Browsing articles in "Speeches"
May 25, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins






MONDAY, 25 MAY 2015




Madam Speaker

Families of our honoured servicemen.

Today, we right a 50 year wrong.

The Government’s offering 25 families the chance to bring home their loved ones from a far corner of a foreign field.

In doing so we honour, equally and anew, all who served in Vietnam.

And we remind ourselves of our solemn duty that our country owes to the loved ones of the lost.

A duty not just to recite the words ‘lest we forget’ but to give them meaning: with lasting support and the full respect of history.

We can pinpoint when Australia’s involvement in Vietnam began and when it ended.

But for a generation of servicemen and their families, the end of the war is far less clear or demarcated.

Not far from where we sit, on a road running up to the Australian War Memorial, a memorial is dedicated to our Vietnam Forces.

It bears the names of all those Australians who died in the decade-long conflict and is inscribed with 33 quotes designed to capture the era.

There are statements from political leaders, as well as a line from John Schumann’s immortal: I was only 19.

And there are the haunting words of one returned serviceman:

I don’t seem to have many friends since I came home…If you weren’t there, then you can’t understand”.

Those two sentences crystallise one of our most confronting national failures…the long years of indifference to those who served our country in Vietnam.

The great, generous character of Australia deserted these men…our empathy and our imagination ran dry.

Television might have brought the Vietnam War into Australia’s lounge rooms – but insufficient of us not to take our veterans into our hearts.

TV may have given Australians a window into the world of all those who served – but millions saw without observing .

If you weren’t there, you can’t understand.”

For so many Australians the years of debate and division over the war in Vietnam were emblematic of a broader, wider fracturing in the world they knew.

An upending of the old familiarities and a new uncertainty to take its place.

In the face of this division, Australia opted to avert its eyes and change the subject.

And for a generation of service people, our nation’s ignorance wrought their isolation.

In his book Jungle Dark, Steve Strevens tells the story of Frank Hunt – the Frankie who “kicked a mine the day that mankind kicked the moon”.

Hunt and a group of other wounded diggers were on a day trip to the movies from the Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital, when they were confronted by a group of protestors.

One came up to Frank – in his wheelchair – and rubbed a meat pie into his hair.

Frank looked at the young man and said “You forgot the sauce”.

Madam Speaker, Frank’s dignity cannot fully hide the shame.

As time passed, our nation worked to make amends.

It was at a ‘welcome home’ parade in October 1987 where more than 25,000 Veterans were cheered through the streets of Sydney by hundreds and thousands of Australians.

For many, it was the first time they had marched since their return home.

And at the front of the parade, went the loved ones of the lost, each family carrying an Australian flag in honour of the 521 fallen.

Five years later, in 1992, the Vietnam Memorial was opened.

In 2006, our Parliament apologised to all those who served for the way they were treated on their return.

Kim Beazley fought back tears as he read a letter from Graham Edwards, the then Member for Cowan, who was badly wounded while serving in Vietnam.

Kim said:

Today is a day when our Federal Parliament should honour our Vietnam Veterans, recognise their service and say to them that they did a good job in the best tradition of the Anzacs.

Today is a day when we should say we are proud of our Vietnam veterans.

A day when we honour and recognise their sacrifice, their service and their suffering. 

Those truths still hold firm.

I don’t believe anything can ever erase the hurt and sadness that so many families experienced when they lost their loved ones early in this war.

Many families fought to have the bodies returned to Australia but their pleas were rejected and this only added to the pain.

Today we offer an act of healing, a chance for the families of 25 Australian servicemen to bring their loved ones home at last.

All of us in the Parliament are privileged to have as our guests here: Ms Dianne Field, Mrs Marie Hanley and Mrs Sara Ferguson.

People who knew and loved the men we honour today.

People who knew them and remember them not just as a name carved on a wall, or a photo on a mantelpiece, or a bundle of letters in a drawer.

But as sons, brothers, husbands and fathers full of energy, and purpose

People who, when they close their eyes can still see the face of the one they loved: a cheeky wink across the dinner table at a secret joke, a crooked smile or perhaps just an infectious laugh.

Today is for all of you, and the memories that you cherish.

Madam Speaker

Francis Smith was the youngest member of his family, and he was killed by enemy sniper fire at Ben Cat on 21 September 1965.

His older brother Ken, wrote in an email:

He has been away from home too long, please bring him back to his home town for burial at his place of birth”.

And today is for the next generation too.

Kevin Conway was the first Australian to be killed in the Vietnam War, he was serving in a US special forces team and died defending their camp on the morning of 6 July 1964.

Kevin’s niece Kathy has just recently returned from the Kranji war cemetery in Singapore, where her uncle is buried.

She told the Member for Batman, she and her sister want Kevin to be brought home, to rest alongside his family and friends.

In offering to bring home these veterans, we give the remembering descendants the chance to come in quiet, and stand for a while before the grave of a relative perhaps they never knew.

To tell a brave, lost loved one of a generation about a graduation, a wedding, a family reunion or a new grandchild.

Madam Speaker

In the grand sweep of war’s tragedies and triumphs, today may seem a small thing.

But by such moments, a nation reveals itself.

In this long overdue act, as with the return of the last of our missing from Vietnam in 2009, we show ourselves to be both the great country – and a good one.

Good enough and decent enough to give the full respect of history, to those who have earned it.

Good enough to do the right thing by those we once wronged.

On behalf of the Opposition, I thank and congratulate everyone who has worked to make this today happen.

Particularly the Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia and the Vietnam Veterans Federation of Australia – whose passionate advocacy has done so much to change minds and drive action.

Madam Speaker, Australians are proud of our veterans.

We always will be.

This moment reminds us that we always owe more than just pride.

We must keep our promises: to the families of our fallen and to all our veterans – including the next generation of diggers – as they adjust to life after Afghanistan.

So, Madam Speaker, let us all say our nation’s promise with special emphasis today.

We will remember them.

Lest We Forget.


May 14, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins








Good morning everyone.


It is fantastic to see so many people here and it is fantastic to see so many people gathered to talk about what a Budget, and indeed a Government, can do to empower and support the march of women through our society.


I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land upon which we meet.


May I also say to all of you who are here, this is arguably one of the most important gatherings you could have attended this year.


In this Budget, I believe that people were thinking that perhaps the Abbott Government might reconsider the meanness, the shocking nature of last year’s Budget.


But what none of us anticipated, I believe, was that we would have to start re-litigating the basics again with this rotten, unfair Government.


When I say re-litigating the basics, you know what I mean.


We’ve always had our suspicions about Tony Abbott’s commitment to working women and their rights and conditions.


We all know that he has said that over his dead body there would be paid parental leave.


Now, before the 2010 election, no doubt with the best possible polling advice he could get, they said ‘Tony, you’ve got a challenge’.


So then he came up with that signature scheme.


I was at International Women’s Day last year and when I listened to him, the Prime Minister of Australia, Tony Abbott when he compared himself to Richard Nixon – which was interesting.


The particular comparison in case you were wondering which part of Nixon he was comparing himself to, was he said that his reverse of policy on paid parental leave was akin to Nixon, the Republican, flying to China and recognising the communist government of China.


He on parental leave, his change of heart, was the ‘Nixonian’ event of our century, it was the big reversal.


We did wonder about this.


And then we discovered that the Abbott aeroplane never took off on paid parental leave because when put to pressure, he demonstrated his true commitment.


He dropped his paid parental leave scheme.


It was a silly scheme but it shows that this is the person who said he had the one thing he believed in, above all else, that Tony Abbott stamp, this was it, and of course he dropped it when the pressure was on.


But what I cannot believe in this Budget, and I think this has become unfortunately one of the more telling issues of the Budget 2015, is that this Government is now so uncommitted to paid parental leave.


So unfamiliar to what happens in the workplaces of Australia, to what employees and employers do, that they have decided to go after a new group of villains in the Australian community.


They have appointed some new bad people to go after, to demonise.


And you could wonder who this group could be but I could never have imagined, and this Government has managed to surprise me on many occasions, but I could never have imagined that they would say that retail workers, who have negotiated a deal with their employers and in response forgone other conditions to get a few additional weeks of paid parental leave, the nurses in the Victorian health system who have forgone other conditions, forgone other benefits in return for a few of additional weeks.


I could have never have believed that this Government could be so cynical, so ignorant – and it is ignorance – to say somehow it is a rort.


How on earth can it be a rort for low and modestly paid people who work hard every day, to negotiate a few weeks of additional of paid parental leave and say somehow these people are rorters?


And you watch this fellow Morrison, and he says ‘Oh, I didn’t say rorter’.


What he said on Sky News was that ‘people who do this, it is a rort’.


Only an Abbott-Liberal Government and its ministers could say that people who do something is a rort but that doesn’t in fact make them rorters.


It does, that is what they are saying. They are saying that women who have negotiated through their own efforts for a better deal on top of the minimum, the minimum standard, and the scheme that Labor lead and negotiated, and pushed against the odds and succeeded through Jenny, Tanya and Claire and the many others here.


Now that was the minimum.


It was never expected when we developed the minimum, that the minimum would become the maximum.


That was never the case.


There are many things in this Budget to talk about, there are many things to talk about, but the Abbott Government’s attack on working women who have managed to negotiate a few extra weeks, to be called ‘rorters’ – the use of the word ‘fraud’ has been flung around.


An then of course, what the Abbott-Government does when it is confronted with its own mistake, and we saw it with the whole of its last Budget, if it is confronted with its mistakes, its broken promises and its lies, what does it do? It doubles down.


It goes on again and again. If you don’t believe me, listen to some of the radio interviews some of these characters in the Abbott Government has done in the last 24 hours – trying to split hairs and navigate itself through the eye-of-a-needle of their inconsistences.


But for Labor, we believe fundamentally in paid parental leave.


