Speech - Address To The True Believers Dinner




"Address To The True Believers Dinner"




Thank you all for coming along tonight and for such a warm welcome. Can I acknowledge my federal parliamentary colleagues, including my cabinet colleagues Joe Ludwig and Kevin Rudd who are here, and also state colleagues and all the great rank and file supporters who are the core of our movement.

I also thank Anthony Chisholm for the introduction. When he was a teenager he used to stuff envelopes in my electorate office. Now he's about to run a really tough election campaign and I know your hearts and hopes will be with him and with all those who are working so hard to get us over the line.

I have seen first hand the hard work going into to this campaign as I have gone around the state these past few weeks lending a hand where I can, most recently in Cairns and in my own neck of the woods in Nudgee, supporting some really good Labor people and their campaign teams. I thank all of you for your efforts so far, from me and also from our guests of honour tonight - Anna Bligh and Paul Keating. I want to say a bit more about them in a minute.

Every one of us in this room has something in common and it is this: we keep the faith. As Paul famously said, in difficult times we keep the faith. We know that it is what we do together - as a Party, a movement, a community, a state, a nation - that makes us strong.

When our nation was threatened at the height of the GFC we took heart from governments that had the necessary courage and character and unity to intervene, to put people first. And today we all sense there is something pretty big at stake as well: yes a Queensland election; yes a full-on national debate; but also we see something at stake right around the world.

What's at stake is an idea - that simple idea that Government should be there for the great mass of working people and pensioners. It's an idea at the heart of the Gillard Labor Government and at the heart of the Bligh Government here in Queensland. The idea that nations exist for the millions of people who work hard to make economies strong; and not for a fortunate few at the top.

When I was in Tully with Anna a few weeks ago to mark the anniversary of Tropical Cyclone Yasi, it struck me that the locals received us not with the cynicism that you often see in politics and the media, but with warmth and gratitude.

There was a genuine recognition that when people needed their governments and when they needed their communities, we were there for each other. We pulled together and that was pretty special. And what we pulled off in the crises of last year was the combined might of the public and private sectors working together, and with focus, and with great Labor leadership it can be done and it was done.

One of the realisations I had from reflecting on all this was a deep sense of personal gratitude for the far sightedness of predecessors who ensured that community spirit could be underpinned by economic strength. I'm talking here of Paul Keating of course, and I pay tribute to him in particular tonight for his work in laying the foundations for more than 20 years of continuous economic growth, a feat unmatched by any other advanced economy.

Paul understands, just as you all understand, that the story of our response to natural disasters is part of a far broader story about Australia, not just of the past year or two but over recent decades. A story of resilience and of success - a uniquely Australian story.

For my generation he was the man who taught us why smart economics, practiced in a Labor tradition, really mattered. He painted in broad brush strokes on the biggest canvas going. I only truly became aware of how big that canvas was when I got my current job over four years ago. And everything Paul did, he did with heart. And that's the difference between us and the Tories. We care where they cut, we build where they bully and we reward where they wreck.

The view I know Paul and I share is that Anna's claim on the leadership of Queensland isn't just that she has led it through the two most challenging events in memory, the GFC and the floods. It's not just that 180,000 jobs have been created since she became Premier; or 340,000 jobs since she became Treasurer - as fantastic as that is. Or that well over 90 per cent of state roads and railways have been restored after the natural disasters - as amazing as that is as well. The real key to her pitch for another three years is that she has the place poised for a really spectacular economic future.

Just think for a moment of a state which has fostered a pipeline of investment worth $120 billion in resources alone, with more than half of this already under way. This is an economy expected to chalk up growth rates between 4 and 5 per cent over the next few years - well above what we can expect to see in nearly every other state and territory over this period. That's Queensland under Anna's extraordinary leadership, on the cusp of something truly special.

Why are we in this position? Because like Paul Keating and like Julia Gillard, Anna Bligh has been prepared to make difficult decisions to deliver the economic dividend.

So ladies and gentlemen, we know in the Labor Party that big ideas and big fights deliver big dividends. That's why we're on the booths and on the stalls and on the doorsteps making a case for Labor. The Party of universal superannuation and opening up to the world, of a clean energy future and putting resource wealth to work for the people. The Party of big ideas and big dividends lined up against the Liberal National Party - that Party of small ideas and even smaller politics.

Does anyone really think that Campbell Newman and Tim Nicholls could run this economy better than Anna Bligh and Andrew Fraser? Or that Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey and Andrew Robb have a clue about what it takes not just to manage an economy but to manage it in the interests of working people?

They hate me calling them the three stooges of economic policy but that's what they are. There they are, Larry, Curly and Mo, tripping over each other, smacking themselves in the face, falling down stairs. Not knowing whether you want a surplus or not, not knowing how to fill a $70 billion hole in their Budget, is slapstick comedy not economic policy.

So there's a lot at stake in the economic debate as we fight over whether the spoils of economic growth should be enjoyed by all our people or just a few, and that's what's at stake in the state election here as well. We can't turn it all over to a guy who couldn't run the council, let alone a state. He's risking a return to all the worst aspects of the old Queensland without any of the good bits.

Let me give you a glimpse of a future under Campbell Newman and Tony Abbott. It's basically this: Abbott kneeling at the feet of Clive Palmer. And Newman sitting on Clive's knee like a ventriloquist's dummy, with Clive's palm up his back. Let's challenge Campbell to say something while Clive drinks a glass of water! Now there's one for the cartoonists to contemplate.

So that's what we're up against and why it's so important we prevail. Big ideas and a decent future for working people versus the small minded politics of the past.

Now as I flew back from Cairns the other day I looked out the window and I thought Queensland has come too far to turn back. Some of you recall that ad we ran in the late 80s with Wayne Goss walking out of the dark tunnel into the light at Lang Park. Well a vote for Campbell Newman would be like getting out onto the ground then turning around and coming straight back in to the dark underbelly of old Queensland. Instead of a Queensland illuminated by our light on the hill; a dimly lit room where the hard work of Queenslanders is distributed in the darkness to the vested interests of the fortunate few.

Just the other day Clint Eastwood - not someone from the centre left of politics - walked through another tunnel for Chrysler in a superbowl ad. Eastwood's message was that government working with and for people can make a difference and he reminded the audience it was just half time in America and the second half was going to be bigger and better. Well, it's half time in Queensland and in Australia too, and what we've achieved and built in the first half will be matched and more by what we're going to do in the second half.

So some commentators are writing us off right now but they've been wrong before and they'll be wrong again. They wrote Anna off in '09 and Paul in '93 and were wrong both times. They don't factor in our capacity to out-work the other mob and most of all out-believe them. Let's make them eat their words on 24 March.

Let's chalk up another one for the true believers. Let's keep Anna, and let's keep Kate and, most importantly of all, let's keep that big idea alive, the idea of an economy that delivers for working people and not just the fortunate few.

Let's make that the core of what we do together as a state and nation in the years ahead, building on all of Paul Keating's work, forging ahead under the strong leadership of Premier Bligh and Prime Minister Gillard.

Thank you, and enjoy your night.