Speech to the ACT ALP Conference

I'm proud of what this city is now.  And I am passionate about its future as a world-leading, international hub for the world's best minds, jobs and way of life.

I thank delegates, union affiliates and members for being here today – your commitment, your passion, your determination, and your progressive values are making Canberra even better.

To ACT Labor Party President Jo Chivers and Secretary Matt Byrne and his team, thank you for your hard work and support for the parliamentary party.

I thank my Assembly colleagues for their hard work this term – Simon, Mick, Yvette, Meegan, Chris, Joy and Jayson – and our federal colleagues Andrew, Gai and Katy, who ran such an effective, positive local campaign recently.

Forthcoming election: the choice for Canberra

Delegates, we meet on the eve of the ACT election.

Every election is a choice, and every election is important.

But this election will define Canberra for a generation, and the choice could not be more stark.

It will be a choice between a progressive, forward-looking, confident and engaged city – or a retreat to a conservative, inward-looking town of last century.

Delegates, I’ve lived in Canberra almost all of my life.

I’ve seen this city grow as an inclusive, supportive community that is home to Australia’s happiest, healthiest, best-educated and longest-living people.

I am proud of what this city is now. And I am passionate about its future as a world-leading, international hub for the world’s best minds, jobs and way of life.

A city where everyone can reach their full potential; where everyone has access to world-best healthcare, education and transport.  And where secure, well-paid and fulfilling work is plentiful.

And where our people and businesses can compete, and win, in a global economy – not by being cheaper, but by being better.

We have a clear plan to make our city more economically independent and more resilient.   We are:

  • Properly funding essential infrastructure – through job creating and productivity-boosting projects like light rail, the UC Public Hospital and the CIT Tuggeranong
  • Supporting our tourism and hospitality industry to take advantage of new direct international flights
  • Driving our transformation as a digital city and technology hub
  • And closely collaborating with our universities, research bodies and innovation network to turn Canberra into a true knowledge capital.

That’s where Canberra’s economic future lies, and I am determined to achieve it.

Canberra: Ambition and Advantage

Today I want to outline my team’s positive plan for Canberra: what we will deliver for the Canberra of today, and how we will help to shape the Canberra for coming generations.

While some in politics are defined by what they won’t do, my Labor parliamentary team is here to actually do something: to improve people’s lives. That’s what this proudly progressive, proudly Labor Government is all about. And we are delivering:

  • We have set a new goal of 100% renewable power generation for our city by 2020 – five years ahead of schedule;
  • We are driving a significant expansion in our city’s higher education institutions;
  • We have commenced construction of a world-class teaching hospital;
  • We are re-building our city’s public housing;
  • We have secured direct international flights to Singapore and Wellington.
  • We are investing in an integrated public transport system and delivering the first stage of the city-wide light rail network – exactly as promised at the last election.

And we have done all of this while delivering a balanced Budget.

Making Canberra even better

Canberra is a city that is inclusive and supportive.

We are working together to shape our future.

But there are also big policy challenges facing us, as they face every government around the world: global economic, political and digital disruption, movement of capital and people, and fundamental changes to the delivery and scope of government services.

That is why ACT Labor will continue to invest in the fundamentals of health, education, jobs and transport – we have to step up to ensure Canberra remains the best city in the world to live.

We have prioritised health in every annual Budget, just like we did this year, because healthy people make our community stronger.

In our growing city we need healthcare that is even more convenient and accessible. That’s why a re-elected Labor Government will expand community walk-in health care centres to Gungahlin and Weston Creek, just as we have delivered these essential services in Belconnen and Tuggeranong in the past four years.

Part of Labor’s core mission is to build the health care and hospital infrastructure our community needs.

Every day the University of Canberra teaching Hospital is rising further out of the ground so that Canberrans get better healthcare when and where they need it.

Locating it on a university campus is a smart investment in our future – it supports a key local employer, attracts students and researchers, and trains our next generation of health professionals.

An ACT Labor Government will continue to broaden our economic base, to foster new industries and create new, secure, 21st century jobs.

Secure Local Jobs for Local Workers package

Too often across Australia the benefits of economic growth are not shared, leading to greater inequality. Some companies seek to profit by cutting wages and standards, rather than competing to deliver a better product.

ACT Labor recognises that an important role of government is to use its purchasing power to set high standards for workplace safety, workers’ rights, and the delivery of quality goods and services.  

To achieve this, a re-elected Labor Government will implement a Secure Local Jobs for Local Workers package of reforms establishing clear, fundamental principles to ensure worker safety, fair pay and conditions on public projects.

Our workers, residents and ratepayers deserve to feel confident that projects and infrastructure built for their benefit:

  • Is done to the highest standards of worker safety and workplace rights;
  • Eliminates sham contracting and abuse of visa workers; and
  • Promotes local jobs, job security, freedom of association, and access to workplaces and standardised inductions.

Return to Work and Retraining Program

In addition, I also announce today that the ACT Labor Government will establish a return to work and retraining program. 

