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Bill Shorten Takes Aim At Abbott At Launch Of ALP Senate Campaign In Western Australia

Bill Shorten has launched the ALP’s campaign for the Western Australian Senate election with an attack on Tony Abbott over Medicare, education and jobs.


Speaking at the launch at the University Club of Western Australia, the Opposition Leader told his audience: “We can do this.”

Shorten said: “You can vote for growth and prosperity, for jobs, health and education – or you can vote for Tony Abbott’s cynically hidden agenda. You can vote for a party that cares about the jobs of the future – or you can vote for a party that ships them overseas. You can vote to save Medicare – or you can vote for a GP tax. You can vote for better schools, more teachers and more resources – or you can vote for broken promises and slashed funding.”

The Senate election takes place on April 5. It follows the High Court’s voiding of last year’s election after the Australian Electoral Commission lost over 1300 ballot papers during the count.

Transcript of Bill Shorten’s speech launching the ALP’s Western Australian Senate campaign at the University Club of Western Australia.

  • Listen to Shorten’s speech (22m)

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet – and their elders past and present.

It is always a pleasure to be in the West – and to be here with my wife Chloe, my family, and among friends:

  • Mark McGowan and the WA Labor team
  • My Federal Colleagues
  • Small business families and trade union members
  • Secretary Simon Mead, Assistant Secretary Lenda Oshalem
  • Our outstanding Senate candidates: Joe Bullock, Louise Pratt, Shane Hill and Klara Andric

All the members of our great party – and our wonderful campaign volunteers.

We are here because we believe in prosperity and opportunity for all Western Australians.

We believe in Medicare, in decent wages and conditions, in education and superannuation.

We believe in growth that benefits the many, not just the few.

We are here to stand up for Western Australia.

And we are here because Western Australia deserves a strong Senate team, one that puts balance back in the Senate.

Friends, I’m here today to send a message beyond this room.

I want to talk directly to the people of Western Australia. I understand it’s frustrating to have to go back to the polls so soon. But Western Australia – and Australia – needs you to harness your frustration.

This election is too important, there is too much at stake, for you to stay at home on April 5.

If you do not vote on April 5, Western Australia will be the loser.

If you do not vote on April 5, you will be sending a message to the Barnett Government here and the Abbott Government in Canberra that you will tolerate their cruel cuts.

If the Senate becomes a rubber stamp for Tony Abbott, he will do what Colin Barnett has done – and he will go further.

He will cut Medicare, he will cut hospitals, he will cut school funding, he will cut penalty rates and working conditions.

This election is not the replay of last year’s political grand final. This is a new season.

This is round 1 – and Labor is up for the contest. The result of this election won’t change the government – but it can help change our country.

On April 5 each of you have the chance to send a message to Canberra about the first six months of the Abbott Government. You can restore balance to the Senate – and elect a strong team that will stand up for Western Australia.
I’m here today to ask you to vote Labor.

I’m asking you to vote Labor because of what we believe in – and what we want to achieve, for this state and for our nation. Every election asks cities, states and people to make choices about the sort of country we want to be in the future. Ask yourself, what will Australia be like in 2020? And don’t think it isn’t up to you – it is.

It’s our choice. Do we give power to those who seek to whittle away our standard of living? To pick on the unemployed and the disabled. To concentrate on the minutiae, the petty arguments with the ABC and ripping up the forestry agreement.

To let Tony Abbott take us back to that nasty, penny-pinching conservative politics of fear and division.

To undermine Medicare.

To undermine the minimum wage.

To undermine superannuation.

To undermine equal pay for women.

To reject the science of climate change.

To lead Australia away from a positive relationship with Asia.

If we do let them, in the end, Australia will pay the price.

Because our growth will be lower – and our future will be diminished.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

I, and Labor, understand our world is changing, faster and faster.

I, and Labor, understand that Australia needs to be constantly adapting, to be constantly innovating, to be flexible and ready for change.

I’m up for this – but I know it doesn’t have to come at the cost of our standard of living. I know it doesn’t have to mean that:

-the middle class -the aspirationals -the people who go to work every day -the people who seek work -and women juggling career and family

In fact all, those who do the heavy lifting get punished instead of rewarded. I want all Australians to have the chance to make a living – and to have a life outside work.

I want all Australians to live long lives full of quality and meaning. And the number one thing that affects our quality of life, is our health. That’s why when you vote Labor in the Senate, you’ll be voting for Medicare – free
and universal healthcare for all.

