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2017 Victorian Labor State Conference — Premier's Speech

20 May 2017

I’d like to thank James, for his welcome and for his work –

As our Minister for Education, his tireless efforts are giving every child in Victoria, every chance in life.

And as our Minister for Emergency Services, his work is just as important.

As you’ve heard, yesterday, we took a tough decision.

It wasn’t easy – but it was right.

Under our new model, the CFA will be further protected – enshrined in law – as a volunteer only service, just like it was always intended.

A new organisation, Fire Rescue Victoria, will be established to fight fires in Melbourne and major regional centres.

And most importantly, Victorians will get the modern and reliable fire service they deserve, wherever they live.

James, thank you for all your work – and thank you to all of my Ministerial and Parliamentary Colleagues here today.

I’d also like to acknowledge:

Members of Bill Shorten’s Federal Labor team. Our Party President, Hutch Hussein and our State Secretary, Sam Rae.

But most importantly – you. The members of movement. And a special welcome to our Life Members.

It’s a pleasure to be with you.

To someone outside our ranks, this weekend – with its debates and motions – might all seem a bit boring, a bit administrative.

But for us, it’s an important couple of days.

It's here that we make our Party and our state better and stronger.

And although, as a movement, we may not agree on everything –

Every one of us shares a common belief in the thing that really matters: fairness.

Only Labor believes that every child deserves the opportunities that a good education provides – the doors it opens, the confidence it awakens.

Only Labor believes that every young adult, in every corner of the state, deserves to be optimistic about their future.

Only Labor believes that, far more than just a pay cheque, a job is about dignity and security and respect.

And only Labor believes that we are better together than we are alone.

These are the values that define our Party, and define our Government.

So, even as some of our opponents pretend to be more like us –

And despite what various pundits and members of the press might say –

The fact is, only Labor Governments deliver Labor budgets.

And only Labor Governments deliver real change.

It’s why, over the last two and a half years, we haven’t wasted a single day.

It’s why we’re removing those dangerous Level Crossings – we’ve finished ten, with work on another 13 already underway.

It’s why we’re starting work on the West Gate Tunnel – that much-needed second river crossing.

And the Metro Tunnel, to run more trains, more often across our suburbs, is underway.

And for the delegates who’ve travelled here from regional Victoria, it’s why we’ll make that trip better and more reliable, with our Regional Rail Revival.

Now, I know that in this room, I don’t need to convince anyone about how wrong Malcolm Turnbull’s priorities are, but I will say this –

When he withholds money that rightfully belongs to Victorians, and at the same time gifts Sydney a brand new airport – well, it speaks volumes.

But we won’t back down. And Mr Turnbull doesn’t like it.

He says we’re sniping.

Well, I’ll stop calling him the Prime Minister of Sydney, when he stops acting like it.

Delegates - we’re delivering new SES units, new fire stations, new police stations – and more paramedics, more firefighters and more police officers – across the state.

It’s why we’re also building new schools – 56 to be exact – and upgrading more than 1000.

Thanks to our Breakfast Clubs, 25,000 Victorian students begin their school day with a full stomach.

30,000 kids are receiving free eye tests and free glasses.

And we’re putting doctors in 100 secondary schools across our state.

At the same time, we’re extending Maternal and Child Health services to 37,000 families.

It means parents of twins, premature babies – anyone who needs a bit of extra help – will have it.

And – in an Australian first – kinder kids with special needs will get targeted assistance, like speech therapy or one-on-one support.

We’re putting Victorian patients first as well – with better, faster care.

This year, more than 200,000 Victorians will get the surgery they need even sooner.

We’re tackling cancer, with an extra 45,000 preventative screenings.

And, I’m proud to say, our ambulance response times are the lowest they’ve been in seven whole years.

Three years ago – in this room, at this podium – I announced our plan to address this state’s biggest law and order issue, family violence.

Three years on, we’ve promised to implement every single recommendation from the Royal Commission.

We promised it – and unlike every other government in this business – we’ll actually deliver it.

We’re establishing 17 Support and Safety Hubs - places where victims can go, and know they’ll get the help they need.

We’re extending after-hours crisis support, counselling and housing for thousands of women and their children.

And we’re addressing the failures in our justice system and delivering the Central Information Point –

Filling a gap that has let too many perpetrators off the hook, and let too many victims down.

A lot has been written and a lot has been said about the importance of this investment.

But for me, it’s all about a text message I received the day after the Budget that simply said:

“Today I’m so proud to be a Victorian.”

That text message was from Rosie Batty. And that’s good enough for me.

These reforms will change lives and save lives – and as a state and a Party that prides itself on justice and fairness, it’s what we do.

But not just in family violence.

Despite what the bigots, big-mouths and Bernardis might think, the same is true of the Safe Schools program.

Because every school should be a safe one, and every student should have the freedom to be who they are.

At the same time, we’re establishing Australia’s first Pride Centre, and visiting hundreds of towns across the state through our Equality Regional Roadshow.

As Sally from Wonthaggi put it, “I never thought I would see the rainbow flag fly in my own home town”.

But it does - and it’s more than just an act of symbolism, it’s a sign of change.

The list of investments goes on – and so could I (don’t worry, I won’t).Bottom of Form

My point is this: every day in office is a gift. Every day is an opportunity and an obligation to get things done.

