Ahead of the United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Paris, Labor has set a long term goal of net zero pollution by 2050.
This will ensure Australia is in line with the global, bipartisan goal of limiting global warming to 2 degrees Celsius on pre-industrial levels.
If we do not act, Australia will continue to experience an increase in extreme weather events, more severe droughts and rising sea levels.
All of which will come at an incredibly high cost to our economy, our environment and our way of life.
Labor accepts the science that limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius is necessary to avert dangerous climate change.
That commitment requires Australia to be a net zero pollution economy by the middle of the century.
Transitioning Australia to a net zero emissions economy by 2050 requires a decarbonisation pathway.
Under Labor, this pathway will have a number of milestone targets to ensure that Australia is on-track.
Experts, the environment sector and vulnerable nations strongly advocate for five year pledge and review arrangements and the UK, US, China and France have also proposed this.
A Shorten Labor Government will implement a five yearly pledge and review mechanism to assess progress and to adjust commitments over time.
To achieve the target of net zero pollution by 2050, Labor will consult on the Climate Change Authority’s 2030 baseline target of a 45 per cent reduction in carbon pollution on 2005 levels.
And within a year of coming to Government we will also put in place a 2025 target.
Labor will use the Climate Change Authority’s recommendation of a 45 per cent reduction as the basis for our consultations with industry, employers, unions and the community.
We will undertake this process mindful of the consequences for jobs, for regions and for any impacts on households.
Labor’s Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Mark Butler will lead this process and will report to Shadow Cabinet by the end of March next year.
Australians expect their leaders to take climate change seriously, and rely on the best science when developing their policies.
Australians know that the longer we delay action on climate change, the more severe the cost.
Malcolm Turnbull may be leader of the Liberal Party but his policies are Tony Abbott’s.
Australia goes to the Paris Climate Change conference as the only nation that has gone backwards on climate action in the past two years – with a policy that cannot and will not work.
Under the Liberals’ policy, it is taxpayers, not polluters, who pay to reduce emissions at a significant cost to the budget.
Australia deserves a stronger policy and a real plan.
For more details on Labor’s plan visit: www.alp.org.au/climatechangeactionplan
FRIDAY, 27 NOVEMBER 2015
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 4053
KAREN GROGAN (BUTLER) 0407 970 835
STATEMENT ON INDULGENCE ON THE SOUTH AUSTRALIAN BUSHFIRES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, CANBERRA
THURSDAY, 26 NOVEMBER 2015
Thank you Mr Speaker
The people in fire-affected South Australia should know they are in the thoughts of this Parliament and of all Australians.
We offer our deep condolences to the loved ones of the lost and the injured.
I have just spoken in the last 30 minutes to Nick Champion, the Member for Wakefield who has returned to be with his family and to be with his constituents in fire-affected South Australia.
He tells me that right now, there are still lots of blocked roads and the CFS are still putting fires out.
He tells me the fire lapped right up to the town of Kapunda, where he is and where he grew up.
There are harrowing stories, but for the time being the hazard has passed.
Everyone says they have never seen a fire like this, of such magnitude and ferocity.
A volunteer firefighter in Greenock reports that his father, who has lived and farmed in the area for 75 years said he had never seen the like of it before.
The scale of the losses, the damage, the grief, the death, the injuries and lost livestock.
Cars burnt out by the side of the road, one abandoned in the middle of the highway – others facing the wrong way, destroyed.
Shock is the dominant emotion.
We commend hundreds of South Australian firefighters and CFS volunteers who, in the past 24 hours, have shown incredible bravery in difficult and dangerous circumstances.
As a Victorian, I’m very proud that 200 firefighters in 50 trucks are on the way to Adelaide, and will start their first shift tomorrow.
This is what Australians do.
Adam Lindsay Gordon once said of Australia:
Life is mainly froth and bubble.
But two things stand like stone.
Kindness in another’s trouble and courage in your own
This is the second time in four days our Parliament has paused to pay respect to people who have been lost to bushfires.
And to salute the resilience and resolve of Australians, with summer having not even begun.
These fires are a reminder to all, especially those who live in areas at risk of fire, to be prepared for the very worst.
We urge all Australians, have your fire plans ready.
Please, do everything you can to keep yourself and your family safe in the weeks and months ahead.
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT – 02 6277 4053
ADDRESS TO WHITE RIBBON DAY BREAKFAST
MURAL HALL, PARLIAMENT HOUSE
WEDNESDAY, 25 NOVEMBER 2015
Good morning everyone.
I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land upon which we meet and pay my respect to their elders both past and present.
I would like to address my remarks this morning to the thousands of families and the tens of thousands women and children who in the last few days and weeks would have experienced family violence.
Family violence is still far more common than we would like to admit, even in this very powerful gathering.
I can imagine it now, in the last few days perhaps.
Dad comes home.
The conversation at the dinner table stops.
It is the start of yet another night of emotional Russian roulette.
What will be the mood? Will it be a good night or will it be a bad night?
He’s drunk, he’s unhappy with his job. Whatever the reason, whatever the resentment, it will be the wife who gets the blame and is the focus of the anger.
He could growl, he could yell, perhaps he could just fall asleep at the table in front of his dinner or on the couch in front of the TV.
All evening he may stir, he can smoulders, he’s wakeful.
There will be thousands of families who will be tiptoeing around this person. They will be placating, they will turn down the music because they will be doing their homework, they will cajole.
Children will become adults and diplomats merely to assuage the anger.
They are always on tip-toes, waiting for the eruption.
Always, always waiting for the eruption.
There are tens of thousands Australian children who acquire bat-like hearing, that imperceptible tremor of the anger starting.
And as survivors know, and children know, it doesn’t always end in physical violence, but it can be the threat. The anxiety. The fear.
Children growing up long before they should.
That’s what today is really about for me.
Not the numbers alone, as shameful and confronting as they are.
It is, as Malcolm said, about cultural change.
For me, it cannot come too quickly. It is not a theory.
There are millions of Australian women and children who have this waking nightmare, every day or at least parts of their lives.
And let’s face it ladies and gentlemen, no woman ever signs up to this nightmare when they form a relationship. It wasn’t the way it was meant to be.
And then you stay in the relationship because you hope it is going to get better.
It’s like a boat that’s in a wave and you hope it will regain equilibrium and it never does.
And then there are the children. Born in love. They have no chance to remedy the situation. They didn’t ask for it.
Then I think of the women who stay in those relationships to protect the children.
Some of you here have lived the struggle.
Some of you have devoted your lives to rebuilding other people’s lives broken by these acts emotional dysfunction. No doubt learned in a cycle of abuse in an earlier generation and repeated again.
I am here today to keep the promise I made when I wear this white ribbon.
A promise to stand up, to speak out and above all, to act to prevent men’s violence against women and children.
And I’m very proud that my wife Chloe is also participating in a number of events as an Ambassador in the Victoria against Violence campaign.
She has help opened my eyes to what can be done.
And there are thousands more involved – we are not alone here.
That is another message to people currently in these horrible situations which are all too real, you’re not alone. There are a lot of us who are on your side.
That is why today is powerful. It is as power as mighty as the engines that propelled those aeroplanes this morning.
There are political leaders, there are community leaders, there are business leaders and there are journalists – and how we talk about family violence does matter and the language we use is important.
But above all else, what counts is our deeds.
As you know, when you make first decisions as a political leader or a politician, there can only be one thing that can be the first thing.
The first funding commitment I made as Labor leader was not on education, or defence, or innovation – as important as they are.
Earlier this year, on International Women’s Day I pledged $71.6 million for tackling Family Violence – a down payment
Investments in community legal centres because we can’t say we are fair dinkum about protecting women while we are cutting community legal centres.
