Bill's Speeches







Friends, delegates, we’ve just seen exactly why Matt is Labor’s candidate for Canning.

And exactly why Matt should be the next member for Canning.

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet.

I pay my respects to elders both past and present.

And I re-commit our party to a brighter future for the First Australians.

Not just overdue recognition in our constitution but an overdue closing of the gap – in health, education, employment and justice.

I acknowledge Mark McGowan, the next Premier of Western Australia.

Mark and WA Labor are taking the fight up to Mr Barnett’s Liberals.

And you are winning the battle of ideas with your positive plans for jobs and infrastructure.

Friends, looking out the window on the flight in yesterday, you could see the bright yellow of the canola flowers…and the deep green of the grain crop.

It’s going to be another good harvest, for Western Australian farmers.

And this is good news for all Australians.

Western Australia’s grain belt is an export driver for our nation.

This is why Labor invested in rail and road projects to help more Western Australian farmers and exporters get their world-class wares onto the world market.

And we couldn’t have made this happen, without Alannah MacTiernan.

And speaking of proud Western Australians, let us take a moment at this conference to acknowledge the passing of one of the West’s greatest sons: Peter Walsh.

Peter sought always to ensure Labor served the interests of people on the land.

And he proved Labor Governments could, and must, be fiscally responsible and fair.

We salute his life of service today.

I know there is a fierce contest already underway in Canning.

But on behalf of all of us in Labor, I want to pay my respects to the life on Don Randall – and offer our party’s deep sympathies to his family and friends.


We gather at this Conference at a time when our nation is restless and our people are unsatisfied.

Australians can sense our economy is wallowing in mediocrity.

  • Unemployment is too high and growth is too slow.

  • Insecurity at work is common.

  • Inequality is at a 75 year high.

  • It’s tougher than ever before for young people to find a job, or assemble a deposit for a house

At times such as this, politics as usual is not good enough.

But we also live in a world of accelerating change, intense competition and immense opportunity.

There is a moment before us to seize.

If we are smart, if we invest in productivity, we can grow our economy: creating more goods, services and jobs.

We can lift our national output, improve our great Australian fairness and deliver better quality economic growth.

More than ever, Australia needs a government as ambitious as its people.

A government prepared to invest in the drivers of growth, jobs and productivity:

  • Modern infrastructure – unlocking our cities and connecting our regions

  • Schools, skills and universities, preparing Australians for the jobs of the future

  • Science, research, technology and innovation, creating new industries and opportunities – including in small business

  • An industrial relations system that brings interests together, in a collaborative way, not a class warfare world.

  • Equal opportunity for women: in pay, in leadership and in politics

  • Universal healthcare, keeping us healthy and active

  • And renewable energy – tackling climate change and creating tens of thousands of new jobs.

A government investing in Australia’s best resource: the skills, smarts and capacity of our people.

Only our party has the courage and imagination to do this

Only Labor ever does.

And now, delegates, Canning is the scene for the opening round of the great contest upon us.

And our candidate Matt Keogh, represents so much of what is good about modern Labor.

Matt has stepped forward to try and make history.

The last time Labor won a by-election in these circumstances.

Robert Menzies was Prime Minister.

And Australia was just beginning the move away from pounds, shillings and pence, over to dollars and cents.

But if anyone can break this drought – it’s Matt.

Matt is someone of great character, integrity and ability.

  • A local boy, born and bred

  • A smart, hard-working WA success story.

  • A proud champion of the Labor values of fairness and compassion in his community

Matt tackled corporate crime and fraud while working for the public prosecutor.

He gave his time and energy to providing legal services for the homeless – and for women and children seeking refuge from homes broken by family violence.

And now he offers his passion for helping others, in the service of a state he has called home his entire life.

Representing the community he grew up in…and has always loved…in our national Parliament.

Matt – all of us in Labor stand with you today.

We believe you can make history – and we’re determined to help you do it.

Friends, as you might know, the electorate of Canning – shares its name with a notable Western Australian.

Way back in 1901, Alfred Canning was responsible for surveying the route of what became the world’s longest unbroken line of fencing.

