Speech: ALP National Conference 2021

30 MARCH 2021


I’m still Kevin, I’m still from Queensland and I’m still here to help.

But these days I’m anxious, deeply anxious, about our country’s future. That’s unusual for me because, by nature, I’m an optimist.

But on the big challenges, Morrison isn’t within a bull’s roar of having what Australia needs.

We need a government that can set Australia up for the future, not just spin their way through the political issues of the day. Albo and his team have not only the political opportunity, but now the national responsibility to take Labor to victory.

We together can rebuild manufacturing and unlock new drivers of economic growth and new technology.

We don’t have to become a country of extreme inequality like America, feeding political extremism and making the country ungovernable.

We can carve out a renewable energy future with new jobs and new businesses. Every other developed country in the world is doing that but the conservatives just bury their heads in the sand.

We face an uncertain future where the balance of geopolitical power is shifting. It’s complex, but it is navigable. We need deep thought, not a conservative government sleepwalking into a future conflict they’ve done nothing to help prevent.

And sadly, we face future pandemics. Where would we be today without the public health system built by Labor over successive generations, federal and state? It’s time to renew that infrastructure with a government that leads, not just shifts the blame onto others.

Australians expect their leaders to understand these problems and to be on their side, not actingon behalf of somebody else.

They want to know who’s on their side on wages and conditions? On affordable housing and childcare? Who’s on their side on superannuation and a decent retirement income for all? In building the renewable jobs and businesses in the future? And who’s on the people’s side in preparing for an uncertain century in our own region between the US and China?

The bottom line is that Australians can spot a fraud at fifty paces. And that’s what they see with Morrison and his mob — frauds, phonies and marketing men — and they pretty much are all men, and all in it for themselves.

Morrison wasn’t on their side during the bushfires. Morrison wasn’t on their side when he was bullying state premiers to open their borders when it just wasn’t safe to do so. And he isn’t on their side in taking on the growing problem of corruption which has unfolded on his watch.

I’ve known Albo for nearly 25 years. I’m proud to be his friend. Albo tells it straight and he keeps his word. He is instinctively on the Australian people’s side. You see, we’re all a product of where we’ve grown up. Albo, like me, was raised under difficult circumstances, by and large by a single mum. It was tough.

Albo never forgets where he came from. He’s not a slick marketing product, invented by spin doctors. Albo is the genuine article.
Australia is at a national crossroads. We face enormous challenges to secure our future, and that requires a leader who Australians know is on their side as we navigate our way through the giant challenges now staring us in the face.

I thank you.