REMARKS TO SHADOW MINISTRY MEETING
23 JANUARY 2013
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Welcome to the first Shadow Ministry meeting of the year for Labor.
It’s great to have the team here in Queensland.
I’ve spent the week up here campaigning with our candidate for Griffith, Terri Butler – she’s an outstanding candidate that will stand up to Campbell Newman and Tony Abbott and fight for the people of her electorate.
Terri and I have spoken to a lot of Queenslanders in the last week – and they’ve all had the same message for us.
They’ve seen the pain and hardship that Campbell Newman’s cruel cuts have inflicted – and they’re worried that Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey are planning more of the same.
They’re particularly worried that Tony Abbott has delayed the first report of the Commission of Audit by 2 weeks to make sure any cuts stay hidden before the by-election.
And I want us to be a strong Opposition to the Abbott Government’s assault on healthcare, jobs and cost-of-living.
But we will also be a positive, alternative Government.
Labor will put forward the positive policies for the future – we will do the homework, the hard yards of opposition, unlike our predecessors.
But it’s hard to find positive things to say about the first few months of the Abbott Government.
We’re seeing what happens when you come to power with nothing but a collection of three word slogans with no policy thinking to back them up. All slogan, no substance.
And as their rhetoric starts to unravel, they’re going back to the old Liberal-National ideology of hitting those who can least afford it.
They think the only way to build a budget up is to tear people down.
In the lead-up to Christmas they jumped at the chance to take money from aged care workers and childcare workers.
They announced the biggest increase to private health insurance premiums in more than a decade.
While Australians were celebrating the Ashes whitewash, the Abbott Government revealed plans to put a tax on visits to the GP.
A government that promised to help Australians with cost of living pressures, thinks that hurting families that have to take a sick child or a sick parent to the doctor is a good idea.
In the second week of January, families dealing with all the costs of sending the kids back to school – the new shoes, the new uniform, the new books – were told that it will be the last time they receive the Schoolkids Bonus.
Small businesses have also been hurt by this government’s cuts to tax breaks.
Tony Abbott and Christopher Pyne are playing cynical political games with Australian students and teachers.
The ‘unity ticket’ they promised before the election has been ripped to pieces.
Their obsession with secrecy, and their failures on border protection have damaged our relationship with Indonesia.
And it’s making the tough job of our Naval personnel and Customs officers so much tougher.
But more senseless than anything has been the Government’s disregard for Australian jobs – the dysfunction, division and disdain on jobs offends Labor at our core.
They didn’t just watch Holden walk out the door, they wilfully goaded them to go and take an Australian icon and Australian jobs with them.
No co-investment for companies in regional Australia like SPC who want to invest in future jobs for the Shepparton area by updating their operations
No plan to ensure Qantas remains the national carrier and keeps jobs here in the long term.
And when the jobs are gone under this government’s watch, the response is pathetic – no support for workers, no support for families, no support for communities and small businesses down the line.
It’s hard to say if this has been driven more by the Government’s ignorance or its apathy or its ideology.
And if you ask them, they’d probably say they don’t know and they don’t care.
It’s our job to point out these failures and to hold the Government accountable for its broken promises.
But we’re also going to be the ones with the ideas.
The party that, as we always have, stands up for universal healthcare and education.
The party that stands up for the sick, the vulnerable, the families and pensioners – the small businesses and the workers.
They all deserve better than what they’ve been given.
Let’s get down to work.
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