We want improved perpetrator accountability because why should the woman move house and those mortgage payments become a chain which inextricably links the women and the children to the perpetrator and we have targeted support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
So in the spirit of action, I announce today that if Labor was elected, we will provide for five days’ paid family violence leave in the National Employment Standards.
Women affected by family violence should be able to take leave to access legal and financial advice, counselling services and medical appointments.
As any of the survivors here, and trust me there is more of you than we may care to admit, and as any of the children in these relationships, and trust me there are more than any care to admit, you know that this is an impoverishing and isolating experience.
Survivors should not have the added stress of missing work and all the financial uncertainty that creates.
If we do not provide them this support, they are more likely to have to stay where they are.
They should not suffer the dislocation, and the upheaval that can flow from losing their job altogether.
We can help change this, we must.
I pay tribute to some of the many employers who already provide family violence leave: Telstra, NAB, Virgin Australia, IKEA, Blundstone boots and there will be many small businesses who don’t seek to pump up their own tyres who are standing by their staff when this happens.
But all of these companies, great and small, have led the way, they demonstrate that family violence leave actually:
- improves productivity
- increases employee retention
- and reduces absenteeism
I salute the advocacy and leadership of Australia’s trade unions. They don’t always get a good wrap, but when it comes to family violence leave, they have helped negotiate arrangements which cover over 2 million people.
Today is about action.
I know that there will be thousands of Australian women and children who hopefully may hear some of what passes in Canberra, some of it breaks the white noise in the day to day.
I think they will feel better and a little bit of that anxiety and burden will come off their shoulders because they will understand they are not alone.
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT – 02 6277 4053
ADDRESS TO PHARMACY GUILD OF AUSTRALIA ANNUAL PARLIAMENTARY DINNER 2015
GREAT HALL, PARLIAMENT HOUSE
TUESDAY, 24 NOVEMBER 2015
*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***
It’s a great pleasure to have a few minutes tonight to welcome you to parliament house, and to thank you for the contribution you make to our national life.
Pharmacy is a venerable profession, indeed an ancient one.
Indeed, many of the clay tablets excavated by archaeologists in Mesopotamia over the years are prescriptions.
In ancient hierarchical Japan, the Emperor’s Pharmacist was assigned a higher rank than the Emperor’s two physicians (don’t tell the AMA).
And in one for public policy, in 9th Century Baghdad, pharmacies were state-regulated.
And it’s a pharmacist who plays a pivotal role in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, providing Romeo with the potion that drives the star-crossed misunderstanding.
‘Oh, Apothecary,’ he says, ‘Your drugs work quick.’
There you have it, a bit of 17th Century product placement.
Today, for so many Australians, their local pharmacy is lot more than just a shop in the high street.
Pharmacies are community centres.
Familiar, friendly faces offering trusted advice and peace of mind.
The first port of call for so many Australians in need of assistance.
Ensuring people who need more than an over-the-counter product, seek the help they need.
Beyond those urgent enquiries, pharmacists also have a unique view of a customer’s continuing health, particularly for people with chronic conditions, as they re-fill and manage their medication.
Right now, I don’t think our system does enough to draw on your expertise, your knowledge and your relationships with the Australians you help every day.
And from the conversations that Catherine King and I have had with many of you, I know many of you feel the same.
I’m pleased the Pharmacy Guild has signalled an intention to step up and be more involved in a health system that is more co-ordinated and co-operative.
And of course, an effective, patient-controlled e-health record is essential to this.
As technology continues to improve, consolidated records will mean that when a patient presents at an emergency room, instead of wasting time making them list off medicines they are currently taking, or running the risk of incorrect information the hospital staff will have immediate access to their medication history.
And when an Australian visits their pharmacy, they will be able to call-up their history and current prescriptions, allowing for better-informed care.
Improvements in technology are also allowing pharmacists to ensure greater patient safety, for example through the real-time recording system for codeine sales that your Guild has pledged to implement as recently as last week.
I think our politics work best when we find common ground, when we operate in the centre of political debate – when we are governed from the middle.
When we have a contest for the best policies on what matters to the lives of Australians:
- Climate Change
- A fair tax system (not a GST increase)
- And of course, universal healthcare and affordable medicine through a strong PBS.
Your voices will be particularly important in helping us found the common ground, the sensible course forward for our health system as we grapple with the defining health challenges of the next ten and fifteen years.
- Ensuring Australians growing older have quality of life in their final quarter
- Reducing the rate of chronic and complex disease
- And addressing new issues caused by a changing climate
I have nothing but respect and admiration for the work our community pharmacists, GPs, our nurses and allied health professionals do, caring for Australians who are unwell.
But none of us here tonight could say that Australians are as healthy as they should be.
None of us could say that spending just two cents in every dollar of health funding on prevention is the right way to go.
You all know how important prevention is.
This is why Labor has decided to increase our efforts in the fight against smoking – a leading cause of chronic and complex diseases and a massive drain on our health budget.
The policy we announced today is particularly designed to prevent young people from taking up smoking.
We’re aiming to deter the next-generation of smokers from even starting.
Both my parents smoked a great deal, both my parents had tobacco-related diseases – neither of my parents lived to the age I believe they should have.
And if you ask any parent who smokes, whether they want their children to take up smoking – they’ll tell you no.
This is all part of a bigger discussion about the future of Australia’s health system, a system meeting the challenges of 2030 and beyond.
I will always be interested in your views and open to your ideas as to how we work together to build that future.
And I look forward to our conversations in the months and years ahead.
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT – 02 6277 4053
RESPONSE TO NATIONAL SECURITY STATEMENT
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, PARLIAMENT HOUSE
TUESDAY, 24 NOVEMBER 2015
I thank the Prime Minister for updating the House.
On behalf of the Opposition, I join him in offering our condolences to all who have lost someone they love as a result of terrorism, in these dark and difficult days.
I think the scene that we have seen from overseas have at some level, reminded us all that the great advantage of being an Australians is that we enjoy our freedom without most of us having to fight for it.
Of course I acknowledge the remarkable exception, the service of our people in the Australian Defence Force.
But in recent times again, we have been reminded that whilst we are an island, we are not immune to the fanaticism and the psychopathic crime we have witnessed.
Terrorism is an affront to all humanity.
Wherever it occurs, whoever it affects.
It is a crime engineered expressly to strike at the innocent, to spread fear, to engender hatred.
And at times when terror threatens our way of life, it is right that Australians expect co-operation from their national leaders.
This is why Labor has consistently sought to provide bipartisanship on national security.
We worked with Mr Abbott.
We do so again with Mr Turnbull.
We know the security of our nation runs deeper than partisan differences.
Because no individual and no party has a monopoly on patriotism.
We all love our country, we all care for the safety of our citizens.
All Australians should enjoy the rights and liberties of our safe, peaceful democracy, equally.
And we all have an equal responsibility to uphold them, to defend them and to preserve the security of our nation.
I am proud of the approach that every single member of the Caucus has taken to questions of national security while I have been leader.
Labor hasn’t shied away from difficult argument, we haven’t shirked hard decisions.
Labor has engaged with the issues, deeply and thoughtfully.
And in doing so, we have supported and enhanced four rounds of national security legislation, including the citizenship legislation which is currently before the Parliament.
And we will work with the Government to progress a fifth round of legislation, which was introduced into the Senate in the last sittings.
We have made over 100 substantive amendments to the national security bills put forward by this Government, including 26 substantive amendments to the Citizenship Bill before the Parliament.
Many of these amendments have established new measures to strengthen accountability and oversight of newly created powers, and include measures such as the creation of a Public Interest Advocate to help protect the sources of journalist and freedom of the press.
As well as mandated reviews of many powers, in order to ensure that these powers are conferred for no longer than is necessary.
Our focus is about the best interest and safety of Australians.
Our interest is always on striking the right balance between national security considerations and the fundamental democratic rights and freedoms all Australians cherish.
