Speech - David Ewings' Campaign Launch - Sunday 12 November 2017





I'm confident I can speak for every Labor Member of Parliament across our great nation when I say; there is no more rewarding task than to address the True Believers.

And it's an even greater pleasure when we gather to remind people who we are and what we stand for; a party with a rich history of achievement. A progressive party driven by our quest for higher living standards and equality of opportunity.

The New England by-election and all the financial cost it has imposed on Australia’s taxpayers should never have been. We are having an election for one reason only; because Barnaby Joyce thought he was above the law.

Forget about the plea of ignorance, Joyce’s crime is that of arrogance.

He presents as a man of the people, but he is typical landed gentry.

He recently said the people in the weatherboard and tin needed him here. It was his way of making reference to the battlers. But the truth is, they are struggling because he is here!

The Nats represent 9 of the 10 poorest electorates in Australia. Their modus operandi is to keep them poor and to throw them a few crumbs from time to time.

This New England by-election is Labor's opportunity to offer a different model.

And it's an opportunity for New England residents - on behalf of all Australians - to send a message; that they are tired of the chaos and dysfunction which has become the hallmark of the Turnbull Government.

Labor’s way is to grow the economy and to ensure everyone benefits.

And the only way everyone benefits is if they are able to participate in our economy.

Participating - or the capacity to do so - starts with a good education.

Labor is the only party which gives education and training the priority it deserves.

Labor invests in education - the Coalition cuts education funding. Just take a look at what they've done to our Gonski reforms.

Our TAFE system is being dismantled before our eyes and the higher education model being pursued by Malcolm Turnbull and Barnaby Joyce will adversely impact most on our regional universities - including the University of New England.

Of course all working Australians are entitled to respect, and a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. Yet Malcolm Turnbull and Barnaby Joyce see it quite differently. In fact Barnaby Joyce is a key defender of the Government’s attack on penalty rates.

But penalty rates aren't the only problem colleagues. Under Malcolm Turnbull and Barnaby Joyce prices have risen but wages have stagnated. The casualisation of our workforce is on the rise and we are becoming increasingly dependent on foreign labour while our own kids struggle to secure meaningful work.

Australia's working families are doing it tough. Inequality is on the rise. Scott Morrison's response is to tell them they've never had it so good.

Members, you can't lay claim to a fair society if you don't respect the legacy of older Australians and support them in their retirement. Yet every time Malcolm Turnbull and Barnaby Joyce go looking for savings to fund their proposed tax cuts for the big end of town they turn to our pensioners.

In Government, Labor increased the pension and strengthened our social safety net. I'll be very surprised if the pensioners of New England are lining up to thank Barnaby Joyce on December 2.

Another key to progressing the health and wellbeing of our local communities is the delivery of quality health and hospitals services.

When last in Government Labor recognised and addressed a looming funding crisis in our public hospital system.

Labor designed and implemented Medicare and we will defend it against every Tory attempt to dismantle its universality. We will always be the party of choice for those who believe that every Australian - regardless of their means - should have access to good and affordable health services.

In the 21st Century, when technology is driving so much disruption and change, every Australian needs and deserves access to good telecommunications infrastructure.

Labor recognised this in Government and we were delivering a fibre-based broadband service which would have been as good as anything in the world.

But the majority of Australians will now have to settle for a second-rate copper-based system. Those most adversely affected live in rural and regional Australia.

We talk about the digital divide which separates our city and regional communities, it’s very real.

But there is a digital divide right here in New England. Thanks to a Labor Government, the good people of Armidale enjoy fibre to their homes. But here in Tamworth, they struggle with the copper system delivered by Malcolm Turnbull; a system Barnaby Joyce says is good enough.

Members, over the balance of this campaign we will continue to offer the residents of New England an alternative; a chance to take a chance.

An opportunity for something better. And an opportunity to send Malcolm Turnbull a message.

And friends, a chance to be represented in Canberra by someone who puts the interests of New England ahead of his own political ambitions.

David Ewings is a quality candidate. He's smart, articulate and a local who cares.

He said during the 2016 election. He was here for the long haul and by contesting this by-election he's demonstrated he's a man of his word.

Members and supporters of our great Labor movement, Bill Shorten has been leading the policy debate; laying out an agenda for inclusive growth, sustainable economic growth, and a strong safety net.

While the Tories are busy fighting amongst themselves, we are laying the foundations for a better deal for all Australians.

David Ewings backs that plan and I think New England residents are ready to back a progressive candidate with his commitment and energy. One by the way, who believes in climate change and backs our aspirations for a just transition to a lower-carbon economy.

The Tories are complacent in New England no doubt.

But we have a Government in chaos which long ago stopped governing.

And in a by-election field of 17 candidates anything can happen. And by the way, what has the Turnbull Government done to ensure each of those candidates is an Australian citizen only?

We’ll be offering people a real choice all the way to polling day and with your help, the people of New England will come to learn there is a better alternative.

It's a great pleasure to launch David’s campaign and we are so grateful for the support you are giving him by being with us in Tamworth today.

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