NSW LABOR CAMPAIGN LAUNCH
SUNDAY, 5 MARCH 2023
Twelve months ago – Labor won the seats of Bega and Strathfield in bye elections. It was a big shot in the arm for a team that had not won a state election in 15 years.
For the first time in history – Bega was represented by a Labor Member of Parliament….Dr Michael Holland.
NSW Labor Opposition leader Chris Minns
Friends, I said on the night – that as encouraging as the results are – and despite the fact that Jason Yat-Sen Li and Michael had attracted thousands of votes – we had to be honest – at that time these wins were more a protest against the Government than a vote for Labor.
I was realistic about the result – and the work we needed to do over the last 12 months to get ready for this election – but more importantly – get ready for the challenges and opportunities of Government in New South Wales.
With 20 days to go before the General Election – I can say – that with a united, disciplined team – a commitment to repairing our essential services – a plan to bring back train building and domestic manufacturing, with a strong commitment AGAINST privatisation.
The time has come to cast a vote FOR a Labor majority Government on March the 25th.
To vote for a fresh start for New South Wales.
There will be some of you who say – I’m ok with a fresh start – but I mainly want to get rid of this Government.
And we’ll take their votes too.
Make no mistake this election is a choice –
Labor will make choices to repair our essential services – we’ll make tough choices to protect the budget and we’ll choose to end pork barrelling across the State.
Domenic Perrottet’s Liberal National Government will also make choices.
Choices on wages for essential workers, on the sale of government assets and on sending their friends to high-paying tax payer positions around the world.
There’s no more important choice than the choice to invest in our education system.
Parents across our State hand our kids over to people we’ve often never met before – and we ask them to get them ready for the world.
We pass over the most precious thing we have – so they can be given the most important gift there is ….
…An Education – just as any tearful parent will tell you on day one of your first child’s, first day of school.
However, by the third kid – if you’re anything like Anna and I – you’ve swapped the tissues with champagne!
Education is more important than money, than an inheritance, more important than a title, or a block of land – it’s the gift of an unlimited future.
Every single person in this audience can point to a teacher who literally changed their life – opened them up to new interests, new possibilities …
… a love for history, or music, a deeper passion for science.
A teacher can pick an insecure teenager – and see something in them – that they don’t see in themselves – and then brick by brick – build them up the confidence and knowledge.
And then unleash them on the world.
Don’t let anyone ever tell you – that a computer program – or an app on a smart phone, or a website can take the place of that teacher ….
You can’t replace them.
I know this better than most because I had the honour of watching my dad build a successful life for himself, and loving home for our family, during a 40-year career as NSW Public School teacher.
And he’s here with us today.
Our State and our countries future rests on the education of the next generation of young Australian’s.
But I ask you – is that going to happen – when the results we are getting from our schools are getting worse – not better.
We were once ranked 3rd in the world for Science – we’ve dropped all the down to 23rd
6th in the world for Reading – we’ve tumbled 17 places.
We were 9th in the world for maths – we’re now ranked 31.
Last year there were over 3000 teacher vacancies – and thousands of cancelled and merged classes across the state.
To deal with the crisis – the Liberals and Nationals chose, in 2021, to spend $14 million on a program to recruit teachers from around the world.
That was their idea to fix the problems in our education system.
They recruited just 12.
There’s no magic here – we need to recruit and retain local teachers.
And Labor has a plan to do it.
- We’ll offer 10,000 temporary teachers a permanent job in NSW public education.
- We’ll slash 5 hours of admin work for your average teacher in the NSW education system.
AND … So we can strike a fair deal with essential workers across New South Wales.
We will remove the wages cap.
In NSW today – the number of young people completing the HSC is now 73% – Victoria is 84% – Queensland is 81%.
If a late teen is not in school – then we expect them to be in a trade – but trade apprenticeships have also dropped…. from 52,700 in 2011 to 25,000 in 2022.
Not in a trade… not in school?
