Speech to ALP Society Campaign Launch – ‘Why Australia needs a Labor Government – London – Sunday, 10 March 2019
It’s great to be back in the UK.
It’s great to be among friends who share my determination to ensure that when Australians go to the polls in May, they vote to end six years of Coalition chaos and elect a Shorten Labor Government.
I might have arrived here sooner.
But I could barely get out of Canberra without tripping over Liberal Party Ministers announcing their retirements and appointing their mates to boards while they still can.
They are dropping like flies.
Many of them have given up and would rather get out of politics than put their case for re-election to the Australian people.
There is a reason for that.
They have no case for re-election.
They’ve been part of one of the worst governments in the history of the Commonwealth.
They are a rabble. Out of ideas, out of touch and out of puff …
… and so bitterly divided on factional and ideological grounds that their government does not function on a day-to-day basis.
Australia needs a Labor Government.
But our case for election is not based on the fact that our opponents are hopeless, even though that is a fair description.
Our case to govern is based on one of the most comprehensive blueprints for government produced in our nation’s history.
It is a platform informed by our values and fuelled by our desire to build a better, fairer and stronger Australia.
Let me take your through it.
We need a Labor Government to build a stronger economy.
Australia is now in its 28th year of economic growth, a record built on the remarkable economic reforms of Bob Hawke and Paul Keating.
Bob and Paul understood, as we do, that you can’t spread opportunity without economic growth.
Scott Morrison’s economic agenda is pretty simple:
Cut taxes for the wealthy and big business.
Put downward pressure on real wages.
Undermine trade unions.
… and cut spending on health, education, infrastructure and welfare.
He seeks to limit opportunity and entrench privilege.
By contrast, Labor believes there are two ways to drive economic growth – investing capital in infrastructure and investing in human capital through education, training and skills.
We will invest in public transport, our road networks, fibre-based broadband, renewable energy and water infrastructure.
That will support business, lower emissions and drive growth.
To invest in our people we’ll rebuild our education system. Schools, universities and TAFE colleges will all get extra support from a Labor Government.
We’d also ensure that all three and four year olds have access to early childhood education to give our youngsters the best start possible.
Education is about opportunity. It allows the individual to reach his or her full potential regardless of their means, who they know or where they live.
But having a better-educated workforce is the critical foundation of a growing economy.
Our opponents have delivered record low wages growth.
… cut people’s penalty rates,
.. undermined the welfare safety net.
We need a Labor Government to repair our nation’s social fabric.
We’d rebuild our health system and ensure that all Australians, regardless of their means, have access to properly resourced hospitals.
We’ll ensure Medicare is at the very centre of our system.
Labor introduced universal health care in the face of opposition from the Liberals and Nationals.
We will defend it to our last breath.
The last Labor Government delivered the biggest increase in the aged pension on record.
The next Labor Government will continue to support the pension and also provide proper resourcing and better oversight of our aged care system.
We’ll work harder to help the unemployed find work, not just through education and skills training, but also by maintaining proper support while people are unemployed.
We’ll also increase investment in affordable housing, not just on the outskirts of towns and cities, but close to the support services people need.
As many of you would know, I was raised in Council housing with a single mum.
There’s a reason I was fortunate enough to go from a council house to the office of Deputy Prime Minister.
It was because governments intervened to give me the security of a safe home and the opportunity for an education.
We need a Labor Government to ensure that every Australian has access to the same opportunities I enjoyed.
I’ve just come out of an Australian summer that was the hottest on record.
Indeed, since 2005 Australia has experienced nine of its ten hottest years on record.
It’s an established fact that our climate is changing.
Yet there are members of the current Morrison Government who don’t believe in climate change and oppose greater use of renewable energy sources.
Just last week, a group of National Party MPs, again called for public subsidies to build new coal-fired power stations.
When Labor was last in Government, we introduced policies to facilitate a transition to a clean energy economy.
The Coalition tore them down.
It still clings to the fantasy that we can solve all of our environmental challenges by simply planting more trees.
We need a Labor Government to get climate policy back on track and restore our international reputation as a nation prepared to play our role in protecting the environment.
Back home, some people know me for a response to a media question, in which I declared: “I like fighting Tories. That’s what I do.’’
My opponents don’t like it when I use that term – Tories.
They argue that members of the Liberal Party of Australia hold values that are more progressive than the hard line conservatism usually associated with Tories.
That might have been the case in the past.
But in recent years the Liberal Party has shifted to the Right as people like Tony Abbott and Peter Dutton have seized control from the moderates.
The Liberals no longer stand for liberalism.
True liberals wouldn’t leave refugees in indefinite detention.
True liberals don’t cut real wages.
True liberals accept the science on climate change and the role of trade unions.
True Liberals don’t trash our important institutions like the ABC or blame people for their own disadvantage.
These are the actions of Tories.
Australia needs a Labor Government to return our national politics to a more moderate position.
Our opponents are dominated by ideologues that are out of touch with the everyday challenges of Australians.
They seem to hold the view that if only governments would get out of the way and let the market rip, everything will be fine.
They forget something.
Markets have no conscience.
Markets don’t care about distribution of income or opportunity.
That’s where government comes in.
Labor understands the importance of a strong economy.
We respect and applaud successful businesses because they provide employment.
But unlike our opponents, we also understand that there is a role government intervention to ensure the fruits of that prosperity are shared among the many, not monopolised by the few.
Once again thanks for turning out tonight.
Thanks for your support and your enthusiasm.
I know you will do your best to fight for a Labor Government.
Australia House is the biggest polling station in the Australian Federal election and more than 70,000 overseas votes cast in 95 locations will have a major impact on the outcome.
We face a desperate opponent with its back to the wall.
This Government’s failures, its internal divisions and the exodus of many of its most senior operators, like Julie Bishop and Christopher Pyne, mean it has little to offer in terms of a positive election campaign.
All it is has is a scare campaign.
Scott Morrison and his colleagues have been scouring the top end of town for donations and raiding the public purse to fund what will undoubtedly be a very aggressive and negative advertising campaign.
Just last week they changed the rules regarding MPs’ electorate allowances, which are meant to cover office expenses like postage, so they can be used for radio and television advertisements.
So expect scare-mongering and misrepresentation.
That’s all they’ve got.
We on the other hand, have our passion, our shoe leather and a well thought-out blueprint for a better, fairer and most prosperous Australia.
And that’s what a Shorten Labor Government will deliver.