Bill's Speeches

LAUNCH OF LABOR'S FAIR GO ACTION PLAN - SYDNEY - SUNDAY, 7 OCTOBER 2018

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Good morning everyone.
 
Would you please all join me in thanking Tanya Plibersek.
 
Next Sunday, Tanya and I will mark five years together as Leader and Deputy.
 
Now the cynics about politics say you don’t make friends in politics, Tanya, they just haven’t met you. You are outstanding.
 
I acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, I pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging.  
 
I'd like to thank President Melham and the Revesby Workers Club for hosting today's rally.
 
And I'd like to say to all of you who have gathered here because of your interest in Australian politics and the direction of this nation, that I’m here today with my united, stable and steady Labor team, and today we will outline the kind of government that we want to be, and the kind of country that we want to build for future generations. 
 
Friends, I want to lead a Labor government with the courage to do what is right. 
 
A government which has faith in the Australian people. The faith that if you explain why you make hard decisions, why you drive the big reforms, why you think long-term, not short-term, then the people will back you. 
 
I want to lead a government with the respect to be upfront with the Australian people, to present our policies and ideas for their judgement - and to the let the politics take care of itself. 
 
If elected, friends, I promise to be a Prime Minister ambitious for Australia’s future and Australia’s future generations.
 
I believe every Australian deserves the chance to fulfil their potential and I know that as a society and an economy we are always stronger when everyone experiences the fair go. 
 
Of course, we all understand winning government is very hard work. Our mighty movement has only done it three times from opposition at the national level since the Second World War. 
 
Now in recent times, I’ve have had a fair few number of people come up to me and say something like:
 
“Oh you must be feeling confident now, because the other mob have been so hopeless.”
 
As if somehow that takes the pressure off us. Let me declare today, it’s the exact opposite for me. 
 
I and my united, steady and stable team take absolutely nothing and no-one for granted.
 
I actually think that the shambles and selfishness, the narcissistic self-obsession we’ve seen from the Liberals and the Nationals creates a bigger challenge for us on the Labor side.
 
Let me explain, because I think the challenge we face - all of us in the labour movement - is to restore the faith of Australians in Australian democracy itself.
 
The challenge we face is to demonstrate that politics can still deliver meaningful improvement in people’s lives, that individuals can influence the direction of communities and of nations. That politicians can put the national interest ahead of their own.
 
And that politics is not about words, it’s about actions.
 
This is why our Caucus, the Parliamentary Labor Party has spent years doing the hard yards of policy development, it’s why my team are putting our plans out there for all Australians to see well in advance of the next election.
 
Because for too long, too many of our family and friends, neighbours and work colleagues have been let down by the politics of the small target, the politics of the short term.
 
Whether it’s the generational challenge of climate change, the future of education, or indeed, defending the fair go at work: three Liberal Prime Ministers have run, or are running, from the challenges facing this country instead of rising to meet the challenges.
 
The truth is, all of us in public life are passing through but once. The time of the Australian people is too precious to be wasted by delay, inertia or worse.
 
The obligation we all feel in this room and the labour movement feel throughout Australia is that what matters when you pass through the place but once is to leave it better than when you found it.
 
When people ask me why I want to be Prime Minister, why Labor wants to form the next government, this is why: we want to hand on a better deal to the next generation than the one we received. 
 
It's in the Australian DNA and it's in Labor’s DNA. 
 
All of us want to make sure as parents that our kids have greater opportunities than that which we inherited. And this mission is at the heart of the Fair Go Action Plan which Tanya and I are pleased to launch today.
 
If we are elected as the next government of Australia, we will:
 
One, fix our schools and our hospitals. 
 
Two, ease pressure on family budgets and get fair dinkum about dealing with the cost of living. 
 
Three, we will stand up for working people in this country: the people who want to work, the people who are working and the people that have worked in this country. We will put working people first. 
 