It’s just not good enough…
…after 3 years of COVID – I’m not going to allow a lost generation of kids who will miss out on good jobs because they missed their education.
We’re going to turn that around – and today I can announce – Labor will create 1,000 additional apprenticeships across the NSW Government.
The NSW Government is the largest employer in the country – yet we employ only around 1380 apprentices.
We need to do better – we need to lead the way.
Labor will increase that by almost 75%.
With on the job training in places like Sydney Water, Essential Energy or our new Energy Security Corporation.
This three-year, 94 million dollar commitment, is on top of the 200 apprentices we’ll create by building our new Tangara trains in NSW….
…and on top of the 1,000 apprentices we will train every year at our new TAFE Centres of Excellence – in Western Sydney, Illawarra, and the Hunter.
This is important for our kids – it’s important for the State too…. It will have a major positive impact for our economy and helps address the skills crisis in the building industry.
We’ll help the next generation of tradies get the skills they need to take off ….
… we’ll back them, to start a business, to take a chance…and then, eventually to … employ their own apprentices – and start the process all over again.
My message to the next generation of young Australians is clear – we back you – and under a Labor Government- your potential is unlimited.
A Labor Government I lead will make the investments required to ensure we have the workforce to achieve long term, sustainable economic growth.
Economies don’t just run on roads, through tunnels, and along power lines, they also rest on the backs of hardworking people trying to get ahead, who are educated and ready to make a contribution to their community and this country.
Only Labor believes in investing in the future of our economy, by investing in the future of our workforce.
Friends, there’s nothing more worrying for a parent – then taking a child to an emergency department in the middle of the night.
Most of us are not doctors – or nurses – and when your child isn’t well, and you don’t know why, the dread of the unknown creeps up on you.
People felt a similar anxiety during the COVID emergency.
But we were met at vaccination centres, and emergency departments by dedicated, and hard working hospital staff – not just doctors and nurses – but orderlies and cleaners – who put on their uniform – because their job was more than a pay check – they believed in public service.
Today – even after the darkest of the COVID emergency our health system is reporting some of the worst statistics that we’ve ever see.
The wait in an Emergency room in NSW today is longer than at any point in NSW’s history.
Our ED’s are being run into the ground.
1 in 10 are waiting almost 20 hours to be treated and admitted from Emergency Departments.
There are disturbing reports of wards laying empty because of staff shortages – or patients having to miss life saving cancer treatment because of cost and lack of access.
We have the second lowest number of paramedics of any Australian State – and they are the lowest paid.
I spoke with a paramedic named Tess yesterday afternoon –
A HSU member, she’s been in the job for the past 14 years –
…joining the service was a lifelong dream.
Last Friday was meant to be a 12 hour shift but for her and her partner it ended up being 15 hours… that was due to a last minute job that they would never pass up.
When she joined the profession – paramedics were talking of the communities they wanted to work in – and promotions they saw opening up.
Tess says -the only talk now before and after a shift is …. “What state they’ll move to OR what profession they’ll flee to”.
Tess spoke about rolling into jobs that had been called in 5 or 6 hours earlier…because of ramping at hospitals and a lack of paramedics in the field.
Tess can’t work any harder… there’s no more hours to put in…It’s not as if she can kick patients out of the ambulance.
There’s a similar story when it comes to our nurses. –
Melissa, an emergency nurse at Liverpool hospital, sustained a rib fracture after an assault from a patient suffering a mental health episode, after her shift was short staffed.
67,000 people walked into an ED in the last three months and turned around and left without getting any treatment at all – there are 100,000 on the Elective Surgery waiting list, the highest on record and there are 4000 children.
Our health system is sitting on the shoulders of Tess and Melissa – but we can’t expect them to bare the load by themselves – they need help, and under NSW Labor, help is on the way.
So today I can announce in Government we will deliver new university scholarships for thousands of nurses, doctors, paramedics, and allied health workers each year to staff our public hospitals.
