Thursday, 21 November 2013

To the Good Burghers of Griffith

I want to thank each and every one of you, the good burghers of Griffith, for the honour of serving as your local member these last fifteen years.
Brisbane's Southside has been home for my family for the last twenty-five, first in Hawthorne, later in Norman Park. For us, this will always be our local community. 

The Southside has been a great place to raise our three children, to see them educated at Morningside Primary, attend the local Sunday School at Saint John's in Bulimba, and learn to swim at our local swimming clubs. It remains a great place to live. 

This community enjoys a wonderful lifestyle. Of course, we have faced a few challenges over the years as well. But we have always come together to overcome them

The way we all pitched in during the great Brisbane floods of 2011Coming together as local action groups to stop the privatisation of the school ovals at Balmoral High and Whites Hill College and the forced merger of Coorparoo Secondary College and State High. And earlier, on the mass public protests against the building of the Brisbane Airport's New Parallel Runway, the court cases we mounted against the original decision to build it, and when I lost the case in the Federal Court the community then coming together to raise money to help pay my legal costs. The battle for a night curfew has just begun. All to help protect our local quality of life. 

What I'm most proud of are the massive new investments we secured for our local schools, universities and hospitals. The 25 new libraries, 17 new multi-purpose facilities, 30 new classrooms, nearly 8,000 new laptops for secondary school kids who previously had none, and additional 10,000 local university places. And a $40 million co-investment in the world-class Translational Research Centre at the PA. These are the things that change people's lives

One thing I've been particularly happy to support is the teaching of foreign languages in each of our 65 local schools. Over the years I have funded nearly 600 Foreign Language Awards. It's been a great joy to run into young people working around the world, now fluent in one or more languages, who remember me presenting them with these awards way back when. I intend to continue these Awards into the future for whichever local schools wish me to. 

I also hope to be able to continue to donate 'Ruddbikes'. I'm delighted to have become one of the biggest buyers of bicycles in Brisbane, having donated nearly 1,000 to local schools so far which have helped them raise nearly $1 million in funds. 

But there comes a time for renewalFamilies pay a great price in political life. And my family, who have loyally supported me all this time and who have given so much of themselves, have made it very plain that the time has come for me to pass the baton to someone else. 

So thank you Southside for all that we have done for our community - together. It really has been an honour.


Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Farewell Address to Parliament

Farewell Address to Parliament
The Hon. Kevin Rudd MP

Madam Speaker, there comes a time in our lives as parliamentarians when our families finally say enough is enough. 

And my family has reached just such a time.

We ask much of our families in this place.

And in the case of my family, well above and way beyond the call of duty.

The truth is the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, which regrettably have become the stock and trade for so many in public life, hit home to our families as well.

This applies particularly to the families of our parliamentary leaders.

For our family, recent statements since the September election have been particularly hurtful.

As parliamentarians, we might say we become inured to all of this, although I doubt it.

For our families, however, I believe it becomes harder, not easier, with the passing of the years.

And it affects their ability to get on building their own lives and careers as well.

My family have given their all for me in public life, and for the nation.

And it is now time I gave something back to them.

This has been the product of much soul searching for us as a family over the last few months.

And the decision I have made has not been taken lightly, particularly given the deep attachment I have for the community I have proudly represented in this place these last 15 years.

But for me, my family is everything. Always has been. Always will be, which is why I will not be continuing as a member of this parliament beyond this week.

I also believe it was right and proper that I report my decision to the parliament at the earliest opportunity. And that day is today. And I have chosen to do so now so as to create minimal disruptions to the normal proceedings of the House.

My predecessors as Prime Minister, Prime Ministers Whitlam, Fraser, Hawke and Keating, reached similar decisions to leave the parliament before the subsequent election.

As did would-be Prime Ministers Hewson, Costello and Downer.

And perhaps Prime Minister Howard would have done had he retained his seat of Bennelong after the 2007 election, although we will never know.

I wish to thank my local community, the good burghers of Griffith, for electing me to this place.

They are good people. And they are a great community. And I am proud of the new libraries, classrooms and multi-purpose facilities we have built in each and every one of my local primary schools.

