Bill's Speeches

SPEECH TO THE QLD ALP CONFERENCE

SPEECH TO THE QLD ALP CONFERENCE

 

SUNDAY, 30 AUGUST 2015

 

*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***

 

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, and I pay my respects to elders both past and present.

 

And for a Labor leader, at a Labor conference – the party of land rights, Native Title and the Apology.

 

Our acknowledgement always carries the great Labor promise of future action on Closing the Gap.

 

Closing the Gap for our First Australians in jobs, in justice, in health and in education.

 

This is who we are.

 

Let me also acknowledge that remarkable woman of Queensland, Annastacia Palaszczuk, the Premier of Queensland.

 

It is so good to be able to say that!

 

And I’d like to add my voice too, to the moving tributes yesterday acknowledging the passing of that great Labor man, that pioneering Premier of this State, Wayne Goss.

 

On Monday I was in Cairns, Jan McLucas and I were privileged to attend the sod-turning of the first ever facility for young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have acquired brain injury.

 

Because of a Labor decision three years ago, this innovative new project, will empower individuals, it will reconnect people with their community.

 

It's going to restore a sense of independence.

 

It was indeed this new house which will be built, an old-fashioned instrument of social justice and it will be boosting participation, it will be creating jobs.

 

The reason why I've talked first of this, is it is what Labor does.

 

This is the principle at the heart of the National Disability Insurance Scheme - giving people control of their own lives.

 

Before I became the Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities when I went into Parliament at the end of 2007, I thought from my work in the union I'd seen the most of unfairness that I could see.

 

But nothing prepared me for the entrenched, systemic disadvantage that people with disability and their carers and the people who love them endure on a daily basis in our country.

 

There are half a million Australians with severe or profound disabilities.

 

They and their carers are experiencing and living a second class life, I discovered, in Australia, effectively exiled in our own country.

 

You know the story, children with autism and developmental delays, where parent are made to feel like they are bullies and outsiders and bad parents because they want to make sure their precious children get a fair go.

 

We know the story of young Australians trapped in inappropriate accommodation, living out their lives of unfairness.

 

You understand and we understand and Australians understand that impairment can happen to anyone.

 

The American poet laureate Robert Frost called it the 'shafts of fate'.

 

But in our system in Australia people with impairment have to struggle through the maze of bureaucracy.

 

With different rules in different states, as if somehow crossing the Tweed changes the level of care that you deserve or require.

 

Most of all, I've been witness to the midnight anxiety of elderly parents, unsure who will love their precious adult children with disabilities like they do,  when they no longer can.

 

That is why Labor's National Disability Insurance Scheme can and will change this second class citizenship extended to literally millions of our fellow Australians.

 

In launch sites all around Australia, it's already changing this.

 

But it's not really all around Australia is it, as Annastacia said.

 

There are at least 96,000 of your fellow Queenslanders living with profound and severe disability in their families and yet the Liberal Government in Canberra is missing in action.

 

It beggars belief that Mr Abbott's Liberals have still not yet announced an NDIS launch site in Queensland.

 

Instead, every time when you open a paper you see another Liberal Minister talking down the NDIS.

 

There is another Liberal Cabinet leak, when isn't there...

 

But you see another Liberal Cabinet leak spreading misinformation about costs and falsehoods about funding.

 

It is more proof that Mr Abbott's Liberals can only measure the price of the NDIS, they are incapable of understanding the value of the NDIS.

 

So we should use this conference to demand that Mr Abbott promise, with Australia as his witness, the full rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme on time.

 

No cuts, no delays, no more lies.

 

Now friends we gather at this conference as members of our movement and servants of our party.

 

But we gather knowing that the national mood is restless.

 

Our fellow Australians have a dissatisfaction with politics as usual.

 

We understand and Australians understand that our economic performance is wallowing in mediocrity, unemployment is too high, growth is too low.

 

Insecurity at work and under-employment are too widespread.

 

Inequality is at a 75-year high.

 

And it is harder than ever for young people to find work or to be able to even dream of forming a deposit to purchase a house.

 

And at this very time now we live in a larger world where change is rapidly accelerating, with intense competition for jobs, where we see uncertainty about the performance of the rise of China and concern in our markets.

 

Despite all of this, we live in a time of immense opportunity.

 

There is a moment in the cycle of nations, in the life of our nation where this nation is poised before a door.

 

It is ajar, but can the nation that we love push through that door to a better future?

 

I believe we can.

 

I believe we can do this if we are smart.

 

If we invest in the productive capacity of the Australian people, we can grow our economy, generate more goods, more services and most importantly, more jobs.

 

We can lift our national output.

