Address to the NSW Labor State Conference

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Saturday, 9th October 2021

Address to the NSW Labor State Conference

Australians need a Government that is On Your Side.

The Saturday of a New South Wales Annual Conference of the Australian Labor Party has always been a special event.

I remember as a Young Labor delegate to the 1986 conference entering Sydney Town Hall, Jack Ferguson pulling me aside.

He said, “take your seat son, you’re about to witness history.”

Shortly after the NSW Premier, Neville Wran took to the stage to announce his resignation after a decade of leading our great state.

By choosing to make his historic declaration on conference floor he underlined the standing of this great gathering.

A Conference that has witnessed countless other momentous events including Ben Chifley’s Light on the Hill speech.

This Conference matters because you matter. Those of us who are privileged to be Labor Parliamentarians stand on your shoulders.

I am proud to have risen through the ranks of the New South Wales Labor Party to be able to address you as our Federal Leader.

I thank the rank and file members of our Party and trade union affiliates in advance for rising to the challenge of winning the next election so that next year when we gather in person I can address you as the Labor Prime Minister.

Together we can do this.

Australia needs us to do this.

This year our Party celebrates 130 years of standing up for the rights of working people and advancing our national interest.

Our Party has a proud history and we are right to celebrate our past, even as we look to tomorrow.

We celebrate our past to pay tribute to those who have gone before us, to inspire us in the present and to remind us of our collective responsibility to create history in the future.

In coming months Australians will have a clear choice.

A tired, complacent, arrogant Government that failed to keep Australians safe from Covid, that failed to secure vaccines and fix quarantine, that has run up one trillion dollars in debt and has no plan for the future.

And a Labor Government with a comprehensive plan to ensure no one is left behind and no one held back.

A Government that has presided over falling wages and increasing job insecurity, or Labor with a plan to lift wages, create good, secure jobs and protect the hard won rights of working people.

A Government that undermines Medicare at every opportunity, or Labor that will always defend and extend Medicare.

A Government that sees education as entrenching privilege, or Labor which regards it as the key to unlocking opportunity.

A Government that sees childcare as a luxury, or Labor which sees it as critical to economic productivity, women’s workforce participation and providing the best start in life for our youngest Australians.

A Government that has presided over a crisis in aged care, or Labor that respects older Australians and wants to ensure their later years are defined by dignity not neglect.

A Government that undermines superannuation every chance it gets, or Labor that is proud of our legacy and its contribution to lifting the quality of life for retired Australians. We understand this pool of savings is a national asset.

A Government that treats taxpayer funds like Liberal and National Party piggy banks or a Labor Party committed to responsible spending in the interests of all Australians.

A Government which foreshadowed its failure on equality for women when Tony Abbott appointed himself Minister for Women and which has consistently failed on issues of women’s safety, or a Labor Party committed to advancing the rights of women.

A Government that after four years has not advanced constitutional recognition of the First Australians, or Labor committed to implementing the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full including a constitutionally recognised Voice to Parliament.

A Government mired in scandal, abuse of power and allegations of corruption, or Labor committed to an effective National Anti-Corruption Commission to restore faith in our political system.

Mr Morrison’s proposal is more a goldfish than a watch dog.

Ornamental, no teeth, silent.

Sports rorts, the Pork and Ride scheme, regional rorts, anonymous donations for private legal matters – no wonder they are on a go slow.

From a mob that sees government as serving its own interests this is not surprising.

This Government has failed on economic management, produced no social policy reform and can’t land anything resembling a coherent climate change and environmental policy.

It looks and acts more like an Opposition in exile on the Government benches.

A Government that is out of ideas, out of touch and out of time.

And in coming months should be out of office!

Our task is to replace a Government that is on its own side, with a Labor government that is On Your Side.

One driven by our passionate belief in our Labor values.

No one left behind, no one held back. Solidarity.

These Labor values are seeing Australia through some of the toughest periods in our lifetime.



The Covid pandemic with its loss of life and livelihoods and its lockdowns.

The values which are seeing Australia prevail – values of self-sacrifice and looking after each other are the very values which propelled men and women determined to take workplace issues into the political arena and form New South Wales Labor at the Unity Hall in Balmain 130 years ago. Those eternal values drive all of us here today.

I want to pay tribute to our frontline workers including those who are with us today.

Our health professionals, cleaners, truckies, supermarket workers, police and emergency personnel, teachers, public servants construction workers, miners, and others who have kept our economy going and our society functioning during these tough times.

Throughout the pandemic Labor has been constructive.