And the hundreds of new laptops in high schools which before had none, or very few.

I just love the smiles on the kids' faces, and on their teachers' faces as I visit them, and schools like them right across Australia.

I also thank the people of Australia for electing me as their Prime Minister.

To have served as Prime Minister of Australia has been a great honour afforded to very few in our country's history.

For the future, I wish the Prime Minister and his government well because I wish Australia well.

The Prime Ministership of this Commonwealth is not easy. It is the hardest job in the land.

The expectations of whoever holds the office are infinite while the resources available are finite.

And so I wish Tony, his wife Margie and their family all the best for the rigors of high office that inevitably lie ahead.

This is a good country. Australians are by instinct a good people.

The rest of the world, more often than we think, also looks to us to help provide answers to the challenges facing humankind, not just tending to our own.

And so too I wish my good friends the Treasurer, and the Foreign Minister, all the very best for the complex global challenges that lie ahead.

As I do my good friend the Member for Wentworth, who remains a particular adornment to the parliament.

For the Australian Labor Party, the party of which I have been a proud member for more than 30 years, and a parliamentary member for fifteen, the future of Australian progressive politics lies within your hands. 

I wish the newly elected leader Bill Shorten all the best in the great task that lies ahead.

Having served as Leader of the Opposition myself, this is never a position for the faint-hearted. There are always long dark nights of the soul. But believe it or not, morning does come, often sooner than you think.

Bill brings great strengths to the position and I have every confidence he will lead Labor's return to the Treasury benches.

I also wish to thank Albo for his extraordinary service as Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the House.

Albo is the most formidable parliamentarian in this place, as is recognized on both sides of the chamber.

He also has a passionate commitment to the cause of progressive politics.

And in my long years in this House, his loyalty has been beyond reproach.

I would also thank Chris Bowen for his great contribution to our party and government, and his future contribution as well.

It is a singular honour to serve in the high office of Prime Minister of Australia.

I have in the past few days looked at my first speech in this place back in 1998. You will be pleased to know that none of us have changed one bit in the years since them.

I said back then that I believed politics was about power, and whether that power was for the many or the few.

Fifteen years later, that remains my view.

I said back then that I believed in the politics of hope, not in the politics of fear.

Fifteen years later, that remains my view, because as Martin Luther King has famously remarked, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice."

I also said way back then, that I had no interest in being here for the sake of being here, and that the only point of being here was to make a difference for the betterment of all.

Fifteen years later, that remains my view as well.

In fact I have found nothing that I would change from my first speech all those years ago.

I set out to achieve many things as Prime Minister. In some of these I succeeded. In others l did not. Such is the nature of politics.

But when the history is one day written, detached from the passions of the time, perhaps it will be remembered we navigated Australia through the worst global economic crisis since the Depression, without recession, without the scourge of mass unemployment, and with our triple A credit ratings intact.

It may also be remembered that we helped establish the G20 as the premier institution of global economic governance as well as securing Australian membership of it.

That we ratified Kyoto because we believe in the reality of climate change and we acted on our commitments to reduce carbon emissions.

That we brought into being Australia's first ever national school curriculum, our first ever paid parental leave scheme, and the biggest age pension increase in our history.

And that as a nation we finally delivered an official apology to Aboriginal Australians.

Nothing has brought me greater joy in political life than the smiles I have seen on the faces of our Aboriginal brothers and sisters, young and old, country and city, as a result of the apology.

I hope though that we have achieved some healing of the soul, although it will only be through the final closing of the gap that we achieve a healing of broken bodies as well.

It was also my privilege to be asked by my parliamentary colleagues, including Bill, Albo and Chris to return to the Prime Ministership earlier this year.

This too was not a task for the faint hearted.

I was glad that together we were able to save the furniture, and in fact do considerably better than that, and return Labor as a fighting force for the next election.

More importantly, we began the process of reforming the party though the new democratic processes for electing our leader.

But I believe this is but the first step.

Our party must continue to reform, to be the party of the reforming, progressive center of Australian politics: the party of the future economy, of social equity and of environmental sustainability.

The party of working people, the party of small business, and the party of our local communities.

