Bill's Speeches

SPEECH - ADDRESS TO THE WEST AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY STATE CONFERENCE - PERTH - SATURDAY, 26 AUGUST 2017

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Hello Western Australia. It’s great to be in a Labor state.

I acknowledge the traditional owners of this land, I pay my respects to elders past and present.

And – for the first time at a WA Labor Conference – I can now acknowledge Premier Mark McGowan.

I want to congratulate Mark and his whole state team, not just on your remarkable victory – but on everything Mark has done since.

-                  Repaying people’s faith

-                  Delivering on your promises

-                  Building a better future for Western Australia.

 Now this morning, it was a great to start the day - not just referring to the front page, it was a run along the Swan River.

It was me - I was told it would be around 20 Young Labor people but some of them looked like they hadn't been in Young Labor for decades.

I look at my colleagues and wonder who I could nominate but I won’t.

We had a little running group.

They were either being polite and chose not to overtake me… perhaps they just had a big Friday night.

But one thing they had on their t-shirts, we had one message: It’s Time for marriage equality.

I don’t support making laws by voluntary postal survey.

I don’t believe LGBTI Australians should have their relationships judged by everyone else. 

 But something even more than that I believe, I and Labor, will be doing everything in my power to campaign for the Yes case.

And I make a further promise to this gathering: whatever the result of this survey, I can guarantee a Federal Labor Government will legislate for marriage equality in our first 100 days of getting elected.

As a student of Labor history, I am a bit jealous of all of you from the West Australian Labor Party.

Your state and you movement has given so much to our entire nation.

John Curtin - the leader who, 75 years ago stood up to Churchill and demanded the return of our troops to keep Australia safe.

Who – in our country’s hour of greatest need – spoke for Australia as a sovereign nation, defending our  freedom.

Then you contributed Kim Beazley senior and Kim Beazley junior – two of the finest minds and most decent gentlemen to serve in the Australian parliament.

You also gave us Carmen Lawrence, the first woman to serve as Premier of her state and as President of our party.  

And I picked those four and I could have picked more because there’s a powerful truth that these Labor leaders knew, from your state – a principle that they held that we hold strong today: the best way to build a stronger and fairer nation is  always in partnership with the mighty trade union movement of Australia.

Friends you all belong to this proud tradition – and now, like every generation of Labor activist, you’ve begun your own tradition.

Not only your remarkable success at the most recent state election but I also want to say that you're starting the next generation of Labor accomplishments nationally because your hard work at the last federal election.

Because of you - the individuals and people who make up this movement –

You made telephone calls and knocking on the doors and started conversations - you were changing minds.

Because of you and the faith you demonstrated, your state is represented in Canberra by a whole crop of new talent.

Chris mentioned them: Aly, Hammond, Keogh, King and Wilson – this is a new Labor generation, ready to serve in a new Labor government.

Fighting alongside your experienced and hard-working Senate team: 

-                  Sue Lines

-                  Glenn Sterle

-                  Louise Pratt

And my good friend, a man whose wisdom makes us all just a little bit prouder to be Labor and to be Australian – Senator Patrick Dodson. 

It goes without saying that your Western Australian federal team is doing a great job in Canberra, I couldn’t ask for better - but I am going to ask you for more.

We need more WA Labor people in the House of Representatives and in the Senate.

Because when there are more Labor voices for Western Australia in our national Parliament,  it means a better deal for Western Australians. 

My word, that last federal election was close – we didn't quite get there and I am very conscious of that.

But one thing was guaranteed on the result that night - in the next election, for the first time in many years, Western Australia could well decide nation's direction - you and Western Australia.

This decision about where the nation goes, where the state goes and where we go as a people, will be in electorates where the Liberals have taken people for granted for decades.

You’ve got those ministers like Porter and Keenan who think they are untouchable – and they certainly act like it too.

But with your hard work, your passion, your ideas, your energy, we can bring those seats home for Labor and better representatives for Western Australia in these electorates.

And let me talk about our strategy.

Rest assured – we won’t be campaigning purely on a list of this government’s incompetence and flaws as long as that is.

We will not be relying on them to trip over their own shoelaces or to open the Constitution and read it.

Remarkable - look at these conservatives, they haven't even read the document.

They say you are not allowed to change it,  they just don't even read it.

We will, not just rely on the mistakes of this Government, the disunity and division in this government –

We will at the next election, we will be offering Australia a social and economic program for the betterment of this nation and its citizens.

It will be big and bold agenda.

It will be a plan that every Labor true believer can be proud of.