We argued for wage subsidies that became JobKeeper, first dismissed by Scott Morrison as a dangerous idea.

We argued for increases in JobSeeker, for mental health support, for purpose-built quarantine and most importantly we consistently warned more than a year ago that we needed to ensure a supply of vaccines was available.

The Government’s failure in this area is why we have had to endure Scott Morrison’s lockdowns.

If the Government had implemented JobKeeper properly there would have been $20 billion of additional funds for struggling small businesses, including in the tourism, education, arts and hospitality sectors.

Instead that money was given to companies that were increasing their profits.

For Scott Morrison no issue is too big for him to show how small his vision is.

On bushfires he said, “I don’t hold a hose mate.”

On vaccines he repeatedly declared, “It’s not a race.”

It always was a race and Australia was running last in the developed world.

The commitments to protect the most vulnerable by Easter were not met, with tragic consequences for aged care residents and workers, people with disabilities and First Nations communities.

This time last year Mr Morrison said stranded Australians would be home by Christmas – to be fair he didn’t say which Christmas!

He said we were at the front of the queue but the truth is we were so far back we couldn’t even see the front.

All salesman, no substance.

Scott Morrison’s character is there for all to see.

He doesn’t plan any further than his next media conference.

He ignores problems.

Then, when they escalate, he blames someone else.

Finally forced to act it is always a case of too little, too late.

The blame shifting has no limits.

The media.

The states.

Or even his own staff who forgot to tell him what was going on.

He talks about Team Australia but has presided over a divided federation in which he attacks state Labor premiers consistently.



Contrast the constructive role Labor has played during the pandemic with the negative, destructive actions of the Liberals and Nationals during the Global Financial Crisis.

Under my leadership we have always put the national interest first and this has continued with our positive response to defence and national security issues.

We will continue to be critical where the Morrison-Joyce Government gets it wrong, but at the next election we will present a clear alternative based upon our Labor values.

Labor has a plan to build back stronger. Our plan will be about ensuring that the economy works for people not the other way around.

Labor has a plan to build back stronger.

Our plan will be about ensuring that the economy works for people not the other way around.

This year we have already announced our Secure Australian Jobs Plan to lift wages and reward hard work and provide the economic security Australians deserve.

Labor will:

  • Insert “job security”, as an objective of the Fair Work Act
  • End exploitation of casual workers
  • Deliver a better deal for gig workers
  • Crackdown on cowboy labour hire firms to deliver same job, same pay
  • Close the gender pay gap
  • Ensure 10 days paid domestic and family violence leave 

And we will legislate to criminalise wage theft once and for all.

We’ve announced our National Reconstruction Fund to transform existing industries, diversify our industrial base, develop our sovereign capability and create new good, secure jobs.

We’ll build trains and trams right here in regions including Newcastle through our National Rail Manufacturing Plan.

Our Australian Skills Guarantee will ensure one in ten workers on every major government funded project is an apprentice or trainee.

And the Rewiring the Nation program is a $20 billion investment to bring electricity transmission into the 21st century, to promote growth in renewables and reduce power costs for households and business.

The creation of Jobs and Skills Australia will ensure Australians are trained for the jobs of the future.

Labor will bring these plans together with a Full Employment White Paper, which will launch with a Jobs Summit to bring together unions, business and state and local government.

Today I announce the next development in our plan for a Future Made in Australia.

Taxpayer funded procurements across Government have been worth $200 billion over the last 3 years.

The way in which Governments use their purchasing power reflects how they view the Government’s role in shaping the economy.

Today I announce Labor’s 10 point Buy Australian Plan.

This plan will ensure that the Australian Government is backing Australian workers and Australian businesses.

As consumers, Australians often hear the words – think global, buy local.

Australians do their best to patronise local businesses, knowing our hard earned money supports the wages of our friends, neighbours and local community.

The pandemic has seen this emphasised in our cities and towns.

Governments should recognise this principle in its own purchases and activities.

Under the Buy Australian Act maximising the benefit of Government purchases will be the law of the land.

Labor will establish a Future Made in Australia office within the Department of Finance to drive a whole of Government approach.

The Finance Minister and Minister for Industry will lead a Cabinet sub-committee on procurement.

Labor will provide opportunities for mid and small tier Australian companies to participate in the infrastructure pipeline helping to build and strengthen our sovereign capability.

This will be done by packaging tenders where appropriate, into multiple packages that allow smaller companies to bid for them.

Labor will maximise small business participation in Commonwealth procurement.

We will introduce a secure Australian jobs code which will guide Commonwealth engagement to ensure taxpayers money is used to secure employment.