We believe that one of the best things a government can do and a society can do is to support parents, in particular mums, in that marvellous event of having children, to get through it.


But unfortunately, it doesn’t stop for the Government at that.


They decided that child care is important. They are right, it is important.


But again, this Liberal Government suffers from the disease of trickery.


They get half an idea.


Child care, making it more affordable – that is a good idea.


Making sure it is quality, that’s a good idea.


Making sure there is enough places. Well, they haven’t got up to that yet.


But making sure that child care works so people can participate in the work force, so that children can get quality care in their early years – these are good ideas.


But how do they then propose to fund it?


They then decide after having damaged the paid parental leave scheme, they decided that they are focused on the 3 and 4 year olds, which is great.


They are dragged kicking and screaming to refund the commitment for access to pre-school for four year olds for the minimum number of hours. They are dragged kicking and screaming – and they have only funded that for two years, love to trick.


They are right. A 4 year old should get a certain number of hours that is right. But they are only going to do it for two years because that makes their Budget numbers look slightly better in the 3rd and 4th years.


We all know that we are going to hit this cliff again.


These people aren’t preparing for the future; they are just dealing with the very short-term to save Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey’s jobs.


But on child care, they proposed to fund child care by taking family payments off working parents who children are 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10.


Families who are on $60,000 a year.


This is a Government who fundamentally in my opinion doesn’t appreciate the role and march of women through society.


No doubt there will be conservative bloggers who will be reaching – double fingered for their Tweets right now saying ‘How dare Shorten and Labor say this Prime Minister is out of touch with the needs of working women.’


Well, in case you didn’t hear me – I think Tony Abbott is out of touch with the needs of working women in this country.


How could it be that in the space of a year or two, Tony Abbott’s signature policy for women of calibre has now become an attempt for people to stop people committing rorts?


How can he say to people who have negotiated over the years additional parental leave, that you are going to be penalised?


And by the way, does anyone think he is going to save a billion dollars by this?


Does anyone think that an employee and an employer, knowing that if they negotiate a benefit at work in return for offsetting other conditions, that if they do that, they will be penalised?


Does anyone think they will keep doing that?


Therefore, if human behaviour determined to confront Liberal Government trickery triumphs, it won’t be a billion dollars in savings, it won’t be a cent.


But in the meantime, I think we have seen the deeper issue which is a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature in which this society should be organised and a misunderstanding of the future.


We know the future’s happening right now, Australians are smart enough. We get it, you get it. We get that Asia’s rising, and we get that we’re living longer and life’s full of quality and meaning. We get that we’re going to have a lot more services to sell and export, we get that we need to educate our children even better.


We get that the mining boom’s over, but we get one other thing, and this is at least important as every other point of change that we understand.


We understand, Australians understand, the Labor Party that I’m proud to lead understands, that it is only upon the full expression of the equality of women in our society that we can achieve the destiny which we could have.


It is only upon the equal treatment of women in our society that we can be the nation that we should be.


When you’ve got half the population being treated as equally as the other half of the population, it’s a rising tide that lifts all boats.


It is where we need to go as a nation.


And I say to the Prime Minister, on the issue of family violence, let us work together.


We made an offer earlier this year. Let’s work with the marvellous Rosie Batty, let’s work with Ken Lay, let us work on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of victims.


Let us speak up on behalf, already too late, for the women who’ve died each week this year in family violence.


Let us not make the Budget a battle ground on this question, let us make it an expression of the finer spirits of what this Parliament can do together.


So when we talk about this Budget this year, there are many things to talk about, there are many, many things, and many of my colleagues speak up firmly and loudly on them all.


But today I just want to talk about what I think is the fundamental proposition.


A Budget is not the economy but it is an influence upon the economy.


A Budget is a sign of the priorities of a nation.


A priority of this nation has to be accelerating and advancing the legitimate march of women through every part of our society, to equal treatment.


And from the attack on women who have negotiated a top-up on the minimum on their paid parental leave, this Government should be ashamed, and we will not let go of this point.


And when it comes to the issue of how you properly fund child care it shouldn’t be at the expense of other working women whose children are six and seven and eight and nine.


When it comes to family violence, let us work together, let us work together and let us ensure that we have budgets and politics in this country which is not just about the today or tomorrow or next week.


But what sort of nation we want to be in 2020 and 2030. Are we giving our young women the same chance in our schools to have the jobs of the future?


Are we supporting our women small business entrepreneurs who are taking risks and building a better country?


Are we making sure that in every facet of our health care system and our aged care system, the women who haven’t had the same chance to save as men get at least dignity in retirement?


I can promise you the Labor Party I lead, with so many capable women in its ranks, I can assure you that we fundamentally believe not just at the Budget time, not just at an opinion poll, we believe in the empowerment of women, and we will not compromise in that goal.


Thank you very much.



May 14, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins




My fellow Australians,

A Budget should match the priorities of the nation.

And the priority of our nation has to be a plan for the future – a plan for the decades to come.

A plan to build beyond the mining boom, a plan for confidence.

Our people and our nation are interesting, imaginative, caring, productive and adaptive.

But the 2015 Budget has neither the qualities, nor the priorities of the Australian people.

Australians awaited this Budget in fear, anticipation and hope.

Fear – that the unfairness and cruelty of last year’s Budget would be repeated.

Anticipation – that it might not.

Hope – that the Government would, at last, after 613 days get the economy right.

But once again, in every way, this Government let Australia down.

The test for this Budget was to plan for the future: to lift productivity, to create jobs, to boost investment, to turbo-charge confidence for the years and decades ahead.

To restore hope.

But this Budget fails every test.

It is a hoax, a mirage, a smokescreen.

To the extent that the Treasurer pretends this Budget is in any way remedial to the Australian economy, it is a hoax.

Does it return Australia to trend growth this year, in future years? No.

Does it smooth the transition in our economy? No.

Does it deal with the challenges of the digital age and the new skills and jobs that we need? No

Does it:

  • deepen our engagement with Asia
  • help older Australians live in comfort
  • advance equal treatment for women
  • tackle climate change


It is nothing but a cosmetic job by a very desperate make-up artist.

And this Budget also missed the main game – the challenge that defines life in the 2020s.

Let me unpack this for you:

In 2012 – 8 per cent of our GDP was investment, now slumping to as low as 2 per cent.

This is a fourfold contraction.

In a 1.6 trillion dollar economy – it’s a $96 billion contraction – the biggest Australia has witnessed.

This is the reason we are living in a low growth economy, the massive step change, the step down in investment.

But what does this Budget do about it?

A giveaway to start a fire sale at second-hand car yards and Harvey Norman, that’s good as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go very far.

The sum total of this Government’s stimulus is a $5.1 billion deposit against a $96 billion withdrawal.

Is the Treasurer seriously asking Australians to believe that this is the best he can do in response to a $96 billion withdrawal,

Even the Government knows this is a short-term fix – they must.

They’ve only booked the measure for the next two years.

The truth is the 2015 Budget is silent on the big picture, the next decade, the long run.

This Budget records the Government’s lack of vision and the price our economy is paying for it. 

This Budget drops the ball on reform, change and fiscal sense.

It is a sorry roll-call:

  • 17 new taxes
  • Tax at its highest levels in a decade
  • The deficit doubled – up from $17 billion to $35 billion since the Treasurer’s last Budget.
  • Spending outweighing revenue every year
  • Over 800,000 Australians unemployed
  • And no plan to tackle the structural deficit

The only polite description for the forecasts in this Budget is that they are an experiment in hope over experience.

This Budget is built upon improving forecasts, preceded by worsening results.

According to the Treasurer, nominal GDP is forecast to jump by a whopping four percentage points in two years.

This year it came in at half of what he forecast 12 months ago.

Tuesday’s Budget banked wages growth at 2.5 per cent – Wednesday’s figures put it at 2.3 per cent and experts predict it will stay low.

The truth is, a trifecta of indecencies underpin this Budget.

One– the repackaging of last year’s unfairness: cuts to hospitals, schools, universities and family support.

Two –relying on bracket creep to increase taxation by stealth.

Three– their unconscionable attack upon the States.

Oh, yes Madam Speaker, it’s a bad Budget.

In every respect this Budget is a hoax – it is an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of Australians.

Where it counts, this is last year’s Budget – rebranded, reheated and repackaged for an opinion poll.

The same broken promises, the same unfair, extreme ideology, wrapped in trickery.

Last year’s Budget cut $6000 from families working hard to make ends meet.

Those cuts are still in this Budget – and Labor will never support them.

Last year’s Budget cut university funding by 20 per cent and ambushed students with higher fees and bigger debt.

This unfairness is still in the Budget – and I can promise you this Christopher Pyne – Labor will vote against $100,000 degrees, every time you bring them to this Parliament.

And whether it is for one month – or six – Labor will never support leaving young people looking for work to survive on nothing.

We will never sign off on this Prime Minister’s plan to push young people into poverty, and worse.

Madam Speaker,

The meanness of spirit in the last Budget lives on in this one, the same spitefulness in all things great and small:

  • $2 billion in cuts to health and aged care, hidden in the fine print.
  • $100 million cut from Indigenous housing.
  • $70 million cut from dental care for Veterans and $130 million from dental care to children.
  • And $1 million cut from a program that puts seatbelts in school buses in our regions – the Coalition has an eye for detail.

And this government’s second Budget has one more thing in common with its first – it creates divisions and faultlines in our community.

Remember the 2014 lifters against the leaners – they’re at it again this Government.

Cutting family support to pay for childcare, pitting Mums and Dads of three and four year olds against Mums and Dads of six and seven year olds.

Forcing nurses, retail workers and police to choose between more at time home with their baby or a cut to their pay.

In just one year, this Prime Minister has gone from the staunchest defender of Paid Parental Leave, his signature scheme, to vilifying tens of thousands of women who rely upon it.

