"Every working Australian must know in 2013 what has happened in Queensland in 2012" speech at the Queensland ALP Conference
SUN 16 SEPTEMBER 2012
It’s good to be amongst friends at the end of what has been a long and sad week.
I want to, through you, thank the Labor family for all of the expressions of condolence and support that I and my family have received at this difficult time.
My father, John, was a great Labor man.
He came from the coal mining valleys of Wales, he came from a life of hardship and he came with hope and courage and determination to make a life here in this land of wonderful opportunity.
And he found that opportunity.
He found a vocation that he loved as a psychiatric nurse providing care and concern and support for others, to people who needed that support the most.
He believed in public service. He always believed how important it was for people to give their lives to public service and to do good for others.
He believed in opportunity and the sharing of it. He had received opportunities in this country but he never wanted to close the door behind him.
He wanted to see that opportunity shared.
He was a Labor man through and through.
He believed in Labor, he believed in me, he believed in you, and your recognition of his passing has been truly heartwarming for me. Thank you.
Friends, you meet here this weekend with a great purpose for Queensland: the long march back.
Proud of your achievements in fourteen years in office.
Humbled by the judgment of the people and the State you serve.
More willing than ever to fight the good fight and absolutely determined to offer Queensland the choice of a good Labor Government in 2015.
Because after this week you don't need me to tell you:
Queenslanders deserve better than this.
The human cost of the LNP’s state budget is dreadful.
Fourteen thousand Queensland jobs will be lost because of the decisions of just a few.
It seems that everyone in the State knows someone who fears for their job today.
So Queensland Labor has a great responsibility, to fight these job cuts, to fight this conservative Government, to give Queenslanders hope, to offer them a real choice at the next state election.
And Queenslanders do want a real choice.
They are taking a long hard look at what the LNP in Government really means.
Our job is clear. To govern well, to govern for all.
And as Federal Leader, I can tell you, you meet here with another great responsibility: to our whole nation.
You will be on the front line in the fight to come in 2013.
For my part, I can promise you this: we are giving you a Labor program to work for, a plan for our nation you will be proud to fight for and defend.
Your Labor Government is building this nation’s future.
Day by day, piece by piece, a future that will see Australians be the winners in this century of growth and change in our region of the world.
A future of cleaner energy.
Access around the nation to the infrastructure of the future, to high speed broadband.
A future of higher skills leading to higher paid jobs.
A future of opportunity and prosperity which we can build together and share together.
Your Labor Government is delivering today as we build for tomorrow.
A strong economy, a budget surplus, job creation.
Fair workplace laws where your rights at work are protected for the future.
Expanded ports, new railways and roads.
Extra support for families and for small businesses, higher super, paid for by the returns from the minerals every Australian owns.
Higher pensions, help for carers, more choice and security in care for all our people as they age.
And delegates, next year when you walk the streets and knock on the doors and even when you climb trees to hang posters and stand on highways waving wobble boards you’ll be able to say this: a vote for Labor in 2013 is a vote for a National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Nothing could be more natural to Labor than this plan.
The disability system we have today is unfair, it’s underfunded, it’s fragmented and it’s inefficient and we can fix it.
At COAG in July, we saw how hard this will be: without leadership from Labor Governments, it will never get done.
At the end of that COAG meeting only your Federal Labor Government and Labor in South Australia, Tasmania and the ACT had agreed to launch sites for the NDIS.
It took days of public pressure and private talks to get the conservatives in New South Wales and Victoria to agree to help.
And delegates the LNP government here in Queensland still has not agreed.
Campbell Newman must not be allowed to draw a “Brisbane Line” through the NDIS.
And we – the women and men of Labor – won’t let him.
We will give people with disabilities a better deal.
We are going to get this done.
Delegates, our commitment to care for Australians with disability reflects our essential Labor passion that no one be left behind.
Australians are entitled to know that in times of hardship government has got their back.
And Labor Governments always have.
In times of economic turbulence, like the global financial crisis, you can rely on Labor to protect our nation.
In times of personal need, when you fear you may fall, in sickness, with disability, you can rely on Labor to build the safety nets that catch you.
But people look to us for more and as Labor believers we understand our Labor cause runs deeper.
Labor is always the party that strives to create and share hope and opportunity.
So our vision for education reflects our deepest dreams for every child, our fundamental Labor drive to ensure that everyone can get ahead.
So you can say this, out on the stump, every day next year: A vote for Labor is a vote for a National Disability Insurance Scheme.
And delegates, you will be able to say this too:
A vote for Labor is a vote to give every child more hope and more opportunity and to improve every Australian school.
All my life, I have been conscious of being the lucky one – my life story is of education’s transformative power.
But even in great schools like Unley High, I saw education’s full power denied to some of my schoolmates.
The life-changing unfairness of being robbed of a great education has always struck me as a moral wrong.
I know you feel that too and together we are on a national crusade for change.
A moral imperative fuels our crusade – but it’s teachers and the principals who show us our line of march from here.
Queensland’s schools, public, Catholic and independent, are full of great teachers and leaders.
And this morning Angelo Gavrielatos from the Australian Education Union introduced me to some of the public system’s best.
I saw Margaret Gurney from Goodna State School again.
We first met back in 2011, after the floods.
Half the children in her primary school come from the poorest quarter of Australian homes.
Many are Indigenous and Margaret focussed on lifting indigenous achievement in her school. Regular health checks, oral language development, greater awareness in the school as a whole of those kids and their needs.
She created adult education classes – so the parents, the kids’ most important leaning coach, are confident themselves.
I met Corrine McMillan from Glenala State High School in Durack.
This was a tough high school in a tough area. It took a terrific principal to lift it up.
Working with the local Vietnamese community, bringing on a Pacific liaison officer, offering breakfast at school events, getting parents involved.
