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Transcript 17962

'The courage to be new', Speech to the New South Wales Branch of the ALP State Conference, Sydney

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: 09/07/2011

Release Type: Speech

Transcript ID: 17962

Thanks so much Michael Lee for that generous introduction.

I begin with honouring the Gadigal people, the traditional owners of this land - we walk with you on the road of Reconciliation together.

I acknowledge all my Federal Ministerial and Parliamentary colleagues here today.

And I offer a special greeting to the heroes of 2010 who held our marginal seats and helped Federal Labor continue its journey in government: David Bradbury, Mike Kelly, John Murphy, Deb O'Neill, Michelle Rowland, Craig Thomson.

I acknowledge also, the man who helped destroy Workchoices, John Robertson.

The families of NSW can have no better champion or friend.

I acknowledge all of John's team and especially the new MPs who will share Labor's long road back.

I acknowledge Michael Lee, Sam Dastyari, John Graham and the whole NSW Party office team.

I honour all the proud and faithful party members who are here today to join John and his team on that long road back.

I offer a very special greeting to those attending their first conference or who are new Party members.

Welcome to the ranks of the “true believers”.

Delegates, the ALP is Australia's oldest political party.

We formed the world's first Labor Government.

Matters for pride today as much as they were then.

But friends, we are not here to discuss history.

We are here to make history.

And we make history by learning from it, especially the recent past.

Labor has always been a Party of reform.

And if we are to reform the nation and the State, we must also reform ourselves.

Reform begins by understanding what happened in March: a defeat as bad as we've ever known.

NSW Labor cannot - and should not - ever be the same again.

Let's not imagine we can just ‘move on'.

That would only be denying the judgement of the people.

Rather let's absorb the lessons and learn what it means to be Labor once again.

In 16 years of government, the NSW Labor Government did a lot of good: the best ever Olympics, great school literacy results, historic environmental achievements like saving the South East forests, the remarkable victory over James Hardie, and so much more.

Be proud of these achievements.

Hold fast to them.

As for the faults and failings, learn from them.

Understand what happened.

Ask the hard questions.

And use this time in Opposition to renew.

Because, friends, NSW Labor will renew.

NSW Labor will rebuild.

On the path of reform, we know that Labor's values can never change.

But our rules and practices can.

In fact, as the ALP National Review argues, they must change.

We need to find what the poet Robert Frost called “the courage to be new”.

We need to shape a new party.

With more members in revitalised branches.

Who represent a wide cross-section of society.

Who are more engaged with their local communities.

And who enjoy a greater say in a more democratised party structure.

Renewal is not an end in itself.

This is about ensuring that Labor remains a Party which reflects and represents the aspirations of the Australian people.

That makes the progressive case for reform over the back fence, over the shop counter, street by street, suburb by suburb.

A Party also capable of making the case for reform over the digital “back fence” of the new social media where so much of our public conversation now occurs.

That convinces ordinary Australians that Labor has their interests at heart and can be trusted to represent them on the big issues.

I know Sam Dastyari has proposed some reforms for the NSW Party.

They are significant reforms deserving of consideration.

And for those who think reform needs to go further, I say build on these reforms in the years leading up to Labor's return to office in NSW.

Let us be the party of reform in all that we do.

A party always determined to be its best self.

Delegates, if we are a party of reform, we are also a party of ideas.

Labor's greatest achievements - and toughest decisions - arose from passionate engagement and debate.

I remember the epic debates about uranium in the 1980s, and economic reform in the 1990s.

We've become a better party for the debates we've had.

I know there are people who are frustrated their voices aren't always heard.

And I say to them: I want the Australian Labor Party to be a place where you feel you belong.

A Party where you can express progressive views in a wider conversation about Australia's future.

A Party where we have free and open debates conducted in a climate of respect.

A Party that can discuss complex policy proposals at the same time as governing for all Australians.

Because friends, if we are a party of reform and a party of ideas, we are also a party of government.

It is the very core of who we are.

When our forebears created the ALP in 1891, they deliberately created a party that would seek to gain and hold elected public office.

We would not be a fringe party or a party of protest.

We would be a party of government with all the compromise and gradualism that entails.

But also a party of vision and leadership capable of delivering the big reforms that only governments can achieve.

Being a party of government means balancing the need for a strong economy and strong national security with Labor's progressive intent and values.

That is why John Curtin took a tough decision on conscription.

Why we must take a tough decision on the security of our northern borders.

These are the responsibilities that come from being in government.

And with those responsibilities come great opportunities.

Delegates, we stand at a remarkable time in Australia's history.

Our export income is at a 140-year high.

We've created over 750,000 jobs since Labor came to office.

And profound structural change in the world economy is opening up amazing possibilities.

Think about it.

Having led the nation through the biggest global downturn since the Depression, Federal Labor now gets to govern in times of hope.

To be the “navigators to the future” we have always wanted to be.

A future that honours the dignity and potential of every Australian.

Friends, the truth is that even at the peak of the last boom when unemployment fell to 4 per cent, there were still places where 12 or 14 per cent of people were out of work.

Still families that had not known employment for three generations.

It offends me to think that behind the windows in so many poorer homes are young people who could be tomorrow's Peter Dohertys or Fiona Stanleys.

But the cycle of generational disadvantage means they never get the chance.

Friends, I want every Australian to have the chance.

