SPEECH TO THE 48TH NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY

A FAIR GO FOR ALL

***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***
 

I acknowledge the Kaurna people as the traditional custodians of the Adelaide region and that their cultural and heritage beliefs are still as important to the living Kaurna people today.
 
Delegates, I am proud and honoured to introduce Chapter 9 – A Fair Go For All.
 
This is a comprehensive and inclusive chapter – the result of the hard work, dedication and collaboration of the rank and file of our party, the industrial wing – as well as advocates from the community.
 
It reflects the passion and aspiration of our movement for fairness – the notion that all Australians are given the opportunity to participate to their fullest potential. 
 
Things in life aren’t always easy.
  
It’s part of the human experience to face illness, disability, unemployment, to have children, to become a carer, to age and to pass.
 
The fair go is a deeply held Australian value.
 
It goes to the heart of Labor’s agenda. It is so much of what sets us apart.
 
And it is our social security system that plays the biggest role in ensuring Australians get a fair go when they need it most.
 
Because we are all in this together – and we all have a responsibility, collectively, to each other.
 
This includes Australians who are looking for work.
 
I won’t mince words. The rate of Newstart is too low.
 
It’s a cause of poverty, social isolation and hardship.
 
It’s so low that it’s a barrier for jobseekers trying to find work – people are struggling to get to interviews and to buy the clothes they need.
 
That’s why Labor will urgently conduct a proper review of Newstart and associated payments and supports like Youth Allowance.
 
It’s important we have a proper process – and build the case for change with the broader community.
 
We need to make sure the changes most effectively benefit the people who need it most.
 
This is the approach Labor took when we increased the pension.
 
We consulted fully, carefully designed a response, and paid for it in the budget.
 
As a result, we delivered the biggest increase in the history of the pension, lifted people out of poverty, and put in place fair indexation to make sure the pension keeps up with the cost of living and wages.
 
That is how you deliver real change.
 
In opposition, Labor has defended fairness, and on many, many occasions we have won.
 
Reflect on this – if we hadn’t won these fights – which were spearheaded by Jenny Macklin, we would have:
 

  • A pension age of 70 and locked in one of the oldest in the developed world;

  • The Energy Supplement would have been cut to new pensioners; and

  • Changes to pension indexation that would leave pensioners $80 a week worse off would be locked in.


Labor established the NDIS. It’s a proud Labor legacy.

But with five ministers in five years, and serious implementation issues, it is abundantly clear the Liberals really don’t care about what happens to the Scheme.

Their hearts simply aren’t in it.

The turn-over of ministers has been so frequent, I struggle to remember their names.

People are stuck in hospital because plans aren’t in place or services simply aren’t there.

Families are regularly waiting months and months for early intervention for children – undermining one of the most fundamental elements of the NDIS.

People can’t see a printed copy of their draft plan.

And it is taking far too long for planning issues to be fixed.

The NDIS promised improvement – with new and better ways of enabling the accessibility and inclusion people with disability deserve in every element of life.

But as it stands, too many people are being left utterly frustrated by their experience of the NDIS.

Labor will work every day to get the NDIS back on track.

We want to deliver on the promise of the NDIS.

Labor will put Australians with disability back at the heart of the NDIS.

We will improve the planning process and cut down on red tape and bureaucracy.

We will work with the states and territories to stop people falling between the cracks in the health, justice and education systems.

We will tackle the long waiting times and delays head-on.

We will get rid of the NDIA staffing cap so the agency has the resources it needs.

And importantly we will value advocacy and the voice of people with disability.

Because Labor knows that real disability reform is not just about supports and services, but about accessibility and inclusion in every part of life.

We also know that without fair pay, good jobs and better training – we simply won’t have the workforce we need to deliver the NDIS.

And I want to acknowledge the thousands of people who work in the NDIS – you do important work and you are driven by Labor values.

Labor understands that the implementation of the NDIS needs to better value workers – and we will deliver on that.

I also acknowledge this chapter covers issues of migration policy.

And I also anticipate some very important amendments in relation to the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Delegates, in closing, this Chapter builds on the work of previous Labor governments.

The ideas and directions outlined here will make Australia better and fairer.

I want to thank all who have been involved – and I commend this chapter to conference.