We will invest $76 million in subsidies to attract staff and retain talent in the NSW public health system.
Students undertaking a healthcare degree will be eligible for a subsidy on their study expenses, if they commit to working a minimum of five years in the NSW public health system.
This includes students studying paramedicine, nursing, midwifery, and allied health.
Every year, 2,000 healthcare students will be eligible to apply for a study subsidy of $12,000 to help pay for their degree.
But because our health system simply can’t wait – current students already enrolled can access a one off payment of $8,000 when they graduate – open to 2,000 places a year for the next three years – if they make the same commitment.
We are committed to bringing skilled people into our health system in NSW.
Our frontline paramedics are overworked and understaffed. Too many are leaving for Queensland or Victoria.
One of my first commitments as leader was to hire 500 more rural and regional paramedics in our first term.
But that alone isn’t enough – we need to give paramedics the tools to succeed.
It shouldn’t matter if you live in the city or the country.
….everyone in should be able to access quality healthcare quickly.
So I can announce today that we will invest $70 million to build three new helicopter ambulance bases…to reduce emergency response times in regional and rural NSW.
This will help close the gap in response times between rural. This will save lives.
And we won’t stop there.
We want to help our paramedics do even more… empower them to use their full set of skills… and give them more powers and more capabilities.
Because their work has changed dramatically in the last few years.
They are on the front line when we need them most…. Administering lifesaving drugs…stabilising critical patients…keeping people out of hospital by treating them at home and in the community.
So a Labor Government in NSW will finally address the professional recognition of our paramedics.
And we’ll do it in the first year of Government. Because there is nothing more important for a Government than keeping people safe and healthy.
Friends, over the last decade – my Parliamentary colleagues and I have watched the Premier passionately advocate on behalf of privatisation.
We’ve countered up 50 occasions in just the last 12 months the Premier has regaled us with his commitment to “the big sell off”.
Every time he’s asked about it – he has had the same answer … sell it.
Even when he’s not asked – he’ll turn the conversation around so that he can start to talk about the wonders of asset recycling.
I know what you’re thinking …
…. I hope I never get stuck next to this bloke at a dinner party.
But just last week – he came out and said – that despite selling off $90 Billion of assets owned by the people of NSW over a 12 years, with everything from …
- Endeavour Energy
- The Sydney Desalination Plant – and the Port of Newcastle ( just to name a few)
Enough was Enough – and he had no more …. …Wait for it …. “PLANS” to privatise anything anymore.
BUT Don’t forget. They said exactly the same thing before the last State election.
We were promised that if they were elected – the days of privatisation were behind them..
Back then – they had no “plans” to sell anything off either.
Straight after polling day – they sold the remaining stake in WestConnex – and regions 7,8 and 9 of the bus network. …
…They even tried to tried to sell off the timber industry – and were only stopped because no one had told them that it had already burnt down!
Over the last 12 years Dominic Perrottet has built a political philosophy, and economic ideology, and a parliamentary career on the foundation stone of privatisation.
As long as he is Premier, the privatisations will continue.
The implications of privatisation for the average family budget are serious.
The sale of AusGrid saw Bills increase to private companies by an extra 10% a year – for Endeavour it was an extra 15%.
WestConnex will deliver over $70 Billion in tolls over the life of those contracts to a private company – to put it in perspective it was bought from the Government for just $20 Billion.
The costs of privatisation have been so large … the impacts on family budgets so big – that it prompted the Liberals and Nationals in desperation to claim that they, all of a sudden, had the power to be able to …
Slash grocery Bills!
How, was never explained.
If the NSW State Government had the power to slash the grocery bills for you and your family…
Why would you have waited 12 years to do it!
Friends, It’s nonsense.
The Premier is fond of saying ..
“The best indication of future performance is past performance” …
What are we to make of his past performance?
With $50 Billion of unfunded infrastructure liabilities – and with the State $187 billion worth of debt – there’s only one way for them to fill their black hole.
