Bill's Speeches

ADDRESS TO THE FIRST LABOR CAUCUS MEETING OF 2017 - CANBERRA - MONDAY, 6 FEBRUARY 2017

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Welcome back, everyone. 

It's great to see everyone united and focused on the needs of Australians. 

When we rose at the end of last year, there were three things which I was curious to see what would be the case when we returned. 

There have been two changes and one thing has remained the same.  

There have been two changes since we last met: 

-       Donald Trump is now President of the United States. 

-       And Malcolm Turnbull has got worse. 

But one thing does remain the same: our economy is not headed in a direction most Australians want it to head. 

And so the theme that we finished last year on: creating jobs, sustaining jobs, preparing people for the jobs of the future - remains our number one priority as we start this year.  

We've outlined positive plans already: 

-       Putting TAFE back at the centre of what we do in terms of Vocational Education. 

-       Cracking down on dodgy visas so people are not exploited, so people go to work safe and are paid properly. 

-       And of course, restoring the dream of many middle and working class parents that their kids can get apprenticeships in the future. And for a lot of mature aged Australians dislocated by change, that they've got the opportunity to re-train and do apprenticeships going forward. 

Last year, as we know, the Government finished divided, they outlined no new plans or directions and they had a Prime Minister beholden to the right-wing of his party. 

Hasn't the summer holidays done wonders for them? 

We have a Prime Minister whose only priority is to make it to the end of every day. 

Somehow he managed to lose his health minister but he has kept the cuts to Medicare. 

He has a Centrelink system which is treating our fellow Australians as quasi-cheats and criminals, and yet he is persisting with corporate tax cuts of $50 billion, including $7.6 billion to the big banks. 

He used to believe in climate change. Now he wants to build coal-fired power stations wherever the eye can see. Inflicting, if that fantasy was ever to come true, higher power prices, fewer jobs and less action on climate. 

He used to believe in marriage equality. Now, he is beholden to the right-wing of his party and can't even talk about the topic. 

And of course, when the median house price in Sydney is $1 million - about half the size of a reasonable Turnbull donation to his own party - he has no plan for housing affordability.  

Malcolm Turnbull's stubbornness on reforming negative gearing and capital gains tax deductions, which is a blocker for young people and their parents to be able to get their first house, is unacceptable.  

He doesn't get that housing affordability is a real problem in Australia and it is not enough for him to simply say: 'get rich parents'. He is seriously out of touch. 

This week, as we resume and we talk about our important issues: saving Medicare, housing affordability and jobs - we see the Government in turmoil. 

Quite frankly, Labor and the people of Australia don't care what goes on down the hallway.  

Whether or not Cory Bernardi stays or goes, whether or not Malcolm goes, whether or not Tony comes back, or Julie Bishop finally gets a run - that isn't going to help people pay for their first house. It doesn't help people find a job or keep a job.  

It certainly, certainly doesn't help save Medicare. 

So, whilst the Liberals are focused on their own jobs and the job of their leader, and their coalition partners, the Nationals continue to ignore the needs of people in the bush on everything from: 

-       short-wave reception in the Northern Territory 

-       through to the mess they have made of those poor landowners north of Rockhampton 

What we want to do in Labor is focus on the priorities of everyday Australians. 

We get the message loud and clear with the rise of third parties. People are not happy with politics as usual. But what we will do is we will be a party that listens and delivers. 

We will be a party which stands up for needs of working and middle class Australians. 

We will make sure that the great Australian dream that every generation has, to pass on a better standard of living to the next generation, that we actually help fulfil that destiny for all Australians.

Let's go get 'em this year.

ENDS


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