Four, we will end the climate change wars, we will invest in cleaner and cheaper energy for future generations. 
 
And five, we will build a strong economy that works in the interest of all Australians, not just the lucky few.
 
So, a Labor Government will fix the hospitals and we will do this:
 
-          by reversing the Liberal cuts
-          by unfreezing Medicare 
-          by making record investments in mental health 
-         and by investing in more beds, more staff and more technology, including new MRI machines in the regions and the suburbs and investing in new urgent care clinics to relieve pressure on our overworked and strained emergency departments
 
It is wrong that too many Australians battling cancer are driving for hours, or paying thousands of dollars, for vital scans and tests.
 
It is wrong that too many older Australians with crook hips, bad knees, cataracts or hernias have to wait a lifetime for an operation they have been paying taxes for all their lifetime.
 
Too many of our young people, our precious young Australians - and indeed adults - can’t reach out for the mental health resources they need. 
 
There are too many of our fellow Australians living with dementia, supported by their families, who are stuck on a waiting list that gets longer every day the Liberals cut money from aged care, every day the Liberals remain in power.
 
And too many of our fantastic healthcare workers are over-worked and under-paid. 
 
Australia is better than this.
 
Australians deserves better than this neglect, the treatment of health care as a political problem to be band-aided over.
 
If I’m elected Prime Minister, if our team are elected to govern, I promise Australians that it will always be your Medicare card, not your credit card, that guarantees you access to quality health in this country, full stop.
 
My mother was a teacher, she taught in the cities, she taught in the bush, she taught overseas, she taught at government schools, then she taught teachers at university but she taught me the best lesson of all: the value of education. Education makes the difference.
 
We in Labor, we want the next generation of Australian children to be among the best educated in the world. 
 
Second best is not what our kids deserve, only the best - and that's what Labor will deliver.
 
It is why Labor in education, led by the remarkable Tanya Plibersek, will make sure that if we are elected, we will deliver fair funding for every public school based on need, throughout Australia.
 
And we are going to put public TAFE back at the centre of vocational education. That will involve Labor renovating public TAFE campuses around the country, and we are going to waive the upfront fees for 100,000 TAFE places in our first term in government. 
 
We will keep the doors of university open to all who want to study. We will uncap university places, 200,000 Australian kids and adults from the suburbs and the bush can become the first in their family to get a degree. That's why we believe in education.
 
And starting in 2021, we will make preschool and kindergarten available to every three year old in Australia, 15 hours a week, 600 hours a year.
 
That change alone will be one of the biggest changes to education in a generation, it’s as profound as raising the school-leaving age.
 
It’s a guarantee that every Australian child, regardless of their family's circumstances, their parents’ wealth, or their postcode, gets the best possible start in life.
 
And what we are also going to do is we are going to ease the pressure on your family budget.
 
We are going to cap rises in the private health insurance premiums at no greater than 2 per cent for our first two years, to stop the big insurers ripping people off and saving the system. 
 
We will take no nonsense from the big, privatised energy providers, and we will invest in renewables to bring the price of power down. 
 
In Chris Bowen’s first federal budget, we will deliver a bigger and better tax cut for 10 million working class and middle class people. That's real money that helps real families get ahead, rather than tread water or go backwards which is what happens to working people when Coalition governments are in power. 
 
Of course, the best way to lift living standards and ease the pressure on family budgets is to get wages in Australia growing again. 
 
Right now across this country, working and middle class Australians are not getting a fair deal from the Liberals, or a fair go from the economy.  
 
Small businesses are getting done over every day by big business. 
 
And everywhere I go, people tell me everything is going up, except people’s wages. 
 
Family budgets are feeling the strain. Family savings are being reduced. Family credit and debt is increasing under the Liberals. 
 
Here's some telling numbers, since the Liberals have been in:
 
-          The cost of health care is up 24 per cent. 
-          The cost of child care is up 38 per cent. 
-          Property rates and charges are up 19 per cent. 
-          Much more recently than that, even the utilities bills are up 12 per cent. 
 