Labor believes that you, or your sick child, or your elderly parent should receive the healthcare that you need – not just the healthcare you can afford. We believe it should be your Medicare card – not your credit card – that determines
the treatment you receive.

This is why I will never back Mr Abbott’s GP Tax. Mr Abbott’s GP Tax is the thin edge of the wedge. Mr Abbot’s GP tax will push up the cost of living for families already struggling to pay their bills. Mr Abbott’s GP Tax is a broken promise. It is a breach of faith with the Australian people, a shifty, cynical move against the sick and the vulnerable. On April 5 – you, and only you, can stop this tax in its tracks.

I said earlier that Chloe and my daughters are here with me today – I’m so proud they could join me. Like many modern families, we are a blended family. And like all Australian parents, Chloe and I have a simple instinct hardwired in our DNA.

Like all of you, we want our children to be happy and safe in childhood. And we want our children to grow into resilient adults with choices and opportunities. That’s why Labor is so passionate about education.

Labor knows that education is the great transformer – the ultimate driver of individual opportunity – and the best predictor of whether our children will find good jobs, the jobs of the future. We believe every Western Australian child has the right to discover a love of learning in a great school, supported by a great teacher.

What do the Liberals believe?

Well, before the election, Tony Abbott lied about being on a unity ticket with Labor on education. Now he is on a unity ticket with Colin Barnett – a unity ticket of $183 million of cuts to Western Australian schools.

How does cutting education now help us in 2020?

How does sacking 350 teachers and 350 teaching assistants help Western Australian kids? Unlike Colin Barnett, unlike Tony Abbott, I will never put cuts before our children’s education.

I want every school to be a great school. I want to give every student, every teacher the chance to be their best. We should be thanking Western Australia’s teachers and parents – not kicking them.

Exactly what is Tony Abbott’s plan for Australia’s future? Today we heard that it is sitting on his desk. 900 pages of secret cuts and nasty surprises. Cuts that show Tony Abbott just doesn’t get it. His cuts will hurt families already struggling with cost of living pressures – and he won’t even tell you what the cuts are.

Western Australian voters deserve to know what they’re being asked to vote for. Imagine if I was trying to sell you a car. But I covered it with a blanket, refused to tell you the mileage or describe the features – and offered an unspecified price. You’d walk out of the dealership. I’d be out of business tomorrow. But that’s exactly what Tony Abbott is doing. He does not trust Western Australians with the truth.

Tony Abbott – if you can’t trust Western Australians, why should Western Australians trust you? Since the Abbott Government refuses to come clean on their cuts, we can only go by what we already know.

A Prime Minister who says he wants to model himself on Colin Barnett.

Barnett-style cuts to schools.

No good for WA kids, parents and teachers. Barnett-style cuts to hospitals. No good for patients, the sick, or the health workforce. The same old job-killing, hope-destroying, divisive story. No good for apprentices, no good for small businesses, no good for Western Australia.

Our country has never had a bigger by-election. Western Australia has never had a more decisive opportunity. You are the first people on our continent with a choice to stand up for your home, your state, and send the Abbott Government a message they won’t forget.

On April 5, all of you will hold in your hands the most powerful instrument available to any Australian citizen.

Your vote.

Your say.

Your choice.

And on April 5 – Western Australians will have a clear choice about our future.

You can vote for a strong Labor team that will stand up for Western Australia – or you can give Tony Abbott a rubber stamp for his cruel cuts.

You can vote for growth and prosperity, for jobs, health and education – or you can vote for Tony Abbott’s cynically hidden agenda. You can vote for a party that cares about the jobs of the future – or you can vote for a party that ships them overseas. You can vote to save Medicare – or you can vote for a GP tax. You can vote for better schools, more teachers and more resources – or you can vote for broken promises and slashed funding.

Friends, this is our message, this is our goal. But we can’t tell our story without you. We need your energy, your power to change minds.

On April 5 every single vote is going to count. In Rockingham, in Bunbury, in Esperance, in Geraldton- people are already voting. So today – and every day until the polls close – we need you out there.

We need to fight this election online – we need to fight it in living rooms. Whether you’re doing the school run, or down the footy club, or at your favourite café, or on the bus on the way to work, or maybe on one of Alannah MacTiernan’s trains, we need you spreading the word, telling our story, and explaining what’s at stake.

Tell everyone you see, everyone you meet, everyone you know. Tell them about the choice Western Australia faces. And ask them to choose Labor.

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Malcolm Farnsworth
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