Bill's Speeches

ADDRESS TO THE SOUTH AUSTRALIAN LABOR 2017 CONVENTION - ADELAIDE - SATURDAY, 14 OCTOBER 2017

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Morning everybody, great to be here, I won't talk about footy.

First of all, I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land upon which we meet and I pay my respect to their elders, both past and present.

It's lovely to be here in South Australia, a great Labor State with a great Labor State Government.

I would like to thank Annabel for her generous and kind introduction and for her service as party president in South Australia.

And I want to thank you also for welcoming Chloe and we've dragged our youngest one here, Clementine. And of course, we're catching up with our cousin Lucy who is a South Australian.

So it's great to have the family here as well.

And talking about some thanks, I want to thank this state for sending so many outstanding Labor politicians to Canberra.

You do send a really powerful team.

In the House of Representatives:

You've got Mark Butler, leading the energy debate, no question about it.

Amanda Rishworth doing an outstanding job indeed for Veterans.

You've got Tony Zappia doing great work in health.

Steve Georganas – this man never gives up.

Nick Champion – a warrior for jobs.

I want to give a special shout out to her because she's leaving politics, she's putting her family first.

I want to thank Kate Ellis for everything she's done.

And of course, the contribution in the House of Reps is matched by the contribution in the Senate.

Alex Gallacher, fighting for workers’ rights, making sure the truckies are safe - doing a great job.

Don Farrell, when he's not cracking down on the dodgy donations in the Liberal Party, doing a great job in the sport portfolio as well.

And of course my travel buddy from North Asia, the one and only Senator Penny Wong.

You know in this current national postal survey there have been, unfortunately, plenty of low moments.

But one thing I know gives a great deal of reassurance to our fellow Australians, to our fellow Australians in the LGBTI Community is that they know that the Labor Party has been on their side through this ordeal.

And I think that paramount amongst that has been Senator Penny Wong's absolutely outstanding leadership.

You've given a lot of strength to a lot of other people when they needed it most, well done Penny and thank you.

So South Australian Labor is contributing to the cause of Labor not just in South Australia, it's contributing to the cause of Labor and the priority and needs of working and middle-class Australians right through Australia.

From TAFE to jobs, which I'll talk more about, to standing up for the conditions of workers.

To ensuring that fairness and the fair go doesn't become a proposition which kids read about in museums but remains a contemporary and future concept animating the political debate in this country.

When I think about what South Australian Labor has done, I remember the secret handshake done between the federal Liberal Government to build the submarines offshore in Japan.

It was South Australian Labor, state and federal who led the way to make sure these subs get built in South Australia that will always be our legacy.

And that is really what I want to talk to you today about- that Labor is the party of jobs.

We understand in the house of Labor that when someone has a meaningful job then a lot of other pieces of the puzzle come together.

We understand the dignity of work and that is what our policies for the next election will have run through all of them.

Ensuring that every Australian who can work, who wants to work, gets the opportunity to work and this is of course what we talk about at our conference.

Those Liberal Party conferences they're more like Survivor island for the current Liberal Leader, but we here talk about the big ideas that matter to Australians.

We are interested in where this country is going, that is what joins every person in this room is our common desire to make a difference, to leave the place better than we found it

And in fact, I want to put to you this morning when we strip away all the sideshows in politics, when we strip aside the day-to-day fluff and noise and bluster which passes for some of the political commentary.

I want to put to you, there is only one test that really matters in Australian politics and it is: do we pass on a better set of conditions, a better set of circumstances to the next generation that the one that we inherited.

This is the test I submit.

When you take away all of the other noise, this is what really matters.

Many of you might be like me in that you've had the privilege of becoming parents.

It's a remarkable time when you become a parent because what it does is that it straightens you out a bit, you realise with the best will in the world, that when you hold a new precious life in your arms you realise that you become responsible for their future as well as your present.

And it is this thing and it's the question that we ask ourselves and I've got Clem here, she's seven, I wonder what this country will be like when she is thirty.

I have turned fifty, I wonder what this country will be like when I am seventy.

I'm sure there are people who are retiring now who wonder what it will be like for their generation in twenty years’ time.

I wonder what this country will be like for university students completing their degrees now.

I wonder what it is we're going to leave for the generation of workers in their thirties and forties and fifties in a generation's time.

Friends the reason why the Labor Party was created was to leave a better deal for future generations- this is what matters in politics.

I am ambitious for this country.

I am ambitious for the Australian people but I am ambitious too, to leave a legacy.

That our movement leaves a legacy, that we leave this place better than we found it.

Now of course by contrast, my opposite number came to Adelaide, he was here in August he addressed the Liberal Council, he spoke for more than 30 minutes.

He spoke about Labor

He spoke about unions.

He spoke about Jay.

He spoke about me.

He spoke about himself, of course.

If you don't get time to count, there were 4,390 words in total.