From praising ‘women of calibre’ to demonising ‘rorters’ and ‘frauds’ – that’s how quickly and viciously this Prime Minister reverts to type about women in the workplace.

And it confirms what we have always known: no employee. no employer. no family can ever trust this Prime Minister with their rights at work.

Madam Speaker

Nowhere on Tuesday night did the Treasurer utter the words bracket creep.

He should have – because bracket creep is the biggest driver of revenue in his Budget.

The Treasurer should have told Australians that for every dollar that the government keeps in spending cuts, two dollars will be collected through higher taxes.

In a lazy Budget, Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey are getting inflation to do their dirty work.

80 cents in every dollar in the rise in revenue comes from bracket creep – the invisible hand in the pocket of every Australian worker.

Along with rehashing of the manifest unfairness of last year’s measures, the abuse of bracket creep, the third cardinal sin of this Budget is the Government’s unconscionable attacks upon the states of Australia and the people who depend upon the services they provide.

There is no atonement, not even a trademark, insincere mea culpa from this Prime Minister or a tear from the Treasurer about the cuts to the States.

Like the last Budget, this Budget cuts $80 billion from Australia’s schools and hospitals.

This breaks an old and a new  Abbott promise.

Not just ‘no cuts to health’ and ‘no cuts to education’.

But a breach of his promise before this Budget, not to hurt families.

Prime Minister, let me tell you something, on behalf of the families of Australia.

When you cut $30 billion from our schools­­ – you hurt families.

When you cut $50 billion from our hospitals Prime Minister – you hurt families.

When you close hospital beds, rob our kids of the resources they need, when you put nurses and teachers under more pressure, you hurt families.

Right now, we need the states more than ever, we need a new approach.

For a decade, capital investment in mining has been running at 8 per cent – four times the long-run rate.

Now it is reverting to the long-term average of around 2 per cent of GDP.

And there has been a 17.3 per cent fall in spending on public sector infrastructure in the last year.

The Commonwealth must use its fiscal horsepower to work with the States and private investors to:

  • provide more affordable housing.
  • To develop our cities and towns.

We will bring certitude and direction.

We will bring confidence, that’s what we intend to do.

Confidence for new rail and roads and new ports and bridges, better social housing, smart energy grids, efficient irrigation projects and of course, the best digital infrastructure.

New infrastructure projects boost demand in the short term and they lift supply over the long term, creating jobs and generating national momentum.

But this Budget does nothing to address the funding cut from important public transport projects like the Melbourne Metro and Brisbane’s Cross-River Rail.

It continues to overlook high-return, productivity-enhancing projects like Managed Motorways – a series of overdue improvements to Melbourne’s south east.

This is the first Budget in living memory with not one significant infrastructure project funded.

In government, Labor funded all 15 projects on the priority list: the Pacific Highway in New South Wales, Regional Rail Link in Victoria and the Gold Coast Light Rail.

This government has not funded a single priority project, in fact they have abolished the funding for three and have ripped away half of Infrastructure Australia’s budget.

Inaction undermines confidence, and hurts State budgets and we all pay a price.

More of us spend more time stuck in the car on our way to work.

We need a circuit breaker – for investment and a commitment to put the nation’s interest at the heart of nation-building.

Just as the Reserve Bank of Australia is the independent voice at the centre of monetary policy.

We will put Infrastructure Australia at the centre of capital investment, this will bring greater rigour, transparency and authority to give investors greater confidence.

Infrastructure Australia will drive projects that deliver:

  • benefits to our economy and our community
  • commercial viability
  • And a capacity to enhance national productivity.

I want the experts at Infrastructure Australia to play a more active role in getting projects properly financed.

To act as a broker, to bring together construction companies, long-term investors like super funds and most importantly State Governments, to get projects underway.

Infrastructure Australia Priority projects will receive funding first.

And Prime Minister, in Government, I will do what you have proved incapable of.

We will consult with the Opposition of the day on every appointment to the Infrastructure Australia Board, to put the national interest first.

Prime Minister, Australians are sick of the petty partisanship around appointments – we can do better and we will.

Infrastructure must be at the centre of any plan for Australia’s future – it is too important to be held hostage to short-term politicking or squabbling.

Good infrastructure makes our cities more liveable, our regions more accessible and our economy more productive.

It’s essential to the jobs and economy of the future, to where we will live and the life our families will enjoy.

There is a role for the Commonwealth in the future of our cities.

By 2025, an extra 4.5 million people will be living in our cities.

And making our cities more productive, more sustainable and more liveable is a key responsibility of the government.

Prime Minister, when it comes to Small Business – I will offer you another thing you never extended to your opponents – co-operation.

There are measures in this Budget Labor will support, in the national interest.

We will co-operate on:

  • national security
  • we will cooperate on overdue drought relief for our farmers.
  • and we will cooperate on small business.

When Labor proposed a tax cut for small business – you opposed it.

When Labor implemented an instant asset write off – you abolished it.

When Labor introduced loss carry back, you unwound it.

But I’m not like you. I want to create jobs and grow the economy.

A 1.5 per cent cut for small businesses might be enough to generate a headline – but it is not enough to generate the confidence and long term growth our economy needs.

So tonight I say, let’s go further.

Let’s give small businesses the sustainable boost to confidence that they deserve.

Confidence to create jobs.

I invite you to work with me on a fair and fiscally responsible plan to reduce the tax rate for Australian small business from 30 to 25 per cent.

Not a 1.5 per cent cut, a 5 per cent cut.

That’s the future. That’s confidence.

I understand this will not be easy and may take longer than the life of one Parliament.

That’s why it must be bipartisan and has to be fair.

That’s why it must be part of a more comprehensive approach to address the key pressures in our taxation system – not only small business, but, as I mentioned before, bracket creep and tax rates for ordinary working Australians.

All of these things, and more, need to be addressed together – in a fair and fiscally responsible way.

This Parliament, you and me, working together to create more jobs, working together to build a stronger economy and a better country.

And you are welcome to work with Labor on our clear, fair plans to improve the Budget bottom line by more than $21 billion dollars in the decade ahead.

Making foreign multinationals pay their fair share of tax: a concrete, costed measure, raising over $7 billion dollars.

Improving the Budget bottom line by an additional $14 billion, by tightening unsustainably generous superannuation tax concessions, subsidised by Australian taxpayers to those who already have millions in their accounts.

Labor created superannuation for the same reason we champion a fair pension: we believe dignity and security in retirement is the birthright of all Australians.

And we will take responsibility for making sure that superannuation is sustainable and fair, a national retirement savings system for the many, not a tax haven for the few.

Prime Minister, your stubborn defence of these unfair loopholes will only cause millions of other Australians to pay even more tax and our deficit to rise.

Madam Speaker

Labor will back small business to support jobs today and we have a plan for jobs tomorrow.

We have a plan to build a new engine for prosperity – and turbocharge it with science, skills, infrastructure and education.

Like so many of my Labor team, I’ve spent my adult life standing up for fairness – in the workplace, in the community and in this Parliament.

In twenty years of representing working people, I’ve been there in good times and hard times.

When economic change starts to bite, Australians don’t reach for a hand out and they don’t want charity.

But they do expect hope, a sense of confidence.

Above all, Australians want to know where the new jobs are coming from, what will their kids will do for a living, what will the jobs of the next generation will be.

Nothing matters more to Labor than securing the jobs of the future.

Jobs that help Australians aim high, raise families and lift their standard of living.

And the new jobs of the future require new skills.

Designing skills, coding skills – building, refining, adapting and servicing the machines and supply chains of a new age.

Three out of every four of the fastest growing occupations in Australia will require skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Not just researchers and programmers but technicians, electricians, plumbers and machine mechanics.

Yet right now, in our schools, TAFES and universities, there not enough people are acquiring these skills.

Australia must get smarter – or we will get poorer.

I believe Australia can be the science, start-up and technology capital of our region: attracting the best minds, supporting great institutions and encouraging home our great expats.

We should aspire, together: universities, industry, the people and the Parliament to devote 3 per cent of our GDP to research and development by the end of the next decade.

I want more Australians making breakthroughs and adapting technology here in Australia.

And more Australian businesses sharing in the benefits of that technology: in our warehouses, in our factories, in our farms and design firms.

Together, let us harness the power of science, technology, engineering and mathematics to prepare for the future.

A future of knowledge and service industries and advanced manufacturing, a nation of ideas and a country that makes things here.

Our future prosperity depends on harnessing Australian ideas and defining a new global market for world-leading products.

I want ideas born here, to grow up here and create jobs here.

25 years ago, if you were looking for work you purchased a newspaper.

Today, all around the world, millions of people search online.

The world’s largest online job ads company,, was created in Australia with the support of the Australian Government

A $2.5 million investment in 1998, helped grow what is now a $5 billion company, employing over 500 Australians.

Labor will create a new, $500 million, Smart Investment Fund, to back-in great Australian ideas like this.

Our Smart Investment Fund, will partner with venture capitalists and fund managers to invest in early stage and high potential companies.

Our model has a definite, proven record of success both here and abroad.

Every global company begins as a local one, every big business starts out small.

And Labor will work with the banks and finance industry to establish a partial guarantee scheme, StartUp Finance, to help more Australians convert their great ideas into good businesses.

We will enable entrepreneurs to access the capital they need to start and grow their enterprises.

So many of our competitors for the jobs of the future already have a scheme of  this kind in place: the UK, the US, France and Germany and Hong Kong is a leader in our region.

We understand, in the new economy, it’s these businesses that will drive growth and create jobs – and it’s our responsibility to support our next generation of designers, refiners, manufacturers and creators.

Madam Speaker

Productivity is the most important catalyst for our economy.

And the most important catalyst for productivity is education.