Mindful, always, that in seeking to defend ourselves from the terrorist threat, we do not undermine the very foundations of our strength that the terrorists want to destroy and we seek to protect.
And knowing that alongside law enforcement and security powers, every cent invested in ensuring our national cohesion has a definite, practical outcome for our security.
Because words and ideas, hearts and minds are at the core of winning the struggle against terrorism.
Mr Chip Le Grande put it well in The Australian this morning, when he told the story of four Iraqi girls living in Broadmeadows, In Victoria who convinced their parents to allow them to join the rest of their classmates in a sleepover at school.
“It seems the smallest of things.
Yet on such things the defence of Australian suburbs partially rests: winning the trust of parents newly arrived from the Middle East; overcoming cultural aversions to 11-year-old boys and girls bunking out together; allowing four girls to be a part of things rather than made to feel apart.”
Right now, at home and abroad we face a common challenge in a different guise.
The gruesome slaughter in Iraq and Syria, the suicide bombings in Bamako and Beirut, the bringing down of innocent travellers from the skies over Egypt, the random shedding of blood on the cobblestones and concert halls of Paris and here in our streets and suburbs, we grapple with violence fuelled by extremism.
And while our fundamental goal is the same, the utter defeat of those who would wish us harm, our means and methods will differ according to the situation we face.
In the operations in Iraq, the ADF is there to protect civilians and build the capacity of Iraq’s security forces.
I’ve had the privilege of meeting with the men and women serving in the region, their bravery and professionalism is a credit to them and I think a source of pride for all Australians.
Indeed, I wish all Australians could have a glimpse of the sheer professionalism of the people who serve in our defence forces and I think it would make every Australian feel a little more proud.
And since day one of Australia’s involvement in this conflict, Labor has consistently said that success in Iraq depends most upon the government and people of Iraq themselves.
The conflict in Iraq is for Iraq to win.
Australia’s role in the region is to build capacity – not dependency.
We don’t want to perpetuate another cycle as occurred following the invasion of 2003: a large scale troop movement, civil unrest and ongoing violence, escalation, withdrawal and eventual return.
We can and we must provide Iraqi armed forces with the skills and training to repel and overcome Daesh; to focus on building their own capacity to train themselves and protect themselves.
But this will have to be matched by efforts of the Iraqi government to develop a coherent strategy that includes all sections of the Iraqi population in this endeavour.
Without an inclusive strategy, the cycle of conflict spurred on by radical groups exploiting historical deep-seated sectarian and ethnic tensions will continue to undermine Iraq’s long-term survival.
As I have said previously, we cannot drain the swamp of terrorism by military means alone.
Or by imposing leadership from the outside.
Or to put more bluntly in the vernacular; we will not bomb our way to victory.
The leadership will have to come from within Iraq and the region and that challenge must be answered by Iraqis.
Iraq is, of course, only one theatre in a regional and global struggle.
Investigators from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, have labelled Syria:
“the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe”.
Civil war has claimed around 250,000 lives – and driven millions more from their homes, at least 4 million Syrian refugees externally and 6 million internally displaced.
And the Syrian regime continues to inflict war crimes and crimes against humanity, against its own citizens.
Talk of ‘pragmatism’ in search of peace is fine but it cannot result in Assad remaining permanently in power.
His ongoing presence would only serve as a spur to armed resistance and provide as a rallying call for extremist.
And, Mr Speaker
A leader who uses chemical weapons against his civilians, who orders massacres of the innocent with impunity, who commands the imprisonment and torture of children for painting graffiti on a wall, who thinks nothing of the mass slaughter of his own people, belongs in a jail cell – not in charge.
We have called for, and continue to call for, a coherent strategy for Syria.
It must be based on a sustainable political solution and a peace plan that has a chance of gaining traction.
This will need to be underpinned by a reconstruction and humanitarian effort that demonstrates the dividends of peace.
Like Mr Turnbull, Labor does not support unilaterally sending ground combat units into Syria.
The history of success of western-led armies in this region is poor to say the least.
We understand the very real risk of a protracted ground war, involving Australian personnel in danger with limited potential for it to contribute to the long-term solution we should be seeking.
And in the short term, an escalated presence of western troops will only feed the propaganda of Daesh.
The conflict in the Middle East has profound consequences in our region too.
Australia has suffered 112 terrorism-related deaths since 2000, most of them of course, sadly in Bali at the hands of Jemah Islamiah.
Now, Sidney Jones, a leading foreign policy thinker in Jakarta, writes most disturbingly that:
“The conflict in Syria has captured the imagination of Indonesian extremists in a way no foreign war has before.”
And in the medium term, we face the risk of people returning from Syria, not just to Australia but to the region, poisoned by fanaticism, with ill intent in their hearts and skilled in combat and conflict.
Australia has to show leadership here – particularly through multilateral institutions.
As a key architect of APEC, and a founding member of both the East Asia Summit, and the first ASEAN dialogue partner.
ASEAN has made a remarkable contribution to establishing stable relations among the countries of South-East Asia.
We need to maintain that focus, and that co-operation to tackle the challenges on our doorstep.
But as much as we can do with our neighbours and our partners in the region, we can never negotiate with Daesh, because there is nothing rational about their worldview.
There is nothing we can say to them and nothing they can offer us.
Daesh are not just weak, they are deluded.
They are an enemy of Islam and an enemy of people everywhere, engaged in crimes against people of all faiths and traditions.
They deal only in violence, fear and murder, and they must be met with uncompromising, resolute force.
Here in Australia we must put our trust in the expertise, professionalism and skill of our security agencies and emergency services personnel.
As parliamentarians, we should continue to be guided by the best advice of our agencies and experts, in regard to the new National Terrorism Threat Advisory system.
We must give agencies and communities all the support we can to enhance their capability and to counter the radicalisation of vulnerable youths.
This should include removing all impediments to the passage of information among agencies, effecting their seamless cooperation and ensuring we match the right capabilities to a given situation in the timeliest possible manner.
And we count on standing together with a clear message to all who would seek to do us harm:
There is never any excuse for violence aimed at the innocent.
People who would seek to kill their fellow citizens in the name of Islam are not martyrs, they are murderers.
And any individual whose actions cross the sharp boundary between right and wrong, must feel the full force of the law.
Particularly those who seek to prey upon vulnerable, isolated young people and make them an instrument of hate.
We agree with the government, we must stand strong in defence of our people’s safety.
Resilient in our defence of Australia as a diverse, generous and inclusive multicultural society.
The handful of Australians lured to the warzone in Iraq and Syria, the tiny, twisted minority tempted to replicate acts of terror here at home, do not reflect the values of faith, or Islam in particular.
Nor do they represent in any fashion at all, our nation’s diverse and generous Muslim community.
I have heard many Muslim leaders say Islam is a religion of peace. I know they mean it, and I thank them for that leadership.
We should always strive to work with the Muslim community – through co-operation, not isolation.
The respected former director-general of ASIO, David Irvine, expressed it most powerfully when he said:
“the strongest defence against violent extremism is the Australian Muslim community itself”
This must inform a balanced approach to counterterrorism and community engagement.
Drawing on new means, new methods and adapting to new challenges.
In the 2014 review of US Department of Defense strategy and priorities, the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, wrote:
‘My greatest concern is that we will not innovate quickly enough or deeply enough to be prepared for the future, for the world we will face two decades from now.’
We should heed those words.
The security threats facing Australia are no longer limited to forces coming to our continent by sea, or mounting a long-range air attack.
We live in an era where disruptive technologies present genuine threats to our national security.
We are fortunate in Australia to have a regime of strong gun controls, introduced by former Prime Minister John Howard and supported by Labor, that make it difficult for criminals to readily access the kind of high-powered weapons that inflicted such dreadful loss of life in Paris.
