ADDRESS TO THE VICTORIAN LABOR
FEDERAL ELECTION VOLUNTEER RALLY
SUNDAY, 28 APRIL 2019
Cindy, thank you very much for your introduction. Wasn’t she great?
And you know what? Those people who want action on climate change - don’t protest against Labor, vote the government out.
Now Cindy not only do I thank you for what you’re doing, I want to thank you and all of your fellow volunteers, here and right around this magnificent country.
You’re proving that individuals can make a difference in our country, you prove why politics matter, you remind us, all the volunteers here and all the volunteers watching and doorknocking and working today, you remind us why we are so proud to be part of the mighty Labor party.
Here in the fabulous Box Hill Council rooms I would like firstly though to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land upon which we meet. I pay my respects to elders past, present and emerging.
And also whilst on the matter of acknowledgements I want to acknowledge all of the members of my stable, talented, united Labor team here today.
And I say to our candidates throughout Australia and to my colleagues who serve in the parliament, I say thank you for your unity of purpose. I say thank you for your hard work... not just in this campaign... but to my colleagues for the last six years.
Seeing so many of you here today reminds me of something the current Prime Minister said last week. It was a very revealing comment, actually.
He was being asked about his team...such as it is ... and he said:
“I don’t need anyone to prop me up”.
It is fundamentally two different views of leadership I think, him and I.
He thinks it's all about him and I'm proud to lead a united, talented team.
I back my shadow ministers. I believe in the passion, and the idealism and the authenticity and the talent to which they bring their task of serving the Australian people.
You’ve just heard from Penny Wong earlier. Now I know that some people describe my fabulous wife Chloe as my “secret weapon." Penny, you are just the weapon! You are outstanding!
Friends, you can see every day why I’m more than happy to have my colleagues out on the front line, debating the issues, speaking for themselves, setting the agenda and ideas in their portfolios.
Because in the Labor Party that is actually when we’re at our best.
And yet even if he wanted to the other bloke can’t do it can he?
His best people have either quit parliament or left the party. The others are either in exile or witness protection.
I mean Peter Dutton disgraced himself on day two of this campaign even by his own standards.
The Minister for Energy, well he hasn’t been sighted since people started asking questions about his former colleagues in the Cayman Islands.
And the Minister for the Environment has been in hiding so long I’m not sure she even knows that the campaign’s been called.
In fact, the most high profile members of Mr Morrison’s team are probably Clive Palmer and Pauline Hanson.
And this goes to a bigger point. I know the other fellow keeps trying to say that this election is all about him and all about me.
But I say to the women and men of Australia, the people here and beyond watching this, elections are actually about you. About the people of Australia and what we’re going to do for you. And the difference in that plan is clear for all to see in this election.
We offer a bold vision for the future. A Fair Go Action Plan for every Australian. In health, in education, in wages policy, in action on climate change, in equality for women, in helping with the cost of living.
Whereas by contrast the Liberals and Nationals are putting forward the most threadbare policy agenda that any government has ever taken to an election in the history of the Commonwealth.
All they offer is a smug, arrogant, business as usual standstill.
They think so little of the people of Australia in this election that after six years of chaos, dysfunction, cuts all they are really offering is actually two policies.
Trickle-down economics where if the rich get richer somehow there might be a few crumbs for you.
And secondly they’re offering the cynical politics of thinking they can buy the votes of Australians by promising you tax cuts in five years’ time when they've actually been in power since 2013.
Tax cuts that can only be paid for by more cuts to schools, by more cuts to hospitals and shamefully more cuts to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
But despite all of this, our message to the Australian people is not just a matter of saying “vote for us because we’re not the Liberal Party or the National Party.”
Well that’s not a bad reason to vote for us.
What we’re offering people is a genuine choice. It’s a real vision and we are offering it for every day that we are elected.
And today we gather here to launch a new policy push – to launch a new plan to massively reduce the cost of living for millions of Australians.
At the last election, so many of us stood together to save Medicare.
At this election we’re putting forward a plan to build Medicare.
Rescuing our public hospitals from Liberal neglect and cuts.
Blitzing the waiting lists for surgeries like knee operations, hip replacements, cataracts.
And expanding our universal health care system so that it properly covers the costs of treating cancer – millions of free scans, blood tests, X-rays and ultrasounds.
In fact I can see a friend of mine from 35 years in the Labor movement in the audience today Gary Jungwirth.