Friends

Our reach should exceed our grasp, or what’s a future for.

And friends we have a defining mission, every one of us: tackling inequality.

And no one in this room needs a lengthy explanation of what that means.

But we who are gathered here, we understand that inequality isn’t just the gap between rich and poor – it’s: 

-                  Inequality in wages and bargaining and job security

-                  Inequality between women and men

-                  Inequality between the regions and the suburbs and the cities

-                  Inequality between those with decent NBN and access to the internet – and those without

-                  Inequality between the First Australians and everyone who has followed

-                  Inequality between generations when we don’t tackle climate change.

Today, let us declare that the Labor Party will stand up for always stand up for those Australians who currently find themselves working harder and longer for less money.

Let us stand up for every worker who is being denied job security, a safe job, a fair wage, or a real say at work.

Let us stand up for every woman who earns less than her male colleagues, or even worse, lives in fear of family violence. 

-                  Let us stand up for every Aboriginal Australian who dies prematurely from diseases the rest of us don’t.                

-                  Let us stand up for every young person who is being priced out of university, robbed of the chance of an apprenticeship.  

Let us stand up for the Australian seafarers this government is selling-out.

Let us stand alongside the construction workers putting up with the ABCC.

And we stand up because when we see our fellow Australians in trouble, when we see our fellow Australians doing it tough – we don’t pass by on the other side of the road.

We don’t waste $122 million on a postal survey and then say we are ‘too busy’ to own the consequences of the debate that gets unleashed.

We don’t shrug our shoulders and say ‘trickle-down economics will do the job eventually’.

We do not say that if we look after the millionaires and the multinationals that it will all be right at the end of the day.

We are Labor. 

We roll up our sleeves, we get involved, we offer a helping hand.

And our plan for a better and fairer country, must mean a better and fairer deal for Western Australia.

This is my 8th visit to Western Australia since the last election – that's not counting the little holiday Chloe and I had up in Broome -  a good place to visit.

In that time, I’ve held town hall meetings in Mount Lawley and Rivervale.

I’ve met with workers and apprentices in Queens Park, Welshpool and Carlisle.

I’ve seen the high-skill jobs being created at the Carnegie Wave Research in Freo.

I do this because I believe in listening to the locals and learning about the issues facing their communities.

By contrast, in the year since the last election, my opponent has spent a grand total of 20 hours in Western Australia.

He spent more time in that year in the United States than he did in Western Australia.

And then, at last, after a year of keeping WA waiting, of watching Mark McGowan storm home to a historic victory, he popped-over to announce another review.

And he wants credit for being the first Prime Minister to say something was wrong.

Well, rhetoric is fine, talking about the problem is fine.  

But the real test of leadership is whether you’re prepared to do something about it, it’s whether you offer a solution.

I don’t need a review to tell me that 34 cents in the dollar is a dud deal for the West.  

Western Australians need no more FIFO lectures from Canberra. 

-                  When 200 couples are leaving the state each week

-                  When new home construction is down

-                  When civil work is slow

-                  When 100,000 locals are looking for work

 Your state deserves real action.

The other bloke says that he knows that the current deal is wrong.

But I'm telling you what I'll do to make it right.

My opponent says he's the first Prime Minister to acknowledge the problem.

I plan on being the first Prime Minister to fix the problem.

So today, Chris Bowen, my Shadow Treasurer, and I are here with a real commitment for a better deal for Western Australia. 

I'm pleased to announce that a Shorten Labor Government will invest no-less than $1.6 billion in a Fair Share for WA Fund in our first budget – full stop, let’s get on with it. 

Friends

This will bring Commonwealth funding for Western Australia up to the equivalent of a 70 cent GST floor.

This new injection of funding will mean: 

-                  More infrastructure

-                  More investment

-                  And more jobs for Western Australia, in the suburbs and the regions.

Now, we will lock this Fair Share for WA Fund into legislation in the parliament – including a guarantee that all the proceeds are invested in Western Australian projects.

We’ve been working closely with Premier McGowan and his team on this – we’ll keep co-operating on finding good projects to create local jobs.

We will not bring the wisdom of wise-men from the east. 

We will listen to the locals - we will listen to your government, to your business, to your stakeholders about what needs to be done.

The job of Canberra is not to say that they know best.

The job of Canberra is to help the parts of our country do well when they are not doing so well.

This is our obligation.

This funding is above and beyond the existing Commonwealth contribution, it’s an invaluable chance to bridge gaps in your state’s infrastructure.

Projects like METRONET, extending from Bayswater to Ellenbrook or extending the Armadale line to Byford.