But individuals and loosely-arranged organisations are adapting – harnessing emerging and relatively inexpensive technologies in their attempts to do us harm.
More than ever our security agencies need to be competitive and responsive to deal with new and emerging threats.
We must proactively engage in driving an effective international approach to crippling the financial operations of terrorist organisations and their supporters.
The international coordination of intelligence operations and the exchange of information requires greater urgency and energy.
Countering the rapid adoption of emerging low-cost technologies, such as drones and cyber attacks, will be increasingly important.
This needs to be a global, multilateral process.
Our treaties, conventions and export controls need to reflect that we live in a time when bomb-making instructions can be easily found on the internet and 3D printing is common.
As the distinguished – and as of today, outgoing – head of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Peter Varghese has said:
Global agreements must: ‘‘be updated and built upon, so that they remain relevant as the landscape shifts’’.
But countermeasures are not always available off the shelf.
We are in a constant battle of lessons learned, adaptation and anticipation that requires imagination and innovation.
That is why it is essential for Australia to nurture its national defence research and development effort.
If we’re not in the business of creating new ideas and quickly turning new ideas into new technologies, the ADF will become slower to respond and less effective over time.
Now is not the time to be making funding cuts to important organisations like the Defence Science and Technology Group.
Our Parliament should always be a place where we can debate the important issues in a rational and considered way.
This Parliament should not be a forum not for fearmongering or jingoism, but for considered examination of the best way to keep our nation safe.
I understand Australians are anxious and concerned about their security.
We open the papers, we go online and we turn on the TV and it seems there are more stories than ever before of threats to our way of life and random, senseless acts of violence afflicting the innocent.
It is a challenging time for our country, indeed our world.
But I say to my fellow Australians, take heart.
Be of good courage.
Take comfort from the knowledge that our security agencies, our police, our defence force are among the very best and bravest in the world.
And they should take comfort from this Parliament, the speech by the Prime Minister and reply by the Opposition today.
I can assure those who are listening, that despite our very fierce debates about many aspects of Australia, that we go together into the future with a united strength in terms of national security.
There can be no 100 per cent guarantee against terrorism occurring here. We already know this.
There can even perhaps be an even lesser guarantee for the safety of Australians overseas, no matter how much we wish to protect our family and friends and children when they travel.
There is a possibility that some few people, with some infamous training and malice in their heart would seek to come causing harm.
And Australians should know that the very qualities we love about our country: the rule of law, inclusion, equality and respect, remain our most powerful and enduring defence against those who would seek to attack our way of life.
In this Parliament it has been said before our national security determines:
“Whatever has been done; whatever must be done; and all that we can hope to do in the future”
That will be the first responsibility of all of us as elected representatives.
I thank the house.
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT – 02 6277 4053
STATEMENT ON INDULGENCE
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
MONDAY, 23 NOVEMBER 2015
*** CHECK AGAINST DELIEVERY ***
Mr Speaker, Mr Ambassador.
When the first explosions were heard inside the Stade de France on Friday November 13, Patrice Evra was the French player in possession of the ball.
Evra was born in Dakar, Senegal.
On the field with him that night were players with family in Angola, Tunisia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Men of different faiths and cultures, brought up in different traditions – all wearing the famous blue of the country they love.
And in the number 12 shirt, Lassanna Diarra, a practising Muslim who was not yet to know that his own cousin was amongst those killed that night.
Just a year ago, Diarra himself was wrongly accused of having joined the Islamic State.
Now here they were, claiming responsibility for the murder of a woman he described as ‘a rock, a support, a big sister’.
This is just one man, mourning the loss of a loved one.
Those same scenes of trauma and sadness are being played out across Lebanon, Mali and France as people slowly come to grips with the evil deeds of the past fortnight.
Indiscriminate, immoral, inhuman murder – that we condemn today on behalf of all Australians.
Please know, that as one country and one people, we offer our heartfelt condolences to your nation and to the people of France, especially those mourning the loss of someone they love.
It does not matter what faith terrorists invoke, if they invoke a faith.
It does not matter what imagined injustice they pretend to have suffered.
It does not matter what name terrorists claim to act in, or what flag they wave.
Regardless of the religious symbol they claim to love – the nightmare is always the same: spreading fear, inciting hatred and division.
And whether it occurs in Beirut or in the air above Egypt, or Bamako or Paris, every act of terrorism is equally cowardly and equally abhorrent.
Because every human life is precious – and every death is mourned.
Every act of terrorism is an affront to our humanity – wherever it happens and whoever it affects.
As reports of the bombings spread across Paris, people began gathering in the Place de la Republique.
In the centre of that famous square stands a statue of ‘Marianne’ – the national symbol of the Republic, an idealisation of liberty and reason.
In her right hand she clasps an olive branch, her left hand rests on a copy of the Declaration of Rights of Man and the Citizen.
On the pedestal beneath her, a lion guards a representation of the ballot box.
Liberty. Peace. Justice. Democracy.
Virtues carved in marble, etched in stone.
Tested and tempered in war and revolution.
Paid for by the courage, faith and sacrifice of generations past.
The attack on Paris was not just an assault on a city beloved by the world.
It was an attack on the qualities that Paris embodies.
It was an assault on the fundamental right of free people to live in peace.
An atrocity designed to divide the world.
And, even in those early hours, as people around the world sought to make sense of the senseless.
It was clear that the terrorists had failed.
They failed because our world will not capitulate to fear.
Australians, like the remarkable Tasmanian student Emma Parkinson, reminding us that we will never yield to division.
We will stand together.
Many races, many languages, many faiths – but one people.
We share a common humanity that binds us, and guides us.
We rededicate ourselves to that today.
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 4053
STATEMENT ON INDULGENCE – BUSHFIRES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, CANBERRA
MONDAY, 23 NOVEMBER 2015
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The President of the Esperance Shire, Victoria Brown, called it the ‘day from hell’.
Farms and crops reduced to ashes.
Homes, sheds and wheat bins destroyed.
And four lives lost.
Our hearts go out to their families, friends and loved ones today.
Three of those who perished were international visitors.
Two from Germany and one from Norway, all working on Warranga Station.
Kym Curnow was the fourth.
A farmer who had been driving around the district warning others of the approaching fire.
An act of selflessness that cost him his life.
Kym was a volunteer firefighter with the Scaddan Bush Fire Brigade.
Brigade chief Gavin Egan said Kym was ‘the one bloke no-one could say a bad word about’.
Even as they mourn the loss of their friend, the Scaddan Brigade are continuing the clean-up.
“We have brief moments where we get emotional,” Gavin said, “but we’ve just got to carry on.”
We pay tribute today to the work of all the firefighters, who saved more than 100 homes from the flames.
And we salute the generosity of all those Australians who have offered assistance to those in need.
In 1939, when Judge Leonard Stretton concluded his report on the ‘Black Friday’ bushfires of that year.
“They had not lived long enough.”
This was not just a lament for the dead, many who lost their lives far too young.
It was a comment on our whole nation, unprepared for the speed and ferocity of a fire that engulfed communities.
In 2015, we have lived longer.
We understand the ever-present danger of bushfires, we know the need to be prepared.
But on a dry continent like ours, we will never live long enough.
Summer in Australia will always be bushfire season.
We will always need to take care.
And we urge all Australians to get their fire plans in place, to look after themselves and their families this summer.
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT – 02 6277 4053
CLOSING THE JUSTICE GAP
MELBOURNE LAW SCHOOL – THE UNIVERSITY OF MELBOURNE
WEDNESDAY, 18 NOVEMBER 2015
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I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet and I pay my respects to elders past and present.
Just a few weeks ago, I had the privilege of participating in the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the handback at Uluru.
As part of the ceremonies, I had to provide the local Pitjantjara interpreters with a copy of my speech in advance.