Resource booms come and as we discover, they go – but our future depends on investing in our best natural resource: the creativity and skills of the Australian people.

Digital technologies, computer science and coding – the language of computers and technology – should be taught in every primary and ever secondary school in Australia.

And a Shorten Labor Government will make this a national priority.

We will work with states, territories and the national curriculum authority to make this happen.

Coding is the literacy of the 21st Century.

And under Labor, every young Australian will have the chance to read, write and work with the global language of the digital age.

All of us who have had our children teach us how to download an app, know how quickly children adapt to new technology.

But I don’t just want Australian kids playing with technology, I want them to have the chance to understand it, to create it, and work with it.

We can’t do this without great teachers – not now and not and in the future.

We all remember our great teachers, I was raised by one of the best.

My mother lived the value of education: as a young teacher, a mature age student and as a university lecturer – she showed me the doors education can open for Australians from every walk of life.

Yet today, two out of every five science and maths teachers for years 7 to 10, don’t have a degree in these subjects.

20,000 teachers in our science, maths and IT classes didn’t study these subjects at university.

We are asking too much of these teachers, and not doing enough to support them – or pay them properly.

Labor will:

  • boost the skills of 25,000 current primary and secondary teachers
  • we will train 25,000 new teachers who are science and technology graduates
  • we will write off the HECS debt of 100,000 science technology, engineering and maths students.
  • and will encourage more women to study, teach and work in these fields.

We need to offer the most powerful incentive to Australians thinking about studying science and technology: a good job.

A career in science does not only mean a lifetime in a lab coat, it means opening doors in every facet and field of our national commercial life.

Madam Speaker

Innovation offers opportunities everywhere: smarter farming and safer food, more liveable cities and better transport.

New ways of learning from each other, working and communicating with each other and caring for each other.

It is the key to the jobs of the future, the jobs that a Labor Government will deliver.

Madam Speaker

The Government have nicknamed this the ‘have a go’ Budget.

But it doesn’t have a go at returning to trend growth.

It doesn’t have a go at smoothing the transition in our economy from mining to services and cities.

It doesn’t have a go at getting us back to surplus – it doesn’t have a go at reform.

It doesn’t have a go at delivering skills required in the digital age.

Madam Speaker – it didn’t even have a go at apologizing for the last Budget.

But to be fair Madam Speaker, it does have a go at some things.

This Budget has a go at schools and hospitals.

It does have a go at pensioners and the states.

It does have a go at working women and working families.

It does have a go at students, veterans, carers and jobseekers.

It does have a go at the sick and the vulnerable.

If this is an election budget, so be it.

But be under no illusions. But be under no illusions.

The failure of last year’s Budget was not inevitable.

If Labor had not stood strong, if the Government had had its wilful way, if Tony Abbott had controlled the Senate –last year’s malignant Budget would have passed – with all its social vandalism.

And if he gets another chance, by having this one confirmed, he will, by ricochet, inflict last year’s unfairnesses this year.

Unfairness which remains at the core of this political document.

Tony Abbott has only changed his tactics he hasn’t changed his mind.

Whatever this Budget brings, we are ready.

We’re ready to offer remedies, rather than reactions.

We’re ready to fight for equity and for what is reasonable.

We’re ready to fight for what is good and for what is true.

We see the future.

We see the future as one defined by science, technology, education and innovation.

We see a future in Australia with good jobs and thriving businesses, productive infrastructure and liveable cities.

An Australia writ large, where opportunity is shared by all.

This is the future Labor that believes in.

This is our vision for what we can achieve together, as a people and as a nation.

A smart, modern and fair Australia


May 12, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins






TUESDAY, 12 MAY 2015



Thank you Madam Speaker, and I thank the Prime Minister for his words.


On behalf of the Opposition, I once again send our deepest sympathies to the loved ones of those who tragically lost their lives in the storms and floods that have lashed New South Wales and Queensland.


As the Prime Minister has said, Australia stands shoulder to shoulder with citizens of Queensland and New South Wales who were affected by this weather.


They begin the difficult task of cleaning up and rebuilding their homes, businesses and communities.


We salute and recognise the tireless courage of emergency services personnel and SES volunteers who once again entered the fray, putting the lives and safety of others above their own.


And I commend the Prime Minister and Premiers Baird and Palaszczuk for their swift response. We offer our full support in doing everything necessary as has been occurring to help Australians at this difficult time.


Madam Speaker.


Australians know Mother Nature at her spectacular best and her spectacular worst.


They know rising flood waters and furious winds will again test their resilience just as drought does – and we know they will rise to the task.


We know that the brave men and women of our emergency services and SES will again stand ready to risk their lives for others.


We know that this is not the last time Australians will come together as neighbours and communities to help tear up muddy carpets, hose down shop floors and rebuild homes and lives.


Madam Speaker


Be it drought, or flood, or storm, we know this will be not be the last time that our Parliament pauses to reflect and to grieve for those who suffer and those who have due to the elements.


And we know they will never be forgotten.



May 12, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

CONDOLENCE MOTION FOR the Honourable Michael MacKellar AM

CONDOLENCE MOTION FOR the Honourable Michael MacKellar AM

TUESDAY, 12 MAY 2015


On behalf of the Labor party, I pay my respects to the Honourable Michael MacKellar AM.

Michael lived a life dedicated to his family, his party and his country.

He came to the Federal Parliament in 1969, an agricultural scientist turned politician who regained the seat of Warringah for his party from the maverick former Liberal, Edward St John.

It was as Immigration Minister that Michael saw perhaps his best triumphs in the Parliament. He oversaw Australia’s first comprehensive policy for the resettlement of refugees, subsequently superintended by the Honourable Ian Macphee and John Menadue.

In 1977 Michael Mackellar said:

“I believe that there would be few in this House who would not support a commitment for Australia to play the most effective role possible in refugee settlement…there is a community willingness to assist the dispossessed and displaced from overseas in a sensible and realistic way to seek sanctuary and a new life in Australia.”

It was under Michael’s stewardship that the first Vietnamese refugees found a new home here.

Their place in our nation’s story, their part in our thriving modern, multicultural Australia will stand forever as a tribute to Michael MacKellar’s moderation, compassion and decency.

We salute the service he gave to our nation and we extend our sympathies to his partner, Pamela, children Cameron, Duncan and Maggie, and his grandchildren.



May 12, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins






TUESDAY, 12 MAY 2015




I thank the Prime Minister for his words.


Like the Prime Minister, like thousands of Australians and in particular those amazing widows of the First World War veterans, I had the honour of attending the commemorations at Gallipoli last month


And I wish to congratulate all who have worked so hard to commemorate the centenary of the Gallipoli landings.


There was the Anzac centenary Advisory Committee chaired by Sir Angus Houston who worked in partnership with the former Minister for Veterans Affairs Warren Snowdon and the current Minister, Senator Ronaldson, in setting up and implementing the architecture for commemorating the centenary of Anzac as well as the project to commemorate the period of the Great War until Armistice Day 2018 Centenary.


I think it’s also important as the Prime Minister has done to recognise and thank the all the Departments of Government, but including the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, in undertaking on behalf to ensure that the Anzac commemorations events were so well organised.


I pay tribute to the hundreds of thousands of Australians who attend events commemorating the event of Anzac, the landings at Anzac.


I also acknowledge the work of Lindsay Fox and his committee to raise a quarter of a billion dollars to ensure that the celebrations could be done in the best possible way.


I wish to pay tribute to the staff of the Australian Embassy in Turkey who were so helpful to so many of our people.


I can assure those listening that the sheer professionalism of the organisation of the experience for Australians to commemorate this most important event in Australian history, it was done to a level which would satisfy all.


It was a massive logistical effort. It was a vivid, dignified and very Australian experience that allowed us to see and imagine the history made there a century ago.


Like many Australians, I’ve read lot about the landing over the years but like every Australian who’s ever visited Anzac Cove, nothing prepares you for when you survey the span of Anzac Cove and up to those very, very steep cliffs.


Seeing for yourself the sheer, steep rocky impossibility of scaling and seizing not one but two but three ridge lines, the prospect that confronted those young men, so far from home in the chill dawn of 25 April 1915.


Seeing – and realising – that in some part of their being, those first Anzacs must have known this too, the difficulty of their mission.


There can be no courage without a fear to conquer.


And as they grasped the task before them, in their heart of hearts, those volunteers, those citizen-soldiers determined to do their duty must have clamped that fear and charged on…despite the ferocious enfilade fire, from a determined opponent fighting to defend their homeland.


Madam Speaker


When Patsy Adam Smith was researching her famous history of Gallipoli: The Anzacs, she said the worst part of reading soldiers’ diaries was “all the empty pages”.


A string of entries full of humour, understated bravery, loyalty to mates, love for those left behind and then…there is no more.


As she wrote: “You turn the pages quickly: perhaps he’s only wounded, he’ll write when he gets to hospital.


But you are on the back cover before you see his hand again:


In the event of my death I wish this book to be sent to my dear wife to let her know that my last thoughts were of her and Essie my darling daughter”.


Australia bore those empty pages for a generation.


In his book, Farewell Dear People, Ross McMullin writes of the exceptional Australians lost in the carnage and chaos of the Gallipoli campaign.


At 31, Clunes Mathison was already an internationally acclaimed medical researcher.


The director of London’s Lister Institute said:


“No man I have ever known possesses the genius for research so highly as Mathison”.


He died at Gallipoli in May.


At the time, one British professor wrote: “for the science of medicine throughout the world, the loss is irreparable”.


Robert Bage survived Douglas Mawson’s expedition to Antarctica, leading a 300 mile sledging expedition in the windiest place on earth – the ‘home of the blizzard’.


One scientist in that party said:


“Bob Bage … is the best liked man on the expedition and personally I think he is the best man we have”.


Bage too was killed in the first fortnight at Gallipoli.