 

We can extend our national fairness, we can deliver a better quality of economic growth.

 

But Australians deserve a Government that is as ambitious, as optimistic and as brave as the Australian people.

 

Australians deserve a Government that will invest in the drivers of growth, jobs and productivity.

 

You know what needs to be done.

 

Modern infrastructure, unlocking our cities and connecting our regions.

 

Schools, skills, and universities.

 

Science, research, technology and innovation, creating new industries, new opportunities, including for small business.

 

And, of course, we need an industrial relations system that unites us, that creates harmony and co-operation at work in a collaborative way, not in a class warfare way.

 

And not by a polluted Trade Union Royal Commission set up by Tony Abbott to smear his opponents.

 

We need a Government that doesn't treat Australian women like fools.

 

We demand equal opportunity for women.

 

In pay, in leadership, in politics, in superannuation savings and the total elimination of family violence from our national life.

 

You know, the Liberals they know the price of everything and the value of nothing, don't they?

 

That's why we support and recognise that universal healthcare, boosting participation is a mechanism of not just of equity in this country, it's a driver of efficiency in this country.

 

And then there is renewable energy, tackling climate change, bringing in billions of dollars of investment, creating tens of thousands of new jobs.

 

Labor will present an economic and social program at the next election going to all of these matters.

 

But as we've seen, Australians also deserve a Government with a mature approach to national security.

 

Not one chasing headlines with cheap stunts like that shambolic debacle on Friday in Melbourne.

 

We understand the need to crackdown on the exploitation of people on visas.

 

But what is not appropriate is some kind of police state on the streets of Melbourne where people could be picked out of the crowd and questioned.

 

The safety of the Australian people should never be treated as a political play thing.

 

Now Labor is committed to the proper and sensible discussion of national security.

 

We demonstrate, by our record, our commitment to bipartisanship on national security.

 

But I say to Mr Abbott, enough is enough with the weekly diet of press stunts on these matters.

 

All it does, when we need to build community co-operation, community consensus, all this does is make people cynical.

 

It undermines the consensus so vital to our national security on the genuine questions of national security - and it does no favours either to our men and women in uniform.

 

And above all else, Australians deserve a Government investing in the best resource our nation has: the skills, the abilities, the courage of our people.

 

It is only Labor who can do this. It is only Labor who ever does.

 

It's always up to us.

 

This is the big picture that we understand and we know that there is a local story too.

 

This story begins with jobs.

 

Right now youth unemployment in Rocky, the Gold Coast and Mackay is above 14 per cent.

 

It's above 19 per cent in Townsville.

 

It's above 22 per cent in Cairns.

 

Put another way, one in every three Queenslanders out of work - one in every three Queenslanders out of work - is aged between 15 and 24.

 

At times like this, we need a Federal Government working with the Queensland Government and working with Queenslanders to support training, apprenticeships, education and skills.

 

We do not need an extreme right-wing experiment cutting the very things that will make the biggest difference.

 

Investing in skills is always about preparing our people for the jobs and the industries of the future.

 

Not just young Australians fresh out of school, mature-age workers too.

 

Returning to retrain, returning to re-skill for new opportunities in our changing economy.

 

But right now, right across Australia, the pendulum has swung too far in favour of dodgy private providers.

 

A Labor Government will get the balance right.

 

We will back public TAFE in our cities and especially in our regions.

 

Friends, in talking about the future, I wish to take a moment to talk about the free trade agreement with China.

 

Now there's been a lot of accusations thrown at us so I want to be really straight with you and through you to the Australian people, and establish the facts.

 

First of all, Labor believes in trade liberalisation, free trade and forming trade agreements with other jurisdictions.

 

We understand that open markets are the best way of achieving economic growth and economic growth is the best way to create good jobs.

 

We understand that more trade with our region is the pathway to a high-skill, high-wage future for all Australians.

 

And if we get this agreement with China right, everyone from Australian farmers to our services sector and new advanced manufacturing will benefit.

 

But we need to get the agreement right.

 

The deal needs to do the right thing by Australian workers.

 

Australia should not be entering into a competition, a race to the bottom on wages and conditions with countries in our region - no way.

 

Instead let us compete on Australia's strong ground.

 

High skills, high quality, fair wage.

 

This is why I have serious concerns with the current deal proposed by Mr Abbott and his Liberals.

 

As it stands, the agreement would allow employers to fly in temporary migrant workers for infrastructure projects without having to first check whether Australian workers are available to do this job.

 

It is there in black and white and it's simply not good enough.

 

Nor is the proposal to remove mandatory skills assessments for temporary migrants in key trades: carpenters, machine and motor mechanics, joiners, electricians.