The lady who was interpreting my speech, Lena, had made changes to the English, because my words did not exist in Pitjantjara.
Her changes were seriously good.
Where I had written about ‘dispossessing’ and ‘marginalising’ the traditional owners, she wrote:
“We took away the land from the people who knew, loved and cared for it.”
I had quoted Stanner’s famous reference to the ‘Great Australian silence’ in our history.
Lena changed this to: An empty place in our nation’s heart.
I was blown away by Lena’s words, ringing with truth.
And it struck me as something of a metaphor for so much of what occurs in Indigenous affairs.
The first Australians, knowing precisely what they have endured and exactly what it means.
And the rest of us not quite speaking the same language, not capturing the same truth.
With some heroic exceptions, decades of failing to say exactly what we mean – and not always meaning what we say.
This is why our efforts to close the gap, and build momentum for constitutional recognition, must always be informed by the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their community-controlled, representative organisations.
Any proposal for change we take to the Australian people must be owned and shaped by the First Australians.
At the gathering of Indigenous leaders in July, we agreed to establish a Council to help formalise the referendum question, the timing and to lead the community conversation.
I know there is a growing frustration with a lack of action in getting the Council up and running.
For our part, we will continue to do as much as we can, with the Prime Minister, to progress the Council, so they can get on with their important work.
Because every day of delay, every day of talk without progress, creates the risk of apathy and cynicism undercutting our goal.
We can’t prevaricate any longer.
We need to ensure the next steps are clear – and democratic.
Informed by grassroots activists and advocates, citizens and Elders in the community who know what recognition means to them – and what it must mean to Australia.
I believe a deep reservoir of national goodwill exists for success.
There are those who say we should be cautious, preserving popularity by offering only minimal, symbolic change.
I take a different view, I believe we draw upon this goodwill to achieve meaningful, substantive change.
Change that rightly consigns the race powers in our Constitution to the same fate as the White Australia policy.
Change that makes it clear there is no place for racism in modern Australia.
Recognition must be more than a new cover page of poetry we staple onto the front of the Constitution.
Australians set their ambitions high – and expect their elected representatives to rise to the challenge.
It’s up to our generation, to all of us, to right this wrong.
And yet whatever words we choose, we know recognition alone is not enough – unless it is accompanied by post-recognition action.
Real action, to address the racism, injustice, poverty and disadvantage that afflict the lives of the First Australians.
When Aboriginal people die ten years’ earlier than non-Indigenous Australians, we need to offer more than recognition.
When Australia is the only developed nation in the world where trachoma is endemic, we need to change more than our constitution.
When half of the young people in juvenile detention are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people…
When two per cent of our population makes up more than a quarter of our prison population…
When an Aboriginal man leaving school is more likely to go to jail than university…
We must do more than correct historical injustice.
We must strive to deliver justice.
I will never forget sitting in the Parliament in 2008 for the Apology.
Kevin Rudd said sorry on behalf of a nation for the prejudice and exclusion inflicted by governments past, and the first Australians accepted that Apology in the spirit in which it was offered.
That moment was a test of honesty, speaking the truth about our history.
The test of this moment, of our generation, is to make sure we do not merely trade one set of mistakes for another.
I don’t want another Prime Minister, in another Parliament to have to deliver another apology for the failures and neglect of our generation.
This is why Labor built the Closing the Gap framework – and set clear targets and timetables.
- Early childhood education
- Reading, writing and numeracy
- Year 12 completion
- Halving the employment gap by 2018
- Halving the mortality gap for children under five
- And closing the life expectancy gap by 2031.
We are on track to halve the child mortality gap, but in other areas progress has been uneven – and there is more to do.
Setting specific targets means we record our performance.
It focuses national attention on closing the gap.
And it keeps all of us – politicians, public servants and service providers accountable.
It’s why in 2013, Labor sought to create a new target, ensuring 90 per cent of Indigenous Australians with disability will be able to access NDIS support by 2020.
Labor is committed to this.
And the appalling rate of incarceration among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, demands we create justice targets.
Targets that allow us to focus on community safety, preventing crime and reducing incarceration.
Less crime, and less punishment.
Because nowhere is the story of unfairness and diminished opportunity more clearly defined than in the justice gap between the first Australians and the rest of us.
From family violence, to incarceration rates – the numbers are simply shocking.
If you are an Aboriginal man, you are 15 times more likely to be imprisoned than a non-Aboriginal man.
Half of all Aboriginal prisoners are under 30.
The re-imprisonment rate for Aboriginal young people is higher than the school retention rate.
The numbers are heartbreaking – and getting worse.
Imprisonment rates have more than doubled in the past decade, growing independent from changes in the crime rate.
And for Aboriginal women, the rate of imprisonment is accelerating even faster – a 74 per cent increase in the past 15 years.
Today, Aboriginal women are one-third of our female prisoners.
There are far too many people in prison with poorly-understood disability, particularly cognitive and mental disabilities.
We cannot tolerate a system that just processes people, rather than a system that fairly administers justice.
We cannot let it be said of modern Australia that the colour of your skin determines whether or not you end up in jail.
It is devastating that jail is seen as a rite of passage for many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, part of the natural order of things.
It is an outrage that there is an attitude that this is normal.
It is not normal.
It is soul-shattering that our justice system is defunct for communities in our nation.
And this ongoing injustice isn’t confined to outback communities, far from our gaze.
We can’t take the shoulder-shrugging view that this is just the tyranny of distance or a ‘fact of life’ in remote Australia.
The injustice is just as shameful across our cities and regional towns.
For individuals, an early stint in jail means you’re more likely to grapple with mental health issues or develop a substance addiction…
…and less likely to finish school, learn a trade or get a job.
Children with a parent in jail are less likely to go to school.
More likely to know the pain of poverty and neglect.
And more likely to be part of the rapidly-growing number of Aboriginal children placed in out-of-home care.
A number that has increased by a staggering 440 per cent since the Bringing them Home report was released in 1997.
Every community pays a price – with higher crime rates, reduced safety, and family violence.
And it costs the taxpayer $292 a day to keep someone in prison.
It’s time for Australia to face these failures.
To demand an end to this grievous national shame.
The first meeting of COAG convened under a Shorten Labor Government will work on justice targets.
We will work closely with State and local governments, through law enforcement agencies, corrections and community services
And just as importantly, we will be guided by the people who live the reality of the justice gap: community leaders, Elders and Aboriginal representative organisations.
Crime and incarceration affects the safety of the whole community – and the solution belongs to the whole community.
Two years ago the town of Bourke in the west of New South Wales, topped the state for six of the eight crime categories.
Including family violence, sexual assault and robbery.
In February 2013, a headline in the Sydney Morning Herald reported that if Bourke was a nation, on a per capita basis, it would be ‘more dangerous than any country in the world’.
The people of Bourke said ‘enough is enough’.
The community brought together 18 different organisations: police, magistrates, legal services, mental health experts and community groups to examine the causes of crime – and to work on preventing crime.
This is not about being ‘soft’ on crime, or giving offenders a free pass.
It’s about breaking the vicious cycle of disadvantage, the demoralising treadmill of offending and incarceration.
This has been baptised as a ‘justice reinvestment’ model: prevention, rehabilitation and diversion.
An approach owned, championed by local people…informed by local knowledge, local expertise…and supported by the NSW government.
Building the capacity of communities to tackle the underlying causes of crime: substance abuse, disengagement from school and family dislocation.
Similar programs are underway in Cowra, in Katherine, in the Northern Territory – where the NT Law society is helping fund a project.
And the South Australian Government has offered its support to two sites.
But after two years, one of the problems confronting Bourke is a lack of co-ordinated information about what is working, and what is not.
It’s difficult for time-poor people on the frontline, to take a step back and assess their performance.
It’s time for the Federal Government to step up.