And a fully democratised party where we also see the election of our national conference, our national executive and our Senate candidates though direct democratic election by our party membership.

And in time primaries for our candidates for this house through a shared electoral college of both our party members and our registered supporters.

In the meantime, I look forward to a full, democratic preselection process for all local party members to elect our next candidate for Griffith.

Madam Speaker, for the future my passion remains with indigenous reconciliation and in the year ahead I plan to establish a National Apology Foundation to keep alive the spirit and the substance of the apology I delivered in this place six years ago.

I will also continue to support the great causes of homelessness, organ donation and the future of multicultural Australia including foreign language education and inter- faith dialogue.

As members of this House also know well, I am both passionately Australian, and passionately a citizen of the world. I intend to be active in the international community in areas where I can make a genuine contribution to peace and stability, global economic governance and sustainable development including climate change.

In this context, I will also focus on China's future role in the region and the world. As Australia is the voice of the west in the east, and in time I hope a voice for the east in the west, I believe there is a useful role for Australians to play as an engaged, intelligent and sympathetic bridge between these two hemispheres, and between China and the United States in particular, in the challenging half century that lies ahead.

Finally Madam speaker, I wish to thank through you, and the Clerk, all the parliamentary staff for their unfailing professionalism and friendship all these years.

It is they who uphold the great institution that is the parliament itself.

I wish to thank the Australian Public Service as one of our great national institutions, and its professional commitment to the defence of the continuing national interests of our Commonwealth.

I also wish to thank all my staff, past and present, Prime Ministerial, Foreign Ministerial and electoral, for their loyalty, hard work and friendship over the years - and above all their overriding commitment to Australia.

I thank too the press gallery for their coverage both good and bad, and continue to encourage them to apply all necessary programmatic specificity to the task of holding the government of the day to account.

To the members of this parliament, both friend and foe, and I can confidently say they are spread equally across both sides of this chamber, I thank you for the privilege of working with you.

Whatever has been said, and a lot that has been hurtful has been said, I bear none any malice. Life is too short for that.

For new members of this place in particular, I wish you well. This parliament is a great institution. As members, you will choose what type of parliamentarian you wish to become. Positive or negative. Knowledgeable or otherwise.

And to my life partner Therese for enduring 32 years of marriage on this very day, to my daughter Jess, her husband Albert, our beautiful granddaughter Josephine, my son Nick and his wife Zara, and our youngest son Marcus, you mean everything to me.

In the days ahead, Therese and I will be spending some time together overseas to plan the next phase of our lives. I would ask my good friends in the fourth estate to give us privacy as I have ceased being a public figure. And I'm not planning on any interviews anytime soon.

Australia is a remarkable country. It is the land of remarkable opportunity. To think that the son of a dairy farmer, whose family had little money, could secure a place at university through the Whitlam reforms, and upon graduation become a diplomat, then serve as the chief of staff to a Premier, be elected to parliament to represent the Australian Labor Party, and ultimately to be elected as Leader of the Opposition, and then Prime Minister, says everything about this extraordinary country Australia.

And for these remarkable opportunities, I will always be grateful, so thank you Australia.

And so, having said all that, on this final occasion in the parliament, and as is now officially recorded in the classics for occasions such as this, it really is time for me to zip.

Sunday, 10 November 2013




10 November, 2013

Brisbane Airport is expected to experience growth in air traffic volumes from 219,920 last financial year to 393,000 by 2035, or more than 1,076 aircraft movements per day.

In his submission to a review into the need for a night-time curfew at Brisbane Airport, Federal Member for Griffith Mr Kevin Rudd said, “without adequate management, Southside residents can expect less respite from aircraft noise in a given 24 hour period.”

For these reasons, Mr Rudd has recommended in his submission to the high level Steering Committee that there be a two year trial curfew from 2020 once Brisbane's New Parallel Runway (NPR) opens for business.

New flight paths created by the NPR will mean a significant increase in the number of residents subjected to adverse impacts to their health, lifestyles and property values, most notably for those living in Bulimba, Hawthorne, Balmoral, Norman Park, East Brisbane and parts of Coorparoo.

