Speech at the University of Western Sydney
SUN 03 MARCH 2013
I want to share you with a story David Bradbury relayed to me just last week.
Denis Mars is the co-founder of Meetings.io a start-up based in San Francisco which develops technology for online video conversations and conferences.
David and Denis met at a convention in Silicon Valley and because Denis is Australian they got to talking.
It turned out that while Denis is finishing his graduate degree at Stanford in California, his first degree, like David’s, was from Sydney University.
He and his wife, Renee, are both from the western suburbs.
In fact, Denis grew up right around the corner from David, in the next street, not so far from here in Fairfield West.
Here’s a young man from these streets, who’s founding firms on the other side of the world, who’s making new ideas pay, who’s making his living building new technologies.
His is a genuine local success story we can admire. A story of aspiration and achievement.
But no one person’s story is the story of this entire region, home to 1.6 million people, including 350 000 children – and the third biggest economy in Australia.
Indeed, no one community’s story is the story of this region. Penrith isn’t the same as Parramatta; Campbelltown isn’t the same as Castle Hill.
But there are some things we do want for this region as a whole and for every person in Sydney’s west.
First, the recognition and respect that should flow to people who work hard and do the right thing by their family, community and country – each and every day.
I understand first hand, in my role as a Member of Parliament in Melbourne’s west, a region’s yearning for recognition and respect.
For far too long the community I made my home, the communities I represent, have been the kind of places people hurried through – not places where you stopped to stay.
Being from the west should never be viewed as being second-rate.
In this region, your fierce sense of pride in your home and its achievements should engender recognition and respect.
Second, what I want for this region as a whole is that as you live your life and strive to create a better one for your children and grandchildren, you feel government working with you.
I love it when I hear the stories of what has actually helped.
The way the new school hall at St Patrick’s Primary School here in Parramatta has transformed teaching and learning – one insight into the 650 schools we’ve improved in this region with $1.3 billion in extra funding here.
The fact the pay cheques kept coming in 160 000 western suburbs businesses, because we stimulated the economy to protect jobs during the global financial crisis and came through strong, unlike the rest of the world.
The jobs saved, the 850 000 new jobs created, with 135 000 of them in this city.
The help the School Kids’ Bonus has provided to over 115 000 families in this region.
The women I meet who get to keep more of their pay to support their family – because they don’t pay tax anymore and Government pays more of their childcare costs – they’re among the 565 000 taxpayers who live here who received a tax cut last year and the 60 000 families who received extra help with child care.
The fact the upgraded Nepean Hospital is now seeing patients in facilities we funded with $130 million – the GP clinics at Blacktown and Liverpool – the millions of people here who can bulk-bill because of Medicare – through the hundreds of millions of dollars in extra health funding now flowing here.
I take delight in these improvements because I want to make sure that areas like Sydney’s West – and the people who live and work here – get a fairer share of what you create.
You deserve it because of your work and your endeavour – your care for your kids, families and communities – your determination to knuckle down and do the right thing.
This is what drives us as a Federal Government today and every day.
Put simply, we don't accept that other suburbs come first and you come second.
We don’t accept that other suburbs need broadband before these suburbs.
We don’t accept that hospitals in other suburbs should be better class than the hospitals here.
We don’t accept that other schools need libraries, trade training centres and great teachers and that you don’t.
We don’t accept that you should feel less safe, or have less opportunity, or worse infrastructure than other parts of this city or our nation.
Look around at this institution itself, where we meet tonight built here in the West by one of the greatest Labor Governments, the Government of Neville Wran.
There is no greater example of our Labor faith, of the substance of the things Labor hopes for in Sydney’s West, than this place itself.
This is more than a home of higher learning; it is a factory for suburban opportunity the University of Western Sydney.
Look around you and what you see is your dreams for a better life, most of all for your children, fulfilled by a practical, yet visionary, Labor plan for change.
Your future, our purpose then.
Your future, our purpose now.
We won’t promise the sun, the moon and the stars – we won’t fill every pothole or catch every crook.
But I am determined to deliver five things to make your life easier and improve your future.
We will support your job and put Aussie workers first.
We will bring high speed broadband to your business and home.
We will get your children a world-leading education.
We will insure you against disability and keep improving health.
And we will help you manage the pressures of modern family life and modern society.
Let’s talk frankly about how we are going to do these five things.
You rightly want to know how our country will prosper, how we will have jobs beyond the mining boom.
You worry no more mining boom means Australia is bust.