A Shorten Labor Government will provide the resources for a long-term study of justice reinvestment in Bourke, to see what Australia can learn.
And Labor will work with communities who are committed to this approach, and with the states and territories, to select three more launch sites: in a major city, a regional town and a remote community to roll out a local-power model for community safety.
Through COAG, we will create a national coordinating body for collecting data and measuring progress.
Building safer communities, by empowering residents.
Of course, we can never talk about community safety, without addressing the scourge of family violence.
Violence against Aboriginal women is at the very core of the national shame of family violence in Australia.
An Aboriginal woman is 34 times more likely to be hospitalised as a result of family violence.
And 11 times more likely to die.
Family violence is the number one cause of Aboriginal children being removed from their family and their community, and all the trauma and disruption to the social fabric this entails.
And too many women seeking help from family violence face significant legal, psychological and cultural barriers.
Every woman living in fear must have access to safe and culturally appropriate legal support, no matter where they live.
This is why Australia’s 14 Family Violence Prevention Legal Services are so important.
These Aboriginal community-controlled organisations work to break down the fear and isolation that affects many victims of family violence.
Many Aboriginal women come to a centre after living in violent situations for many years, trusting the staff to provide support and advice – without judgment.
These centres don’t just provide legal advice for one day in court.
They are a bridge to counselling and housing services, as well as leading community education campaigns aimed at boosting resilience and respect.
Disappointingly, Malcolm Turnbull’s recent Family Violence announcement neglected to invest in these services.
A decision that sits alongside:
- A $21.5 million cut from Legal Aid Commissions.
- $13.4 million cut from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services.
- And a broader $270 million cut from community support services – such as emergency relief, financial counselling and family relationships grants.
Far from the front page and the nightly news, cuts like these rarely receive the media condemnation they deserve.
But I want you to know I get how much pressure these cuts place on every community legal centre.
Ramping up demand on facilities already under strain, many running on their own tight budgets and absorbing cuts themselves.
This is why the first funding commitment I gave as Labor leader was to restore $50 million in legal service funding – including $4.5 million specifically allocated to Aboriginal Family Violence Prevention Legal Services.
I know every dollar of this money is desperately needed – and I know it will be well spent.
Particularly when the presence of accessible, culturally-appropriate support can be the difference between Aboriginal women seeking help – and suffering in silence.
I know in some conservative quarters it’s fashionable to say: ‘money won’t solve the problem on its own’.
But cutting funding won’t rescue family violence survivors – full stop.
So, the next time you hear someone talk about the ‘cost’ of preventing family violence, you tell them this.
By 2021, the cost of not preventing family violence among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people alone…will be $2.2 billion a year.
Above all, eliminating family violence from our national life, depends upon delivering equality for Australian women, regardless of who they are or where they live.
Equal opportunity for work, equal pay at work and an equal chance to lead decision-making for their communities and their country.
And we cannot close the justice gap, the family violence gap – without closing the gender gap for Aboriginal women and girls.
Better education for girls and young women is our best hope of promoting better health and nutrition, reducing infant and maternal mortality rates – and boosting productivity and employment.
But right now, less than six in ten Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander female students complete secondary school (as opposed to over eight in ten for non-Indigenous students).
And over 50 per cent of Aboriginal mothers have their first child while they are still teenagers.
We must engage young people at school and beyond.
The Clontarf academy among others has proven successful in improving school retention rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander boys.
Yet while there are 28 of these various academies designed specifically for boys, there are only 13 for girls.
We can’t build gender equality on this shifting, uneven foundation.
A Labor Government I lead will address the current inequity in programs for girls.
We will partner with Stars Foundation, to build on their existing programs in schools in the Northern Territory, to engage many more Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander girls and young women across Australia.
The Stars program adopts an approach similar to the Clontarf model, but designed specifically for female Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
Providing full-time mentors and using extra-curricular activities, including sport, to improve school attendance and Year 12 attainment, as well as addressing health issues and social and emotional wellbeing.
Just as importantly, identifying the path from school to work or further education and training.
Addressing endemic poverty and disadvantage in so many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities…
….depends on educating and empowering the next generation of girls – the generation currently in school, the generation who will close the gap.
A Shorten Labor Government will invest $8.4 million to create 7155 new places in the Stars Program for girls across Australia.
The Foundation will work with other organisations delivering school-based mentoring to girls and young women to engage and support students.
Friends, I’m not here tonight pretending to have all the answers, or that governments can resolve every issue.
There’s been enough of that, enough imposed solutions creating new problems.
Instead, we need to recognise that the best plans and policies depend upon fundamental respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Empowering people has guided my whole working life.
The best outcomes occur when people are empowered to make decisions about their own lives.
These principles are at the heart of great campaigns like ‘Change the Record’ being led by Kirstie Parker and Shane Duffy…with the guidance of Mick Gooda – who has been such a strong voice for empowering communities through diversion and prevention in justice.
But relying on the goodwill and generosity of an under-resourced, over-worked few is not enough.
The injustice dealt to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is a stain on our whole nation, and it is a challenge to our whole nation.
The national lawmakers must lead.
We should not deceive ourselves.
We need new justice targets.
Shared goals, shaped by the voices of all involved.
Law enforcement, legal services, community sector experts, governments and – above all – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Friends, not for one minute do I underestimate the scope or the scale of the challenge before us.
No generation of Australians has passed the test we face.
But if we listen, if we work together, I believe we can succeed where others have failed.
We can close the justice gap.
We can. We must. We will.
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT – 02 6277 4053
SPEAKING NOTES FOR THE NEW SOUTH WALES YOUNG LABOR CONFERENCE
ULTIMO, NEW SOUTH WALES
SATURDAY, 31 OCTOBER 2015
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Thank you for being here on a Saturday morning – it’s wonderful so many of you are here.
I know you all lead busy lives, so it gives me a real lift to see you giving up your time for a cause you believe in.
You’re here because you care about building a better future for our country – and for your fellow Australians.
Sometimes it’s not easy to be a young person in Australia.
Youth unemployment is too high, in our suburbs and in our regions.
And your generation faces a unique set of challenges:
- Assembling a deposit for a house, when it feels like your best chance to own a home is to inherit one.
- Paying off larger HECS debts, because you’re studying longer to enhance your opportunities.
- Having to compete in a really tough jobs market – a global race.
And you are also inheriting problems that were not of your making:
- Climate change
- Rising inequality
- Liberals always wanting you to incur more debt – at Uni or TAFE
- Or pay more through a higher GST
You look at these challenges, you weigh them against the daily experience of life, and then you turn on your TV and see a Parliament that isn’t shaped by your views or your reality.
It’s easy to think…how is politics meant to help me in my daily life?
Perhaps it’s no wonder that our democracy has a participation problem – especially among young people.
400,000 Australians turned 18 between 2010 and 2013 – and did not enrol to vote.
Too many of your peers are falling through the cracks in our democracy.
More fines and penalties from the AEC won’t fix this.
More speeches from politicians won’t change it.
Only you can change that.
Only you can show your friends and classmates and workmates and teammates that the best way to fix our system, is to get involved.
I know we live in times when it is easy to be disengaged, it’s easy to be cynical.
But the worst outcome for our country would be for young Australians like you to lose faith in the power of our democracy to change our nation for the better.
Australia can’t overcome the challenges of the next 15-20 years, the challenges of the next generation, without your generation.
We need your ideas, your energy, your ambition for our nation to be the best it can be.
Our democracy depends on trust.
That trust has to be mutual – it has to run both ways.
People put their trust in the judgment of their representatives.
And Parliaments have to trust the people they serve.
This is why I want Australia to think about lowering the voting age, to give more young Australians a say.
In 2012/13, more than 17,000 Australians under 18 paid $41 million in taxes – not to mention the GST.