Their bodies lie there still, alongside thousands more.


Empty pages in lives of potential and possibility cut short or unfulfilled.


In one of those twists of families, the last Sunday before I left for the commemorations, I was speaking with an older member of the family tree at a christening, as one does.


I told him I was visiting Gallipoli.


He revealed to me that he had two uncles who had died there.


William Burgess, 23, who was killed on the 26th of April, 1915.


And his younger brother Nathaniel, 21, who was killed in November that same year and is buried at Embarkation Pier cemetery.


As Brian explained: “the family never recovered”. The Burgess boys’ father shot through after the war, leaving a mother wracked by grief.


The two youngest sisters, the youngest being Brian’s mother were placed in foster care.


Two moments in seven months, on the other side of the world, damaged his family for two generations.


When I visited the cemetery at Lone Pine, on the wall recording names of over 3000 Anzacs whose bodies were never recovered, I found the name of William Burgess, 16th battalion AIF.


Placing a poppy next to those letters, mutely carved in stone, moved me in a way I could never have expected.


And the Burgess story is just one among 60,000.


60,000 young people, lost to an even younger nation.


A generation of children who never knew their parents, young widows who grew old with their grief.


And hundreds of thousands more, home but never whole again.


Forever changed by the hardship they had faced and overcome.


The wounded, unable to return to the jobs they left behind.


The soldier-settlers stretched by a harsh land they battled to tame.


And all those who carried the hidden scars of trauma – the husbands and fathers who could never find the words to tell the people they loved why things could never be the same.


Parents, wives and children who welcomed home a different person to the one they farewelled.


We all know country and coastal towns where the list of names etched into the weathered white stone seems impossibly long.


We have all paused in front of honour rolls in our local halls where the surnames come in twos, and threes.


The brothers who couldn’t be separated, the strapping sons lost to their families, sometimes in the same hour of bloody chaos.


When we think of the trauma, the heartache and the inexplicable, unknowable horrors of war, it is small wonder that for some, Anzac Day was a time of mixed emotions.


There have been those who have felt the need to rage against Anzac Day, to repudiate the tragedy of war.


I prefer to believe we have, as a people, embraced the true lesson of Anzac Day – not glorifying war, but celebrating peace.


Acknowledging the waste and futility of lost life, while paying respect to the resilience and resolve of those who risked and lost their lives for the mates they served beside and the home they loved.


Madam Speaker


There is no-one left among us who knew firsthand the courage and chaos of the 25th of April 1915.


Those left to grow old have gone too.


Yet the Anzac story will always be part of our Australian story.


The Anzacs will always speak to us, and for who we are.


And I would add my support to the former Deputy Prime Minister’s, Tim Fischer’s, campaign to honour General John Monash – an exceptional leader who, unlike so many others, learned the right lessons from Gallipoli.


A leader whose proud epithet includes that he spent more time preparing for his battles, than fighting his battles.


In the coming years of commemorations, I would encourage all Australians to honour the memory of those who served by looking up into the branches of your family trees.


Try and discover, if you can, the history of your family’s service.


Find new personal meaning in the Anzac story:


A legend, in the Keating words at the heart of our War Memorial:


“Not of sweeping military victories so much as triumphs against the odds, of courage and ingenuity in adversity.


A legend of free and independent spirits whose discipline derived less from military formalities and customs than from the bonds of mateship and the demands of necessity.”


Learn and tell the story of the ordinary people who found the courage to do the truly extraordinary.


And as a new generation, give new meaning to our most solemn national promise: Lest We Forget.





May 4, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins



MONDAY, 4 MAY 2015





It’s an honour to be here at this great Australian university, at the invitation of the McKell Institute.


I’m here today with three objectives:


One, to explain what the transition underway in our economy means for Australian jobs – today and tomorrow – and what this transition demands of our national budget and national leaders.


Two, to outline the tests the next Abbott-Hockey Budget must meet, in our national interest – not just the government’s political interests.


And three, to dedicate Labor to the positive plans and policies Australia needs to succeed in the future.


The Australian Economy in Transition


When William McKell was Governor-General, he delivered the opening address at the “United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East”.


It was time, he said, for Australians to start thinking of the “Far East” as our “Near North”.


Back then, this was headline-making rhetoric.


Today, it’s an unremarkable statement of fact.


Seven decades of work has gone into this transformation.


Opening ourselves to mass migration, offering opportunity to people from every faith, culture and tradition.


Dismantling the tariff wall that crippled competition and kept prices high.


Demanding a shift in the national mindset…urging Australians to see ourselves not as a British outpost perched fearfully on the edge of Asia, but as engaged partners in the economic and strategic security of our region.


None of this was without risk or universally popular.


We all know someone dislocated by change, we can all feel anxious about the future – and there are always people prepared to pander to this fear: be that on immigration or economic reform.


But, long ago, we realised that digging ideological trenches and building economic walls was not the answer.


Australians chose optimism over isolationism, renewal over decay, action over complacency, hope over fear.


We looked over the economic horizon and backed ourselves to compete and succeed in the new world.


And there is always another horizon.


Right now, with the biggest mining investment boom in our history drawing to a close, we face the choices and challenges of a new era.


An era defined by clean energy industries, digital and technological innovation, the equal treatment of women, a booming services economy and two generations of retirees alive at the same time.


It’s time to start building for the Australia of 2025.


Time to plan for the next decade: creating jobs today and preparing Australians for the jobs of tomorrow.


Twenty-seven million people will live in the Australia of 2025, five million of us will be over 65 and five million of us will be between 15 and 24.


An extra four and a half million people will live in our capital cities.


A woman aged 60 in 2025 will expect to live for at least another 30 years. A man, at least another 27 years.


We’ll have a superannuation pool of $4 trillion.


And of the two million new jobs created between now and then, two-thirds will need a degree.


These are non-negotiables, they are global shifts, they will be the challenges and opportunities for whoever governs in the decade ahead.


Yet our opponents only ever talk about the future as a dystopian mix of The Hunger Games and Mad Max.


Their language is always threats, not opportunities.


I take a different view, I think we’ve had enough negativity.


I’m not daunted by the challenges ahead, I’m energised, I’m ambitious for what Australia can achieve.


The end of the mining investment boom must not mean lowering our expectations or settling for a lesser future.


We weathered the storm of the Global Financial Crisis, and now, in the second decade of the Asian Century we stand as the world’s 12th biggest economy in the world’s fastest growing region.


Australia is uniquely positioned to seize the opportunities of this moment.


We hold a hard-won AAA credit rating from the three major ratings agencies, giving confidence and certainty to business and investors – and we must preserve it.


Our banks are some of the largest and safest in the world, our legal system and institutions are stable and respected.


Our superannuation savings pool is the largest in Asia and the largest per capita in the world.


Our education system supports a high quality, productive workforce, our cities are great, diverse destinations to live.


And we adapt faster and better than most – Australia went from lagging the smartphone revolution to number two in the world in smartphone penetration in just one year.


But a good barrier draw doesn’t mean the race is won.


We have to put our hard-earned advantages to work.


As Treasurer, Paul Keating used to talk about ‘pulling the levers’ of economic reform.


Today, we seek government in a different world, a digital world where we engage with the complexity of an economic touch-screen.


This means being selective and strategic in where we invest and what we prioritise, getting behind our best natural resource: the creativity and genius of our people.


Building an Australia where the bright line of self-improvement runs right through pre-literacy in child care, technology in schools, science at university and re-training for mature-age workers or parents returning to work.


This is my vision for the next generation of Australian prosperity.


We are a fair wage nation, in a low wage region.


We can’t win a race to the bottom with our neighbours on pay and conditions – they will always have more people willing to do low-skill work for less.


This is why I’m focused on creating the high-wage, high-skill jobs of the future, nurturing and attracting the best minds.


Competing and succeeding in our region – on our terms.


Nothing matters more to me than creating good jobs, jobs with a future and jobs of the future.


Some of you may have read The Second Machine Age, Chris Bowen actually gave it to me for Christmas – there’s one passage in there that really made me sit up and think about my kids and their future working lives:


“There’s never been a better time to be a worker with special skills or the right education, because these people can use technology to create and capture value.


There’s never been a worse time to be a worker with ‘ordinary skills’ and abilities to offer, because computers, robots and other digital technologies are acquiring these skills and abilities at an extraordinary rate”.


The choice is this stark, it is this simple: get smarter or get poorer.


My vision for Australia is an invention nation, an innovation nation, investing in science to drive new breakthroughs and discoveries in every field and industry.


Just look at how fast solar technology is evolving.


In the last five years alone, the cost of a solar cell has halved.


The cost of battery storage has been halving every 18 months.


On Friday – Tesla released its plans for a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that you can use at home.


Very soon, someone, somewhere, will find a way to make solar power even cheaper and more efficient.


I want that someone to be an Australian.


I want Australia to own that breakthrough and Australians to share its benefits.


I want us to be building, designing and refining solar technology here.


But wanting Australia to do well, believing in our people’s potential isn’t enough.


Governments have to plan for the future – not just hope something will turn up.


This begins with the Federal Budget.


The Tests for the Budget


Incredibly, a week before this year’s budget, we are still talking about last year’s budget.


Last year, the Liberals called the economy wrong – and Australians have paid the price.


Unemployment is up, confidence is down and wages are struggling to keep up with the cost of living.


The Liberals called the budget wrong too.


All the harm and hardship came without a sustainable trajectory for improving the budget balance.


Now they want to use last year’s failed savings to fund this year’s new spending – this is Escher staircase economics.


In the long months of partial backflips and gradual back-downs, ‘dull’ has become the adjective of choice.


All this shows is the Liberals have learned the wrong lessons from last year’s debacle.


The Abbott-Hockey Budget didn’t fail because it was too exciting, too visionary or too bold.


