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Transcript 17931

'My plan for Australia's future is a plan which understands the West', Speech to the ALP Western Australia Branch State Conference

Photo of Gillard, Julia

Gillard, Julia

Period of Service: 24/06/2010 to 27/06/2013

More information about Gillard, Julia on The National Archive website.

Release Date: 25/06/2011

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 17931

Thanks so much Stephen for that generous introduction.

I see my other ministerial and parliamentary colleagues here today - Chris and Gary; Melissa, Glenn, Mark and Louise.

I see your State Labor Leader Eric and his State Labor team and Eric I want to say publicly today what I said at dinner last night: In Government you proved a great Treasurer and you left the State in great economic shape and in Opposition you are proving a courageous Leader of a Party which will be ready to govern in 2013.

I see so many friends from Western Australia's great labour movement, so many people who've worked so hard for Labor.

Branch members and supporters and volunteers who helped us change Australia in 2007, who fought the good fight with us in Canning and Cowan, in Stirling and Hasluck and Swan last year and who I know will fight again for Labor in 2013.

Even a few people who I saw on a warm night in March this year at the Swan Yacht Club, where we shared a hot meal and a cold drink - well, we had some beer and some pizza anyway.

All of you, people who know what it means to be Labor, because you are what it means to be Labor.

It's good to be here again, it's good to be among so many friends.

Friends, I'm sure we all thought of Bob Hawke this week and wished him a speedy recovery from pneumonia.

Today I'm particularly reminded of Bob because he was the last Labor Prime Minister to address this Conference, in 1991.

Now in 1991 Western Australians, per capita, were already bringing in twice as much in export earnings as the rest of us.

But today, twenty years on, Western Australians, per capita, are bringing in five times as much in export earnings as the rest of the country.

We all learned a long time ago that the world doesn't owe Australia a living - it doesn't owe any Australian a living.

But no State has better absorbed that lesson than yours - no Australians better show they understand that point than you.

That's why you've built a State which is so much more than a mine or a gas field.

When I think about the economy here I think about the State's exports of grain and livestock, the vibrant tourism industry and the world-leading science and research community.

About Barry Marshall and Robin Warren's Nobel Prize-winning medical research, Fiona Wood's skin technology and Fiona Stanley's work in child health, these citizens of a creative, confident State which is making the most of its human as well as its natural resources.

And when I see WA's successful resources industry and modern economy, I see a good thing for you and a good thing for the country.

Every Australian worker, every investor, everyone with a superannuation account, every consumer, all feel some of the benefits.

You know this, but I want you to be sure I know it too:

It's not a problem to manage, it's an opportunity to seize.

I know that and so does the Government I lead.

And I want you to know this as well:

We have a plan to make sure the opportunities you're creating will build a strong economy here in the West and will spread opportunity to every Western Australian.

Because while we understand WA's strength, we also understand WA feels the “patchwork pressures” in our economy more than anywhere else.

The growth does create opportunities.

But it also strains infrastructure like roads, ports and airports, like hospitals and schools.

It tests the natural environment and it brings changes to suburbs and towns that aren't always welcome or easy.

It creates pressure on business.

During such growth in investment the resources industry struggles to find the workers it needs.

While other businesses struggle to compete with the wages resources can offer workers and the returns it can offer investors.

And it creates pressures on people too.

On the many people here who can see the benefits around them but don't feel them in their own lives.

The families I've met here feel the price pressures from growth and need practical help to meet increases in the cost of living.

Low- and middle-income earners who are being hit hard by the rising cost of the basics in life.

Who find it expensive to buy a house or rent a house, to eat out or go out.

Who've faced record increases in electricity prices - and who've had no help from the State Government.

I know these pressures are very real.

And our Government has made decisions which are designed to help.

Paid maternity leave for young mums, extending the education tax rebate for young families, extra family payments for parents of teens.

Lifting the low income tax offset for millions of working people, a historic increase in the pension for millions of older Australians.

Friends, we will be making more decisions in coming weeks.

Finalising our plans for tax cuts and increases in payments to deliver household assistance when we have a carbon price.

I know that many people are anxious about the impact of a carbon price and I understand that they expect to hear from me about what I am going to do about that.

That's why I will be explaining exactly what help Australians will get - and how they will get it.

Not everybody will agree with our plan - but we will deliver these tax cuts and payments to those who need it most.

I want to make sure that families can make a difference and help tackle climate change.

