ANTHONY ALBANESE – OPINION PIECE – IN 2020 LABOR’S ATTENTION TURNS TO RE-ENGAGING QUEENSLANDERS – WEDNESDAY, 1 JANUARY 2020
THE HON ANTHONY ALBANESE MP
LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY
MEMBER FOR GRAYNDLER
IN 2020 LABOR’S ATTENTION TURNS TO RE-ENGAGING QUEENSLANDERS
Today marks the beginning of a new decade. I’m determined that the engagement between the Australian Labor Party and Queenslanders will be constructive and that come the next Federal Election, Labor will receive the levels of support we have seen given to Queensland Labor over most of the recent decades.
My first media conference for the new year will be at Kippa-Ring station on the Redcliffe Peninsula Line, with Shadow Treasurer, Jim Chalmers.
The location is no coincidence. The former Labor Government, in which I was Infrastructure minister, we funded the Redcliffe Line, a project first promised in 1895, but never delivered.
Redcliffe Rail is evidence of what can happen when Labor governments listen to Australians and focus on outcomes. When Labor gets it right, we deliver for Queenslanders. When in Government we got it right in delivering Gold Coast Light Rail, the Ipswich Motorway, upgrades to the Pacific and Gateway Motorways, ring roads and upgrades to the Bruce Highway around Townsville, Mackay, Rockhampton and Cairns, Warrego Highway upgrades, Calliope Crossroads, Cooroy to Curra duplication and much more.
In the May election, Labor did not get it right. Queenslanders gave Labor an unambiguous message.
In 2020 Labor’s attention turns to re-engaging Queenslanders with a policy platform that serves their needs.
It’s about jobs. Queenslanders want the opportunity to work hard and raise their families. And they want respect. They will get it from Labor under my leadership, along with the responsible economic management required to drive jobs growth all over the nation – in the cities, the suburbs and the regions.
While Queensland faces challenges, it also holds great opportunities across a range of industries. Look right across the spectrum – primary industries such as beef; tourism; resources; services; international students – and what you see is an open, outward-looking state.
A few weeks ago, I took a four-day driving trip through western and central Queensland, starting at Barcaldine, then visiting towns and cities including Emerald, Rockhampton, Gladstone, Bundaberg, Maryborough and Gympie.
My first impression was of a parched land gripped by drought. But the other big take-out was the diversity of the economy.
Queensland has both the largest area and the highest proportion of agricultural land in the country, and some 30,000 businesses engaged in agriculture, including a macadamia orchard I visited near Gympie where the drought is biting hard.
Up the road at Maryborough, at the Downer rail workshops, Queenslanders are building trains, as well as repairing the inadequate Rolling stock bought by the former Newman LNP Government from overseas. Dozens of apprentices are at work on the project, learning the skills that will set them up for a lifetime.
With state governments around the nation expected to invest billions in new rail, we should build the rolling stock here, rather than sourcing it overseas through a National Rail Industry Plan.
Tourism also offers reason for optimism. The industry is worth $23 billion to Queensland.
Whether it is the iconic Greater Barrier Reef, the theme parks of the Gold Coast or regional attractions like the Bundaberg Rum Distillery, Queensland continues to offer a world class tourism experience.
We need to continue to nurture the industry, which is critical to regional Queensland in particular. That includes protecting our natural environment so it continues to attract tourists for generations to come.
One of Queensland’s biggest opportunities lies in innovation and renewable energy.
There’s no doubt that the global shift to renewables will present challenges to Queensland’s traditional resources industry. But the opportunities will be even greater.
With the right policy settings, Queensland can create jobs and new industries. For example, the state has significant resources of lithium, a critical component for batteries that can store energy produced by wind and solar power.
Government should support and encourage the extraction of these resources.
Queensland is already exporting electric vehicle charging stations to Europe, energy management systems to Asia, mining services globally, as well as enhancing farming and agriculture with the use of biology, genetics and drones.
Opportunities are everywhere.
What is needed is a government prepared to recognise contemporary reality and come up with a plan to exploit those opportunities. Labor is developing that plan.
Labor will always stand up for workers in traditional industries.
But we will not pretend that the world is not changing and that our economy is changing with it. Labor will go to the next election with economic, social and environmental policies that are worthy of support from Queenslanders.
Anthony Albanese is the Leader of the Australian Labor Party
This piece was first published by The Courier Mail on Wednesday, 1 January 2020