Bill's Speeches

ADDRESS TO THE FIRST LABOR CAUCUS OF THE 45TH PARLIAMENT - CANBERRA - FRIDAY, 8 JULY 2016

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Welcome back to all of those of you who've returned and congratulations to all of those who have been elected for the first time to this 45th Parliament - well done. 

The best thing about this caucus meeting is that we now need more chairs. 

I'd like you to join me in welcoming specifically our new caucus members. 

I would like to acknowledge first of all our fantastic new MPs from 'Fortress NSW'. 

-       The first Aboriginal woman elected to the House of Representatives, Linda Burney.

-       Emma McBride in Dobell.  

-       Mike Kelly in Eden-Monaro - welcome back, Mike.

-       The star of our campaign launch, Emma Husar in Lindsay.

-       Dr Mike Freelander in MacArthur.

-       Susan Templeman in Macquarie.

-       Meryl Swanson in Patterson.

-       And in Werriwa, a seat Malcolm Turnbull singled out at the National Press Club for a Liberal win, welcome Anne Stanley. 

Our three new MPs from the apple isle, where the federal Liberals have gone the way of the Tassie tiger. 

-       Ross Hart

-       Justine Keay

-       Brian Mitchell.

 

From the Northern Territory

-       Luke Gosling in Solomon.

-       and Malarndirri McCarthy in the Senate. 

From Victoria, please welcome: 

-       Peter Khalil in Wills.

-       And Julian Hill in Bruce

Well done. 

From Queensland we have 

-       Milton Dick in Oxley. 

-       Susan Lamb in Longman. 

We also acknowledge that we have here Des Hardman who has fought so hard in Forde. 

And, of course, not to be forgotten in the Senate, Murray Watt and Anthony Chisholm. 

And a number of new members from across the Nullarbor 

-       Madeleine King in Brand.

-       Matt Keogh in Burt.

-       Josh Wilson in Fremantle.

-       Tim Hammond in Perth. 

-       And I've got a very good feeling that Anne Aly will prevail in Cowan. 

Of course we have got two familiar faces who are returning - Louise Pratt from WA and Don Farrell from South Australia. 

Now in Queensland, and in South Australia, we have friends still awaiting a final outcome in some very close counts.

We've all got our collective fingers crossed for 

 

-       Steve Georgianas in Hindmarsh 

-       Leisa Neaton in Capricornia 

-       and Cathy O'Toole in Herbert.

 

They have all run great campaigns. 

I want to take this opportunity to briefly thank some of the people who have supported me, not just in these past eight weeks, but in the last three years in the job.  

Firstly - all of you. 

My outstanding Deputy Leader, Tanya Plibersek. 

My leadership group, Penny Wong, Stephen Conroy, Chris Bowen, Tony Burke and Jenny Macklin. Thank you very much. 

In fact it really is the whole of my shadow Cabinet, the shadow ministry and our united caucus - thank you for the last three years. 

We all appreciate that the parliamentary party is only the proverbial tip of the spear.  

So on your behalf, I thank the entire labour movement: our volunteers, our branch members, our union members and our supporters.  

What we've accomplished, we've accomplished together, thank you very much. 

And from the Labor family to my family, I hope you will excuse me, I would like to thank my wife Chloe and incredible kids, they have put up with a lot. 

There are plenty of people in our cause who deserve a special mention but I would like to mention the people who contributed to my efforts in the last eight weeks and that could be a very long list.  

I want to acknowledge someone who has been a hero and mentor to me, someone whose advice and friendship I treasure, Bill Kelty.  

He has provided me a great sense of grounding.

One of the finest political minds to ever serve our Party, a legend of Labor campaigns, the ever-patient friend of mine, Peter Baron.  

Two people I can always count on to tell it straight, Sharon McCrohan and Leon Zwier. 

And from my staff, there are three remarkable people who I was lucky to have by my side every day of this campaign - they mightn't necessarily feel as lucky - Cameron Milner, Ryan Liddell and Amit Singh. 

I also want to being knowledge the tireless efforts of Sam Trobe, Jinane Bou-Assi, Sam Casey, Kimberley Gardiner, Sandra Webber, Steve Michelson, Niko Opacak and James Newton.

Indeed all of those who work on my staff, you know who you are, thank you very much. 

Friends, we gather here as a new caucus.  

We're conscious that there were good candidates who were unsuccessful and inevitable disappointments but on balance this caucus can gather in a spirit of some reasonable optimism. 

We are united, we are determined and we are most certainly positive. 

Unlike our opponents, we fought this election as a team.  