We are the only party with a clear plan for delivering tax cuts - we will charge polluters to stop them polluting and we will deliver tax cuts to families.

And as we make those decisions let me say this clearly: we will act fairly ... we will not let Australian families down.

Friends, Western Australia is more important to our country than ever.

The hard work and creativity of Western Australians and the riches of the State's resource wealth are contributing more to our nation than ever before.

You've heard the statistics a thousand times.

Actually the most telling number would probably be this one:

The number of people who come over from the East every year to say things like “the hard work and creativity of Western Australians and the riches of the State's resource wealth are contributing more to our nation than ever before” - now that'd be a real killer fact!

And I'm happy to add to that statistic today.

But I'm not just here to talk about you and about the State.

I am here to talk about all of us and about the country.

About the things we can do for our future, about the way we can work together to do those things.

And to really have that conversation, I do need to be candid about what Federal Labor has learned from the past.

Friends, when I became Prime Minister a year ago, there were things I wanted to do.

One of the most important was to build a better relationship with the community in Western Australia.

At the height of the Resource Super Profits Tax argument I extended a handshake and began to negotiate with the industry in good faith - and the industry responded in kind.

I did that not only because of the importance of the policy questions at stake - though they are real.

I did that because I was struck by how much the Federal Government and the Western Australian community had found ourselves talking past each other rather than to each other.

And because I was deeply disappointed that things had got to that point.

So in this last year, I have set out to lead a Government which genuinely listens to the ideas and the aspirations of this community.

A Government which genuinely respects the hopes and fears of this state.

I believe we have.

I know I've quite literally heard the community's voice, because whether I've been walking the shopping strip in Fremantle or leaning over a side fence in Cottesloe, or I've been down at the grain terminal at Kwinana or meeting bushfire survivors and thanking emergency workers in Kelmscott - I've been listening.

And I believe we have acted on what we've heard.

So I've come here today to be sure that you hear this from me:

You deserve the respect of your Federal Government - and you have it.

And because you have that respect, we have listened to you as we have developed our new plans.

Our new plan for the Minerals Resource Rent Tax.

To sustain the investments, to deliver a share of record profits back to benefit all Western Australians.

I've driven a new approach, we've consulted thoroughly - and now we have draft legislation and a clear path ahead.

A path to extra contributions for everyone with a superannuation account, a tax cut for every small business and lower company tax, plus new infrastructure investment in resource regions.

And revenue to fund upgrading roads and access to Perth airport - the WA Gateway project which will receive up to $480 million in funding from the MRRT's Regional Infrastructure Fund.

Adding to our investments in better infrastructure in this great, growing State.

$280 million for widening the Great Eastern Highway from Kooyong Road to the Tonkin Highway.

$236 million for the City Link project between Perth and Northbridge.

$118 million for the Bunbury outer ring road.

$350 million for Kewdale's intermodal facility.

$255 million for a rehabilitation centre at the new Fiona Stanley Hospital.

$195 million for infrastructure alongside the Ord River expansion program.

Along with health and hospitals reform.

I've worked to be sure that our plan is one where we build agreement across our country - never dictating from a distance.

Still delivering more doctors, more nurses, more beds - shorter waiting times and shorter waiting lists.

And still delivering reforms which unlock economic incentives and unlock the expertise of local health experts.

And we have announced that we will look hard at the distribution of GST revenue to the Territories and States.

Through a clear, honest process for an historic reform.

For reform to a system which so many of you have argued for so long doesn't serve Western Australia well, for reform to arrangements which I agree don't properly deal with high economic growth here in the West.

I believe for our federation to be sustainable - for Australians right around the federation to have great opportunities and access to quality services - the system has to be fair.

Fair so that it rewards reform, fair so that people can feel the benefits of success, fair so that inefficiency in government isn't rewarded.

So I am glad that our review of GST has been so widely welcomed in the West and I look forward to the changes which will flow from it in time.

And because we've been listening, we have a plan for the economy that is designed to keep our whole economy strong.

We understand it is a tough time for local manufacturers, with the high terms of trade and costs of raw materials.

So this week my colleagues Brendan O'Connor and Craig Emerson announced new measures to prevent cheap imports being dumped on Western Australia's markets, to stop products being imported at prices lower than the cost of production and to give local manufacturing every chance to remain strong.

Manufacturing remains at the core of the Government's economic agenda, manufacturing remains integral to the modern Australian economy.

We also understand the importance of live cattle exports to employment in the State.