“Sleep disruption will become the norm for many more Southside communities, as is already the case for those living in suburbs like Cannon Hill, Morningside and Camp Hill," Mr Rudd said.

“A two year trial upon completion of the NPR is the best way to evaluate the effectiveness of a curfew as a measure to provide respite to residents from aircraft noise overnight and to test its financial and economic effect on Brisbane Airport’s operations.

“Those making dramatic assertions that a curfew would undermine the financial viability and economic utility of the airport just need to look at Sydney Airport which has had a night-time curfew since 1995, and remains an entirely viable airport."

Mr Rudd’s full submission can be found at or by contacting the Griffith Electorate office.

Mr Rudd's submission also references research from the British Medical Journal which can be accessed at and

Submission to A Review of the need for a curfew at Brisbane Airport

Submission to A Review of the need for a curfew at Brisbane Airport

In August 2013 the Department of Infrastructure and Transport released a discussion paper, Future Brisbane Airport Operations: A Review of the need for a Curfew at Brisbane Airport, to assess the need for night-time noise strategies at Brisbane Airport. The discussion paper called for submissions by 31 October 2013. What follows is my submission to this review.

1.      It is widely accepted across the international community that aircraft noise has significant environmental and possible health impacts on populations living in the vicinity of major airports, particularly those living directly beneath the approaches and departure paths of large aircraft. While acknowledging the significant economic contribution the Brisbane Airport makes to the Queensland and Australian economy, the need for economic growth must be balanced with the rights of residents living in close proximity to enjoy a certain level of amenity.

2.      Two recent studies published in the British Medical Journal support previous research suggesting a direct link between aircraft noise and adverse health outcomes.  A study of those living in 2218 post codes surrounding 89 airports in the United States found a ‘statistically significant association between exposure to aircraft noise and risk of hospitalisation for cardiovascular diseases among older people living near airports’. The second of these was conducted in 12 London boroughs and nine districts west of London exposed to aircraft noise related to Heathrow airport in the United Kingdom. Researchers in this case found that ‘high levels of aircraft noise were associated with increased risks of stroke, coronary heart disease, and cardiovascular disease’. While many such studies may be contested it is clear that certain health impacts are likely to flow to communities from sustained  and excessive exposure to aircraft noise.

3.      As a resident of Brisbane’s Southside for the last 23 years I am fully aware of the negative impact of aircraft noise on communities living under a flight path.  For those living in the electorate of Griffith the problem of aircraft noise has been a constant cause for concern. 3500 of my local constituents have made contact with my Morningside office in relation to aircraft noise. There has been some effort made by Brisbane Airport Corporation, Airservices Australia and the Australian Government to address the impact felt by this community. However, the ever-growing number of complaints lodged with my local office suggests that there has been no real reduction in the incidence of excessive aircraft noise caused by residential over-flight. In fact, as the number of inbound and outbound services at the Brisbane Airport has increased, so too has the discomfort, concern and increasingly, anger within the community.

4.      The New Parallel Runway (NPR) is scheduled for completion by 2020. This will virtually double the capacity of the Brisbane Airport which is expected to experience annual growth in air traffic volumes from 219,920 in the last financial year to 272,000 in 2020 and 393,000 by 2035 more than 1,076 aircraft movements per day. Without adequate management of further growth, aircraft noise will affect more people because of the new flight paths that will be generated by both runways, and there will be less respite from noise in a given 24 hour period because of the rapid increase in the total number of flights.

5.      In February 1999, the Howard Government through its Transport Minister, John Anderson, approved the Brisbane Airport Corporation’s (BAC) Master Plan and NPR proposal, despite more than 4,000 written objections from Southside residents and a petition submitted to the Federal Parliament by myself with over 10,000 signatures. In July 1999, I helped initiate a Senate inquiry into the BAC Master Plan process. The Senate Inquiry found a number of faults in relation to the Master Plan, and recommended that amendments be made to Airports Act 1996 to improve the consultative relationship between airports and the local community.

