Source: Australian Labor Party (ALP)
Good afternoon everybody
It’s not often that you come to a harness racing track and you can be guaranteed that you’re backing a winner.
But as your applause clearly indicates, you know that we are today.
Justine Keay is the best candidate with the best policies for Braddon and with your hard work, she can be the winner on July the 28th and we look forward to that day.
I’d like to start off by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land upon which we meet and I pay my respects to their elders both past and present.
I’d also like to acknowledge Tanya Plibersek, she is a fantastic Deputy.
And if I may be excused, at a gathering of the Labor Party, the first one I’ve attended since Friday, I’d like to acknowledge Jenny Macklin stepping down after 22 years, she’s a real Labor legend.
I acknowledge my Tasmanian Labor colleagues who are here, federal and state, and I’d like to acknowledge your very great state Labor leader here, Bec White, lovely to see you.
And even though she used to come down here to Devonport on work, could you please give a warm Tassie Labor welcome to my special and amazing wife Chloe.
But I’d like to conclude my acknowledgments by acknowledging a group of people who can’t be here today. And you know them, we see them every day they are the people stacking shelves, cleaning hotel rooms, serving customers in shops, making the coffees.
These are Australians who are giving up their Sunday so that they can give more to their families. And on behalf of the Labor Party I just want to say thank you.
In Labor we respect the work that workers do.We are grateful for the work that workers do. And that is why within our first 100 days of being elected to the national government, we will restore your Sunday and public holiday penalty rates, thank you.
This by-election has put a spotlight on the electorate of Braddon and the people who live here. And it’s illuminated issues that people raise with me when I do my town hall meetings from Burnie to Smithton, to Queenie right through to Latrobe.
There’s no doubting that this is a lovely and beautiful part of the world. As you know it’s such a beautiful place, many tourists come here to visit.
But the people who live in Braddon, they’re not the tourists, you’re not just passing through or camping out, this is your home.
And you shouldn’t have to leave your home, in order to find a job that pays a fair wage on the mainland.
And you shouldn’t have to fly to the mainland when your child is diagnosed with a serious illness to get the sort of health care that other people take for granted.
And your young ones shouldn’t have to pack up their bags, to change in order to fulfil their lives with a TAFE or a university course, to learn a trade.They shouldn’t have to leave their home in Tasmania to travel elsewhere.
Living here should not mean missing out on the essential services which Australians take for granted in many other parts of Australia.
We believe in Labor that your lives here deserve equal opportunity, your community deserves equal opportunity.
That’s what Justine’s campaign is about when all is said and done, that’s what Labor’s policies and what our values are all about.
It’s about your family, it’s about your health, it’s about your community.
Now, I notice that the Prime Minister, yet again, yesterday engaged in one of his personal tirades against me.
He spends a lot of time throwing personal insults and invective against me. I mean if he really wants my job as Opposition Leader, he can have it.
But more seriously, my response to him is simple: Australians are sick of this sort of politics.
Let me be very clear, I’m not going to play that game.
If he wants to play the personal insult game – he can. But he’ll be doing it on his own.
What I intend to do is concentrate on the things which make Australia better.
To come up with policies and proposals that makes lives better for everyday Australians.
And if the other fellow wants a little bit of free advice from me, he should just do the same. Focus on the people, not the politics.
And this is what we’re focused on right here in Braddon.
The Liberals have cut $14.7 million from schools in Braddon, we’re going to put that money back.
Because we believe that every child, no matter their circumstances or their postcode, deserves an excellent opportunity for a quality education.
And we can do this because we’re not going to give $17 billion to the big banks.
The Liberals have cut $11 million from hospitals in Tasmania, we’re going to put the money back.
And we can do this because we’re not going to give $17 billion to the big banks.
And we’re going to invest $30 million to reduce waiting lists for elective surgery, for those painful procedures, the knee replacements, for the hip operations, to have the cataracts removed.
Currently, the waiting times for these procedures in Tasmania are some of the worst in the country and this is not the fault of the dedicated health workers, far from it, it’s the fault of the poor priorities of Liberal governments.
And we can make these promises to restore the funding to the schools, to restore the funding to hospitals, to restore the funding to reduce waiting lists for elective surgery, because we’re not going to give $17 billion to the big banks.
And when I talk about health care, like Justine, when we talk about heath care, we mean better services for mental health, particularly for young people.
