FRIDAY, 14 FEBRUARY 2014
Being at events like these always gives me a lift.
A sense of renewed energy, and purpose.
Here, at United Voice, I am reminded of what all of us are fighting for, and how important it is.
A fair Australia, for all Australians.
I’m not here to make a long speech, I’m here to bring you a simple message: I know how hard you work.
I know what a valuable difference your work makes to the lives of others.
I know we are lucky to have you.
Many of you give hope (and rest) to mothers and fathers whose precious, beautiful child has been born with an impairment.
Many of you give peace of mind to millions of Australians who fear for the health and happiness of an aging parent.
I know that each and every one of you makes Australia a better place.
Labor and United Voice share a core mission and a defining purpose: getting a fair deal for people like you.
All of us in the Labor party were shocked – and angered – that Tony Abbott used his first weeks in Government to deny carers a modest - and richly deserved - pay rise.
We could not believe that Ministers were out there encouraging child care workers and aged care workers to ‘hand back’ the negotiated, legislated salary increase to which they were entitled.
I think that decision was a mean and cowardly sneak attack on working people.
I’m as angry – and frustrated – as you are every time I open the paper and see another Coalition Minister talking down the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Before the election Tony Abbott promised he wouldn’t tamper with the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Now hardly a day goes by where a Minister isn’t in the media complaining about how the NDIS costs too much, or how they need to get ‘value for money’.
This government still can’t see that giving people with a disability a better future is the value.
They know the price of everything – and the value of nothing.
Make no mistake – any change to the NDIS will be a broken promise to hundreds of thousands of people with disability, their families and their carers – including people in this room.
It’s a great Labor reform – but it’s also an economic reform.
One that will give people with an impairment the chance to choose their own future, participate in the community and gain the benefit and dignity of work.
And one that will give carers the chance to take a well-earned break.
The chance to save for their own retirements – and re-engage with the workforce.
The Government doesn’t see this – because they’ve never lifted a finger to help people with a disability, or their carers.
The negative way they talk about the National Disability Insurance Scheme tells us everything about this Government’s warped priorities.
They just don’t get it.
Tony Abbott doesn’t understand that people on forty, fifty, sixty thousand dollars aren’t overpaid.
But be assured, we know how hard you work to make ends meet.
Labor knows that penalty rates, leave loading and extra duty allowances are not some kind of glossy bonus.
They are hard-earned and much-needed.
And right now – they are under attack.
Make no mistake, the Government has these basic entitlements in its gun-sights.
I’m worried that the Liberals’ narrow, hardline ideology will lead to more cruel cuts.
When they say nothing is off the table – they really mean everything is on the chopping block.
I’m worried that their only plan for healthcare is a GP tax – an assault on families with sick children and elderly parents.
Most of all I’m worried that last week, a week when Tony Abbott completed wrecking the car industry.
When thousands of workers were cast onto the scrap heap.
When 1300 workers at Forge here in WA were sacked overnight.
I’m worried last week was only the beginning.
I have spent my life fighting for a fair go for people like you.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So today I give you this guarantee.
When times get tough, we will never seek to point the finger of blame at you.
We will never attack your wages and conditions.
We will never suggest that the problems with our economy are the fault of good people who work hard.
And we will never stop fighting for jobs.
We will never run up the white flag, we will never shrug our shoulders, we will never insult workers who have lost their jobs by offering them nothing but glib lines of cold comfort.
We believe every Australian job is worth fighting for.
Because we know that once jobs get sent overseas – they don’t come back.
Thank you for having me today.
Thank you for what you do.
Thank you for inspiring me to go back and continue the fight.
For being living proof that Labor – like United Voice – is on the side of real people.
We won’t forget you.
We won’t let you down.
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADERS OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 4053
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