But in the last year, wages have barely moved two per cent. 
 
Mind you, there is some good news: corporate profits are up to record highs, CEO salaries are now 60 times, of the ASX-200 companies, in excess of the average wage.
 
So there's never been a better time in Liberal Australia if you’re a multinational, a millionaire or a big bank. You’ve had a good run.
 
But millions of our fellow Australians who helped build our national prosperity, who build the nation, have been excluded from a fair share of our national wealth. The share of national wealth going to wages and salaries is shrinking and the share going to the top end of town is increasing. 
 
I am proud of the fact I’ve spent my life negotiating improvements in pay and conditions and good jobs and I am proud to lead a party that will go to the next election with the most comprehensive wages policy in a generation. 
 
In our first 100 days of government, we will restore the Sunday and public holiday penalty rates of 700,000 working Australians.
 
We’re going to put the bargain back into bargaining, so employees and employers can sit down and negotiate without the unfair threat of termination of the existing agreement hanging over every conversation. 
 
We’re going to crack down on firms exploiting labour hire: because if you work in the same place, wear the same uniform, perform the same tasks with the same skill – then regardless of the legal identity of the employer, if you do the same job, you get the same pay. Under Labor, this will be the law.
 
We’re going to stop sham contracting, we're going to introduce a new, stronger test for the definition of casual employment. If you’re working full-time hours, you shouldn’t be classed as a ‘casual’ just because your boss doesn’t want to give you sick leave. 
 
Friends, there is no such thing as permanent-casual, you're either permanent or you're casual. And we're going to stop some employers from exploiting casual workers and avoiding the obligations which Australians should be able to take for granted when they give years of service. 
 
Our party, indeed our movement, has dedicated its every waking moment to making sure that the next generation of workers get a better deal, a better set of conditions. 
 
It’s a cause I’ve been proud to serve, my whole working life. 
 
And, if I’m elected Prime Minister, I will never forget where I come from. I’ll never forget the most important lesson that my father taught me, who worked on the Melbourne waterfront: you treat no one as your superior and you treat no-one as your inferior. We are all born equal and you treat people properly. 
 
And that is the standard you should set and you shouldn't doff your cap to the people in the big end of town because quite frankly, they are no different to the rest of us. 
 
I and my team refuse to accept the notion that inequality is the natural state of affairs, that it is the cost of doing business.
 
We refuse to accept the notion that the promise of Australia is only for some.
 
We will not cross to the other side of the road as a government, as all around us struggle and sacrifice for the better conditions of people, for building their birthright, we regard fighting for the fair go as core business of a Labor government in Canberra.
 
And our fair go is being eroded. Eroded by the rise of the ‘gig economy’, where people are working two and three jobs at all hours of the day and night because none of the jobs pay a decent wage.
 
The fair go is being eroded by big companies stretching terms of trade of repayments to small business from 14 days to 30 days to 60 days to 90 days, putting terrible pressure on small business. 
 
The notion of the fair go is eroded by off-shoring, by permanent casualisation.
 
It is eroded by the acceptance of shoulder-shrugging defeatism, that there is an inevitability of an American-style workplace relations, the dog-eat-dog world where no worker has a property in their job, that no one can regard any employment relationship as permanent.
 
Indeed, we will not let the fair go be eroded by the notion that the contribution of people as labour is simply a commodity and a cost. Work has dignity and we will stand up for that proposition when we are the government, if we are the government. 
 
And let us make no mistake, the Government will say this is an election about workplace relations well, this election is a fight for the rights of Australian workers, the right to be represented by a union if they choose.
 
It is a fight for decent jobs and fair wages and we are in it to win it. 
 
Every time we talk about the fair go, every time we talk about fair pay, this must include, this has to include, equal opportunity and fair pay for the women of Australia.
 