Just as our predecessors sought ‘cradle to grave' welfare, I want to see ‘cradle to grave' opportunity.

I want every Australian child to grow up with the certainty of a great education.

A place in training or university if they want it.

Incentives to retrain and relocate as the workforce changes.

Capacity for older employees to stay in a job if they wish.

And a welfare system that doesn't allow people to lapse into the corrosive aimlessness of long-term unemployment.

In Labor's Australia, no-one should be left behind.

Friends, to be a party of government requires the vision to see things not just as they are, but as they could be.

Being a party of government also requires courage.

The courage to make decisions for the long term.

And the courage to stick to them.

If we didn't have leaders in the past who were prepared to do this, we would not have had post-war migration.

We would not have ended capital punishment.

Abolished the White Australia Policy.

Or opened up our economy in the 1980s.

This country never got anywhere without hard decisions.

And do you think Labor ever made any hard or big decisions without the Liberals opposing them at every turn?

The Snowy scheme - opposed.

Medicare - opposed.

Saving the Franklin river - opposed.

Universal superannuation - opposed.

Native title - opposed.

They resisted every one.

Always on the wrong side of history.

Always on the side of fear and negativity.

Delegates, democracy is not one long opinion poll.

It is about leadership.

And on climate change, Labor chooses to lead.

We know we must lead because the science says we must.

And friends, we've known for an awfully long time.

Bob Carr warned of climate change in this very hall back in 1988.

Even Margaret Thatcher and John Howard recognised the danger and accepted the need to act.

And yet our opponents have the temerity to call our carbon price a toxic tax.

When the only thing that's toxic is the carbon pollution warming our planet and threatening our children's future.

Friends, as members of the Labor family, you know all too well that our opponents have thrown everything at us for the past year:

Stunts and gimmicks.

Lies and distortion.

Attacks on our economists and scientists.

A cynical campaign of fear designed to scare Australian families.

And a nonsense of a policy that subsidises big polluters off the backs of ordinary taxpayers.

After all that, I simply say to our opponents: Is that the best you can do?

Because if you think that's enough to knock us off course, you've got another think coming.

We're still here. We're still ready to fight for the nation's future.

In fact, after months of calm and methodical preparation, I'm proud to say our carbon package can now be placed before the Australian people.

Friends, for the first time in Australian history, we will put a price on carbon pollution.

No longer will the nation's biggest polluters be able to pollute our atmosphere for free.

From July 1 next year, the freedom to pollute our skies will cease.

Two decades of denial and delay will come to an end.

Polluters will have to pay.

And friends, as we set Australia on the path to a clean energy future, we will do it in the Labor way - with fair and generous assistance to ease the path of change

We will stick up for the people we have always stuck up for.

We'll look after the families.

We'll look after the battlers.

We'll look after the pensioners.

We'll look after the people who need that extra bit of help.

The people who are doing it tough.

And why?

Because our plan to price carbon pollution comes from deep within Labor's progressive roots.

It is about our responsibility to Australians right now - and our responsibility to future generations.

I know that many Australians are worried.

Tomorrow, the facts will be laid out for all to see - and they will tell a very different story to the one our opponents have tried to tell.

Nine in ten households will get a combination of tax cuts and payment increases.

Most people will find that when all is said and done, they are not a cent behind.

And many will come out ahead.

Millions of households struggling with tight family budgets will get an extra 20 per cent safety net.

Millions of pensioners will come out ahead, with extra money for the essentials we know they sometimes struggle to afford.

The most exposed industries will receive assistance to protect jobs.

Because jobs are what Labor is all about.

We will cut pollution, we will protect the household budget, and we will support jobs.

We will do it because it is right for this country.

And we will do it the Labor way.

Because friends, if cutting taxes for the rich and slashing workers' entitlements are deep in the DNA of the Liberal Party, progressive reform in the nation's best interests is deep in Labor's DNA.

We are a Labor government doing unmistakably Labor things.

We are the ones who dumped Work Choices and protected workers' entitlements.

We are the ones who have doubled education funding.

And delivered the nation's biggest ever mental health package.

We are the ones who are investing $3 billion to skill Australians for the mining boom.

And bringing high speed broadband to every community.

We are the ones spending more on public transport than all previous Commonwealth Governments combined.

And putting an extra $4000 a year into the pockets of families with teenagers at school or TAFE.

And, friends, we are the ones who will do even more as the budget comes back to surplus to extend opportunity in this country to every Australian who will grasp their chance.

My great predecessor, Ben Chifley, in this very hall, talked about “the things worth fighting for”.

These are the things worth fighting for.

These are the things that make us who we are.

Friends, Chifley said something else in this place too.

It was 60 years ago last month.

Chifley was in failing health but there was no self-pity.

Just the uncompromising message:

“Fight for the right, and truth and justice will prevail.”

Delegates, six decades later, the nation has been lastingly transformed by the work of successive Labor governments, but Chifley's message endures still.

Fight for the right.

Never give in.

Never lose faith.

Because, friends, this is our time.

Time for Labor to govern in an age of prosperity.

Time for Labor to drive fairness and opportunity deep into the fabric of Australian society.

Time for our nation to build the clean energy economy of tomorrow.

Friends, we are heirs to great history.

Let us be makers of history too.

A Party of reform.

A Party of ideas.

A Party of government.

And always finding the “courage to be new”.

Transcript 17962