And if Australia trusts our 16 and 17 year old citizens:
- To pay tax and work
- To join the military
- To drive on our roads
- To fly a plane
- To make independent decisions about their medical care
Then we – the Parliament of Australia – should extend that trust to include a direct, empowered say in our democracy.
It’s certainly occurring in other parts of the world.
Young Australians like you deserve the right to shape the laws and policies that shape your lives.
I believe young people want to be involved in decision-making processes – and should be offered the opportunity to do so, within our existing political structure.
This will increase transparency and community-centred action in politics.
Your generation is more connected with the world than any before you.
The future belongs to you and your generation.
And your generation should have a say in defining that future.
I believe the more voices in our national debate, the better.
Just from the conversations I’ve had with people here this morning, I’ve met passionate advocates for:
- Marriage Equality
- Real action on climate change
- The equal treatment of women
- Youth wages
- A better university system
- International development
- And animal welfare
And the more of us who are involved, engaged participants in our democracy, the better.
Better for our society, our country and our future.
MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT – 02 6277 4053
ADDRESS TO THE ALP SOUTH AUSTRALIA BRANCH STATE CONVENTION
SATURDAY, 24 OCTOBER 2015
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Colleagues, delegates, true believers, fellow Australians.
It’s always good to be here in South Australia.
The first state in Australia to give women the vote – and the first place in the world where women could run for Parliament.
Your state has given our country and indeed the world so much.
Industry, innovation, art and ideas.
Nobel laureates, Howard Florey and the Braggs.
Australia’s first astronaut, Andy Thomas.
Trail blazing women like Catherine Helen Spence and Dame Roma Mitchell.
Pioneering, progressive Labor Premiers like Don Dunstan.
You are a beacon even for modern multicultural Australia with Governor Van Le.
And just to show you’re not perfect, you have given us Christopher Pyne and Cory Bernardi.
I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, I pay my respect to their elders, both past and present.
Here at a Labor conference, in the first state in Australia to legislate for land rights, those words of acknowledgement always carry extra meaning.
Not just a nod of respect from the party of Native Title and the Apology but it is the promise every time we do the welcome to country, it is the promise for a better future for our first Australians, in every facet of our lives.
I acknowledge the Premier of South Australia, Jay Weatherhill and I acknowledge my South Australian friends and our Federal colleagues that you kindly elected to the Federal Parliamentary party from SA.
We are very lucky to have such a group of hard working, talented members of the Federal Caucus that SA Labor and South Australia delivers to the national parliament.
I look forward at the next election to adding, amongst others, Steve Georganas and Mark Ward.
I know she has flown off overseas today, but I want to congratulate Penny Wong for the work that she has done standing up for Australian jobs, Australian conditions, Australian wages, Australian skills, Australian safety standards – and the fight goes on.
Friends, we have good news to celebrate today.
You know what it is, Australia knows what it is. Tony Abbott is no longer Prime Minister of Australia.
And Joe Hockey, well, he is no longer Treasurer. Remember, he is the Treasurer who goaded Holden into leaving Australia.
And remember the PM who cheered him on, well they are both gone.
All of you, don’t let these Johnny-come-latelys like Malcolm Turnbull take the credit.
I didn’t see him alongside you for the last couple of years opposing the dreadful budget cuts, it was volunteers, branch members.
It was the strength of the Labor Party’s resistance which proved just too hard for Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey to overcome.
You should be celebrating.
We know the things that count: passion, authenticity, values, consistency.
Labor always knew where it stood with Tony Abbott and whilst we shouldn’t be doing a victory lap today because there is a lot of work to be done, we can afford to take a moment’s reflection.
The changes we have written into the Liberal Party started in the Labor Party. We should be proud of what we have done.
South Australians need no stories about the hardships of the last two years of Liberal Government.
No State has suffered more from the cuts, from the broken promises than SA.
Even though the Liberals have changed their salesman, and some of their sales pitch.
Even though we have swapped three word slogans for the dinner party conversations where we move the salt and pepper shaker and we promise everything to everyone, we still know what needs to be done.
We know that the dud policies and the bad plans are unchanged.
The same attacks on Medicare.
Cuts to family payments, single parents, grandparents.
The same $80 billion cuts to hospitals and schools.
The same cuts to apprenticeships and TAFE.
The same expensive joke of a climate policy. We are still paying the big polluters to pollute.
The same plans delayed for 12 months for $100,000 degrees.
The same anti-union rhetoric.
All these old policies but there is one new idea, Barnaby Joyce is now in charge of the Murray Darling Basin.
This is a bloke who could start an international incident over two dogs named Boo and Pistol. He is now making decisions about our most important river system.
This is the bloke who once told South Australians the solution to your problems is “to move to where the water is”.
No State has fought harder and worked longer for River Murray reform than South Australia and your Labor Government.
We cannot allow this work and reform to be undone by a back room deal.
Friends, the choice is still sharp and it is still stark.
We have Labor’s vision for a growing productive, inclusive economy, with job creation at the heart.
Against the same tired Liberal strategy, look after the top end of town, go soft on banks, hard on families.
And friends, the stakes are still high. It is a tough struggle.
We cannot be surprised that the vested interests in this nation are not simply going to release their grip on the levers of power.
They will do anything to keep their control of this nation.
But any victory worth winning will have to be hard fought.
This is what Jay and his team showed us last year.
I remember standing with you at the Adelaide Oval in March, the opening week of the campaign.
All the commentators, all the armchair experts, they had written Labor off, again.
On that day, Jay did two things.
He released a 216 page policy book, the most comprehensive plan released by any political party in any election for a very long time.
It was a document that set the terms of the contest.
Jay, you challenged the Liberals to a battle of ideas.
A referendum about who had the best policies for the future of SA.
On that day in March last year, you said the election would be about one thing above all other matters – jobs.
That is the example which we follow nationally.
It is the message I get wherever I go in this country.
Our fellow Australians are worried above all else about jobs.
The jobs of today, and the jobs of the future.
The jobs that we want our children to do and find.
For Labor, jobs has always been the ultimate test, the gold standard of whether our economy is growing as strongly as it should and as fairly as it should.
Jobs is how Labor measures our transition beyond the mining boom, into the next wave of future industries and opportunities.
Jobs is how we judge whether or not everyone has a stake in our society, the chance to climb out of poverty, disadvantage and dispossession.
It is why in the last two years, the Labor Party I lead is producing more work than any Federal Opposition in a generation.
We understand that the challenge of jobs, the challenges before Australia cannot rely on politics as usual.
We know that creating the jobs of the future demands that we be honest about the economy of the present.
For the past two years, our economy has been wallowing in mediocrity.
Unemployment is too high.
Growth is too slow.
Insecurity at work is too common.
Inequality is at a 75 year high.
It is tougher than ever before for young people to find a job or indeed form a deposit for a house.
The moment before us requires more than high blown rhetoric.
You can’t just wave your glasses and make it all magically disappear.
Australians cannot overcome these new challenges with the same old failed Liberal idea of trickledown economics.
You cannot create a skilful and smart work force when you are cutting education and training.
You do not create a more productive country by making it harder for people to go to the doctor.
You do not help working families help make ends meet by slashing their support.
You do not create jobs by smashing the car industry and breaking promises on submarines.
You do not create jobs by attacking penalty rates or spending $80 million on a polluted Trade Union Royal Commission.
Malcolm Turnbull, today has celebrated his birthday by talking about industrial relations.
He is setting an IR test for Labor.
I thought today I would set an industrial relations test for Mr Turnbull.
One, how about reducing serious injuries and fatalities at work, including real action on industrial diseases, including asbestos, and mesothelioma?
Two. Right now the minimum wage is falling further behind average wages. It is already hard enough for Australians to pay the bills and make ends meet.
How about admitting that the current system of enterprise bargaining and low paid bargaining is proving disappointingly ineffective at setting industry standards and competitive contracting industries like security and cleaning.