This is at the heart of the fair go: equal opportunities for our daughters as well as our sons. 
 
At the moment, right now because of the gender pay gap, Australian women effectively work the first two months of every year for free compared to their male colleagues. It’s been this way for decades.
 
Chloe and my youngest daughter is eight years old - she shouldn’t have to wait until her grandchildren are starting work for the gender pay gap to close.
 
And good intentions alone aren’t going to get the job done.
 
Our nation desperately needs a new approach toward the equal treatment of women and it should be driven by the principle of equal pay for work of equal value. 
 
For example, I want this country to deliver a better deal for aged care workers, looking after the people we love.
 
I want a better deal for early childhood educators, the first people outside the family unit to whom we trust our precious children. 
 
And I want a better a better deal for the pioneers driving the NDIS, a noble initiative which depends on the heart and the skill of our paid carers.
 
All of these occupations fundamental to our sense of Australian identity are predominately industries which employ women.
 
It is not unreasonable in 2018 and at the next election to make it an issue that Australia women should be paid more fairly, we want women to retire with stronger savings in superannuation.
 
Women who have taken time out of the workforce to start and raise a family should not be reduced to inferior retirement incomes.
 
It is why if we’re in government we’re going to change the law, so that if you take parental leave, your superannuation contributions don’t stop. It's a down payment on equality for women. 
 
I said earlier that I and my team are ambitious for Australia and passing on a better deal to the next generation through the fair go for all.
 
Well, let me nail my colours to the mast here.
 
On the question of gender pay equity, on the question of equal treatment of women in Australian work forces, I promise that under a Labor government I lead, I believe that Australian women will be able to say: “At last! Actions, not just words.”
 
My colleagues and I want that to be a hallmark of the next Labor government - an informal slogan: At last! Actions, not just words.
 
A major reason Labor leads on the equal treatment of women is because we’ve got so many outstanding women in our ranks - Tanya Plibersek, Penny Wong in the Senate and so many more.
 
And I am proud to say if we win the next election, we will be the first Australian government in the history of our nation to have 50 per cent female representation in the Parliament. 
 
By contrast, the Liberals don’t pre-select women, they don’t promote women and on too many occasions, they don’t respect women. 
 
They can’t seem to shake that conservative sexism out of their system. 
 
I was shocked when the new fellow became the current Prime Minister and he was informed that there were women in his party who felt they had been bullied, cajoled, pressured and intimidated by their own colleagues and his first instinct was to try and cover things up and his second response was equally poor, to say: “Just leave it to me”. 
 
It’s no wonder that his female colleagues are voting with their feet, it’s no wonder they want out of his cabinet, out of the party room and out of the parliament. 
 
Nothing less than a dramatic national political shock will cure the Liberals’ attitude to women. 
 
There’s one guaranteed cure that Australians can deliver to the Liberals to wake-up to their need for a wholesale cultural change - and that’s to give them a good spell on the opposition benches. 
 
It’s been just about ten years since Tony Abbott and the climate change sceptics took over the Liberal Party. 
That decade of destructive, negative, reactionary politics has robbed Australia of ten years we could ill afford to lose, it’s robbed Australia of consensus on climate change and energy.
Power bills have gone up and up and up.
And pollution has hit record levels. 

You know that we’ve tried to work with the Liberals and Nationals on a bipartisan approach to energy policy. We tried their Emissions Intensity Scheme, we tried their Clean Energy Target, we tried their National Energy Guarantee but every time we arrive at the point they said they were at, but they are so divided on the question they cannot even agree among themselves. 

Australia’s farmers, our tourism industry, our natural environment cannot afford any more years of Liberal climate vandalism and neglect. 

Families and businesses cannot afford any more years of outsourcing energy policy to the big power companies. 

If I’m Prime Minister, we will set a goal for Australia of 50 per cent renewables in our energy mix by 2030, full stop. 