It wasn’t because Australians are tired of change – or fearful of it.


It failed because it was fundamentally unfair.


The moral of this story is not: ‘give up on reform and tell people what they want to hear’.


The real lesson is: do reform right, make change fair.


When we live and work and trade in a global economy changing faster than any time in history, Australia can’t afford a ‘dull’ budget.


We can’t afford a ‘dull’ budget or an ‘ordinary’ effort, any more than we can afford a re-run of last year’s disaster.


We can’t afford an outbreak of shallow populism any more than we can afford a repeat of last year’s extreme ideology.


We can’t afford a budget that puts Tony Abbott’s job ahead of Australian jobs.


We need a budget planning for the next ten years, not a plan for Tony Abbott to survive to the end of the year.


My intention today is to set out the tests this next budget must pass.


Labor wants Australia to succeed, we want a strong budget for a growing, job-creating, wealth-creating economy.


This means asking three clear questions on Budget night, on behalf of all Australians:


  1. Is this the right plan for the future?


  1. Is it honest and responsible?


  1. Is it fair?


Planning for the future means a plan for jobs – today and tomorrow.


Helping mature-age workers navigate the transition in our economy, addressing record rates of youth unemployment and investing in schools and universities to drive the skills and knowledge of the next wave of industries.


Delivering essential, productive and competitive infrastructure for our cities and the regions.


Universal healthcare, helping all Australians stay healthy at home and productive at work.


The world’s best retirement income system: strong superannuation and a fair pension.


An innovation economy where dynamic Australian entrepreneurs can turn their good ideas into successful start-ups, transforming markets as well as the way we live and work.


A transition to a low pollution economy – making our industries more competitive, harnessing our natural resources and protecting our national estate.


This where the future is heading – and this Budget is the government’s last chance to show it understands that.


Being honest and responsible means an end to Hockey-nomics.


No more mugging confidence in the high street, no more hot air about ‘Budget emergencies’ and ‘disasters’ behind every corner.


No more blaming Labor for anything and everything.


And no more accounting tricks and funny money, counting revenue from ‘dead, buried and cremated’ measures like the GP Tax.


Instead, it’s time for the government to take responsibility: for restoring confidence and for a sustainable budget trajectory.


We have already offered them a firm foundation.


Labor’s responsible policy for tightening tax breaks on the superannuation accounts of the very wealthy, and our plan to make multinationals pay their fair share will deliver more than $20 billion to the bottom line, without hurting families or smashing confidence.


Unlike the Liberals, Labor is prepared to deal with the structural challenges facing the budget and invest in a growing, wealth-creating, job-creating economy.


Being fair means offering an equal opportunity – and expecting a fair contribution.


It starts with recognising that inequality in Australia today is as high as it’s been in three-quarters of a century.


Egalitarianism is under threat.


Being fair means cracking down on tax loopholes for multinationals – not slugging families with $6000 cuts to their budget.


Fairness is tightening superannuation concessions for the very wealthy, not telling pensioners to tighten their belts.


Fairness means asking those with the broadest shoulders to do the most, not leaving the heavy lifting to those Australians least able to carry the load.


The Contrast


I’m going to do a dangerous thing now – I’m going to engage with a long-running press gallery argument.


Dangerous, but necessary.


Some members of the commentariat say the failure of last year’s Budget proves that ‘weak’ politicians and ‘selfish’ voters have broken our democracy.


They say Australians lack the wit and wisdom to choose the best future for their nation – and leaders lack the courage to offer it to them.


I don’t buy it.


We’re better than the cynics and critics would have us believe.


I know Australians haven’t lost the ability to make hard choices.


From the very first day of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Labor acknowledged the complexity, the expense and the difficulty of crafting a solution.


Instead of battering Australians with slogans, we engaged them in an honest conversation.


We gave people a sense of their place on the journey of change, and our destination.


And we won support for our cause through the quality of our ideas, and their moral foundation – backed up by the intellectual authority of the Productivity Commission and their advisory panel.


The Abbott Opposition even voted for an increase in the Medicare levy to fund it.


When Australians recoiled from the unfairness at the heart of the last budget they weren’t being selfish, or short-sighted.


Australians rejected the 2014 Budget because they saw it for exactly what it was.


Every day in my job, I am a fortunate witness to the resilience and resolve of the Australian people.


There’s a hunger out there for big ideas, a desire for a government willing to do the big things.


But it has to be done the right way – honest and upfront.


Whether it’s the GP Tax, $100,000 degrees or cuts to the pension, we all know the Abbott pattern by now.


Start by making a solemn promise, then break it…dismiss the public backlash and rail against your opponents…then, as reality bites, begin the slow humiliating retreat into consultation.


This is not my style and it’s not the Labor way.


Last year, we proved ourselves a strong opposition, united in resistance.


We stood by our principles and we spoke up for millions of Australians the government let down and left behind.


This year, we are putting forward our positive plans for the future:


A constructive proposal to build, maintain and sustain the next generation of submarines here in Australia.  An investment in our national security and high-skill Australian jobs – clearly supported by today’s Defence Department revelations


Offering certainty for jobs and investors in our renewable energy industry, where Australia should be seizing our natural and competitive advantages.


A new focus on tackling family violence: a national crisis summit within our first 100 days, ending the ‘postcode lottery’ of unequal services and put the focus on perpetrator accountability, because every woman has the right to be safe in her home and in our community.


The next step in university reform, building the bridge between enrolment and completion, a system converting uni places into degrees, into good jobs.


Greater urgency on constitutional recognition for the first Australians and closing the justice gap – bringing together Indigenous leaders to build a consensus for progress.


Making multinationals pay their fair share of tax in Australia and boosting the fairness and sustainability of retirement incomes, delivering long-term structural improvements to the budget trajectory, without Liberal ram-raids on the family budget.


Laying out detail from Opposition carries risks, I understand that.


Straight-talking guarantees you will say some things people don’t want to hear.


There is a risk in amplifying differences, there is a risk in enhancing contrasts.


But to my mind, there is a far greater risk: a second Abbott Government.


More time wasted, more opportunities missed.


More mediocrity born of close-minded, short-termism.


And Australians haven’t come this far, we haven’t worked this hard to settle for ‘ordinary’, to accept a lesser future.


Leadership is all about the future: planning for it, building for it, preparing our people to make the most of it. Under my leadership, Labor will seek an honest mandate.


We will offer the Australian people a vision for the future and a plan to make it work.


A vision for a nation strong in the region and the world, safe at home and fair in everything we do.


And a detailed plan for smart people, working in a modern economy, sharing a fair future.


A smart, modern and fair Australia.





Apr 27, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins










It’s a real thrill to be here this morning.

I always enjoy the chance to visit universities, and to speak with young people.

University was a valued time in my life.

I was only the second generation of my family able to attend.

It helped me work out who I was, what mattered most, and what I wanted to do to help others.

Most of all, what I remember from my uni days is the freedom and the sense of possibility.

I went to uni as a young man – I didn’t even turn 18 until the middle of my first year – I just couldn’t wait to get into it.

Now, when I visit universities, I still get a sense of the same excitement and energy.

When I meet students like you: the leaders, thinkers and problem-solvers who will shape the world of 2025 and 2050…

I’m excited by what you will achieve, the difference you will make, the way you will help our world.

This is my first visit to Turkey, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of my time as a guest in your remarkable country.

I came here last week to represent the Australian Labor Party at the commemorations of the centenary of the Gallipoli landings – or as its known in Turkish history, the Canankkle.

Sometimes, back in Australia, we can fall into the trap of thinking that the Gallipoli campaign was all about us, the Aussies and Kiwis.

But being there, seeing representatives from Britain, India, France, Ireland, Canada and, of course, Turkey – reminded me that Gallipoli is not just an Australian, or an Anzac story.

The impact of what happened on that rugged stretch of coast a hundred years ago runs deeper and wider than that.

Sometimes, in Australia, we say of our fallen soldiers: ‘If you want to know what they believed in, look around you’ – we point to our free society, our strong democracy, our people safe and at peace.

Here in Turkey, that truth is as powerful.

The First World War didn’t just broaden the identity of modern Turkey – it created the nation you live in, and love.

I find it truly remarkable that the tragedy and senseless death of 100 years ago was an irrecovable milestone in the formation of three nations – Australia, New Zealand and Turkey.

But on my visit to Turkey I wanted to do more than pay my respects to our shared history, important as this is.

I’m here today to talk about our shared future.

The future challenges and opportunities that are in front of all of us.

The big changes, the defining trends and global shifts that will shape the world we live in, in the decades ahead.

  • Security and peace
  • Climate change and clean energy
  • Population change and the equal treatment of women
  • Digital disruption and new technology

It’s true, each of these has local effects and local elements.

But none of these problems can be solved by one country acting on its own.

They all require international co-operation and an international commitment to shared solutions.

They all require global leadership, backed up by actions that set the example.


Right now, all of us are being tested by new threats to our peace and security.

Terrorism is a transnational threat.

It’s an attack on our way of life and our social cohesion.

Overcoming this threat depends upon international co-operation and international consensus.

A consensus built on civil discourse and interfaith dialogue, engaging with leaders from every faith in our community.

Turkey and Spain’s co-operative efforts in the Alliance of Civilisations initiative, is an example of the kind of leadership we need to apply around the world.

In Australia, we’re proud of our tradition of promoting multilateralism and the international rule of law.

One of our most distinguished Foreign Ministers, Herbert ‘Doc’ Evatt played a central role in establishing the United Nations and drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

And ever since, we’ve demonstrated a longstanding commitment to UN peacekeeping missions, including serving side-by-side with Turkish forces in Korea and Somalia.

This co-operation endures in Turkey’s commitment to the international humanitarian effort underway in Iraq and Syria.