So first, the good news. The mining boom isn’t going away any time soon.
We haven’t even reached the peak of the investment phase yet, the peak of new money coming on stream to build new projects. Even when we pass that peak, the projects built will be extracting minerals, ore, oil and gas for decades to come.
But, not all the news is good.
Because of the mining boom, unlike the rest of the developed world we came out of the global financial crisis strong – with low inflation, low unemployment, low interest rates, triple-A rated and growing – our Australian dollar is strong and it’s going to stay that way.
That’s good news if you are going overseas or you are buying goods imported from overseas – our strong dollar makes it cheaper, it helps keep inflation down.
But it is bad news if you are manufacturing or trying to export services.
Our strong dollar literally means our customers overseas need to spend fifty per cent more than they used to, to buy Australian.
Common sense tells you that if people are going to pay half as much again for something than they paid before, it had better be unique or incredibly good.
So that’s our future. Being the innovators, being the ones smart enough to come up with the new goods and services the world wants and can only get from us.
Or being so incredibly good at what we do that our goods and services are such high quality they’re worth the premium price.
This is the story across the nation – but the businesses and exporters of Sydney’s west feel this pressure of the high Aussie dollar more than most.
This is a manufacturing region.
Sydney’s west represents about a third of the city’s economy – and about a half of the city’s manufacturing output.
This is also an exporting region – the west is a strategic hub for goods produced around Australia and transport and logistics is the third largest industry in the region.
So this is the region, you are the people, who are going to be charting the way, showing us how to innovate, to be unique, showing us how to deliver superb quality.
If we can do this together, then our opportunities beyond mining are huge.
By 2030, our region of the world will be home to 3.2 billion middle-class consumers, the world’s biggest middle-class.
They are exactly the kind of people prepared to buy the best – and with the money to do it.
They are exactly the people who we want to buy Australian.
I want Australia to win the benefits of this growth.
I want Sydney’s west to come up a winner and you have the natural advantages to do so.
This is the most socially and ethnically diverse region in the nation, in a century when we must know the languages and cultures of our customers and competitors like never before.
So let’s go and get that work, seize that opportunity, create those jobs.
I have a plan to make sure we do, a plan for Australian jobs that will deliver benefits which will be felt here every day.
A plan to support your industries to increase exports and win new business overseas – especially by helping them innovate.
A plan to back your firms to win more work at home – to take the opportunity that comes from big mining projects to create blue-collar jobs, especially in manufacturing, right here.
A plan to help your small businesses grow – to support home businesses, contractors and the self-employed – because we know being your own boss is the dream of so many working people.
Of course, there is another path.
That’s cutting wages so hard you counteract the effect of the high dollar – that would mean cutting wages by almost a third.
Doing that would require Work Choices to be back or something worse.
I’ll always fight anyone and everyone who wants to take us down that path.
And I’ll work with you to deliver my plan to create the high skill, high wage jobs of the future.
It is obvious we can’t be the innovators, we can’t be the best, if we are trapped with yesterday’s infrastructure.
Imagine trying to compete in today’s world if half our houses and businesses didn’t have electricity.
To be economic winners we have to have the best of infrastructure and that means the National Broadband Network, right here in the west: in Blacktown, Prospect, Penrith.
To be economic winners also requires having the best skills.
That’s why we have created more apprenticeships and university places here and around the nation than ever before.
It is why I am so determined that our children get a world-leading education.
It’s not right that children in Shanghai and Singapore get a better education than our kids.
It’s not right that our schools lack resources, that so many of our children never learn to read and write, that not every child has a great teacher and that principals chafe against being tied down by bureaucracy.
We will deliver, from the first day of school next year, the improvements your school needs – in Sydney’s west and right around the nation – so every child gets a great education.
Jobs, world-leading infrastructure like the NBN, world-leading schools – a plan for opportunity, a plan to seize the benefits of the growing wealth in our region for our nation.
A plan to be stronger and smarter.
A plan to be fairer too.
We will give those with disabilities a better life today and we will for all time give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that if life delivers you or your family a cruel blow, then you will not be left behind.
In seventeen weeks’ time we are launching the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
At the same time we are improving Medicare and bringing more doctors, nurses, hospital funding and local control to your hospitals than ever before.
Last, we want to help the modern families of this region as you go about the hard work of making a good life.
The hard work of raising children, holding down a job, helping your ageing relatives.
The grind of long daily commutes, on infrastructure that’s barely coping, on roads that need co-operation between Governments – and we’ll have more to say about that in coming days.