How about a test in industrial relations which recognises that allowing a system where existing standards can be contracted out of by starting new employees in labour hire on lower rates makes everyone insecure.
If you want to talk about industrial relations, Mr Turnbull, let’s talk about the unacceptably low wages that early childhood educators receive in the most important generation of teaching we need.
Actually, Malcolm, if we want to talk about industrial relations, let’s talk about the spread of sham contracting arrangements, the scamming by subcontractors of employment to another company where people are employed on half of the minimum wage and look no further than 7-Eleven.
If we want to talk about industrial relations in this country, let’s talk about right now, the 800,000 plus visa holders with temporary work rights in Australia who are being exploited in many cases.
At the same time we have 800,000 of our fellow Australians unemployed, another 800,000 of our fellow Australians on the Disability Support Pension, treated as second class citizens, and another 1.3 million Australians underemployed or in insecure employment, not satisfactory to their dreams and aspirations.
That is the conversation to have about industrial relations.
Malcolm Turnbull, we are going to have that conversation.
While we’re at it, let’s talk about jobs, Malcolm, not just your job.
Let’s talk about the jobs of Australians.
We need a Government which is as ambitious, brave and optimistic as Australians.
But we have to make sure that Australians, all Australians are at the centre of what Government does.
Government does have a role and a responsibility to invest in the drivers of growth, jobs and productivity.
We want to build an economy which has economic growth, good quality economic growth and fair economic growth.
We want to put the shared energy of the Commonwealth of Australia behind Australia’s best resource.
The skills, the smarts, the capacity of our people.
Only our party, the Labor Party, the Labor movement, has the courage and imagination to back in all Australians.
We have put forward, in the last month, a plan to fund infrastructure by borrowing money. ‘Socialism,’ they would cry, except Malcolm just announced it today as he plagiarised our speech from last month.
We are the ones who said, in response to the hopeless second Budget of Abbott/Turnbull/Hockey, that we want to see science and research be 3 per cent of our economic effort by 2030.
We are the ones who want to see the funding go into the schools, more qualified teachers with science degrees, more support for innovations and startups.
Amanda Rishworth will make sure that is going to happen.
We want to make sure we have a health care system where our hospitals are properly funded, our health workers are fairly paid.
A health care system where it is your Medicare card, not your credit card which determines the level of health in Australia and Tony Zappia is going to help us do that.
Labor has not and will not surrender on the proposition that our schools should be funded according to need and no other criteria
and Kate Ellis is going to help bring that home.
And we understand we need to create jobs in South Australia.
We need to help create industries in South Australia.
We are going to do that by backing in clean energy.
You know where I am going here. Mark Butler is going to help us do that with a 50 per cent goal in renewable energy.
SA Labor understands this. We are not part of the book-burning club of climate change.
We are the political party who is always consistent.
What is more, if we form a Government, we are not going to back in Tony Abbott’s plan in order to get the votes of the far right of the Liberal Party.
We will keep leading the nation in terms of solar power and wind power and that will be driven from your home state of South Australia.
I probably don’t need to say it, because it has been such a struggle of South Australian Labor, the South Australian community, the South Australian unions and of course Federal Labor.
Only Labor can be trusted, because we have never changed our mind, to build, maintain and sustain the next generation of Australian submarines right here in Port Adelaide.
We, in the house of Labor, understand that Government is never a matter of choosing between a strong economy and a fair society.
We understand these principles are twins, inseparable.
A fair society and equality are the only way to generate meaningful growth in this country.
We meet at a time where inequality has not been higher for 75 years.
Our tax system is a leaky bucket. It is riddled with holes, allowing some people to pay less tax on particular types of income or pay it later, than they would if they had just earned it as wages, like the vast bulk of the Australian people.
We know that these holes are disproportionately used by the highest income earners in this country.
Taxpayers in the top bracket are much more likely to earn income in tax privileged forms and to earn more of it than taxpayers in the lower tax brackets.
In the financial year 2012/13, 55 of Australia’s largest earners paid no income at all, not even the Medicare levy.
They were below the $18,200 threshold. So despite earning more than millions of dollars, these people legally managed to write their taxable income down below the tax free threshold.
The various deductions and loopholes in our system are two and a half times more likely to be used by the wealthiest Australians.
It is hard, as some observers have said, to accept that the existence of such discrepancies, the bell shaped tax system, where if you earn no money you pay no tax, but there is a clear disadvantage in that.
Then there is everyone in the middle of the bell, and at the other end, if you earn enough money, you can manage to minimise your tax to practically nothing. It is bell-shaped.
There is no legitimate public policy argument for this to continue and it is impossible to describe this system as fair.
All the time this goes on, the ability to reduce tax liabilities, disproportionately used by those who are already the most well off.
This is not class warfare, this is just an unfair system.
This is not the politics as envy, as some will say when they hear this speech today – how on Earth can we have a system where, if you have a great deal of income and you are already comfortable and we salute and recognise that, that you can still keep getting subsidies from the rest of the taxpayers in your tax system?
It is long overdue to have a debate about inequality in this country and it starts here and it starts now.
The middle class, the great group of people who go to work every day, pay their wages, don’t claim much in deductions. They are being squeezed.
Did you know other than Italy, in the whole of the OECD, more Australians than proportionately citizens of every other country have to go to a tax agent just to do their tax.
We have a system that is not fair and we have a system that is not simple. Time to change it, I think. Time to change it.
When we look at how divided our society is becoming, let’s understand the consequences of growing inequality.
The more divided our society becomes in terms of wealth, the more reluctant the wealthy are to spend their money on the infrastructure, the basic research, the education and society’s needs.
Inequality leads to less investment in public goods.
Inequality leads to polarisation, leads to lower social trust, it leads to greater rent-seeking and where inequality grows, it moves to the centre of Government policy that is why we need a Labor Government.
We have never had an existential crisis about which party to join in our lives.
We have always known.
We know the hardest decision in life is not what party you join, who will have you, who you can lead.
We understand no Australian is expendable.
We understand we don’t leave people behind, that is why Labor has driven the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
You and I, the millions of people who trust Labor, we understand and empathise with the midnight anxiety of ageing parents and carers, awake wondering who will love their adult children with impairment in the same way that they do.
Empowering people with a disability and their carers is not just good social justice, it is good economics.
The more we treat people as consumers and not charity, the more we empower what every human being has within them, the better it is.
That is why Labor leads the way when it comes to social housing. Tackling homelessness.
And it is why today, we rededicate ourselves again to the equal treatment of women in our society.
Many of you are champions of this but no-one can take anything away from the work of your own Senator Anne McEwan in helping push for the equality for the treatment of women.
If we want to pick an example of the need for equality, it is that 72 women this year have died at the hands of someone who once said they loved them.
This is Australia’s shame. It is Australia’s shame.
If the Labor Party in Government did nothing more than reduce the horrendous rates of family violence.
If we insisted that women make up 50 per cent of Commonwealth Government boards,.
If by 2025 we keep our promise that half our Federal members will be women.
If we do something about equal pay cases, for early childhood educators.
We will make this country the most rich and equal society the world has ever seen.
These conferences are times where we come together, where our ideals bind us.
Where we listen to the accomplishments of remarkable Labor Governments, such as the one led by Jay,
And where we plan for what we can do for this nation.
We welcome the debate of ideas.
Today, I promise you that when it comes to climate change, when it comes to properly funding our hospitals.
When it comes to needs-based funding in our schools and prioritising Australian jobs, when it comes to the fair treatment of people at work and the equal treatment of women in our society.
When it comes to tackling inequality, because it is a drag on our economic growth and prosperity as a nation.
I promise you this – the promises of Labor in Opposition will be the policies of Labor in Government.
We will keep our promises.
We will advance Australia.
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