ADDRESS TO THE 49TH ALP NATIONAL CONFERENCE | SECONDING CHAPTER 1: AN ECONOMY THAT WORKS FOR EVERYONE
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The words of the Prime Minister, which you’ve just heard, are borne of a lifetime of experience.
Anthony has always known the power of Labor in government to uplift and to unburden our most vulnerable.
But Anthony has lived it, as a kid growing up in public housing, with a mum on the disability support pension.
As a young adult working at the hand of Tom Uren, that experience became conviction.
Conviction and experience taking form in an intelligent mind – it is a powerful combination.
And it’s a combination which has been on display with Anthony at national conferences and national executives for decades.
We saw it in his service as a member of cabinet, as the minister for infrastructure during the Rudd and Gillard governments, culminating in being deputy prime minister.
But for all of us, his experience and his convictions enabled us to become significant beneficiaries when he was elected to be our leader in 2019.
Walking beside him, I can tell you that in that term of opposition it was as difficult a time as any for a person to lead Labor.
But throughout that period, his belief in our ultimate success never wavered.
Because what became apparent was that the former Liberal government was governing in the short term, by the day, for their own self-interest.
Whereas Anthony was developing policies strategically, for the long-term, and in the national interest.
And he did that in accordance with simple principles; think very carefully about what you say you will do, and then do what you say.
The very first policy of Anthony’s leadership was the more affordable childcare program, which he outlined in the Budget reply in October 2020.
Not only would this ease the burden on household budgets, it would encourage primary caregivers, principally women, to come back into the workforce.
This was not welfare policy, Anthony would say – it was economic policy.
And the promise of an idea back in October of 2020, last month became a promise delivered as affordable childcare became the law of the land.
Now, on Anthony’s election as our Prime Minister in May of last year, his stature in the job was immediate.
On that very first day in Tokyo, at the Quad Leaders’ Summit, standing next to the President of the United States, it was as if there was a national sigh of relief – that we had an adult in the job, who was committed to Australia, and a person of whom we could all feel proud.
But what was also really clear was that the greatest asset that Anthony brought to his Prime Ministership was his thorough and his obvious decency.
The platform for victory last year was laid when we all last met, virtually, in 2021. And our task now this week, at this national conference, is to make that initial victory an enduring one.
Because the difference between the hope of a moment and lasting reform is a long-term Labor government.
We have delivered so many of the promises that we took to the last election, but working for Australia is about our country having a government which listens to Australians, and is about Australians. And that is only going to happen with the re-election of an Albanese Labor Government.
Now, the foundation stone for that will be laid by all of you over the next three days.
There have been 21 people who have led our party since Federation. 12 of them have gone on to become the prime minister.
If that fact tells us anything, it’s that when our Party was formed in 1891, it was not to be a debating club, it was to govern. Because change comes from government.
And our job at this national conference this week is to lay the foundation for a long-term Albanese Labor Government.
And so delegates I invite you to seize the moment. I invite you to take the opportunity, to pick up the pen, and for all of us to write our chapter in the great Labor story.
THURSDAY, 17 AUGUST 2023