I can assure you the Australian Labor Party is fully supportive of the Australian contribution in Iraq.

We’re there to help build the Iraqi security forces’ capacity, allowing them to eventually control their own security needs.

And our ongoing support hinges on the Iraqi government and security forces continuing to act within acceptable international standards.


The second issue we face is demographic change, shifts in our population trends – and the impact this has on inequality.

Right now, in Australia, we’re having a big conversation about our ageing population.

We are living longer than ever before and that is great news.

But it poses new questions for the way our country works.

How can we guarantee people who have worked hard all their lives, and paid taxes all their lives, security and dignity in retirement?

How can we make sure that older workers have the skills to train and re-train as the economy changes, so that they’re not passed over or left behind?

How can we help more Australians enjoy greater retirement incomes, become independently comfortable in retirement, reducing the pressure on pensions and taxes?

The population story here in Turkey is very different.

We’re planning for an Australia where one person out of every three is over the age of 60.

Here, two in every five people are under the age of 22.

This is a good news story too.

Young people are a wonderful natural resource for any country, more valuable than any precious metal or mineral.

And I believe it’s the job of government to help every young person fulfil their potential, to give them the skills, smarts and opportunities to succeed.

You’re going to be the first generation to work entirely in the digital age.

The big winners in this era will be countries that create the machines that make high quality products and deliver specialised services.

Building machines, designing, developing, financing, operating and refining them.

It’s up to government to make sure that everyone gets the opportunity to learn the skills essential to this success.

And this means building an economy that includes everyone in the benefits of prosperity.

This is why I have been greatly impressed by Turkey’s objectives for its Presidency of the G20.

Turkey has said that the 2015 G20 will focus on: “Inclusiveness, Implementation and Investment”.

A fairer, more inclusive global economy, committed to tackling the growing problem of inequality.

The biggest drivers of economic growth in developed nations over the last decade have been globalisation, technological change and market-oriented reform.

These trends have lifted millions of people out of poverty, especially in Asia but also in this region where this is created or compounded by conflict.

But at the same time, they have magnified inequality for those left behind.

Not just inequality of income, but inequality of access.

I’m talking about access to affordable healthcare, quality education, new technology and civic amenities, even to things as basic as clean air and clean water.

Bridging this gap is a challenge for the world economy as a whole: advanced and emerging economies alike.

And this is why Turkey’s leadership on this issue, bringing new urgency to the task through the G20, is so important.

The party I lead, the Australian Labor Party, has never subscribed to the notion that our nation, indeed our world, has to choose between a strong economy and a fair society.

Fairness is not the child of prosperity – they are twins, each one supports the other.

The best pathway to economic growth is not to sit back and hope that wealth will trickle-down from the top, it’s to grow the economy from the bottom up, broadening the middle class and lifting everyone to a better standard.

That’s an objective Turkey, Australia and share – our task is to make this model work for the world.


If the challenge of maintaining peace and preserving national security is an immediate priority…

And re-framing the economy with a focus on giving everyone a fair share in the national prosperity they create is a long term goal…

Then tackling climate change is both – and it is more.

Climate change is an environmental issue, it is an economic issue and it is a security issue.

And frankly, if the world gets climate change wrong, if self-interest and short-termism triumphs over meaningful progress, then nothing else will matter too much, for too long.

Again, this is an international problem that demands an international solution.

And I’m encouraged by the direction the world is moving in.

The historic agreement reached between China and the United States, the world’s two biggest economies and its two biggest polluters has injected new momentum into the global negotiations ahead of the Paris conference.

There’s a passage from their joint statement that I think crystallises the global argument for dealing with climate change:

…smart action on climate change now can drive innovation, strengthen economic growth and bring broad benefits – from sustainable development to increased energy security, improved public health and a better quality of life.

Tackling climate change will also strengthen national and international security.

When the world’s two economic superpowers and 40 per cent of its global emissions put it like that – then there is simply no excuse for us to drag our feet.

The relationship between climate change and national security is worth emphasising.

Emissions trading schemes will be the fastest growing market of the 21st Century – and they create economy-wide incentives for clean energy, and more efficient energy use.

Effective action on climate change provides a strong price signal to diversify the national, and global, energy mix.

Turkey knows as well as any country on earth that uncertainty or disruption in energy supply can have a sudden and disastrous impact on economic growth.

Investing in reliable renewable energy acts a shock absorber, an insurance policy for natural disasters and political instability that can threaten conventional energy supply. You are showing the way here with significant investment in geothermal, wind, hydroelectric, and cogeneration in industry.

We don’t have all the answers on climate change yet, no country does.

But if we continue to co-operate, if we continue to face up to the scale and size of the challenge, if we maintain urgency in the face of those who would seek to deny there is a problem – then I’m confident we can, and will, find a solution.


I’ve spoken this morning about Security, Inequality and Climate Change – how we respond to each of these will determine our future success.

But I’m here today to listen as well as talk.

I want to hear from you – to learn about your goals, your hopes and what you think about the future.

Succeeding as a global community, meeting the big challenges of this moment, depend on us listening and learning from each other.

There’s a fashion in some parts of the world to talk down international politics, to say that it’s all just photo-opportunities and funny costumes.

I don’t buy into that – and neither should you.

The three challenges I’ve spoken of don’t stop at any border, they don’t recognise a particular flag or a particular faith.

They can’t be held back by digging trenches or building walls.

They affect us all – and solving them depends on us all, working together, talking to each other and agreeing on a way forward.

So my final message is: don’t ever imagine you can’t make a difference, don’t ever think that politics is irrelevant to your daily life, or that getting involved won’t change anything.

You can make a difference, you can help build a better world – we’re counting on you to do just that.





