STATEMENT I begin by joining Mark McGowan in acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, thanking both Donna for her warm welcome to Country and the Rangeway Didgeridoo group for their magnificent performance.

Today is the first anniversary of the election of the Abbott Government but of course, it’s no cause for celebration.

It’s been a year of broken promises, misguided policy and wrong policy priorities.

All of this should give us all cause to adopt a “glass half full” attitude.

Because the question is not whether Labor can win the next federal election but rather, whether those who rely upon us most can afford for us not to.

Delegates, following the 1996 election we held just 49 seats in the House of Representatives.  Today we hold 55 – not enough – but we start with a higher base than we did 18 years ago.

At the 1998 election we secured the majority of both the primary vote and we the two-party-preferred vote.  Sadly, the votes didn’t fall in the right places and we fell short.

In 2016 we can go the final yard and we will.

We will do this by:

•       Remaining strong and united behind a strong, determined and smart leader in Bill Shorten.

•       By selecting strong community-based candidates – candidates like Alannah MacTiernan – strong independent voices, people who fearlessly advocate on behalf of their local communities.  Communities like Geraldton where I welcome the focus and commitment you’ve provided this weekend.

•       Winning back rural and regional seats.  Today delegates we hold just 5 rural seats.  Worse, working with the AEC’s definition, we hold no rural seats in Queensland, Tasmania or Western Australia – it’s not good enough and we must do better.

•       And by relentlessly hunting down Tony Abbott for every broken promise, wrong priorities and misguided and unfair policy.

Delegates, working seamlessly with our state party machines and our state parliamentary teams will also be critical.

We see how well that worked at the Chapman Show yesterday where I joined Alannah, Party members, Leader Mark and his team in a great exercise in marketing “Country Labor”.

We are one brand – every good thing Mark and his team do is good for Federal Labor and every good thing we do in Canberra is good for Mark and his team.

With the assistance with Simon, Lenda and their team – and their equivalents in other states – we can win the next federal election, we must win the next federal election.

And together – party members, trade unions, parliamentary teams, we’ll make sure Mark and his team win too.

I look forward to coming back to the West regularly and to working with you.


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