This commitment will provide early intervention support for injured ACT Government workers, demonstrating our ongoing commitment to the health and wellbeing of our own employees.

Education

To reach their full potential in society, to get a good first job out of university or training, and compete and win in a global marketplace, our young people need the best education possible.

Labor is the party of education for all– not just those who can afford it.

We saw that in Federal Labor’s campaign to properly support our education system, and it is a campaign we will continue locally.

While the Federal Liberal Government abandons the vocational training system and cuts apprentice places, we have just opened a new state-of‑the-art CIT training facility in the heart of Tuggeranong, to give more Canberrans the skills they need for the job they want.

Skilled trades are the lifeblood of a strong economy and community.

Transport

Delegates, a modern public transport system that is convenient, affordable, and reliable is essential for any growing city.

This week Meegan and Mick released the Light Rail master plan and the contenders for Stage 2 of light rail – an exciting next step in delivering a network that will move tens of thousands of Canberrans around their city easily, quickly and efficiently.

Labor will take the next stage to the election, for construction to commence in the next term – just like we did in 2012.

The integrated public transport network will keep tens of thousands of cars off our roads, lowering commute times, reducing congestion, and improving our environment. And building it will keep Canberrans in good jobs for years.

Labor is getting on with the job of delivering an integrated public transport network for all of Canberra.

Meegan will release further details of our integrated public transport network in coming weeks, that will add new rapid routes, integrate with the light rail network, and distribute the million bus kilometres freed up by light rail to where they’re needed most around Canberra. That means more buses, more often, closer to you.

Through our plan, we will do more to strengthen access to transport for more people.

The test of a strong public transport network is whether it’s available for everyone.  We know that many older Canberrans and concession card holders rely heavily on public transport. 

That is why I am announcing today that a re-elected Labor Government will introduce a trial program to give concession card and seniors card holders travelling free on buses between 10am and 4pm weekdays – providing Canberrans who need it most with better access to public transport, and allowing them a greater ability to move around Canberra during the day.

Better City Services

City services, like good roads, rubbish collection and maintaining our beautiful parklands are essential to keeping our city the most liveable in the world.

I’m immensely proud of this city, as are you, and I always want to look its best. We’re making it easier for everyone to play their part by rolling out green garden waste bins across Canberra, starting in Weston Creek and Kambah early next year.

And we know that the last thing people want to do in their busy lives  is spend hours packing and hauling unwanted furniture, old TVs, and other hard waste to the tip.

That’s why a re-elected Labor Government will introduce a suburb-by-suburb hard waste pick up service across all of Canberra.

This will be an important community service for people who find it difficult or inconvenient to dispose of large, unwanted household items.

It will also provide a significant quantity of useable items to redistribute to people who want them and ensure they do not end up in landfill or illegally dumped.

We will be funding the not-for-profit organisation Givit to match real and urgent requests for donated goods with unwanted community items, so that usable furniture, fridges, TVs, computers and other essentials get another life with someone who needs them.

A stronger community

Labor recognises that Government’s role is not simply one of service provision.

Labor Governments take seriously their responsibility to foster a stronger, more cohesive, equal and inclusive community.

We’ve seen recently overseas the destruction and division that can be caused by political and community leaders abdicating their fundamental responsibilities.

We have not, and will not, let that happen in the ACT: we are leading Australia in ways to combat family violence, so women and children feel safe in their homes; we are a Refugee Welcome Zone city, the first in Australia; and we will lead the fight for marriage equality so all couples who love each other are respected and, ultimately, have the same rights before the law.

I particularly want to thank Simon as Attorney-General and Yvette as Minister for Women, for their tireless work to develop and implement our comprehensive family violence package in this year’s Budget.

The ACT now leads the nation in our response to domestic and family violence.  We have fronted up to this challenge as government and we have asked the Canberra community to do the same.

ACT Labor’s record is one of action where discrimination or injustice is perpetrated against women.

We did so earlier this year in protecting the safety of women to access their right to seek a legal termination of a pregnancy. We have done so in our response to violence.

And I want to thank Chris Bourke for implementing best practice reforms to out of home care for our most vulnerable kids, and for leading Australia in our implementation of the NDIS – so that everybody can be part of our community.

Conclusion  

Delegates - across health, education, jobs, transport and the community, as a Labor Party and Labor Government, we are proud to be defined by what we will do, and are doing.

But if we want to keep a progressive, active and reformist Labor Government in the ACT, we must work together.

I welcome the opportunity to present our positive vision for Canberra, to be delivered by a strong Labor team of experience and enthusiasm.

Our Labor candidates are proud of what Canberra is, and share our vision for what Canberra can be.

This election will be tight – the choice for voters will be very clear.

Our task over the next 85 days is to talk to Canberrans about what they stand to gain through a progressive Labor Government, and what they stand to lose under our opponents.

With your support and your passion, we will have a true Labor Government of passion, progressive values and new ideas.

Together, we will make it happen.

Thank you.