Gary the fact that you have come here today – I know your diagnosis of your battle is not good.
But the fact that you love this country so much, that you love this party so much that you want to see change, you being here today, having known you for 35 years, you and Anne, it means the world. And you remind me why we are fighting to build Medicare.
Thank you, Gary.
Now we can and we should take great pride in the fact that Labor created Medicare.
But every new generation has a responsibility to build Medicare, to expand it, to bring even better health care to more Australians.
When Tanya Plibersek was Health Minister, she introduced the Child Dental Benefits Scheme.
$1,000 of subsidised dental care every two years available to around 3.4 million Aussie kids.
This was the first step to making dental care part of Medicare.
But today,at Box Hill I am proud to announce the next step.
If we win the election, a Labor Government will expand Medicare to cover the dental care of three million pensioners and seniors.
Friends, this is a ripper. Our plan will provide up to $1,000 every two years to help pay for dental services for 2.6 million people on the age pension.
And another 380,000 Australians who hold a Commonwealth Seniors Healthcare Card will get the same benefit.
So if you’re one of these three million Australians, from now on, the first $1,000 dollars of dental work you get in a two-year period will be free.
It will not come out of your bank account, it will not go on your credit card, you will not have to delay treatment because you can’t afford the care. It will be covered by your Medicare card.
One in two older Australians has gum disease. The experts tell us that this and decay and missing or broken teeth, carry consequences for your general health too.
And all of us know that these things also undermine your quality of life, your self-confidence, your basic dignity.
And for pensioners and seniors, that’s true also for problems with your denture work as well.
If you can’t get your teeth fixed you are deprived of the simple joys.
It stops you going out for a nice meal. It can make you self-conscious, even amongst family and close friends.
It’s a real problem for a lot of our fellow Australians.
And yet the current government, the Liberals and Nationals have cut $283 million from dental health per year – this is the equivalent of cutting services for 186,000 Australian patients.
As a result the waiting lists for public facilities have blown out. And even worse more and more of our fellow Australians are putting off going to the dentist altogether.
How can this be in a country as rich as ours?
Now Labor’s plan will help free-up the public and the private system.
We’re going to work with dentists to deliver maximum bang for the buck with the minimum of paperwork for patients and dentists alike.
Those details are all important and we’ll work through them - but this promise is what matters friends.
Under a Labor government after May 18 if you’re a pensioner or a seniors health care card holder your dental work will be backed by Medicare for the rest of your life. This is the fair go in action!
Now, I know there are some who will say that this is not the most exciting or eye-catching policy. I think there would be others who will say it is actually.
But I can tell you, no policy matters more to me than making sure our pensioners can get the dental care they need.
There’s nothing I’m more proud of than the fact we will be able to do something that has been talked about for so long.
Something that will make a real difference in the lives of Australian pensioners and seniors.
And friends, we can afford these investments in Medicare because my united team have been making the long-term reform decisions before today.
We believe subsidising dental care for three million Aussie pensioners and seniors is more important than protecting tax loopholes for millionaires.
This ground-breaking investment in pensioner and seniors dental is one of the dividends of our tax reform.
And this is the really important point about all of our reforms. They are about fixing unfairness in our system.
The unfairness of the intergenerational scam, the bias in our tax system against young people.
The bias against wage-earners and the bias against Australians living on a fixed income.
Since the Global Financial Crisis, people who make their money from capital, from multiple investment properties, from big share portfolios, they’ve done OK.
And what’s more there’s a whole menu of loopholes they can use to minimise their tax, or opt out of paying it altogether.
But because of stagnant wages, because of rising living costs, the vast majority of Australians, the people who rely on their pay packet or a fixed income like the pension, their share of our national wealth has declined proportionately.
The power of ordinary people’s income has slipped backwards and those Australians don’t have the luxury of a whole lot of deductions and perks and clever accounting at their disposal.
This imbalance, this unfairness, this shifting of the burden onto millions of middle class wage-earners is why we as an Opposition have made the decision to offer something better, something different to the stagnant, arrogant, smug, business as usual standstill policies of this threadbare government.
We are closing the loopholes, we’re ending the unsustainable tax giveaways not just to make the system fairer or more efficient, but because government is about choices, and we choose to fund the investments which will make our economy stronger, make our country better.
And for any Labor Government, building a fairer and building a stronger economy, investing in a more prosperous and more equal society will always begin with education.
That’s why if we win this election we are going to make sure that every three-year-old and every four-year-old in Australia can go to preschool or kindergarten.