 

All of this was contained in a side letter without consultation or even announcement, dumped on a Government website without explanation.

 

Our concerns about jobs, about conditions, about workplace safety are legitimate.

 

And the Government should sit down and negotiate with us to deal on these important questions.

 

We do not oppose trade agreements, we just oppose bad trade agreements.

 

No amount of bullying from conservative vested interests will deter us in standing up for jobs.

 

This Government loves to say it's a union issue.

 

No, it's not, it's a jobs issue, it's an Australian jobs issue and we know whose side we're on.

 

And talking of jobs, many of the jobs of the future will come from renewable energy.

 

This is why Labor set a bold new goal last month at our national conference.

 

By 2030, we want 50 per cent of Australia's electricity to come from renewable energy.

 

This is a commitment that your progressive State Government shares.

 

Because we believe Australia can compete, we can succeed in the world as a clean energy super power.

 

And here in Queensland, we understand the impact of missed opportunity.

 

One-third of Queensland's renewable energy jobs were lost because of the Liberals' attack on renewables.

 

While all of the mainland States have been affected, Queensland's loss of renewable jobs has been the largest of all.

 

How is it that when the rest of the world last year added 1.2 million renewable jobs we’re stuck with a bloke who has reduced our renewable jobs market by 13 per cent?

 

We know that the time for action on climate change is now.

 

If we do not act, if we delay, if we continue to listen to the anti-science crowd, Queensland will suffer economically and environmentally.

 

More devastating floods, more frequent cyclones.

 

Queensland farmers battling more droughts and over 60,000 coastal homes at risk from rising seas.

 

Not to mention the threat posed by climate change to the treasure that Queensland holds on trust for the world, the Great Barrier Reef.

 

I congratulate Annastacia and her Government for the action that she has taken to keep the Great Barrier Reef off the World Heritage endangered list.

 

And I restate today Labor's commitment to ban the dumping of capital dredge spoil on the Great Barrier Reef heritage area.

 

Friends, it is only Labor, both here and in Canberra, that will act to save the reef and the environmental and economic bounty it delivers all of us.

 

This is a duty we owe our children.

 

This is an inheritance which we must pass on.

 

Every time I come to Queensland since January, I take a lot of heart from the history-making victory that you won here.

 

In 2012 following the toughest of times and the toughest of defeats, you, Queensland Labor, rejected the temptation of recriminations.

 

You, Queensland Labor, got on with the real work.

 

Standing up for the people hurt by the arrogance, the broken promises and the cruelty of the Liberal/National Government here.

 

You took up the fight in the only battle that matters and you won.

 

Annastacia, you and your team didn't just try to claw back some ground, you didn't run on the platform of being and building a bigger Opposition.

 

You sought Government.

 

You ran as a big Labor Party, a party determined to deliver for the regions and the reef, the cities and suburbs.

 

You proved once again Labor can understand and speak for all of Queensland.

 

For the bush, our country and our coastal communities.

 

That we can speak to people who live in every postcode in Queensland and Australia, because all Australians deserve support for their hospitals and proper funding for their schools.

 

All Australians share responsibility to preserve our national estate, to look after our environment and to pass it down to the next generation in better shape than what we inherited it.

 

In the great coming contest in the next 12 months, what I've outlined today will be Federal Labor's story.

 

We are not offering ourselves to the people of Australia as a party of protest.

 

We are not aiming to chip a bit of paint off Mr Abbott.

 

We are in this to win it.

 

And we want to win with our ideas, on our terms.

 

We'll certainly remind Queenslanders, if they need reminding, of Mr Abbott's broken promises and cuts and lies.

 

But we shall be putting forward our positive plan, our vision for the future of our country.

 

A plan to change Australia in our first hundred days and to build for the Australia of 2030.

 

A growing, productive, job-creating economy, powered by modern infrastructure, skills and renewable energy.

 

A plan for better schools, TAFE and university.

 

A tax system that rewards hard work and makes multinationals pay their fair share.

 

A health system where the quality of your healthcare is determined by your Medicare card, not your credit card.

 

A decent pension and fair superannuation, guaranteeing comfort, dignity and security after a lifetime of work.

 

And real action on climate change, doing our part in the world.

 

And we will offer this plan to all Australians because our vision for the future of this country includes everyone.

 

We believe that every Australian deserves the chance to fulfil their potential, that no Australian should be left out, or left behind.

 

We do not accept that Australians are expendable.

 

And we know in our house of Labor, what we achieve, will achieve together.

 

Good jobs, great education, quality healthcare and fairness for all.

 

This is how we will advance Australia.

 

Thank you very much.

 

ENDS

 

MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 4053