It’s a simple equation isn’t it? Renewable energy equals lower prices, cleaner power and more Australian jobs. 

And renewable energy means a better environment that we pass on to our kids. 

And if you don’t care about doing the right thing by the environment, then you actually have no right to be the government of Australia. 

Our plan for a strong economy is built on a fundamental truth: Australia thrives when middle and working class Australians get a fair go. 

Because when we invest in our people, when we extend opportunity, it is a rising tide that lifts the whole economy. 

It’s true for education and skills and health care, it’s true for investing in the National Disability Insurance Scheme and a better, 21st Century NBN. 

It will be true when we take the Uluru Statement from the Heart, into our hearts and commit to fair-dinkum reconciliation. 

And it’s true for infrastructure, whether it’s big new public transport projects like Western Metro or connecting the new airport to the train line from day on. 

It’s true when we invest in the new car spaces near train stations so people in Schofields, Gosford, Wyong and Riverwood don’t have to park so far from the station in the morning that they need to get an Uber from their car to the train. 

This is not just about convenience and safety. Good infrastructure creates jobs, it creates apprenticeships, it’s an investment in productivity as well as liveability. 

Friends, from upgrading rural and regional roads in western Queensland to rebuilding and renourishing our public transport systems in our crowded capital cities, our Fair Go Action Plan is fully-funded.

We’ve made some big decisions in our time in opposition, so we can deliver the big reforms in government. 

We’ve decided to make negative gearing fairer. 

We’ve decided to make multinationals pay their fair share here. 

We’ve decided to close the loopholes around income splitting in family trusts

And we’ve decided to wind-back unsustainable excesses in dividend imputation.

Now not all these changes are popular with everyone, but as I said at the beginning, the job is about putting your decisions out there and explaining them. 

If I’m Prime Minister, I would rather invest in a world-class education and training system, than protect a tax write-off for a property investor’s seventh house. 

I would rather help reduce the waiting list of 121,000 older Australians for aged care support - than preserve a loophole which lets a multi-millionaire deduct the cost of their tax adviser, so they can avoid paying tax altogether. 

I want Australia to be famous for having the best health care system in the world, not for being the only country in the world that gives cash tax refunds to shareholders who didn’t pay income tax in the first place.  

Friends, today I’ve outlined Labor’s Fair Go Action Plan for the future of our country: 
•    Fix our schools and hospitals. 
•    Ease pressure on family budgets. 
•    Stand up for workers. 
•    Invest in cleaner and cheaper energy. 
•    Build a strong economy that works in the interests of all
 
It’s a plan to help people now but it’s also a plan to build for the Australia of the future. 

It’s a plan founded on our Labor values: fairness, equality, opportunity for all. 

It’s a plan we can pay for, fiscally-responsible and fully-funded. 

It’s a plan for action, not just words. 

And it is a plan for the long term, a vision to make sure we hand on a better deal to the next generation. 

And can I say to the Liberals and the Nationals, to whoever is in charge this week, please don’t just sit back and criticise. Don’t just sneer or rant or rave or run those tired old scare campaigns. 

Bring on your alternative.

Show some respect for the Australian people. Have faith in their intellect and their love of family and nation and their desire to hand on a better deal to the next generation

I say to the government, let’s make the next election a contest of policies, a battle of ideas. 

Let’s make the next election about the future of Australia. 

Let’s make the next election a contest about a fair go for every Australian and their family, regardless of their gender, their postcode, or their wealth.

Regardless of who they love, or how they worship.

Regardless of whether they live in the bush or the city. 

Regardless of whether their families have been here for 200 generations or six or one.

Friends, I launch this action plan today with confidence in our people and ambition for Australia’s future.

We have the policies, we have the people, we have the plan to deliver.

So today, let us pledge ourselves again to Australia’s oldest promise. 

A fair go for all – and a fair go for all Australians. 

Thank you very much.


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