We want to work with Mark to ease traffic congestion in the cities and suburbs, connecting-up the regions – and bringing jobs and apprenticeships along the way.

Let me be very clear: this is not about fiddling with the GST arrangements, solving one problem by creating another.

This is not about starting a new fight between the east coast and west coast, between the Commonwealth and the States.

It’s simply about making sure every state gets a fair share and a better deal.

Only Labor has a plan – and only Labor will deliver.

And I challenge Mr Turnbull - if you think you can do better, come across and tell us how.

I don't mind if he takes our idea and does it now.

I can't help Western Australia until the day after the next election - he can help them on Monday.

While Chris, I and our team are focusing on a better deal for Western Australia and for all Australians.

Meanwhile, the Liberals I submit are just losing the plot.

Last week Julie Bishop alleged I was colluding with no greater than the nefarious foreign power New Zealand to bring down the sovereign government of Australia.

This week, in an attempt to distract from last week, old-mate Prime Minister switched to saying I was a secret Pom.

And then not to be outdone, Cormann said I was an East-German-economist Soviet!

We couldn’t write this.

But the tragedy of this farce is that instead of talking about energy prices, Australian jobs, Medicare, flat-lining wages – all we get is they spend their time re-fighting the Cold War – they miss it - and talking about Double-O Shorten, international man of mystery.

Daniel Craig’s job is safe.

This government is so out-of-touch they think a leader who pledges to tackle inequality is some kind of Communist.

Well whatever they think, whatever they say, as long as I am in politics, as long as I am alive, as long as there is a Labor party…We’ll always fight inequality with all our energy and capacity.

Every day, spaceship-Liberal move further into their own parallel universe.

They say:   

-                  Because we are closing tax loopholes for high-net worth individuals

-                  Because we’re levelling the playing field for first-home buyers

-                  Because we want to replace the two-class tax system with one clear, fair, set of rules for everyone.

They claim that somehow for these measures that we are ‘anti-aspiration’.

In the end, the Liberals attack on us reveals more about them than it does about us.

Every time they attack us, they tell you more about what they see in the mirror.

They think aspiration is about hiding your money, avoiding tax. 

That’s their narrow, dead-end conservative view of the world.

Australians do not aspire to put their money in the Cayman Islands.

In our party, we understand the true meaning of aspiration.

Aspiration is a decent job, with security of employment and fair pay. 

-                  Aspiration is a good education for your children.

-                  Aspiration is a strong Medicare for your family.

-                  Aspiration is making sure that your ageing parents and grandparents grow older, that they get dignified care.

-                  Aspiration is a young apprentice from Port Hedland getting a start.

-                  Aspiration is a mature-age miner out of Collie getting a second chance.

I’ll tell you what aspiration looks like:

It looks like the young woman from Kelmscott who becomes the first member of her family to go to university.

Aspiration is being able to marry the person you love.

Aspiration is an Indigenous ranger in the Western Desert, working on country to preserve this country. 

We in the house of Labor need no lectures on aspiration from the Government.

Aspiration is what drives us all to be involved in politics.

Aspiration is a Labor value.

It is the aspiration for ever generation to hand on a better deal to your kids than the one you got from your parents.

That's Labor aspiration, friends.

And the form of aspiration expressed is a fair go all round – an idea as old as our party.

Now, the conservatives and their cheer squad are trying to say that somehow we’ve jumped on a bandwagon.

That somehow we’re trying to be Sanders, or Corbyn – or indeed this week Castro, Chavez, East Germany and the whole gang rolled into one.

The point is, we didn't borrow our message about fairness from overseas.

That there is global dissatisfaction with politics as usual - that's one thing.

We didn’t discover inequality last week.

We are the oldest continuous political movement in the world – we were born fighting for the fair go.

Fairness for us isn’t a talking point for us – it’s not a slogan, it’s not a sandbag you put up to help failing polls of this current rotten Government.

For us, it’s why we exist.

Nothing could be clear –

The difference between our Labor principles and the out-of-touch, elitism of this Federal Government, this Liberal government has never been more stark.

Last month, this Prime Minister, he bestowed up the top 2 per cent of income earners a tax cut, on the same weekend that he endorsed the cuts for Sunday penalty rates for over 700,000 workers.

And now he present legalisation to parliament to increase income taxes for every working Australian.

To be fair, at long last our Prime Minister has finally chosen his side, he’s made up his mind.

He’s the Prime Minister for millionaires, multinationals and tax-minimisers.

They're his people.

I want to be the Prime Minister for middle class and working class Australians – they’re our people.