6.      Between 2000 and 2002 I undertook four separate Court actions on behalf of the local community in both the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the Federal Court in an attempt to stop construction of the second runway at the Brisbane Airport. I represented myself and the community in all of these cases, before losing the fourth;

·        Re Kevin Rudd and minister for Transport and Regional Services

·        Minister for Transport and Regional Services v Rudd

·        Re Kevin Rudd and Minister for Transport and Regional Services and Brisbane Airport Corporation Limited

·        Brisbane Airport Corporation v Wright.

7.      In March 2002 the Federal Court ruled against me with $34,000 in costs awarded against me. Since then I have repeatedly stated my acceptance of the court’s decision that the BAC has the legal right to build the parallel runway and that the runway would proceed. I have also constantly argued since then that aircraft noise will need to be managed more effectively once the NPR is built. I have reflected this position in submissions to both the BAC’s 2003 Draft Master Plan and to the Draft Guidelines for the Environmental Impact Statement: BAC Parallel Runway Proposal in 2005.

8.      For this reason, I argue that a night-time curfew (11pm to 6am) has the potential to provide residents with some respite from the sustained increase in aircraft noise that will accompany the parallel runway. I therefore propose a two year trial curfew be established immediately upon the completion of the NPR to properly evaluate its effectiveness as a measure to provide respite to residents from aircraft noise overnight, and whether such a curfew over the suburbs has any significant operational effect on the airport, given that most services between 11pm and 6am should be able to operate over Moreton Bay.

9.      Currently there is an average of eight night-time (11pm-6am) aircraft movements over Brisbane’s residential areas. However, this number can regularly exceed 15 movements and on some occasions exceed 20 services. In May 2013 there were only eight nights which recorded zero aircraft movements over the city. During the month of June 2013 there were only five nights where Brisbane residents were provided respite from night-time over-flight. The truth is, a single noisy movement in the middle in the night is sufficient to disturb sleep for the rest of the night.

10. The most useful strategy deployed to mitigate ambient noise levels is to favour over-the-bay (Reciprocal Mode) operations wherever possible. Data provided in the NPR Project Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Major Development Plan (MDP) puts the proportion of night-time operations currently directed over Moreton Bay at about 68 percent in Summer and close to 82 percent in Winter. Airsevices Australia have repeatedly stated that the Reciprocal Mode of operation is only possible when weather conditions are appropriate. When the runway is wet and wind speeds are upwind and above 5 knots this mode of operation is unavailable. Bureau of Meteorology statistics show that on average Brisbane has 120 days of rain annually, 76 of those days rainfall above 1mm was recorded. The majority of these days fall in the summer months from October to May. The mean number of rainy days is above 9 days per month. Further, although wind speeds are often calmer in the evening and night, wind measurements at the Brisbane Airport between 2003 and 2013 show that monthly average wind speeds exceed the 5 knots threshold.

11. Furthermore, the 2010 Senate report into the ‘Effectiveness of Airservices Australia’s Management of Aircraft Noise’ found even when preferred operating modes during night-time periods were formalised, there was little guarantee that the majority of flights could be operated over water or non-residential areas. It found that although well intentioned, targets were just that. And in the case of Sydney Airport these targets, contained within their Long Term Operating plan (LTOP) had not been met in the 13 years since their introduction. If residents affected by aircraft noise could not have confidence in the airports ability to deliver on these assurances, in the absence of other effective measures, any operating plan could be seen as merely a PR exercise.

12. Furthermore, the NPR will create new flight paths over the southside, most notably over Bulimba, Hawthorne, Balmoral, Norman Park, East Brisbane and parts of Coorparoo. The result of this will be to subject new communities to the impacts of aircraft noise. This, coupled with significant changes to the Brisbane City Plan which will increase the density in inner-suburban areas, will mean a significant increase in the number of those affected in the wider geographical area. This will also be evident in suburbs situated along growth corridors like Coorparoo and Camp Hill that already suffer significant levels of aircraft noise disturbance. Property values in these various suburbs are also likely to be affected by the NPR.

13. There have been a number of strategies employed to reduce the impacts of aircraft noise on residential populations. One measure committed to by the previous Federal Government in the recent Aviation White Paper was to phase out the use of aircraft that fail to meet Chapter 4 noise standards. However, there still remain some foreign owned, marginally compliant aircraft operating freight services which exceed acceptable noise emission standards. Further, although the most modern aircraft are generally quieter, the pressure to reduce the unit cost of air travel has seen the size of aircraft getting larger and there are an ever increasing number of aircraft movements each day.