Being a teenager has never been easy. But in this age of social media, of online bullying, when there’s more pressure, all the time, the pressure is relentless. When technology means that we’re more connected but for some of our young ones, more vulnerable and more isolated than ever before.
It’s hard to reach out for support, to put up your hand and to say that you’re struggling. That is when you need help and if the services are not there that is when trouble and worse can occur to you.
This is why I am pleased – and it’s in big part due to Justine’s advocacy – that a Labor Government will build a new Headspace service to provide mental health services in north west, to be based in Burnie, and we’ll do that if we get elected and if we vote for Justine.
A vote for Justine isn’t just a vote for better health services, tangible health services on the ground.
It’s a vote to back local jobs, to back local business, to back local workers.
Unlike the current Prime Minister, we will not patronise age care workers in Burnie and teachers and tradies and nurses right across north western Tasmania by telling them that if they want to get a better tax cut they should just ‘get a better job’.
Instead, as Tanya said, we’re going to reward these hard-working Tasmanians with a bigger, better, fairer tax cut for people in the existing jobs they are in.
Our plan is to look after working people and to make the tax system work for working people. We’ll give a fair-dinkum tax refund to working Tasmanians which doesn’t require them going to get a ‘better job’.
We like the jobs that people are doing right now – and we’re going to back you in your current job.
We will not only lift living standards by providing better tax refunds for all Tasmanians who earn up to $125,000 a year.
We’ve got plans to put downward pressure on the cost of energy and plans to put downward pressure on the cost of health care.
But we also believe that the single best way to lift the living standards of working Tasmanians is to actually have a system to lift the wages of working Tasmanians.
Let’s just say it as it is: the only wages policy the Turnbull government has is to attack trade unions.
The only wages policy this government has is to give a better deal for the ASX CEOs.
Did you know that in the last number of years the average multiplier of a CEOs wage of the ordinary wage of Australians has gone from 20 times to 60 times?
This is a government who has got a plan to cut your penalty rates and a plan to criticise unions, they just have no idea how to deal with the cursed problem of wage stagnation.
So we will put forward wages policies that see women paid better in the workforce, that restore the penalty rates, that give people the ability to bargain properly and to tackle the scourge of labour hire which is reducing people’s conditions.
You can’t talk about standing up for working Tasmanians unless you talk about a wages policy and Justine is the only candidate in this competition with a wages policy.
Justine is also very focused on the needs of small business in the Braddon area, she’s going to propose if she’s elected that we will have a policy of 6,600 businesses in Braddon receiving support from our Australian Investment Guarantee.
So if some of the companies that we visited, be it Specialised Vehicle Solutions in Burnie or Britton Brothers timber operations in Smithton – if they invest in new plant and equipment, if they invest in new machinery that will generate profitability, productivity and a better deal for their workforce, then they will be immediately able to deduct an extra 20 percent off the price of their investment.
So when local businesses invest more than $20,000 in their own expansion of productivity, their going to pay less tax under Labor.
We are the party who will look after working people and their employers in the electorate of Braddon. And our plan will mean that at the next election businesses in Braddon will pay less or the same tax under us, whether or not the liberals were there or not. That’s our plan for small business in this area.
But our commitment to jobs in this region doesn’t just stop at better tax policies, it’s also about backing new industries as well, like tourism.
Labor will put the $8.8 million into the Coastal Path that stretches all the way from Latrobe right through to Wynyard and beyond.
And we’re going to put that extra $8.8 million in to complete that path because we want to see the businesses in this region benefit from the tourism expansion which this region surely deserves.
It will generate, this single proposal, $17 million in the local economy each year and it will generate nearly 100 extra jobs.
We will back industries that create jobs, that’s why we’re backing renewable energy.
While the Liberals and Nationals still engage in the tiresome fight about whether climate change is real we actually just want to make the north west of Tasmania a Renewable Energy Zone. A centre for new investment, for new jobs and, of course, for new projects.
And because our candidate knows this community so intimately, and because she listens to locals as Labor has, we’ve got plans to improve the local infrastructure:
– Upgrading the Bass Highway between Wynyard and Circular Head
– Building levees for better protection against the floods in Latrobe
– Fixing up those most annoying and aggravating mobile phone blackspots
– Upgrading the track at the local BMX club at Wynyard.
– Putting in new changerooms for West Park Oval in Burnie.
And when we invest in these local projects, we’re going to make sure that it’s local content that gets used.
When you vote for Labor what we will require is that when they expend any Commonwealth taxpayer money we want to see local content. We don’t want contractors coming from the mainland to do this work, we want to give it to local businesses and local tradies and local employers because that’s who we are.