So this week my colleague Senator Ludwig travelled to Indonesia to advance our discussions to resume trade as soon as possible - and to ensure we prevent further disruptions in the future.

And in coming days, we will have more to say, outlining measures to assist producers and ensure the safeguards we need are in place as soon as they can possibly be.

So we are determined to keep the whole economy strong ... and we are determined to ensure opportunity for all.

When I last visited the Gorgon project at Barrow Island in the North-West I met a worker on site who lives one block away from my home in Melbourne.

A great example of the opportunities our natural resources create - it's what we want for our nation.

But I also want those opportunities to be shared with everyone in the country and everyone in the State.

It is just not acceptable for opportunity to fly over the suburbs of this city.

For opportunity to be beyond the reach of this State's young people.

This drives our economic policy and our Budget strategy.

Not just tough decisions to get the Budget back into black so the private sector can grow, but investments and reform so we can train Australians to meet the needs of industry and fill the hundreds of thousands of jobs the private sector will create in coming years.

Because we understand the opportunities before the State and we are determined to do what we can to help you make the most of them.

So I believe we're listening better, thinking more carefully about the unique needs of this place, spending more time here.

In January in Carnarvon I heard I was the first PM to visit since the 1970s.

It should be compulsory. I met some tremendous Australians up there.

Yes, it's twenty years since Bob Hawke as Prime Minister was standing here at your State Conference ... I can tell you it won't be twenty years before I'm back.

And later this year, when CHOGM comes, I'm not just looking forward to visiting.

I'm looking forward to governing the country from this great city, to showcasing the country from this great State.

And as I look forward to the rest of this year, I look forward to our National Conference as well.

The election review I initiated gives us a chance to renew our party processes and make ourselves better.

This will never distract us from governing but we do have a responsibility to renew ourselves and our organisation.

I believe the Labor party should be a party of government and I believe Labor governments must govern for all - for “the great mass of the people” in Ben Chifley's words.

In many ways, this is the true reason for the reform proposals we are considering for our party in this year: to revitalise our movement's connection with the communities we serve.

The Labor Party must be much more than a caucus of parliamentarians - even of parliamentarians who listen to their electorates.

We must be a movement which genuinely includes Australian communities.

Not simply listening to the community but being part of the community.

Truly understanding and representing people in every place - so that communities like yours are not just heard by our party but are part of our movement.

Being a party of genuine civic engagement in every suburb and town.

Of people who are engaged in civic projects in their street and in their neighbourhood.

Of people who are engaged in nation shaping projects.

We must continue to reach out to new groups of voters and to those who have always supported us.

Not just on election day.

But on any day that a person is looking to make a difference to their street, to their suburb, to their town or to their country.

On the day I ordered this review I was determined to create an opportunity for reform which this great Party would not squander.

I remain so determined.

Friends, we are Labor people gathered here and we share the Labor creed.

But we share a higher loyalty as well.

We are all Australians together.

My Government wants to work with all Australians to do great things, to make the most of the opportunities we share.

With all Australians.

Now, I always enjoy my visits to Perth, though when they come on the heels of one of your teams flogging my beloved Bulldogs, my enthusiasm does occasionally wane.

And that has become more regular in recent times!

But anyone who's followed the Eagles or the Dockers over the years knows that even the strongest club has tough years as well as good years.

Years where you're flying high, years where you'll need a hand.

And just as any footy club has its lean years - and believe me, I should know - so has the nomic pendulum swung backwards and forwards through Australia's history.

I'm confident about the future of WA's economy but we all know that we must prepare for the future well.

I know how much Australia gains from the great strength of WA, and we all know WA gains from the insurance of being part of the strong and diversified Australian national economy.

And I know how much all Australians share from being one people with all the people in the West, and how much Western Australians gain from what you share with us.

I am passionately committed to WA's place in our nation's shared future.

Australians, together - I can't imagine us apart.

I can't imagine the Australian economy without the great firms and workers of the West.

I can't imagine my own footy club without Brad Hardie's Brownlow.

I can't imagine my own party without John Curtin's courage, my own bookshelf without Tim Winton's Cloudstreet, or our effort in Afghanistan without Ben Roberts-Smith.

That's why my plan for Australia's future is a plan which understands the West.

Which understands the State's challenges and opportunities.

Which respects the State's hopes and fears.
A plan to keep the whole economy strong, a plan to deliver opportunity for all.

Transcript 17931