SPEECH TO THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY’S NATIONAL CONFERENCE
MELBOURNE EXHIBITION AND CONVENTION CENTRE, MELBOURNE
SUNDAY, 26 JULY 2015
Friends, in the past year we have seen the strongest possible demonstration of Labor’s enduring values in action.
In their first Budget, the Abbott Liberals attempted to cut pensions by $23 billion over the coming decade. They attempted a cut that would have left 3.2 million Australian pensioners worse off. They attempted to shut older Australians out from sharing in the growing prosperity of this country in the years ahead.
What did we do? We stood as one and said no. We stood as one to protect the pension, just as we have since the Fisher Labor Government first wove this enduring safety net for our old in 1909.
Labor people – men and women – joined with communities across Australia to say no to these cuts and no the Abbott Government’s mean and meagre vision for retirement.
When we stood against the Liberals’ pension plans, Social Services Minister Scott Morrison accused us of running a ‘scare campaign’.
The man who ordered his previous department to call asylum seekers nasty names like ‘illegal arrivals’ and ‘detainees’. The man who urged his Cabinet colleagues to demonise Muslims living in Australia and question their ability to integrate. The man who equated Australia’s proud tradition of multiculturalism with ‘ethnic segregation’.
This man, accusing us of running a scare campaign? Hypocrisy, thy name is Scott Morrison.
Fresh from demonising valued members of our community and stirring up fear about those who come across our seas, Scott Morrison has recently been striding about as the warm and fuzzy face of this government’s social services agenda. That’s a bit like putting Dr Evil in charge of delivering world peace. I sometimes wonder if Scott Morrison employs someone in his office specifically to stand behind him and whisper: “they’re pensioners, Scott – not bludgers. Retirees – not rorters.” I don’t know how else he gets through the day without letting his real beliefs and his utter contempt for anyone who isn’t already wealthy and powerful show.
I sometimes hear media commentators and Green pontificators say: Labor and Liberal, they’re all the same. Anyone who has seen and heard Labor people standing against the Liberals’ and their pension cuts over the past year would know to their marrow how very wrong that is.
We believe all senior Australians deserve to live with dignity and financial security in their retirement. They believe you should cut the pension while letting the wealthiest superannuants continue to collect tax breaks to the tune of $34 billion a year.
We believe older Australians should share in this country’s rising living standards and have their pensions keep pace with the cost of living. They believe there’s nothing wrong with letting older Australians fall behind by attempting to halve the pension by mid-century.
We will provide a strong and sustainable pension system. We will maintain and strengthen pension indexation to reflect the rising cost of living. We will make retirement incomes fairer by reigning in super tax breaks which go to the most well off.
Getting our policies right for older Australians matters because we don’t want anyone to outlive their savings and be left barely scraping by. We don’t want any Australian feeling they’ve outlived their usefulness or become a burden on others. We must guard against Liberal ‘reforms’ that would see senior Australians outlive the fair go they have earned and deserve.
Friends, I know that every one of you here today believes, as I do, in supporting our older Australians. I know you feel, as I do, that giving older Australians dignity and security in retirement is one of our core obligations as a community. And that’s why I know every Labor person in this room shares the goal of protecting a fair, sustainable and adequate pension that outlives this terrible Abbott Government.
MEDIA CONTACT: JENNIFER RAYNER 0428 214 856