And that is to sell off assets like Sydney Water.
I’ve got no doubt – big companies cannot wait to get their hands on a monopoly asset like our water.
No flies on them… they’re smart enough to buy it … But my message of the people of NSW is pretty straight forward…
Don’t elect a government that is dumb enough to sell it.
NSW Labor will never sell Sydney Water, or Hunter Water, or Essential Energy – or the remaining stake in our electricity assets.
Because, once they’re gone – and you’ve sold off everything else.
How do you build for the future?
Tough choices will face us – if we win Government on March 25.
The current Government has spent $1 billion dollars on a staggering 10,000 consultant engagements over the past four years.
Just last week the Auditor General found consultant spend wasn’t being managed or evaluated properly.
We’ll end that exorbitant waste – we’ll find savings to make sure our public services run better – the truth is – it’s far too top heavy – and the money must be directed where it’s needed, to those who deliver the services.
We’ll also be honest about where we will build the infrastructure of the future.
I’m not interested in dangling false hope of transport infrastructure just prior to an election – only for people to discover in the fine print that the promised Metro line is due to arrive in 30 years time.
I’ll build as much infrastructure as I can, as soon as I can, wherever I can.
But, I will NOT privatise assets to do it.
There is no point in selling your house, to fund an upgrade of your driveway, which is why Labor will focus on delivering as much infrastructure as we can afford, as soon as we can afford it – without selling off irreplaceable assets like Sydney water.
After the disaster of COVID – and the running down of our essential services and those who work in them – we must rebuild, it’s an urgent priority.
If we have four more years of resignations, cuts and a demoralised workforce it will mean we may never be able to properly rebuild.
Our essential workers, our paramedics, nurses, midwives, and our teachers, are heroes, not economic bandits seeking to bankrupt the state.
They are people who have dedicated their professional lives to serving us, the people of New South Wales.
Four years of COVID and a Government that has shown they are not interested in investing in them has meant that our kids aren’t doing as well as they could be in school, our emergency departments are falling apart at the seams. It means our Ambulances are stuck idling in hospital driveways.
It’s clear … We need a fresh start.
The last few weeks have also shown the chaos and division inside this 12 year old Government.
They don’t look like they want to win, they don’t look like they want the responsibilities of office anymore.
Deep down they know – they’re out of gas – out of ideas – out of energy..
Many of them can’t stand to be in the same room as each other – and it shows!
I want to speak directly to those who have cast a vote for the Coalition at the last election.
There’s a big choice for you to make about who has the best plan to set this State up for the future.
We know the big issues – and we have detailed plans to solve them –
Perhaps, more importantly, I can tell you who our Ministers will be in a Labor Government.
Jo Haylen in Transport – to improve on time running in the network.
Ryan Park in Health – if you know Ryan you know he’ll work tirelessly to solve the crisis in health.
Annoulack Chanvithong in Finance – to build the replacement Tangarra’s right here in New South Wales.
Prue Car in Education, Daniel Mookhey as Treasurer, Penny Sharpe in Environment.
This Government has 15 Ministers from the last election that have already left – or are not recontesting on March 25.
That includes, the Health Minister, the Cities – and infrastructure Minister, the Innovation Minister – the Fair Trading and Small Business Minister, the Corrections Minister and the Transport Minister – All who are in Cabinet but are not even re-contesting their seats.
We’ve got no idea who’ll replace them – we don’t know what their priorities will be – we don’t even know if they’ll even be up to the job.
It’s clear … The Government’s best days are behind them – and their most experienced people are leaving.
I lead a team that has learnt the lessons of 12 years in Opposition.
It’s united and disciplined and focused on you…
That is hungry for the responsibilities of office and has a clear plan to reform essential services in the State.
We will listen to the people – and provide a clear way forward.
And will do it all – without privatising Government assets.
Friends, Labor is ready .. and this State is ready for a Fresh Start.
But we need to do it together.
Thank you so much.