And we’re also going to require that one in every 10 people working on these projects has to be an apprentice, because we are the party of apprenticeships.
You know yesterday there would have been some of you and many other Tasmanians who were engaged in your local football clubs.
Filling up water bottles, running the boundary, doing the goal umpiring. Arguing with unhappy parents whose point you didn’t acknowledge. And there’d be those of you who were just working in the canteen, making sure that the junior teams can have something to eat after they play their local footy.
I get, and Justine gets, that the grassroots is what makes communities.
And so that’s why we were pleased to annouce on Thursday that Labor would create for the first time in Tasmania a new $5 million ‘Save Our Footy Fund’, to back local clubs, to back in the grassroots footy of Tassie.
We understand that Tasmania was a foundation Australian rules state and it has been neglected by football administrators on the mainland for too long.
We understand it’s a complex problem, what we need to do is restore grassroots football.
We think that we’ve got a plan to do that, to be able to help encourage more junior teams, to encourage the grassroots and better infrastructure.
And from that we’ve also said yesterday that we are prepared to work with the AFL to make sure that there is some Commonwealth support that when there is a future license granted that Tasmania is at the front of the queue to finally be a foundation footy state with its own footy team, that’s what we’ll do.
But we understand for the people who live here, that quality of life is also about better services.
There’s a story which Justine helped inform me about, it’s about a lady called Marsha Ferris from Boat Harbour. Boat Harbour is a beautiful part of the country.
She turned 65 in 2016, she applied for her age pension in December of that year, as is her right.
For six months, to and fro with Centrelink, re-submitting the same forms, answering the same questions.It wasn’t until Justine Keay stepped in and intervened that Marsha was able to get her pension.
The problem is you hear these stories all Tasmania and all over Australia.
People are enduring long and frustrating waits for their legitimate pension payments and Medicare rebates and job-seeker services.
They’re waiting hours each week, each month, just to get someone to pick up the phone.
And when Justine and Linda Burney, our spokesperson who has made the special trip down here to support what I’m about to announce, when we bring up this issue how does the current Liberal government respond?
They do what they always do, first of all they pretend there’s not a problem, then they make it worse.
Last year, they sacked 1,180 staff from the Department of Human Services. 55 million calls went unanswered. 55 million calls.
The average waiting times this year for pensioners, for students, for jobseekers have all increased – again.
Imagine, imagine if a Liberal Minister, or one of their big business friends had to go through this process.
The talkback radio on certain channels would be going bananas, there’d be letters in The Financial Review, they’d probably have a Royal Commission into the problem.
But in this year’s budget, the government outsourced another 1,250 jobs to contractors.
This is the Liberal government business model for essential services for Tasmanians and all Australians. They want to sack full-time staff, they want to replace them with labour hire contractors, on lower pay and more uncertain rosters.
When will the Liberal Party learn? Privatisation is not the solution, it is the problem.
Now I’m pleased that it won’t just be here but all around Australia, we’re going to stand up and do something about this problem but we’re going to start right here, right now.
Today, I’m pleased to announce that we will see no more diminution of the essential services which Australians rely on.
We’re going to stop treating age pensioners, people receiving legitimate government payments, as second-class. As if they should beg and plead for a bit of charity when this is their right, this is what they paid taxes for their whole life.
We’re not going to see the users of the human services system treated as second-class and we’re not going to see the beleaguered frontline staff who work in this department used as the battering ram for the government’s neglect and disinterest.
So I’m pleased to announce that we’ll start right here, right now. We’re going to deliver an extra 50 Centrelink staff, based here in Devonport and in Burnie to cut waiting times and improve services.
This will be more permanent, more full-time, more in-house jobs. It’s going to bring $3.6 million to the local economy each year.
And the new jobs will include a team of staff who travel to the West Coast, who will travel to Circular Head and King Island and all of the small communities so that local people can get essential services and support, face-to-face.
Today what I’ve outlined is a plan for the whole north west.
It’s a plan with detail, it’s a plan grounded in the experience of everyday life in this marvellous part of Australia.
And it’s a positive plan, our plan means more jobs, it means higher wages, it means better schools and hospitals and government services.
Now what our opponents offering, what is their ‘vision’ for your community?
There’s a $17 billion giveaway for the big four banks
They voted, in the last month, for a $7000 tax cut for themselves .