14. It has been argued that the use of ‘Smart Tracking’ technology or Required Navigation Performance (RNP) has the potential to enable pilots to more accurately navigate preferred flight paths or undertake noise sharing. However the over-use of preferred flight paths, particularly during night-time operations, has the potential to merely concentrate noise emissions over certain areas.

15. Noise sharing is the strategy of spreading over-flight paths between different residential areas in order to more equitably distribute noise emissions and provide some respite from multiple noise events both day and night. Although this strategy has been used by other airports in Australia, by definition because there will be an ever increasing volume of aircraft over Brisbane and the problem of aircraft noise will spread to more suburbs and the overall quantum of noise will increase for each suburb. This has the potential to subject a greater proportion of the population to the health and wellbeing, environmental and property value impacts associated with aircraft noise.

16. Imposing a curfew on night-time operations may result in a modest economic cost but this must be tested objectively. Dramatic assertions by the airlines or the BAC that a curfew would undermine the financial viability and economic utility of the airport are designed for headline effect rather than careful analysis of the facts. Sydney Airport with a curfew is entirely viable. Furthermore, any financial and economic impact must be balanced against the social and economic costs associated with the negative impacts of continued exposure to aircraft noise. This is what a proper cost benefit analysis means. And this can only be calculated in the real life circumstances of a two year night-time curfew during which time operational circumstances cannot be manipulated to achieve a desired policy result. A two year trial therefore, is essential to test both sides of the argument.

Honourable Kevin Rudd MP

Federal Member for Griffith

This submission also references research from the British Medical Journal which can be accessed at and 

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Speech: Coorparoo Secondary College Awards Night

Thank you very much for that warm welcome. It’s wonderful to be back at Coorparoo Secondary College. I visited this campus, this school, this college, dozens and dozens of times over the last 15 years. This is a good college. This is a good college, and it is not just a good college, it is a first class Queensland secondary school. If you hear anyone say anything to the contrary, on my behalf just go tell them to jump in the lake. Or further.

I have been here to so many presentations over the years, and seen so many wonderful young people come through the doors of this college and stand on this stage, go on to achieve enormous things for themselves, their families and their communities. We should be proud of them and also doubly proud of the fact that our community here at this college has given them first class nurture here. The studies they have undertaken, and the sporting events in which they have participated, and the wonderful musical tradition of this school, its dramatic theatrical traditions, but also the cultivation of citizenship. This place really stands out. And for those of you who are parents at this school, for those of you who have been teaching here a long time, or for those of you who have just come, for those of you who are students here; be proud of Coorparoo Secondary College.

The second thing I would like to say is to pay tribute to Saint Margie Gamble. I don’t know if we believe in secular canonisation but you should be a candidate. When the chips were down, when we were threatened with effectively the closure of this college in terms of offering a complete secondary education and the loss of its culture over the last half century, people in this community stood up. But none more so than Margie Gamble the President of your P&C. Put your hands together for her. People like me may have made a few speeches here and there and become a general irritant in the political processes associated with this decision as it was taken. But frankly all that counted for nothing unless you the school community rose up as one, and you did. I was here for the meetings, I saw it. You stunned people by the fact that you cared, and you had leadership through your community that cared with you and were able to organise and take a message to the highest levels of government, that this college does not just have a 50 year past; it has a 50 year future. And when we celebrate the 100th anniversary of this college, when I’m 105, don’t worry I may have retired by then, we will look back at this as being a very important year 2013. The year that Coorparoo Secondary College was saved.

