Party, policy, people: the choice for Labor members


posted | in Transcript

The following is a speech delivered by the Hon. Bill Shorten to Caucus colleagues of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. 

Colleagues, thank you for the opportunity to speak.

Like all of us in this room, I love the Australian Labor Party.

I’m proud of our history, our traditions and our values.

Labor is political house in which I’ve grown up.

There are 82 of us here – fewer than when we last met, and now in opposition.

And I acknowledge the loss of some really good members and candidates.

But the Australian people spoke definitively 6 days ago – and we would be foolish to ignore that only 34 in every 100 Australians gave us their first vote.

This is a tough time for our movement.

But let’s not forget – over 3.7 million Australians still voted for us – more than any other individual party – and placed their faith in us.

Here in this room – the band of 2013 – we carry the expectations and hopes of our members, our supporters and the millions of Australians who voted for us.

Here in this room – we are the 2013 team.

And more than anything – whether I win or lose this ballot – I want to be part of a caucus team that inspires our supporters, and makes them proud.

I know this caucus can stand up and do the job our people want and need us to do.

We can end public disparagement of each other. We must draw a line under the rancour of the last few years.

Winning the next election will be a team effort.

And whatever the outcome of this internal ballot, I will be an enthusiastic and committed part of this team.

I will use my energy and optimism to make sure that we leave our mark on our party and on this parliament.

I’m around for the long-haul.

But Labor’s rebuilding must start now.

Because I believe we can win and I don’t believe we should be wasting time in Opposition.

That is why I seek your support to become leader.

There have been tougher times.

When Gough Whitlam became leader of our party in 1967 we had been out of office for 18 years and thrashed at the previous year’s election.

He adopted a simple saying – “Party, Policy, People.  This year the party, next year the policy, 1969 the people.”

Forty-six years on – our party should act with these three P’s in mind.

The task of our movement, our party and my task if you elect me as leader is simple:

  • We must bring the party together and bring more people – from diverse backgrounds – into our movement.
  • We must carefully and thoughtfully develop the policy that will make Australia a better place –and offer a better, more sincere and more authentic vision for the future.
  • And we must work really hard to rebuild the Australian people’s trust in our movement. Above all we need to listen to them.

Firstly – on the party.

I am a campaigner, a builder – I have done this at the AWU and again with disability. I can bring people on side.

I want the widest array of people participating in our movement – drawn from the inner-city, outer-suburbs and regions of our nation and from across a wide array of occupations, like small business people, tradies, farmers, professional women and academics.

Our party must be rebuilt from the bottom up.

I want to help renew our relationship with the union movement – a relationship fundamental to our future.

Labor must be a modern, open and inclusive party.

I want the Labor Party to build and reflect the vision for Australia itself.

I do not want this country written small.

Therefore, let’s build a Big Labor Party.

A Movement for Change.

A Party of Big Ideas.

A Party which is deeply connected to the community, that acts to unify.

A Party which reflects the diversity and dynamism of our people and our regions.

A Party which undertakes policy development, rather than one that divides our community.

It’s a Party that understands we need to have a productive economy as the basis for building living standards.

A Party which wants to win back government, and then govern successfully.

I want to be leader because the Labor Party will have the ideas for the big trends facing Australia in the next 20 and 30 years and beyond:

  1. The important role of Asia
  2. People living longer
  3. Sustainability and the environment
  4. The digital age and innovation
  5. The need for our economy to diversify to create productive and meaningful jobs
  6. The march of women

I know we can win the battle of ideas, and win back centre-ground voters.

And while we act on these important things – our party and our policy – we must also hold the Government to account.

Remember our great victories:

  • Whitlam’s modernisation of our party and our nation
  • The Hawke consensus model of economic and social reform
  • Keating’s big picture vision of a competitive and outward looking Australia
  • Rudd and Swan’s navigation of the GFC
  • Gillard’s education reforms and the NDIS.

This is not Labor rhetoric to assert the nation is really different because of us.

The nation is really different because of us.

There is something called the Australian model.

There is a Labor model which created the Australian model.

We are the inheritors of this great legacy.

But legacy is not necessarily a ticket to the future – that is our job, the people in this room – that is what is expected of us.

There is no natural cycle in politics that preordains our resurgence.

Only we can guarantee our future.

We cannot settle for second place.

That only guarantees second place.

It is our generation’s job to write the next chapter of the story of the Australian Labor Party.

And if we don’t there is nothing to stop the Australian people from closing the book on us … from sticking with Abbott and Co for a decade.

Today I’ve talked about me. You would expect me to talk about me.

But our future is not about an individual. It’s about us, a party, a team.

I hope, if elected leader, it will be us, our ideas, a team that you will hear from.

The essential task is to unify the party and to unify our purpose.

Understanding our weaknesses, but building on our strengths.

In the campaign for Leadership, I shall be seeking a mandate, offering a clear vision about ideas, and I welcome this election.

It will not be a personality election, but about ideas and the future of Labor.

We can win the battle of ideas.

We can win the next election.