And doing a great job with her indigenous students.
Building a school where all kids turn up and turn up with their homework done. Where more kids are staying on to year 12, more kids are going on to TAFE and lots more to university.
Corrine and her school richly deserved the recognition they got yesterday following the publication of NAPLAN results.
I met Andrew Thompson from Ipswich West Special School.
A brilliant and compassionate man who told me how with the right support from government, his school can genuinely teach children with the most profound disabilities and can create real opportunities for children to seize the potential they do have in life.
And I have been privileged to meet so many others.
I already know Llew Paulger from Redbank Plains State High School – we met at Community Cabinet in July.
And he’s here, with Tony Maksoud from Berrinba East State School and Belinda Leavers from Loganlea State High School and Jody Stehbens from Kruger State School and Roz Bowd and the "Gonski mums".
Along with more great principals and teachers than I can name.
Friends, I’ve been proud to work with them to change children’s lives, to give them hope and opportunity.
MySchool, low-SES partnership, literacy and numeracy work, teacher quality. Computers in schools. Building the Education Revolution, National Curriculum, Teach for Australia.
Lifting standards for every child in every school, equipping them for the jobs of the future.
But Margaret and Corrine and Andrew and Llew - they are the people who can tell you what difference all that has made.
Ask them when you see them today.
About the kindies who are reading better, the young girls who are doing science in new labs and maths on new computers, the teenage boys who are staying longer in school about the Queensland families whose kids are aiming for apprenticeships and degrees, for well-paid skilful work.
These are our great principals and teachers: in our great national crusade to improve schools, they carry the banner high.
Working with them, we know from what has already been achieved that we can transform the lives of children.
If you give one child a better education you change a life.
If you give every child a better education, you change a nation, you change the future, you make it stronger and fairer.
For every child, for every school, for our nation’s future, we are going to get this done.
We will dedicate our nation to getting back in the top five schooling systems in the world by 2025.
We will commit our nation to a National Plan for School Improvement, which will achieve that goal for our children.
Lifting teacher quality, more power for principals, more information for parents.
And we will fund Australian schools in a way that puts a child’s needs at the heart of our funding decisions.
And to those Liberals who say no to change, who want to see cutbacks rather than our schools at the cutting edge, we have gathered together here to say we will fight you, we will beat you, for our children we are going to get this done.
Delegates, our plan to care for Australians with disability is a great Labor plan.
Our plan to improve Australian schools is a great Labor plan.
And you know what the other side always say about great Labor plans.
First it’s a bad idea – then it’s a good idea but it’ll cost too much – then, finally, oh no, they’d never get rid of it. Honest.
Just one thing - they might need a quick commission of audit to check over the books.
And then, if they win, they bring down their first budget.
Delegates, the cost in jobs of this is already shockingly clear.
But as Labor people, we are also genuinely shocked by the kind of values these cuts reveal.
Because of course, we’re a party of government, we deliver budgets, we know it’s hard.
We make tough decisions to bring a budget to surplus and to keep it there – those decisions are being made in Canberra right now.
And when we do that, we prove that if you have the right values, the right priorities, you can budget responsibly and help the people who need it most.
We know you can because that’s what we’ve done: our budget is coming to surplus and we’ve cut taxes for working Australians.
What we don’t ever do is conduct ourselves like the conservatives who enjoy delivering the cuts.
These blokes who crow about it and crack jokes about it and lick their lips as they do the dirty work … and who show their true values in the cuts they make.
They’ve cut the Rural Fire Service – the ultimate frontline services.
They’ve cut palliative care beds – care for the dying.
They’ve cut the children's guardian.
They’ve cut domestic violence services.
They’ve even dismantled BreastScreen Queensland.
A cut so brutal I didn’t believe it when I first read the reports, and so sad I still don’t want to believe it now.
That’s the difference between their values and ours.
Labor Governments cut millionaires’ dental schemes – Liberal Governments sack ambulance officers.
And this is why Newman’s budget razor is Abbott’s curtain raiser.
Labor brings budgets to surplus responsibly, carefully, cutting waste, getting the priorities right.
The Liberals and Nationals always cut too much and they always cut the wrong things.
They devastate families, damage businesses, hurt communities.
Understand this: Tony Abbott and Campbell Newman are following the same game plan, every hour, every day.
Oppositions which just say no never achieve good things for working people.
Conservative oppositions which just say no are using that one short word to hide a plan to cut services and jobs.
And this is why I say to you in Queensland today, you do now have a special responsibility to Australians as a whole.
You will be fighters on the front line next year, but you are already more than that.
You are the sentries who can tell Australians what’s at risk, what could be coming.
You’ve seen it. Tell your story. Make sure they know.
Every working Australian must know in 2013 what happened in Queensland in 2012.
In 2013 Australians will have a choice.
A clear choice between two visions of our nation's future.
Do you want a high-wage, high-skill, high-value-add society where everyone gets a chance?
Or a race to the bottom, cutting wages, cutting conditions, everyone going backwards, the weakest scrambling for two dollars a day.
Do you want a budget surplus, job creation, a strong economy?
Or a downward spiral of cuts, job losses and decline.
Do you want progressive government informed by reason with a plan for the future?
Or a regime of aggression and negativity with a secret plan for cuts?
You know my answer. I know your answer.
Delegates, carry this message to the nation in 2013.
At every door, on every corner, over every back fence, in every front bar.
If you want a National Disability Insurance Scheme – you must vote Labor.
If you want a plan for school improvement – you must vote Labor.
If you want a stronger and fairer future – you must vote Labor.
And as every Queenslander knows today: if you want jobs not job cuts – you must vote Labor.
Friends, the fight is on, it’s the fight of our lives, let’s get out there and win it.