To make a difference, to make lives better.

To live your values, to leave Victoria better than you found it.

These changes could only happen under Labor – not just as a government, but as a movement.

Because these reforms don’t really belong to me – they belong to every one of you.

It’s why, this government will never lose sight of our real purpose –

Proudly progressive, and staunchly Labor too.

We’ll never be one without the other.

In more than just name, our Party was founded to fight for workers.

And it’s this proud legacy we’ve inherited.

But make no mistake - that doesn’t mean complacency.

We’ll keep building on the more than 216,000 new jobs created under our watch.

The more than 50,000 infrastructure jobs. And the 4,000 apprentices, trainees and cadets.

Because right now, our new trains – they’re being built right here by Victorians for Victorians.

Those level crossing removals – we’re using 100 per cent Australian steel.

And we are making a difference.

Because although Victoria is home to one in four Australians –

We’re creating one in two Australian jobs.

Our national economy is being driven, right here.

Our participation rate is the highest it’s been since Labor was last in government.

And the participation rate for Victorian women - it’s the highest it’s been, ever.

But as impressive as these numbers are, you and I both know it doesn’t mean much, if it doesn’t actually deliver for workers.

That’s why we’re ensuring that every Victorian gets the full benefit of our jobs growth –

No matter where they’ve come from, or the challenges life has thrown them.

That’s why yesterday I signed an agreement – an MOU – that means across our major projects, we’ll develop new ways to prioritise young people.

To prioritise the long-term unemployed.

To prioritise workers in transition.

And to prioritise veterans.

Building on the work our unions are already doing –

And through the hard work of our Parliamentary Secretary for Infrastructure, Shaun Leane, and our partnership with the Civil Contractors Federation –

We’ll put these Victorians front and centre.

Victorians like Mark.

For nearly three decades, Mark faithfully served our state at Hazelwood.

But as he said, “all that came crashing down” when the closure was announced late last year.

“Hundreds of workers like me were given no future,” he said.

Mark and his family faced a choice – leave the community they loved, or against all odds, try to find another local job.

Thankfully, as Mark puts it, he was “thrown a lifeline”.

Under a partnership we established – alongside AGL, the CFMEU, AMWU, ASU and ETU – 150 workers from Hazelwood will find new opportunity at the Loy Yang A power station.

It’s an agreement that’s never been achieved before – and it will give these men and women another chance.

As Mark said, this scheme “shows workers and communities have to be at the forefront of decision-making, rather than just an afterthought.”

And he’s absolutely right.

Mark is with us today – can you stand up? Let’s thank him for his service to our state.

I’d like to share another story with you.

For 28 years, Michael found pride and security as a fitter at Ford.

But even with the news that Ford would close, Michael never failed to come to work – determined to do what he could, while he could.

But it was always going to be tough. As Michael put it:

"We didn't know where we'd go - whether we had to move.Whether the kids had to change school."

Whether he and his wife could keep the life they had been building for nearly thirty years.

I'm proud to say, under our Local Industry Fund for Transition and thanks to the determined efforts of the AMWU, Michael got the dedicated support he rightfully deserves.

Today, Michael has found a new beginning as a fitter at Prydes Confectionery in Broadmeadows.

As he himself said simply, "things are looking up."

Things are looking up for Riley, too.

A Downer engineering cadet from Gippsland, she’s beginning her career as part of the team building Melbourne’s 65 new High Capacity Metro Trains.

They’ll be the best trains in the country – and it’s the biggest order in Victoria’s history.

But unlike other governments in other states – we chose to build them here.

We chose to mandate minimum local content for our major projects.

We chose to implement our Skills Guarantee – ensuring 100 new apprentices, trainees, and cadets.

And we chose to support local jobs and local workers – just like Riley.

Just like Michael in Broadmeadows.

And just like Mark in the Latrobe Valley.

These are the kind of stories that are only ever possible under a Labor Government.

Because it’s only ever Labor Governments that are willing to fight for workers, and willing to fight for jobs.

But, of course, there is more to do – there will always be more to do.

Because creating more jobs doesn’t make sense if we don’t have the right people with the right skills to fill them –

If there are businesses that bring in workers to do a job that could be done by a Victorian –

Or if our opposition, and their friends, continue to undermine pay, conditions, and the livelihoods of working people.

In short: our success won’t mean very much, unless it’s shared.

That’s where you come in.

Today I’m announcing a new partnership – the Victorian Jobs Partnership.

A coming together of manufacturing and construction unions, industry and government.

It will start with a Jobs Partnership Summit in the middle of the year –

A meeting of 50 Victorians who will lead our work, with half of those delegates appointed by the union movement.

Together – we’ll write the next chapter of Victoria’s industry policy.

We’ll ensure that even more projects and even more materials are being made in Victoria, by Victorians.

We’ll address our skills gaps.

We’ll partner with TAFEs, with registered training organisations, with universities, and we’ll ensure more apprentices and cadets for the future.

We’ll encourage more women to find a career in engineering and construction.

And we’ll do everything we can to make local, buy local, and employ local.

We’ll get more Victorians into work.

And we’ll do it together.

A new partnership with Victorian workers, in place by the end of this year.

Labour policy – but not delivered not just delivered by a Labor Government – delivered by a labour movement.

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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