The results of your hard work are there for all to see.  

As a team, our shadow ministry made 973 visits to target seats alone. 

All of you organised and motivated, worked alongside, at different times, 16,200 volunteers 

-       Knocking on over 500,000 doors

-       Making more than 1.6 million phone calls.  

This magnificent effort saw Labor secure the second-biggest swing against a first-term Government in Australian history.  

Thank you very much. 

Each and every one of you and our supporters, own a part of the success which we enjoyed. 

Of course, over the past eight weeks and in the last three years, our wise friends in the media told us that we were wasting our time talking about ‘Labor issues’. 

We should be proud that standing up for Australian jobs and apprenticeships is considered a Labor issue. 

We should be proud that education, schools, university and TAFE is considered a Labor issue. 

We should be proud that: 

-       building a first-class, fibre NBN

-       taking real action on climate change

-       a royal commission into the banks 

-       and delivering marriage equality 

That these are considered Labor issues. 

I'm particularly proud that saving Medicare is seen as a Labor issue, because it is. 

These are Labor priorities and they always will be.  

Because these are the things which matter to working class and middle class Australian families.  

To the people who count on Labor to be their voice at the forefront of the national debate. 

So many of us here are privileged and proud representatives of communities that do it hard in times of change, right around our nation. 

Grappling with the uncertainty of a transforming economy, a society where old norms and institutions seem less permanent than they once did. 

Undoubtedly, there are Australians who do feel left out, excluded, alienated from a political process which does not seem to speak to the issues in their lives.  

In such a climate, it's easy for the extremists, for the people with the simple solutions to emerge and thrive, to foster division, to blame minorities, to demonise difference, to appeal to the dark angels of our national character. 

This is not the Labor way.  

Let me make something very clear from the outset of the 45th Parliament - I will never respect or tolerate racism or prejudice at any price. 

In our party we choose a different path, a higher path.

Instead of pushing people to the margins, we seek to gather people to the centre. 

Our plans and policies are all about empowering people, enabling Australians to be active, engaged participants in the decisions that control and effect affect their lives. 

We do not want to see Australians as passive spectators on the fringe, watching things move beyond their reach.  

Since the Prime Minister's quite extraordinary outburst in those early hours of Sunday morning, our opponents have been determined to blame the Australian people, the voters, for their disastrous campaign, for their out-of-touch values. 

The Liberals think that a massive swing against them was a matter of perception alone - that somehow there weren't enough negative Liberal TV ads and everything would have been right. 

They think it's a problem with their message, their image. 

Mr Turnbull is not a person of substance. 

For him it is always just a matter of style. 

But Saturday cannot be put down by our opponents to a failure of communication alone.  

It wasn't that the Liberals didn't talk about Medicare, it was what they were doing to Medicare: 

-       Freezing the GP rebate so that 14.5 million Australians will have to pay more to see their doctor. 

-       Raising the price of medicine by cutting the PBS

-       Imposing new up-front fees and charges for blood tests, mammograms, x-rays, diagnostic imaging.  

At every turn, undermining and hollowing out Medicare as we know it - pushing the price of healthcare back on to families and individuals.  

And then when these fresh offences are added to their 40-year history of attacking and undermining Medicare, we know when the Liberal Party set up a taskforce to investigate privatising parts of Medicare, then we are entitled to query their motive, to question the outcome and to stand up for Australians.  

This is just as true for schools, for universities, for TAFE.  

This is just as true on climate change, on NBN, on jobs and Australian apprenticeships. 

It is not about the Liberals' words, it is about Liberal actions.  

The Australian people understand that no amount of words will ever outweigh their actions. 

Australians understand that actions speak louder than words and this is a lesson our opponents still do not appear to have learned in the days since the election.  

Until they change their policies, nothing will change. 

Friends,  

After the longest campaign in 50 years, this could well be one of the shortest Parliaments in 50 years. 

Mr Turnbull sent out Christopher Pyne to claim victory this morning. 

It's likely in coming days that the Liberals will scrape over the line.

But the combination of a Prime Minister with no authority, a government with no direction and a Liberal Party at war with itself, could see Australians back at the polls within the year. 

We will fight for our positive plans in the 45th Parliament.

We will respect the judgement of the people and be true to our policies and propositions upon which we sought the support which we received.  

But we will be campaign-ready from this day onwards.  

Ready to offer Australia a unity of purpose and a depth of policy that respects the Australian people. 

Ready to carry forward our vision to the future and, indeed, our plans to include all Australians in the great national aspiration of a fair go all around.

Ready, once again, to put people first.

ENDS


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