But not one of them was about Holden.

Jay and his state team have spent their time trying to help autoworkers through this really awful period.

The man currently posing as Prime Minister of Australia could not summon-up a sufficient sense of the real world from the out of touch castle that he inhabits, to talk about Holden.

To talk about the thousands of South Australians and indeed Victorians from Toyota who've lost their jobs in the last two weeks.

And the reason they don't talk about the car industry? It's because they drove the car industry out of Australia.

These companies could survive decades, they just couldn't survive a Liberal Abbott-Turnbull Government - that is their legacy.

Remember that, at the next election when we talk about what do we leave.

One legacy that I will never let the Liberal Party of Australia ever hide from - their legacy is the car industry building a car from start to finish, died on their watch and that is the legacy of the Liberal Party.

It’s not that he didn’t know - the Liberals just don’t care.

And we saw that again last September, when South Australia was hit by a one-in-50 year superstorm.

80,000 lightning strikes

22 transmission towers brought down by cyclonic winds

In the days that followed, those marvellous SES volunteers, they were out there to clear up the fallen trees, helping people get back on their feet.

The farmers who were rebuilding the fences, doing the livestock check.

South Australians were adjusting, they were mopping-up, they were getting on, they were fixing up the damage

But what did we get out of Canberra?

A series of photo-bombing media opportunities from Turnbull and Frydenberg just trying to blame people, just trying to blame renewable energy.

Well what was remarkable and it should not go un-noted is that last September they said renewable energy caused the damage

But this Monday the poor old Minister for Energy darted out and said: 'Oh by the way, the reason we're not going to deliver the Clean Energy Target is because renewable energy is cheap and cheaper and getting cheaper all the time'

I thought - what?

But why on earth would the conservative Liberal-Nationals ever let the truth get in the way of a bad scare campaign.

And it's not just cars or renewable energy we see it with water.

Look at the water theft in the Murray-Darling, Barnaby Joyce sitting on his hands because he only cares about trying to keep a few of the Nationals MPs in their seats, not the national interest.

This is though, the sad story of the current conservative Liberal National Government in Canberra.

Whenever they talk about South Australia, it is to talk South Australia down.

Instead of fighting for jobs, fighting for a future, they just want to fight South Australia.

They want to treat South Australia as their punching bag for whatever political agendas they've got on their 24 hour cycle.

We understand in Labor that South Australians deserve a lot more than the point scoring, than the politics as usual.

We understand in Labor that what South Australians deserve and have earned and it's only fair that they get a Party in Canberra outlining a plan.

A vision, a future, a legacy for this state and everyone who is fortunate enough to live in it.

And we've all been witness, the unions who are here representing manufacturing workers, all of us in our communities, we've been witness to our economy changing dramatically in the last ten years.

The advent in new technology, the change in global circumstances and in the manufacturing heartland of Australia.

In South Australia you have seen the rough end of change - the enterprises which have closed or just have to find new customers, have to constantly be re-engineering and changing work practices.

You've seen it, you've lived it, you've fought for it.

Well we've not only witnessed a change, we're witness to the consequences.

We know how hard it can be for families, for workers who have built themselves in their communities around iconic businesses.

Businesses that I believe they imagined, would always be there or at the very least businesses they would never imagine would not be there as part of the landscape.

And you just think about these changes as we have seen them ten and twenty years ago, manufacturing businesses now real estate property plays.

When you try to explain to your kids that that shopping centre was once a business that employed toolmakers or fitters.

And the pace of change is faster and more unrelenting.

We know what change means if you don't have a place in the change.

You know what it's like to console a worker and their families, when they see on the television - that the company has closed and we know what it's like when a family can no longer have a good paying job and they've got to do the causal work.

The incomes drop and there is nothing more dehumanising than when mum or dad have got to come home and the kids have seen them on the TV and the partners have heard about it.

When the person has been displaced doesn't have a job because what no parent ever wants is to have to say to their kid that we're not sure, it is the most human of conditions.

That you always want your kids to know that you can always look after them, even if you're sixty and seventy and eighty and your kids are thirty and fourth.

But when you're in your working prime and you're not sure if you can service the mortgage or pay the fees.

Or if you want your daughters to go to dance class, or your kids to go to the footy clinic - this is what happens when you have change that leaves people behind.

This is what happens when you have a Government in Canberra who are so out of touch they don't understand the daily struggle.

I know Nick Champion, he wears his heart on his sleeve, he is watching Elizabeth change around him.

There is nothing more frustrating as many of you are conscientious people who spend your adult lives helping people - and you can't say that you can help.

Nothing more frustrating, I'll say, than watching from the opposition when the born to rule mob turn up and they say 'It's the market, don't you know? We've got careers in business and banking, we know. We are the superior people who should always be in charge of things'

But the problem is they are making a mess of the system.

And our economy is not working in the interests of working people and it will be up to us to fix the mess.