It’s another ripper of an idea, 15 hours of free early learning a week, 40 weeks a year. Every expert tells us that 90 per cent of a child’s brain develops by the time they are five. Any parent can tell you the same. We know at that age our kids are learning and changing every day in front of our eyes.
And education is a bit like the miracle of compound interest. The earlier you invest the greater the return, throughout the child and adult’s life.
The results are in. They show that children who do two years of pre-school are still benefiting when they’re in secondary school. And why wouldn’t we want to give our kids the best head start in life.
It’s why all of the countries at the top of the global education ladder have this as a standard.
Two years of pre-school is the world’s best practice.
And when it comes to education, the world’s best is only just good enough for Australia.
But friends if we want a world-class early education system, then we need to encourage the best early educators.
Early educators are amongst the very first people, the very first adults to whom we entrust our precious children outside our own family.
We expect them to keep our children happy and safe. To teach our children about everything from pre-numeracy and pre-literacy, to learning together and taking turns.
This is why we are allocating 10,000 of our free TAFE places to the early educators of the future.
It is why we’re uncapping university places, so more people from the regions and the outer suburbs have the chance to study teaching.
And it’s why when last in government we introduced a National Quality Framework, to lift standards across the country.
But the fact is that while the expectations, the demands, the qualifications required of our early-years educators have gone up – their wages have not kept pace.
Teaching our children in the early years is one of the most important jobs there is. And yet in our country it is one of the lowest paid jobs in the country.
And - like it or not - that sends a message. It speaks volumes for what we value as a nation, for the priority that we place on the betterment of our children and the respect we display to the people who teach them.
So as the leader of a party that believes in the inalienable right of every Australian child to have a great education, a party that champions teachers and educators at every level, I am really proud today to announce that if we win the next election, Labor will deliver a professional pay rise directly to the early educators of Australia over the next eight years.
Friends it gets even better. Over the next eight years we will increase the average wage of our underpaid early educators by around $11,300 on top of any increase in the award rate.
A 20 per cent pay rise for the early educators because we value early education.
And our plan will ensure that the money goes into the pockets of these workers, without increasing fees for parents.
We’re going to make it easier to attract more dedicated and passionate people into the profession.
And we’re going to make it easier to keep the great passionate and dedicated early educators on the frontline, where they are making the biggest difference.
This is an investment in quality early education, for good jobs and a strong economy of the future.
And this is an investment in pay equity for a female-dominated industry. A fair reward for a workforce that has about 96 per cent women, has been undervalued and underpaid for too long and that stops on May the 19th.
But there is more that we will do for the working families of Australia.
I know wherever I go in Australia one of the biggest hits to the family budget is the growing and growing and growing cost of long day child care.
I understand that one of the great unfairnesses, the injustices, the frustrations endured by households where both parents work is that when you sit down and crunch the numbers on the family budget, fortnight to fortnight, you come to the shocking realisation that the cost of child care can practically consume one entire salary – just swallow it whole.
And because women are more likely to be the ones who takes time out of work to start and raise a family, it is frequently women who are put in a position where when they return to their job, they’re basically working for nothing.
Australia cannot be the modern, fair and productive economy that we need to be in the 2020s if Australian women are caught in this absurd Catch 22.
You understand it, it’s where you have to go to work, to earn the money, to pay for the child care, which enables you go to work.
It’s time that we rewarded mums for participating in the economy, instead of penalising families.
It’s time for a better deal for the working families of Australia.
And it’s time for a government that’s serious about helping with the cost of living.
So today, I am proud to announce the most family-friendly policy of this campaign – and the biggest saving for family budgets in a generation – Labor’s $4 billion plan for cheaper child care for a million Australian families.
From July next year we will put more money back in the pockets of nearly a million Australian working families.
This will save people up to $2,100 per child, per year.
Under our plan, no family will be worse off. We won’t be robbing one family’s childcare to pay for another family’s childcare.
And every family in Australia with a combined household income of up to $174,000 will be hundreds, if not thousands of dollars better off.
For example, if you’re one of the 367,000 Australian families with a household income of under $68,000, for you and your children, child care will be as good as free.
Families with children under 12 will also be big winners.
Because our plan will also save you money; the cost of before-school care, or after-school care or attending holiday programs.
And let me be clear to the families of Australia saying ‘how does this affect us and what is the difference between voting for Labor and voting for the current government?’