And they are going to use the cuts to your schools and your hospital and your TAFE and child care and the pensions to pay for that plan.
These are not our values.
We do not believe that ordinary everyday Australians should lose services, should have to pay to look after the top end of town.
We believe in Australia’s oldest promise: the fair go all round.
We believe that policies of government should not just be for some of us, but for all of us.
Whether you are young or you’re old, whether you are a man or a woman. Whether you live in the city, the suburbs or the regions.
We believe that regardless of your parents’ wealth, no matter whether your family has been here for a thousand generations, or seven generations or this is the first generation.
We think every Australian has a right to a quality education.
We think every Australian has the right to affordable, decent quality healthcare.
We think every Australian has the right to a fair pay at work.
We think every Australian has the right to dignity in retirement.
We think that every Australian should have equality of opportunity, wherever they live in this country.
We believe that this country should be run not just for some Australians, but for all Australians.
As we approach the last 20 days of this by-election, it’s possible for observers and commentators to overcomplicate politics.
When you look past all the noise and all the trivia, the question for all of the voters here at this by-election is dead simple:
How much money do you want to give the big four banks?
And how much do you want to cut from your children’s education, from age care, from the pensioners power supplement, from the schools, how much do you want to cut from your hospitals.
These are the questions.
How much do you want to give the top end of town?
How much do you want to cut from your local communities?
That’s it. That is the question.
That’s the choice facing Australians at the next general election and it’s the choice facing voters in Braddon on July the 28th.
It is the message that we have 20 days to drive home.
If you really believe that the best you can do for this community, as you drive from town to town, you look at the marvellous views, you stop off and experience the great hospitality, as you go to work every day in Devonport or in Burnie or you go underground in one of the mines or you set out to do some fishing.
If you look around this marvellous place, the question which voters have to ask ourselves is: what do we want for the future?
We understand, most people understand, Labor understands, that what most people want is actually pretty modest.
We understand that when your family is doing well, when they have their health – then you can start lining-up to sort out all the other issues which come after that.
But when I look around this community what I realise is the choice is very straightforward.
What is the point of giving $17 billion to big banks, when instead we could provide some of that money to our schools.
What is the point in giving shareholders in the northern hemisphere Australian tax cuts, rather than giving schools in the north west of Tasmania, the extra teachers’ aides they deserve?
You know, I look at who the Liberals have chosen to run as their standard-bearer. He is a former banker, to be fair there is consistency, his boss is a former banker – and they both voted against the Banking Royal Commission on at least six occasions.
In fact, his boss voted against the Banking Royal Commission on 23 occasions.
So I get that if you want to look after the big end of town, you should vote Liberal.
But if you think that your local community is more worthwhile than your local multinational, then you vote Justine and you vote Labor.
And we are counting on the people in this room and many other Labor volunteers to spread this message
Every door you knock on, every call you make, house to house, conversation to conversation – we need to make sure people know what is at stake
If you want shorter waiting times at North West Region Hospital, not bigger bonuses for CEOs.
If you want better schools, not richer banks.
If you want better facilities at Devonport TAFE.
If you want better funding for UTAS on the Cradle Coast.
If you want a better NBN for your home and your businesses.
Just vote for Justine and vote Labor.
If you have a teenage child for whom you want an apprenticeship, vote Labor.
If you’re a pensioner and you want to make sure that you get a payment of $14 a fortnight for your energy supplement, vote for Labor.
If you work on Sunday and want your penalty rates lifted, vote for Labor.
In fact, if you just want to save the ABC, vote for Labor.
This is a fantastic community, you know it. The secret is getting out about what a great place it is.
But we can’t take our community for granted.
If we just want to be run according to a theory that says that if you look after the top end of town in Sydney and in Melbourne, everything will be better here, well then you should vote for the other guy.
But if we want to actually look after our community and preserve this part of Australia which actually when people look at it reminds them of an Australia which has been lost in far too many other parts around our nation.
This is a special area, but if we want to preserve it and make sure that the kids living here are not disadvantaged.
To make sure that your health outcomes are not disadvantaged.
To make sure that we’re getting our fair share of education and jobs in this region.
That the essential services are properly protected.
Then I feel that the choice is incredibly clear .
You can elect on July the 28th a seventh generation Tasmania, a local champion, a mother of three.
Someone who is fierce and passionate for progress.
We have in Justine Keay a candidate who gets up every day determined to make a difference for the better, for the wonderful community in which she resides.
Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce the next Member for Braddon.