The famous Rabbit Proof Fence.

And now, perhaps in tribute to his memory, I hear the Liberals have built a new barrier around Canning.

An Abbott-proof fence.

But I’m sorry to tell you, that won’t be enough to keep WA safe.

You’ll be stuck with constant visits from Mr Abbott’s loyal friends and supportive colleagues.

But in the end, it doesn’t matter who they send across the Nullarbor…

As they say here at Ascot – they’re all out of the same stable and they all share the same form line.

Every single Liberal voted for:

A $5.8 billion cut to health in Western Australia: including cuts to Armadale Kelmscott, Murray District, and Boddington hospital.

Every single Liberal voted to:

  • Cut $193 million from schools in Canning.

  • Cut $520 million from Western Australian universities.

Every Liberal voted for two Hockey Budgets that will leave a typical Western Australian family with two kids, around $6000 worse off.

Every Liberal voted to take away the SchoolKids bonus from 7,500 families in Canning.

Cutting extra help for the cost of new school shoes, sports-gear or uniforms for growing children.

And when you’ve got a government making cuts like this, the people of Western Australia need a local champion in their corner.

Someone prepared to stand up, and speak out.

And this by-election is a chance for the people of Canning to choose that local champion.

Friends – wherever I go, here in WA and right around our country – the number one issue is JOBS.

The jobs of today – and the jobs of the future.

Jobs are the ultimate test of whether our economy is growing as strongly and as fairly as it should.

Jobs are the measure of our transition out of the mining boom and into the next wave of future industries and opportunities.

But since the peak of the mining boom, we’ve seen Western Australia lose over 60,000 mining construction jobs.

Unemployment in WA has risen to 6.4 per cent since the election, and it’s now above the national average.

Nearly 95,000 Western Australians are out of work.

In fact nearly one in every four Australians who have joined the unemployment queue in the last two years, lives here in WA.

Youth unemployment has jumped to 10.5 per cent.

In Mandurah, it’s over 14 per cent.

25,000 Western Australians aged between 15 and 24 are looking for work, but can’t find it.

And more than 18,000 workers are under-employed, looking for more hours and greater security – but missing out.

Labor is ready to change this.

And over the next few weeks you’ll be hearing more about our plans for goods jobs in the West.

As a first step, today I announce a Labor Government will invest $170 million in productivity-boosting local infrastructure in Western Australia.

These projects will provide a much needed kick-start for local jobs and create new opportunities for West Australians today…

As well as delivering long term economic benefits by properly servicing the growth corridor in the South East…

As part of Labor’s plan, we will commit $25 million to upgrade the Denny Avenue - and its intersections with Streich Avenue, Albany Highway and the rail crossing.

As Kelmscott has grown, this stretch of road has become more and more dangerous.

In the past six months, there have been many serious accidents, including, tragically, one fatality.

Our investment will ensure Denny Avenue is safer and less congested.

Better serving local schools, industrial districts, and the area’s growing communities.

Labor will commit $145 million to the duplication of Armadale Road and construction of the North Lake Road Bridge.

This project will open up the south eastern corridor of Perth, removing congestion, improving travel times and access to the new suburbs of Piara Waters, Harrisdale, Hilbert, Haynes, Banjup and Forrestdale.

And it will create more than 1700 jobs and inject around $600 million into the local economy.

This a down payment on Labor’s plans to create:

  • more local jobs

  • more liveable suburbs

  • and more productive communities, right here in the West.

We are committed to rigorous and robust infrastructure project decision-making.

Our focus is always on the big picture, maximising the economic benefits of investment.

Against the costs, we balance the positives for the community.

Not just the jobs created, but the productivity gains generated through faster commutes and reduced traffic.

The initial assessment of these projects indicates a positive cost-benefit analysis.

And Labor’s contributions to major projects, such as the Armadale Road upgrade, will always depend on this kind of positive Infrastructure Australia assessment.

Because we want the best value for taxpayer money, and the best projects for our cities and towns.


Today, I also want to take a moment to address another issue a lot of people have been raising with me…Labor’s stance on the China Free Trade agreement.

