voters around our nation who are envious of the fact that the people of Bennelong will be able to send a message to Turnbull and the Liberals: stop giving Australia a dud NBN.
And of course, could you please on behalf of the rest of Australia send a message to Mr Turnbull and the Liberal Party to stop talking and to start doing something about out-of-control power prices in Australia.
We know here that the time is nearly up for Turnbull and five years of incompetent, out-of-touch Liberal Government in this nation.
And on December 16th, the voters in Bennelong have an opportunity to send a message which will be heard in the halls of power in Canberra.
Send a message about the cuts and the chaos..
Send a message about the incompetence and the division and the policy paralysis that is the trademark of the Turnbull Government.
Send a message – and make your messenger Kristina Keneally. Send her to Canberra.
A little bit about Kristina –
Not only is she my friend, not only does she have the support and the love of her remarkable husband and her two remarkable sons.
And I thank them for once again lending their wife and their mother to the service of the nation once again.
She has limitless energy, she has great ideas.
She will be the fresh voice and the advocate that Bennelong has so sorely needed for so long.
On the morning that I was able to announce Kristina accepting the nomination to be the Labor flag-bearer in Bennelong, we had a coffee in Progress Street, we walked down to Glen Reserve to announce Kristina’s candidacy…
…but what was interesting was even before the press conference had finished, the Liberal Party, from the Prime Minister down, started throwing their buckets of mud.
Turnbull dropped his veneer of vacuous civility and he dived straight into the gutter.
I actually think it does say so much about how far he has shrunk in the last few years.
It was the sign of a man with no authority, no agenda and nothing positive to say about your community, your families and the nation.
And I think it’s pretty damn telling that as soon as Labor announces a strong woman to run for Parliament…
…that mob of angry, elitist, out-of-touch conservatives on the frontbench immediately went nasty and went personal.
They are so out-of-touch about the role of women in modern Australia.
But friends, if there is one thing about the Liberals’ grubby personal attacks on Kristina…
…it shows you how worried they are.
You know that old saying that the angrier they are, the more scared they are.
This is true.
And you know that old saying that the louder they shout, the more frightened they really are.
And after seven decades of taking Bennelong for granted, they are frightened.
They are not frightened, though, because they care about the people.
They are just frightened for their own jobs and their own interests.
You only have to look at the diminishing spectacle of the current Prime Minister to see that he is actually frightened.
He is frightened of his own party – and why wouldn't he be?
But he is quickly becoming frightened of the electorate.
He knows, in those quiet moments of reflection, that the job is harder than he thought, that it isn't all that it was cracked up to be, that he is actually doing a poor job, and his out-of-touch policy agenda bears no relationship to the needs of ordinary Australians.
The proposition, his very poor proposition, that only by giving tax cuts to millionaires and multinationals, that this is the only path to this nation's future, the people of Australia are onto that.
That is a hollow policy from a hollow government led by a hollow man.
We do know of course that the one thing which he does focus on is his own survival.
Imagine the morning of December 17th when Kristina Keneally is the new member for Bennelong – imagine.
I say to the people of Bennelong – you have a chance.
You have a chance to wake up the government of Australia. To put it back in touch with the needs and dreams, aspirations, courage and imagination of the Australian people.
If you can send that wake-up call. If we collectively can send that wake-up call to this government, and send it in the form of a new member for Bennelong, Kristina Keneally...
I know that if we successfully send that message, this government will hear it loud and clear and they will hear right through to the next general election, whenever that is.
So whenever you hear Mr Turnbull or Mr Morrison or Ms Bishop or Mr Dutton running through their talking points, just remember, they are the words of frightened people.
And remember this: Kristina Keneally has more integrity in her little finger than the whole frontbench of the Coalition.
And while we’re on the subject of integrity, perhaps the next time you hear Mr Turnbull talking about Australia’s great multicultural community…
…perhaps you might ask him, why does his party in Queensland, the Liberal-Nationals have 50 separate deals to preference One Nation?
I declare here, unequivocally to the voters of Bennelong and the voters of Australia, we have a very simple rule: we will put One Nation and their like last every time, no exceptions.
We declare this because we understand that Australia's strength is its diversity and that there should be no place in modern Australia for racism.
Not now, not ever. And if the Liberal Party don't understand that, then they are not fit to govern in this country.
So in the end, friends, I think the choice is clear.
John Alexander, nice fellow.
To be fair, he had one foot out the door until this problem with the paperwork popped up.
And we have been fortunate in this unexpected moment to be able to offer Bennelong a real choice.
An all-in, energetic, capable candidate, Kristina Keneally.
When you think about the choice, she’s not day-dreaming about well-earned retirement in Bondi.
She’s 100 per cent for Bennelong for as long as Bennelong will have her.
So the choice is, if you want more of the same in Bennelong:
- Cuts to Medicare, increasing the price of medical treatment.
- More of the cuts to education.
- More of that annoying wheel of the buffering of a slower NBN.
- Your energy prices to keep going up and up and up.
If you're really happy with the Turnbull Government and all of his 'many accomplishments', well you probably should vote for Mr Alexander and Mr Turnbull.
But, if you want something better:
- If you want real action on cost of living.
- If you want real action on healthcare and making sure it's affordable for all who need it.
- If you want to make sure our schools, universities and TAFE are open on the basis of merit, not wallet.
- If you want to make sure we have an NBN which is first-class, not third-class.
- If you want to make sure that we leave the place better than we found it.
- If you want to leave a legacy, then the choice is also clear: vote Kristina Keneally in Bennelong on December 16th.
- There is a view in politics that individuals can't change things.
There is a view that the deals are in, the fixes are in, that nothing can change.
And you've seen a little bit of that in the Government's analysis of Bennelong – oh, they normally vote for us, they probably will again.
I want to say to you today that we have an opportunity to stop the rot in Australian politics.
This sense that individuals and families can't control their own communities.
We see it in the over-development of our suburbs.
A sense that everything is decided. That there is nothing that can be changed. That ordinary people are on the outside looking in.
Well, friends – we can change that cynicism.
We can help improve the calibre and the quality of our democracy.
The sense that families and individuals do have a say over their future.
And the way we do that is on December 16th, and through all your hard work between now and then, we can do something wonderful for the country.
We can do something wonderful for Bennelong.
We can send Mr Turnbull a message that even he must hear on December 17th.
And we can do that by voting for Kristina Keneally.