The current government, the Liberals and the Nationals cannot do what we have just promised. They cannot help families with the cost of living because they have chosen to lock themselves in to defending unsustainable tax loopholes for the top end of town.
A very big difference.
A Labor Government will boost pay for early educators.
We will help working families cover the cost of childcare.
And let me put the big for-profit child care providers on notice. We will not allow either of these great initiatives to be used as an excuse for you to simply raise your fees, fatten your profits and no change to the cost of living or the wages.
From day one we shall give the ACCC the power to crack down on any excessive fee increases from unscrupulous providers.
Centres and companies that do the wrong, opportunistic thing, thinking that because parents have some more money or the employees can get some more wages and they simply jack up the prices to minimise the benefit for the people, these centres and companies that do this will be named and shamed on childcarefinder.gov.au
And to be perfectly clear - just as we have already shown with another big cost of living pressure - private health insurance premiums - if we see child care companies unfairly raising prices, we will use the power of the Parliament to freeze fee increases and enact price control.
Because Labor is not afraid of the top end of town, because a Labor Government will always put family budgets ahead of excessive corporate profits every time.
Friends, in 1972 and 1983 and 2007, when people voted out tired, moribund, divided, ineffectual, conservative governments, when people voted for new Labor Governments they were voting for a genuine change of direction for Australia.
And this is what our Labor team offers at this election in 2019.
We offer not just an end to the dysfunction, to the chaos, to the dismal, timid, confusion of the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison years. But we offer a new way forward for Australia - more hopeful, more decent, more equal, with greater access and equity and opportunity for all Australians.
Throughout these years in opposition, all of us in the Labor Party and the labour movement, we’ve built our unity of purpose. We have done the hard yards of policy.
Now friends it is time to draw the threads of the story together, to explain to the Australian people the vision we offer:
- For good jobs and fair wages
- For world-class Medicare
- For the best in education, skills, training and TAFE
- For infrastructure that connects our nation
- For an National Disability Insurance Scheme that delivers for the people who need it.
Friends it is time for us to draw the threads of our story together:
- To end the intergenerational unfairness in our tax system
- To give a better deal for our pensioners
- For real help with cost of living
- And for real action on climate change.
And this friends, is where all of you come in, our volunteers here today and watching and listening to this all over Australia.
It is your skills at organising and mobilising - but much more important even than that work – it is your passion, it is your idealism, it is your determination, it is your enthusiasm, it is your belief that this country is ready for change.
It is your capacity to put the frame around the big picture that we present, to explain to people where they fit in in our vision for them.
It is your ability to communicate with young Australians, above all - the generation voting in their first or second election.
Because I fundamentally believe that when Labor makes the case for the future, when we ask people to choose hope over fear, vision over cynicism, the high road over the lowest common denominator – when we put forward the bold plans, the big ideas, when we make the argument for change, we win.
And when you're out knocking on the doors, when you're making the telephone calls, when you're handing out at the railway station you have the winning arguments on the big issues.
Labor has given the winning arguments for you to put forward in the story as we put the frame around the picture.
Just think about it -
We win on climate change.
We win on intergenerational fairness.
We win on equality for women.
We win on education and training and apprenticeships and TAFE.
We win on jobs and wages.
We win on Medicare and better cancer treatment and new dental for pensioners.
We win on child care and we win on the cost of living for working families.
Friends, if we make this election about our competing plans for the future then truly, no turgid scare campaign from the smouldering wreck of the modern Liberal Party can stop us.
No fake news or lies on social media, no poisonous slogans from the advertising agency masquerading as the Liberal government will deter us from making the case.
We have a great team and we are united in our determination to do great things for Australia, to genuinely change Australia for the better.
The people of Australia want a vision. The people of Australia want their hope renewed. The people of Australia do not want cynicism, they want to believe the politics serves the people and not the other way round.
But everything we want to accomplish in our first 100 days, in our first three years, all that we can hope to deliver for the millions of middle and working class Australians, and pensioners and people on the land, and in small business, in the big cities and in the bush – all of the people who depend and want hope, and hope that a Labor Party can deliver it, all of this now depends upon the next 20 days.
Tomorrow morning, the pre-polls open.
And until they close on 6.00pm on May the 18th, we need every one of you to do everything you can to advocate for our vision for a new Labor Government.
So let’s get out there, let’s make every minute count.
Let’s restore the fair go to this country and give it new meaning.
Let’s go win this election.
Thank you very much.