Make no mistake, Labor believes in free trade, and trade liberalisation.

We are the party that modernised the Australian economy – and opened it to the world.

We know open markets are the most powerful engine for economic growth the world has ever known,

And economic growth is the best and only way to creating good jobs in productive and competitive enterprises.

More trade with our region is the pathway to a high-skill, high-wage future for all Australians…

In many ways, this is especially important in Western Australia.

As Gary Gray has often said: the rise of China is at the heart of the great modern Western Australian success story.

From iron ore to LNG, Western Australian resources have been part of China’s transformation.

And now, as the demand shifts, we need Western Australian industries and companies to follow the example of our resources sector and engage more deeply and diversely with China.

This means more Western Australia farmers exporting to China.

More advanced Australian manufacturing linking up with regional supply chains centred in China.

Western Australian service-providers in education, healthcare, aged care, financial services and tourism benefiting from closer connections.

And the fact that WA is in the same time zone as Beijing is a massive competitive advantage, a head-start on the world.

The West now has the opportunity to project its know-how and entrepreneurialism to billions of people in the Asian middle class in real time…in everything from medical research to engineering and design services.

This is why I want more investment flowing between Australia and China, creating more jobs.

And this is why we need to get the agreement right.

For Labor it is not a question of whether there should be a free trade agreement or not…

It is a question of how we can get the best deal, maximising the benefits for all Australians.

This deal needs to be good for Australian workers, and for Western Australian workers.

Australia should not be trying to compete in a race to the bottom on wages and conditions, with the countries in our region.

We can win on our terms: as a high-skill, high-quality, fair-wage nation.

This is why I have serious concerns about the current deal.

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 the job.

It’s there in black and white – and it’s not good enough.

Neither is the proposal to remove mandatory skill assessments for temporary migrants in key trades:

Carpenters, machine and motor mechanics, joiners and electricians.

A proposal contained in a side-letter without consultation or even announcement – dumped on a Government website without explanation.

We understand that sometimes major projects require specialist capabilities.

And we are prepared to negotiate with the government to get this right.

But we will not allow legitimate concerns about jobs, conditions and workplace safety to be brushed aside – or the Parliament to be bypassed.

It not unreasonable to insist on safeguards and standards.

We are not prepared to gamble on safety at work, or at home.

The government should heed these legitimate concerns, and act to protect jobs in WA now and into the future.

And if they don’t, Labor will.

This is not a union issue – it is a job issue.

And for Labor, Australian jobs always come first.


115 years ago, the future of our nation rested in the hands of the people of Western Australia.

Votes from here made us one country – a Commonwealth in service of a common good.

And in the coming weeks, Australia looks West once again.

The message will come from here.

A message about the sort of future we want for our nation – and our children.

This by-election is the first round in a contest for the future of Australia.

A vote for Mr Abbot’s Liberals in Canning is a vote for more of the same.

More cuts, chaos, lies and division.

More alienation, more of our fellow Australians left out and left behind.

But, friends, there is a better way.

A vote for Matt Keogh and Labor is a vote for a more productive, more inclusive Australia.

An Australia where no-one is expendable and where everyone has the chance to fulfil their potential.

A vote for Labor is a vote for jobs today – and the jobs of the future.

A plan to grow the Western Australia economy more strongly and more fairly beyond the mining boom.

A plan for better schools, training and TAFE.

An Australia where our kids are learning the skills they need to succeed in a new global economy.

An Australia where mature-age workers, can adapt and bounce back from the rough edges of economic change.

A vote for Labor is a vote for a health system where our public hospitals are properly funded…staff are fairly paid.

And your Medicare card, not your credit card, guarantees you access to quality healthcare.

An Australia where university education isn’t a privilege that comes with a $100,000 price tag.

But an opportunity earned through hard work – and good marks.

This is the future we offer the people of Western Australia today.

A future where we are all included in the success of our smart, modern and fair nation.

An Australia with:

  • Good jobs

  • Quality healthcare

  • Great education

  • And fairness for all

This is what we can achieve together.

This is how we Advance Western Australia.

This is how we Advance Australia.