Apr 20, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins









It’s great to be with all of you again, here in this historic building.
Forty-one years ago Gough Whitlam stood here and said of our Liberal-National opponents:
“For the life of me, I can’t decide whether they are worse in opposition or worse in government…”
Tony Abbott has made the answer abundantly clear.
In opposition he was a nuisance for our party, in government he is a disaster for our country.
Of course, we’re not here to talk about the Government’s failures and missteps…two days probably wouldn’t be long enough.
Instead, this forum is another important step in crafting Labor’s positive vision for the future.
We won’t go to the next election with the three-word slogan: ‘Not Tony Abbott’.
We are determined to offer the Australian people much more than an itemised list of Liberal lies.
We will put forward a positive, alternative plan for the Australia of 2025 and 2050.
I said that in 2015, Labor would be defined by the power of our ideas.
Our opponents have taken to levelling this at me as some kind of insult – well, good luck to them.
I’m proud to lead a party that believes in ideas.
I’m proud we are a party with principles and policy ambition.
I’m proud of our commitment to developing and testing the best solutions, in partnership with leading experts.
And in the last 18 months, at every turn, by our actions we have made it crystal clear what we stand for.
We stood against the GP tax, because we stand for Medicare.
We stood against cuts to the pension, because we stand for dignity and security in retirement.
We stood against $100,000 degrees, because we stand for universities that reward students’ hard work and good marks, not their parents’ wealth.
We stood against paying big polluters to pollute, because we’re for real action on climate change.
And we’ve been working on proposals of our own.
We’ve put forward a costed and tested plan to close tax loopholes and crack down on profit-shifting to make sure that multinational companies pay their fair share.
A reasonable, equitable revenue measure, raising more than $7 billion over the next decade.
We’ve called for a national crisis summit on family violence, and promised to convene one within our first 100 days, as part of our determination to ensure every Australian woman is safe in her home, not at the mercy of a postcode lottery of uncertain support.
We’ve offered a constructive proposal for building the next generation of submarines here in Australia – an investment in our national security and our high-skill manufacturing sector.
We’ve offered a way forward for our renewable energy sector –providing certainty for investment and jobs in an industry where we should be using our natural and competitive advantages.
We’ve worked co-operatively on national security, striking the right balance between the liberty of the individual and the safety of our people.
We’ve urged faster progress on Constitutional Recognition for the first Australians, including a national gathering of Indigenous leaders to build consensus for change.
And we have committed to a new community-centred focus on reducing Aboriginal incarceration, including a new justice target in Closing the Gap.
These aren’t half-baked slogans or empty thought bubbles – they are genuine, concrete and constructive propositions.
Proof that Labor is determined to be part of the solution.
I can assure you, we will have much more to say in the weeks and months ahead – and this National Policy Forum will help shape this discussion.
So today, at our third full meeting, I offer you a vote of thanks – and a word of warning.
Thank you, all of you, for the effort and intellectual energy you have brought to this process.
I know I speak for our President Jenny McAllister, our Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek and my colleagues in the Shadow Ministry and Caucus – when I say we are truly grateful for your ideas, and your enthusiasm.
But be warned, we’re going to ask you to do plenty more work in the next two days – and in the weeks and months ahead.
Since you’re all here as volunteers, I’m happy to promise you double-time.
Last time we met, in our Labor Caucus room in Canberra, I said we had reached the end of ‘phase one’.
Today, as we gather to review the first consultation draft of our national platform, we arrive at another important milestone on the road to national conference.
The term ‘consultation draft’ is a bit too bureaucratic for my taste, but what it represents is important.
This isn’t a forum governed by fait accompli – and my colleagues and I don’t imagine that we’ve come to hand down commandments carved on stone tablets.
I said this would be Labor party where your membership entitled you to more of a say, and I meant it.
We stand here ready for your suggestions, changes and improvements.
But it also means we will all have to make compromises over the coming days.
We can’t expect unanimous line-by-line consensus on every semi-colon and sub-clause.
Everyone, on every side, is going to have to give some ground.
This is healthy, this is how it should be.
Our democracy isn’t defined by concurrence, and we shouldn’t be afraid of creative tension and constructive friction.
We will end up with a better and stronger platform if it is forged in the crucible of robust exchange.
In that spirit, I’ve come here to outline chapter one – a statement of Labor’s enduring values.
I hope this can stand as a clear and concise statement of who we are on our best day.
I hope that new members, and life members, can look at chapter one and see where we have been and where we are going.
And I hope that we can draw from this chapter the sense that Labor’s future can be every bit as powerful as our past.
The belief that our activism, our advocacy and our reforming energy can define the 21st Century just as much as the giants of our movement defined the 20th.
This begins with Labor’s vision for the modern economy.
We live in the world’s 12th largest economy, in the world’s fastest growing region.
And, as the biggest mining investment boom in our history draws to a close, we face the challenges of a new era.
An era that will be defined by digital disruption and innovation, clean energy industries and demographic change, equality for women and the rise of services.
Rising to these challenges, answering these questions, seizing this moment, defining our future on our terms demands a new approach.
A new plan for a smart, modern and fair Australia.
An Australia driven by a Labor party working with business, unions and community groups to build an economy and a society that rewards people for their ideas, their effort and their industry.
A strong economy, where people don’t get left behind.
A pragmatic, not dogmatic, approach to driving prosperity.
Unfettered ideology will always be the enemy of reform.
Ideology makes governments brittle when they should be flexible, it makes leaders stubborn instead of strong.
The example of last year’s Budget – the most extreme in living memory – looms large.
For decades, Labor has understood the balance between the contribution of markets and the role of government.
We will always be a party committed to the fair distribution of wealth – but modern Labor also embraces responsibility for creating wealth.
We know that sometimes governments create markets, sometimes they build institutions, sometimes they underwrite stability and sometimes their role is to release assets to allow for better competition and more opportunity.
This is a sensible, real-world position, a view that weighs economic decisions on their merits.
And I believe chapter one should reflect this.
But acknowledging the limitations on government power in the modern world…recognising that not every policy lever still responds to our touch…doesn’t mean walking away from planning for the future, or letting the market dictate our every move.
We will never be a party that says everything is safe in invisible hands.
Instead, in an era with fewer levers at our disposal, it becomes more important than ever for good governments to allocate their resources and apply their power selectively and strategically.
And in 2015, when the most profound economic transformation in world history is occurring on our doorstep, when the world’s economic centre of gravity is moving our way…this is a time that demands a government focused on the future.
A government determined to see Australia get smarter, not poorer.
Preparing for the future means guaranteeing world class education, for every Australian child.
Equipping every Australian with the skills to adapt and succeed in a rapidly-changing environment, to train and retrain throughout their working lives.
Nothing builds self-respect and self-worth like a good job, a job with some sense of security and fair pay.
And nothing matters more than creating the jobs of the future, jobs for our children.
This depends upon building a learning society, committed to lifelong education.
Reimagining Australia as an invention nation, an innovation nation, investing in science to drive new breakthroughs and discoveries in every field and industry.
And nourishing the arts, nurturing our people’s creativity and adding new layers to our nation’s spirit.
Labor’s faith in fairness will always be at the heart of our plans for prosperity.
I notice Joe Hockey has started using the word ‘fair’ a lot more in the lead-up to this year’s Budget – always with a great expression of concentration and no evidence of sincerity.
Mind you, ‘fair’ is a hard word to say when you’re chomping on a cigar.
The fair go will always be a foreign notion to the Liberals – and the language of fairness will always be an unfamiliar dialect.
For us, in modern Labor, fairness is more than a caring arm outstretched to those felled by the shafts of fate.
It is the operating principle for a thriving economy, the key to inclusive growth.
Fairness is never, never a matter of dragging everyone down to some kind of equality of mediocrity.
It is about lifting everyone up, gathering people in from the margins, extending opportunity to make prosperity work for everyone.
Fairness is supporting the march of women through the institutions of power, delivering true gender equality: in opportunity, in pay, in leadership and in the complete elimination of family violence.
Fairness is closing the gap between giving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people equal opportunity to get a great education, a fulfilling job, raise healthy children and live a long life full of quality and meaning.
Fairness is dignity and security in retirement for Australians who’ve worked hard all their lives, raised children and built our communities.
Fairness is saving the Great Barrier Reef, conserving old-growth forests and taking real action on climate change, passing on to the next generation a national environment in better shape than the one we inherited.
Fairness is an Australia where farmers, agriculture and the communities in our regions and can thrive, not just survive.
Fairness is an Australia Republic, a place where every citizen, no matter how humble their origins, can aspire to be head of state.
Fairness celebrates the miracle of multiculturalism, it is an Australia where people of all faiths and traditions are respected, valued, welcome and equal.
And fairness is not a narrow, nationalist notion.
Fairness makes us good international citizens, seeking a positive role for Australia in the world, promoting peace and helping the vulnerable.
Fairness is an Australia strong in the world and secure at home, supporting the dedicated, brave professionals of our defence force and security agencies who keep us all safe.
Fairness is who we are, it is why we are Labor.
Chapter one also, rightly offers respectful tribute to the words and deeds of former Labor Prime Ministers and the governments they led.
We revere our Labor history, we venerate our legends – we always will.
We take pride in our place as Australia’s oldest political party.
We draw inspiration from the struggles and triumphs of those who have gone before us.
We will never forget that when a strong minimum wage and a fair day’s work were radical notions, Labor made them universal rights.
Or when half a million Australians came home from serving their nation in war, Labor built the economy that gave them good jobs.
Where once Australia looked only inward, Labor offered a home to migrants whose cultures and traditions enrich us still.
University education was a privilege decided by wealth, until Labor made it an opportunity earned on merit.
For hundreds of thousands of families, sudden illness or injury meant poverty, until Labor built Medicare.
Millions of Australians worked hard all their lives and yet retired poor, until Labor created universal superannuation.
Our nation’s failure to face the dark shadow of our history diminished us all, until Labor said Sorry.
Australians with disability were exiled to a second class life in their own country, their elderly parents wracked by the sleepless midnight anxiety of wondering who would care for their child when they no longer could…until Labor delivered the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
This is a legacy unmatched.
But we are not the prisoners of our past.
We are not captive to tradition.
We can learn the lessons of history – we have and we should.
But what separates us from our opponents is that we want to be more than curators in a policy museum or taxidermists of an extinct tradition.
Our duty is to go beyond echoing and imitating, re-litigating and repeating.
We are here to define the future – of our party and our nation.
To articulate to Australians what 2025 and 2050 will look like.
Labor has always found the courage to reinvent itself, to change.
To stop and ask: is there a fairer way to build a better society?
Are we doing everything we can to prepare our people for what the future holds?
This is what drives us, it always has, it will again.
Fairness will never be a vague notion for us– it is our bugle call, it is Labor’s ‘collective memory in action’, it is a good society on the march.
It is where Labor has been, and where we are going.
It is what we have built, and what we will build.
It is our proudest monument and our best blueprint for the future.
Fairness is Labor’s Australia, writ large.
An Australia that includes everyone, helps everyone, lets everyone be their best and leaves no-one behind.
This is the great objective we share, it is the success we will achieve, together.




Apr 19, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins





Next week, Australia’s eyes will again be turned to a narrow stretch of rugged coast on the other side of the world.

We will, as a nation, remember the lost generation who fell there, a century ago, far from their homes.

We will remember their brothers, their graves marked by white crosses amidst red poppies in foreign fields.

We will remember 60,000 young people, lost to an even younger nation.

And we will remember those who came home, forever changed by the hardship they had faced and overcome.

The wounded, unable to return to the jobs they left behind.

The soldier-settlers stretched by a harsh land they could not tame.

And those who carried the hidden scars of trauma – the husbands and fathers who could never find the words to tell the people they loved why things could never be the same again.

We remember their families too, the parents, wives and children who welcomed home a different person to the one they farewelled.

The First World War left its mark on our people and our continent like few events before or since.

Across our country, families and communities counted the dreadful cost.

We all know towns where the list of names etched into the weathered white stone seems impossibly long.

We have all paused in front of honour rolls in our local halls where the surnames come in threes, and fours.

The brothers who couldn’t be separated, the strapping sons lost to their families, sometimes in the same hour of bloody chaos.

On days like this, as we gather for the rituals of respect and contemplation as we say together ‘Lest we Forget’, we rededicate ourselves and our nation to the honoured memory of the fallen.

And we declare, once more, that their sacrifice was not in vain.

We remind ourselves of what they fought for – the people they loved and the country they believed in.

One in five of the first Australian Imperial Force were born in Britain.

And our nation had bound itself to Britain’s cause: to the last man and the last shilling…yet what we lost, and gained, in that terrible war did not belong to Britain.

The sacred name of Anzac, the bravery and sacrifice of the young citizen-soldiers we honour today – and every day – belongs to all of us.

It is wholly, utterly, Australian.

Australians risked and lost their lives not for the ‘green and pleasant land’ of England but for the free and fair nation they had built here, beneath the Southern Cross.

They sent words of comfort to anxious parents in Bunbury and Launceston, not Bristol and London.

They wrote to sweethearts in Parramatta and Essendon, not Plymouth and Essex.

At Gallipoli they sought race results from Flemington, not Ascot.

It was Australia they loved, it was Australia who mourned their loss.

It was Australia who cared for the loved ones they left behind and it is Australia who honours their sacrifice still.

Ladies and Gentlemen

There is no-one left among us who knew firsthand the courage and chaos of the 25th of April 1915.

Those left to grow old have gone too.

Yet their story will always be part of our Australian story.

The Anzacs will always speak to us, and for who we are.

In the coming years of commemorations, I encourage all Australians to honour the memory of those who served by looking up into the branches of their family trees.

Try and find out, if you can, the history of your family’s service.

Together, let us learn and tell the story of the ordinary people who found the courage to do the truly extraordinary.

Let us, as a new generation, give new meaning to the solemn national promise we repeat today.

Lest We Forget.




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