I’m here tonight to present foreign language awards. I asked my staff tonight as we drove here, “how many of these have I donated and awarded over the years”, to which the answer is, whoever receives this award tonight will be the recipient of the 967th Kevin Rudd Foreign Language Award across Brisbane’s Southside. I began it for a reason; I continue it for a reason. All of you good kids, and the teachers who support you here, will become citizens of the world. The world is becoming a smaller place, you’ve seen that, and the extraordinary collection of the human family represented by the students here this evening.  This is a great thing for Australia’s future. And the worlds future will not just be written in a single language called English, it will be written in many languages of the world, including those taught here. That’s why I’m proud to contribute this award. That’s why I’m proud to have contributed 963 of these awards, and book vouchers along with them, over the past 15 years. You know I’ve run into people in the United Nations in New York who say, you gave me a foreign language award when I was in grade 7 at such a such a school. Or I was in grade 10 I was in grade 12. That makes me happier than most things in public life.

Finally, to you the college community. I thank the P&C, I thank you the dedicated core of teaching professionals,  I thank you the parents for the love, care, kindness and attention and forbearance that you display towards kids growing up. Because my last one has just finished secondary school as well, I know what you've been through. And on top of that, you the young people of this college, go forth and have great confidence in the wonderful things that you can do for yourselves, your community and your country.   

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Statement from the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister

PRIME MINISTER: Let me make some remarks before I turn to the Deputy Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese.

In 2007 the Australian people elected me to be their Prime Minister.

That is a task that I resume today with humility, with honour and with an important sense of energy and purpose.

In recent years, politics has failed the Australian people. There has just been too much negativity all round. There’s been an erosion of trust. Negative destructive personal politics has done much to bring dishonour to our parliament but done nothing to address the urgent challenges facing our country, our communities, our families. In fact it’s been holding our country back.

And all this must stop, and with all my heart that is the purpose that I intend to pursue as Prime Minister.

I want to pause to acknowledge the achievements of my predecessor, Julia Gillard. She is a woman of extraordinary intelligence, of great strength and great energy. All of you here in the National Press Gallery and across the nation would recognise those formidable attributes in her and I know them having worked with her closely for some years. Also Julia, as Prime Minister, and prior to that Deputy Prime Minister has achieved much under the difficult circumstances of minority government.

And in doing so she has been helped by a group of dedicated Ministers and Members of Parliament whose contribution I also wish to acknowledge.

In Julia’s case let me say this, if it were not for Julia we would not have the Fair Work Act. If it were not for Julia, we would not have a national scheme which ensures that the literacy and numeracy performance of Australian schools is tested regularly and that interventions occur to lift those students who are doing poorly. She has been a remarkable reformer and I acknowledge those contributions again formally this evening.

I also wish to acknowledge the contribution of the Deputy Prime Minister, as he has been, Wayne Swan, with whom I have also worked intimately, in fact over several years. Working in the trenches, day in, day out, night in, night out. Here in Canberra, working together to prevent this country from rolling into global economic recession and avoiding mass unemployment.

So, Wayne, whatever our differences have been, I acknowledge your contribution here as part of that team which kept us out of a global catastrophe.

The question many of you will be understandably asking is why I am taking on this challenge.

For me it’s pretty basic, it's pretty clear. I simply do not have it in my nature to stand idly by and to allow an Abbot government to come to power in this country by default.

I have known Mr Abbott for 15 years, since I was elected to this place the first time. I recognise his strengths. I also recognise, however, that Mr Abbott is a man steeped in the power of negative politics, and he’s formidable at negative politics. But I see no evidence of a real positive plan for our country’s future. I also passionately believe that the Australian people want all of us engaged in the national political life to work together, to come together whenever that is possible, and I see my role as Prime Minister in forging consensus wherever I am. Identifying our differences where they do in fact exist and without reverting to personal vitriol. That just diminished and demeans us all. We can do better than that. We can all do better than that.

You know, Australia is a great country. Having seen a few others in the world in my time, this is a fantastic place. We owe much to those who have come before us and we owe much to those who will come after us to ensure that what we have inherited is improved upon and not degraded. But you know something, we have a great future but that future is not guaranteed. As I’ve said once before, here in Australia we’ve got to make our own luck and we can. We’re good at it and if we work at it we can actually bring our future home securely.

