Kim Beazley was re-elected by acclamation as leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party shortly after 9.00am today. Beazley nominated himself. There were no other contenders.
Beazley held a press conference at midday. He delivered the brief statement reproduced below and then answered questions.
- Listen to Kim Beazley’s press conference (24m)
This is the text of the statement from the Leader of the Opposition, Kim Beazley.
Firstly you will be pleased to know I intend to be brief.
I was elected unopposed as the Leader of the Parliamentary Labor Party at our Caucus meeting this morning. I am proud and excited to be given the chance to lead Australia’s longest serving political party back into office.
I said at the time I nominated for party leadership that I was fired with ambition for my Party and my country — and so I am. We are going to be an Opposition that sharpens the differences between the government and ourselves. We believe you can have a modern, dynamic economy with compassion.
I was a very proud member of Labor governments, which put in place the reforms which underpinned our prosperity. And I know this: we cannot maintain this prosperity with the trade deficit we have, with the collapse of investment in innovation and infrastructure as well as industry bottlenecks due to skills shortages. We have sharp differences also with this Government on the issue of sustainable development, exemplified by this Government’s refusal to adopt the Kyoto Protocol.
Around the kitchen table, every parent knows their children’s future depends on the quality of the education and training they get. And everybody wants a first class health system. The electorate knows full well our attitudes to education and health. They know we are on their side and I want to assure you that we will continue the fight. We will also sharpen the differences on national security. That’s a debate I won’t shirk.
These are not small issues. These are really big issues. These are the issues which determine the prosperity of our country. In many ways, in the century we face, the survival of our country. They are areas which require big policy responses. Big plans, but plans that are carefully laid, and a Labor Government that acts decisively. That’s what I plan us to be.
We face three central tasks. The first is to reunite and reinvigorate our Party. I am going to do something unusual for an Opposition leader. I am going to announce my Shadow Ministry at my first press conference. Everybody stays in place.
Our second task is to hold this government accountable. The whole political world changes on July the 1 st. The government has absolute legislative power. Accountability will no longer depend on the minor parties in the Senate, but how effectively the Labor Party holds the government accountable.
Our third task is to provide an alternative government. Don’t expect a raft of new policies today. We have three years to develop this effective alternative but those policies will reflect the sharp differences to which I refer.
I promised my Party this morning three years of hard work, clear focus and absolute commitment to the task of putting the Labor Party back into government.
I am going to give John Howard the fight of his life and then win the next election.