And when gross debt has rocketed past half-a-trillion dollars – this is not the time to spend over $19 billion on the richest 2 per cent of Australians.

And when: 

-               wages growth is at record lows

-               when Sunday and public holiday penalty rates are being cut

-               when inequality is at a 75 year high

-               when the cost of energy and everything else seems to be going up and up and up this is not the time to increase income tax for people on $40,000 and $50,000 and $60,000 and $70,000 a year.

Let me speak plainly:

Under the Liberals’ tax plan: someone earning a million dollars this financial year will receive a tax refund of $16,400 this year and ever year thereafter.

But a Nurse on $70,000 will pay $350 more.

Friends, this is unfair, unfair, unfair and we will call it out every day until the next election.

And if we form the next Government, in our first 100 days we will legislate to protect take home pay.

First 100 days - legislate to protect take home pay.

We most certainly will reverse these arbitrary cuts to Sunday penalty rates for every single worker affected.

Go and tell them, and tell the others whose awards are currently being analysed to reduce their rates: In the next election and you depend upon your penalty rates, vote Labor.

And we do this for many reasons.

But one reason we don't perhaps say enough.

We do this not just because of fairness and equality.

Not just ensuring there is more economic confidence.

We do this because we’ve never forgotten where we come from and who we represent.

We know which side we stand on – we are on the side of working class and middle class Australians.

Always have. Always will be. Always are for the middle class and the working class of this country.

I want to conclude with something the Government said on Thursday.

They said that because we're opposing this tax reduction for millionaires, the Prime Minister said we are ‘pulling down the successful’.

It’s a comment that reveals everything you needed to know about this elitist, out-of-touch Prime Minister.

Only someone who arrogantly believes he is above everyone else, talks about ordinary people pulling him down.

The other bloke thinks that you’re only a winner, only a success, if you earn a lot of money.

He must because he says that for us not to reduce the tax on millionaires is a tax on success.

But what does he say about all the other workers for whom he wants to increase their tax.

If we want millionaires in the top tax bracket to keep paying the budget deficit levy, he says if we want to increase that tax for them, that we are taxing success - that we are jealous of them.

So what does he say about 8 million Australians for whom he wants to increase their tax?

That they are less of a success?

Let me be very clear: Labor and my definition of success is not confined to how much you earn.

Not at all.

I want to say to the police officers who earn $65,000-70,000, you are a success.

I want to say to childcare workers not receiving their fair and equal wages - you are looking after our kids, you are a success.

I want to say to the nurses earning $70,000 by working night shifts at Royal Perth Hospital caring for our loved ones when are vulnerable and sick – you are a success.

If you’re a teach my kids our schools, if you put out the fires, if you look after our national parks, if you are a public servant or a construction worker, you might not earn what Turnbull says is a successful income - but you are a success in Labor’s book.

We like you - we are going to back you.

Let me go further - In the Labor party, we don’t define success by the size of your income, by the postcode in which you reside, by the god you worship or the person you love.

We know success is about being a good parent, a kind neighbour, a loyal friend when times are tough.

Success isn’t how much you have in overseas bank account – it’s about how you treat people, it’s about what you give back to your community.

Success isn’t solely about what you earn – it’s about what you contribute.

Success is not about what’s in your wallet – success is what is in your heart.

And Labor understands that with every one of our policies.

And every day, when you hear people say, from time to time, that there is nothing that separates the major parties, that it’s all the same.

Next time you hear that, you tell them this:

-               The Liberals cut Medicare, we save it.

-               The Liberals cut education, Labor funds it.

-               The Liberals cut penalty rates, Labor protects them.

-               When the Liberals close TAFEs, we rebuild and reopen them.

-               They price working class kids out of uni, we open the doors to higher education.

-               When [the Liberals] pick on the poor, we will fight poverty.

-               When they deny and delay on climate change – we take action on climate change.

-               When they spread inequality – we tackle it and roll it back.

The Liberals think that fairness is about dragging down the fortunate few – we know it’s about lifting everybody up.

We understand it's about giving every Australian – no matter what their circumstances, no matter what corner of this marvellous nation they live in - it's about giving Australians the chance to be their best.

It's who we are, it's why we fight.

We don't seek to dismantle the system – but to reclaim the system, to make the system work in the interest of all Australians, not just the elitists in the establishments.

It’s the mission that brought us to the Labor party - and it's what we carry it forward.

You carry it in Western Australia and we will carry this flag right around this country.

Friends, we're ready for the next election, we're ready to lead, we're ready for the future.

Thank you very much.

ENDS


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