In recent times, I’ve been thinking a lot about the state of the global economy. There are a lot of bad things happening out there. The global economy is still experiencing the slowest of recoveries. The China resources boom is over. China itself, domestically shows signs of recovery and when China represents such a large slice of our own economy, our jobs and our own opportunities for raising our living standards. The time has come for us to adjust to the new challenges. New challenges in productivity. New challenges also in the diversification of our economy. New opportunities for what we do with processed foods and agriculture, in the services sector and also in manufacturing.

I’ve never changed my script or my belief. I never want to be Prime Minister of a country that doesn’t make things anymore. There’s a big future for Australian manufacturing under this Government.

Looking at our global economic circumstances, therefore, we have tough decisions ahead on the future of our economy. This means having a government that looks at growing the size of our economic pie as well as how it is distributed. And let me say this to Australian business: I want to work closely with you. I’ve worked with you closely in the past, particularly during the GFC and there were some white knuckle moments there as some of the heads of the major banks will remember. But we came through because we worked together and I’m saying it loud and clear to businesses large and small across the country, that in partnership we can do great things for the country’s future.

And for the Australians that depend on the success of your businesses to have a job, to have decent living standards and opportunities. Business is a group that this Government will work with very closely. What I want to see here in Canberra is for business and Labor to work together I don’t want to see things that drive business and Labor apart. We’ve been natural partners in the past and we can be again in the future. I intend to lead a Government that brings people together and gets the best out of them.

Before I conclude, let me say a word or two to young Australians. It’s clear that many of you, in fact far too many of you, have looked at our political system and the parliament in recent years and not liked or respected much of what you have seen. In fact as I rock around the place, talking to my own kids, they see it as a huge national turn off. Well I understand why you have switched off. It’s hardly a surprise but I want to ask you to please come back and listen afresh. It’s really important that we get you engaged, in any way we can. We need you. We need your energy. We need your ideas. We need your enthusiasm and we need you to support us in the great challenges that lie ahead for the country. With your energy, we can start cooking with gas.

The challenges are great but if we’re positive and if we come together as a nation we can overcome each and every one of them.

Now, ladies and gentlemen, it is my great pleasure to introduce you to the Deputy Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese. Deputy Prime Minister Albo and I am delighted that the caucus elected him today and I congratulate him on his new appointment.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: I want to thank Kevin for his support.  I do want to thank the party for the great honour of electing me this evening to be the Deputy Leader of the Labor Party.  It says a great thing about our nation that the son of a parent who grew up in a council house in Sydney could be Deputy Prime Minister.

Labor is about opportunity for all; removing discrimination across the board – race, gender, ethnicity, religion.  It's about creating fairness, supporting the economy but also making sure the benefits of economic growth are spread. 

It’s a big job. It'll do it as I have since 1996 with enthusiasm, passion and commitment. I’ll give my all for Labor. Not because it's an end in itself but because it is only Labor that can truly serve the long term interests of Australia. 

The reason I was attracted to infrastructure portfolio was because I believe Labor is concerned about the long term, compared to the short term of the Opposition. Labor believes government can play a positive role in people's lives. Abbott believes if government gets out of the way everything will sort itself out. I believe in terms of working with Kevin that together with the team, we can do great things for the nation and I believe we have this evening maximised our chances of going into a third term and beyond of a Labor government.

Because it’s only long term Labor governments that can get the big reforms done. I want to conclude by saying this has been really tough days for the Labor Party. Julia and Wayne have been people I've worked with on daily, hourly and weekly basis, and they are also close friends. I pay tribute to both of them and their achievements over the entire period of government and prior to that, that we were able to form government in 2008.

We won’t be found wanting in days, weeks and months ahead up until the federal election. We’ll be out there advocating the cause every day, looking for a new energy, a resurgence of energy in the Labor cause because this a fight worth having to ensure a long term Labor Government compared to the negativity that Abbott represents.

PRIME MINISTER: Just as we go, colleagues, can I just say this: this evening we’ve been briefed by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet on the immediate challenges which lie ahead. We will begin briefings as appropriate in the next several days on the budget and the economic outlook, and a range of other international matters that lie before us. We will await the Governor-General on that matter but what I would say to you is that we have a formidably busy day tomorrow. There’s a few things on. We will certainly speak with you collectively again very soon. In the meantime, we have got to go and do other work.