That’s why here, in Sydney’s West, we’re helping with the household budget.
We’ve made sure that Mum and Dad on the old age pension are $182 better off a fortnight than when we came to Government.
That Mums and Dads can get paid parental leave with their new baby.
That you’ll see $15,000 in School Kids Bonus if you have two kids in school and more family benefits when your children are teenagers.
Payments on an average mortgage are down by $5 000 a year, saving almost $100 every week – that’s real help with the cost of living – and we are forcing the States to implement changes to stop your electricity bills continuing to skyrocket.
Modern challenges demand modern responses.
Whether it has been protecting jobs during the GFC or creating a clean energy future by pricing carbon, your Government has been prepared to stand up and act.
Government can never stand still or be flat footed when new challenges confront us.
One of those new challenges is the increasing sophistication of gangs and organised crime.
The hardened criminals with the guns.
The people who might take aim at each other in one of your streets today and be over the border in to another State tomorrow – or have sold or sent their weapon interstate to make it harder to trace.
I make no apology for saying this is vital business: not when a nine-year-old boy in Bankstown can find bullet casings fired into the bedroom he shares with his mother and three other children.
Not when the industrial estates of my own community in Melbourne’s west become bikie battlegrounds.
The number of drive-by shootings in this State rose from 73 in 2010 up to 88 in 2011, with around 7 incidents per month – and last year, more than 130 shootings took place in this city.
The threat is not isolated to Sydney: Victorian police recorded a ten per cent rise in the use of firearms in robberies through 2012 – and there were 14 shootings in South Australia in just the first five weeks of this year.
This Government has been working to meet the evolving threat.
In 2012 we introduced legislation with tough new penalties for firearms trafficking across state and national borders, with a maximum penalty of life in jail for people who traffic firearms.
In 2010 we introduced new “unexplained wealth” provisions into the Proceeds of Crime Act – so that if a person can’t prove their wealth came from lawful means, the court can seize their assets.
We also established Taskforce Polaris, targeting organised crime in the cargo system in Sydney, bringing together officers from five State and Federal authorities.
All this has made a difference: today, our agencies are seizing more than double the amount of drugs, weapons and cash and more than triple the amount of criminal assets that they were seizing before we came to office.
The States are playing their part – in Sydney, the NSW Police Force has been fighting this threat – but they should not have to do this on their own.
Organised crime, including the activities of outlaw bikie gangs, is estimated to cost Australia $15 billion a year.
Combating all this needs a new, nationally-led approach.
Based on current intelligence, the Australian Crime Commission estimates that 72 known organised crime targets have each generated $10 million or more in illicit funds or profits over a two-year period.
Six of these had an estimated value of illicit funds or profits of over $100 million.
While on our streets, we are seeing violent conflict between crime syndicates with national and international connections – financed by the trafficking of drugs, guns and money into and out of Australia, and across state borders – with connections to tax avoidance, bank fraud and criminal activity overseas.
This is why earlier today with Commissioner Negus and Minister Clare, I announced that the Government will contribute an additional $64 million over the next four years to establish a new National Anti-Gang Taskforce and National Gangs Intelligence Centre.
These will lead the effort to identify and then dismantle national and transnational crime networks.
We will also establish a National Border Targeting Centre, to target high-risk international passengers and cargo. The Centre will deploy an intelligence-led, risk-based approach to seize drugs and other contraband at the border.
Tackling gangs and guns – this is part of my plan for the nation and for Sydney’s west.
Jobs, infrastructure including the NBN, a world-leading education for our children, insurance for disability and better health care, challenges for modern families and modern society understood and acted on.
This is my plan for you.
This is my plan for the nation.
Jobs and opportunity.
Stronger, smarter, fairer.
I have a plan to deliver. We all have a fight to win.
A fight to stop the broadband roll-out being brought to an end.
To stop foreign workers being put at the front of the queue with Australian workers at the back.
To stop your cost of living being hit by cuts to benefits for families and pensioners, increased tax and less super.
To stop your rights at work being threatened again.
To stop cutbacks to your hospitals and schools.
A fight to win for the people of Sydney’s West.
I didn’t grow up here.
I didn’t grow up on the North Shore or in the East either.
I grew up a lot further West and a lot further South.
In Adelaide, in a family where I was taught to believe deeply in the human importance of opportunity, of social mobility, of a chance to make your own life better, of the responsibility to make a better life for your kids.
These are my values, these are my beliefs.
This is my plan for the nation, this is my plan for Sydney’s west.