And we have a plan to fix the mess.

And Jay Weatherhill is getting on with the plan to fix up the problems.

See when I look at South Australia, I do not see a state at the back of the queue, a state for whom the tide of change has washed up and nothing more can be done.

Under Labor, State and Federal - South Australia will be at the front of the queue and you should be because you've got a marvellously skilled workforce.

I know that from my union days, you go to the factories you've got toolmakers and machinists, you've got team leaders and problem solvers, you've got engineers.

South Australia is a State with a great deal of potential.

Now your State leadership, they haven't been waiting for poor old Turnbull and his team to try and work out what Turnbull is going to let them do on climate change.

They're just getting on, you are energy-proofing the future.

And as we should do at these conferences when you are in the opposition nationally, we are working on our policies and today I want to announce to you here, in the manufacturing heartland of Australia but also in the manufacturing future of Australia.

I am pleased to announce that if we are elected at the next federal election, my government, my Labor Government will establish a $1 billion Australian Manufacturing Future Fund to back in the businesses in South Australia.

What this means is if you're an auto component company, re-tooling in Elizabeth Vale or Salisbury South.

If you are a food manufacturer in Port Augusta

A metals fabricator in Edinburgh

We will make sure that you get access to the low-cost finance to get you to the head of the pack.

Australian businesses and Australian workers are as good, if not better, than anyone else in the world.

Our skills are good, we are not a hierarchical nation, our people can make decisions on shop floors.

But what we understand are those small businesses who are up burning the midnight candle.

The workers who are interested and committed to keep working, to keep earning income, to keep looking after themselves, keep doing good Australian workmanship.

These Australians need the same courage, they need the same heart, the same vision, they need the same desire to pass on a better set of conditions to their kids, in Canberra that they have here in South Australia.

And I promise South Australians this.

If you vote for Labor at the next election, you will finally get a government who wants to believe and use one three word slogan and make it used throughout Australia.

That slogan I want to hear in the future is: Made in Australia.

Thank you, thank you.

And for the record, we don’t just want to create and sustain jobs in Australia.

The Labor party does not forget where it comes from.

We are the party of working Australians.

And what working Australians want is not just a job, they want a decent job.

In this party, we re-pledge ourselves to what constitutes a decent job.

A decent job is one where you are safe at work.

A decent job is one where you are properly paid at work.

A decent job is one where men and women are paid the same.

And a decent job is one where you can’t be locked-out by a ruthless employer for standing up to defend your rosters.

A decent job is one where your job security is not undercut by the unfettered and deregulated use of labour-hire in this country.

A decent job is one where you don’t have your penalty rates arbitrarily cut on a Sunday or a public holiday.

And also a decent job is one where the government doesn’t increase your taxes, increase your Medicare levy while at the same time giving major tax cuts to millionaires and multi-billion, multinationals.

A decent job is where working and middle class Australians get ahead.

A decent job is one where the legitimate creation of national income is fairly distributed.

And what I mean by that, in particular, in the last ten years we have seen creeping inequality, the creeping Americanisation of our labour market.

It is the case that the productivity of workers in this country, real labour productivity, has increased by 20 per cent.

But real wages, on average, have only increased by 6 per cent.

How could it come to be that we are in a set of circumstances where we are having growth without prosperity, where the relative share of national income is disproportionately going into corporate profits - and not enough for the people who are generating the wealth of this country.

Mr Turnbull loves to say this is ‘class war’ – it’s not.

Class war is when you look after the top end of town and leave everyone else to look after themselves. We are the opposite. We put people first. We know which side we are on.

We believe in the creation of wealth, absolutely, but we also believe in the legitimate distribution of national income.

And whilst we await the next election and form our policies, whilst we talk about renewing, restoring and reviving manufacturing, whilst we plan to ensure working class and middle
class people in this country can get ahead.

You have a challenge here in South Australia, you have an upcoming state challenge.

Now, I understand that the same fellow who ran the Liberal Party last time is still there.

He’s very famous, Mr Marshall. He once wisely recommended voting for Labor, I think that’s the last sensible thing he said.

And then, of course, you’ve got the other fellow who’s coming back from Canberra, Xenophon.

He’s never seen a deal to be done with the Liberal Party that he hasn’t done.

He talks about penalty rates – but ends up voting to cut them.

He talks about the punters and the battlers and the ordinary people. But when the time comes to talk about tax cuts, why is it that he supports a tax cut for multinationals and large companies and has got nothing to say about restoring the penalty rates of good, hard-working South Australians?

Friends, you have an opportunity to maintain progress in this state.

And one of the best platforms you have to advance the case for Labor in this state, is to do as you have done previously: to get behind a remarkable national leader, a remarkable South

Australian Premier and I’m talking obviously about my great friend, Jay Weatherhill, doing a great job for South Australia and South Australians.

Make him welcome.

ENDS

 


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