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Delegates, Labor in Government has been the most effective force for good in our nation’s history.
I say that without qualification or hesitation.
Almost every significant reform that has built Australia and progressed our national interest was conceived, developed, implemented, and defended by Labor governments.
Universal healthcare. Medicare.
Accessible higher education.
Our alliance with the United States.
The Two Oceans Navy Policy, which acknowledged the strategic importance of the Indian Ocean and saw the development of Fleet Base West on HMAS Stirling, on Garden Island in the beautiful Brand electorate.
The Family Court of Australia. Now shamefully brought to an end by the wreckers that are the Liberal National Cooalition.
Equal pay for women.
Action on climate change.
Floating the dollar.
The National Disability Insurance Scheme.
And it was Labor that saved Australian jobs and prevented a recession during the Global Financial Crisis.
It has been Labor in Government that has been the defining force in Australian politics – around which other forces have always revolved.
In the early years of the Federation, the Free Trade Party and the Protectionists Party even went into coalition with each other, to oppose the Labor party in Parliament.
Our opponents in the Liberal and Greens Parties have always defined themselves by their opposition to us. They still do, to this day.
They don’t understand or support working people in the suburbs and towns across Australia,
They think everyone worth listening to looks, lives and thinks like they do.
That’s not Labor’s way.
We value people. We value all people in their magnificent diversity, and with their human challenges.
We value people where they are, and for who they are. We don’t require them to look or sound or think like we do. Or even to agree with us.
Labor doesn’t sit in ivory towers telling people how virtuous we are. Delegates here today and the entire movement, work in the midst of working people and, with them, seek to fix the problems and challenges that our nation faces.
Labor does not lecture low and middle income earners on how they should be better at saving or recycling or investing or spending.
We affirm and celebrate working-and middle-class values of aspiration, family and community.
Ben Chifley’s light on the hill is explicitly not about an extra shilling in the pocket – it’s about us always striving to make things better.
We know Australian parents want their kids to have a better opportunity than they had – because we do too.
Think about your story. Look around you at your comrades here this morning. How many of us are the beneficiaries of the legacy Labor has created to build our nation? We all benefited from the public education system. We have all benefited from Medicare. Labor’s university policies allowed me – a plain and ordinary girl from Rockingham – to study a degree.
That’s right – I can confirm that our Premier is not the only politician from Rockingham!
We in Labor believe in the dignity of work, and we believe that the opportunity of a good education and a good job should be available to all.
And, delegates, we believe in solidarity.
Solidarity is a core Australian value, though sometimes it’s called different things. Sometimes it’s called mateship. Sometimes it’s called compassion. Sometimes it’s wrapped up in our notions of honour or integrity and doing the right thing.
We in the labour movement know that we are stronger together. For us, solidarity means standing shoulder-to-shoulder with working Australians in the interests of all.
Delegates, it is my great pleasure this morning to introduce someone who has fought shoulder-to-shoulder for working people his whole life.
Like so many of us, Anthony Albanese’s story is testament to the opportunity that successive Labor Governments created for working people to get ahead in life.
You probably already know that he grew up in social housing in Marrickville. You’ve probably seen the ‘Hot Albo’ photographs from his time at the University of Sydney.
Like many here today, he was an activist as a student – quite a rabble rouser, in fact.
Through his own personal dedication, commitment and sheer hard work, Anthony has come a long way from his humble beginnings.
During the Rudd and Gillard governments, Anthony was the Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure. You might have driven down Great Eastern Highway to get here this morning – that highway is wider, and actually works, due to his strategic investment as Minister in the Perth Gateway project. And Anthony Albanese as Minister funded the sinking of the railway line between Perth and Northbridge – to the tune of some $240 million.
Both of these infrastructure projects have been transformational for our beautiful capital city and our state.
As Leader of the House he managed parliamentary tactics during the period in which Labor had a minority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Every vote – even the procedural ones – was contested and results fell on a knife edge. It’s worth noting that during the Gillard Government, Labor passed over 500 bills through the minority parliament, and never lost a substantive vote in the House.
As Leader, Anthony has united the Caucus and is rallying us all to a full-throated charge on Scott Morrison’s moribund government. We’re battle ready and raring to go.
This election, we are all fighting Tories.
Please welcome our Labor Leader, Anthony Albanese.
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