Labor will strengthen the requirement for companies to declare whether they are paying their fair share of tax in Australia including disclosure of any use of tax havens as part of their financial arrangements.

Labor will ensure there are more opportunities for owned and operated First Nations businesses.

In Government Labor will develop ‘Future Made in Australia Industry Plans’ in areas including textile, clothing and footwear; digital, innovation and start-ups; paper, pulp and fibre and renewables component manufacture.

Labor will also leverage Commonwealth investments for job creation and emissions reduction.

We will have a Defence Industry Development Strategy to maximise local content.

We will work with states and territories to ensure that the $20 billion provided annually through National Partnership Agreements is consistent with a national agreement on a Future Made in Australia.

Before the election we will be making further announcements about how Australian jobs will be supported by Labor’s Buy Australian Plan.

Together these plans will ensure that Australia’s capacity to manufacture essential goods in areas including health, energy, infrastructure, defence and space and communications is increased and that we are more resilient as a nation.



As we emerge from the pandemic Australians want hope and optimism.

Only Labor will bring it with practical plans to achieve a positive future.

A Government that squandered the hard work of Australians in 2020 by failing on vaccines and quarantine will not deliver the substance that is required.

We are located in the fastest growing region of the world in human history.

We have a history of innovation and ingenuity, but on too many occasions have not commercialised the potential benefits of our ideas.

We have a dynamic resources sector, but we need to value add where possible right here.

We have the potential to be a renewable energy superpower for the world, but only if we embrace the opportunities that our vast reserves of lithium, nickel, copper and the world’s best solar, wind and wave resources have given us.

The use of green hydrogen and clean energy can power a renaissance of high value manufacturing through the competitive advantage that cheap energy can bring.

A Prime Minister who believes electric vehicles will “end the weekend” is not up to leading into the future.

This is a Government that is scared of the present, but terrified of the future.

The Business Council of Australia’s latest modelling shows just how embarrassing the Morrison Government’s failure to act on climate change is.

They see the challenge of climate change as an internal political issue to be negotiated in secret, not a crisis which demand action in the interests of this and future generations.

Scott Morrison has been absent from action on climate change, now he is likely to be absent from the international debate in Glasgow.

And the price being paid by the absence of the Morrison Government is a loss of Australian jobs.



Our plan for Australia includes a better deal for working families, the creation of secure Australian jobs and a future made in Australia.

Australia is a great country, but a Labor Government can make it even greater.

We can turn our recent adversity into prosperity, if we take up the opportunities that stand before us.

Labor has those plans for our future.

Plans for universal provision of affordable child care for our youngest Australians. Plans to create opportunity through education and training. Plans to support secure jobs during working lives and plans dignity and care for our oldest Australians.

And as always Labor has a plan for Medicare as the basis of our health care system throughout our lives.

I want an Australia that celebrates our diversity and gives all Australians respect regardless of their gender, ethnicity, religion or sexuality.

An Australia that honours and celebrates Indigenous Australians as the oldest continuous civilisation on the planet.

An Australia that respects science not just in dealing with a health pandemic, but in preserving our extraordinary natural environment and meeting the challenge of climate change.

Labor’s plans will take Australia forward and we have an experienced, united and determined team to deliver those plans.

The alternative is Scott Morrison, Barnaby Joyce and their dysfunctional band of self-interested Liberals and Nationals gaining a 4th term.

More needless conflict. More policy inertia. More blame shifting. More pork barrelling.

A Government without a substantial policy legacy in office for almost a decade that would have you believe they will get around to it next term.

Enough is enough.

Australians need a Government that is On Your Side.

Our values will guide us each and every day.

No-one held back.

No-one left behind.

A government with the vision to imagine a better future, then set about creating it.

A Labor Government.

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Electorate Office

334a Marrickville Road

Phone: (02) 9564 3588
Fax: (02) 9564 1734

Parliament House Office

PO Box 6022

Phone: (02) 6277 4022
Fax: (02) 6277 8562

Phone: (02) 9564 3588
Fax: (02) 9564 1734


Electorate Office

334a Marrickville Road

Phone: (02) 9564 3588
Fax: (02) 9564 1734

Parliament House Office

PO Box 6022

Phone: (02) 6277 4022
Fax: (02) 6277 8562

Phone: (02) 9564 3588
Fax: (02) 9564 1734

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which our offices stand and we pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We acknowledge the sorrow of the Stolen Generations and the impacts of colonisation on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We also recognise the resilience, strength and pride of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Authorised by Anthony Albanese. 334a Marrickville Rd, Marrickville NSW 2204.