ALP Special Conference 30/03/21

30 March 2021

An address from lockdown to the ALP Special Conference






Thanks Mich-Elle, and delegates.

I’d hoped to join you from the Badtjala lands of regional Queensland, from the Maryborough train workshops which have become synonymous with Anthony’s vision for a future made in Australia, and synonymous with the investment in jobs and development made by our Premier, and her Labor team.

Instead, I’m joining you from my kitchen in Logan.

This lockdown is another reminder that, since our movement last gathered, our nation and its people have been through so much together. And as we emerge from the deepest recession in a century, and our economy shows welcome signs of improvement, the credit belongs to the Australian people, for doing the right thing by each other, in the most difficult times.

The Liberals and National see this togetherness as some kind of aberration, an egalitarian intermission, an historical oddity to be quickly forgotten.

They see the million Australians they just kicked off JobKeeper, or two million without work or enough work, as a political problem to be managed rather than a human cost to be avoided.

They see trickle down Thatcherism, not as a cautionary tale from the past but as a template to dust off in the here and now.

Their vision is so lowered, and so limited, that the best they hope for is a return to the defining features of the economy they mismanaged well before we’d heard of Coronavirus: record low wages growth fuelling inequality; insecure work and high underemployment; business investment at historic lows; communities and regions left behind; and a budget riddled with rorts.

Delegates, Australians are owed more than this and better than this. We owe them an economy, a society and a country stronger after COVID than it was before.

That’s why Labor’s goal isn’t to merely ‘snap back’ to the economic weakness we’ve seen for eight long years.

We want more ambition in the pursuit of strong, inclusive, sustainable growth – and rejecting the false choice between growth that is strong and growth that is fair.

More ambition when it comes to employment – by pursuing the goal of full employment in way that starts to tackle underemployment and insecure work.

And more ambition when it comes to wages and business investment.

For Labor, this means:

Secure and better paid jobs with fair conditions.

It means growing and leveraging our retirement savings, not raiding and thieving workers’ super.

It means cleaner and cheaper energy to grow jobs in traditional and emerging sectors, not the policy chaos that is already costing thousands of jobs.

It means teaching and training our people to keep up with technological change and turning Australian ideas into Australian jobs.

And it means genuine support for SMEs and our strategic sectors – not overlooking primary industries, neglecting the care economy and destroying our manufacturing capacity.

Delegates, that $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund that Anthony announced this morning is all about a recovery made in Australia.

Backing projects that create jobs, diversify our economy, broaden our industrial base, and revive our regions.

This is part of ensuring Labor’s on the side of all those Australians who need and deserve secure, well-paid work.

Our goal is to help place the opportunities of a growing economy within the reach of more people, not just the fortunate few.

And to build a recovery, an economy, a society and a country worthy of Australians and the sacrifices we made for each other during the recession and its aftermath.

That’s what Chapter One of our Platform’s all about and why I’m proud to join my friend Senator Katy Gallagher in moving it.