Speech by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Introduction of Chapter 9, A fair go for all Australians, ALP National Conference 2011

Location: Darling Harbour Convention Centre, Sydney

E & OE – Proof only

Thank you, Madam President, and can I congratulate you on your election. [Jenny McAllister, National President]

Delegates, it gives me great pleasure to introduce Chapter 9 – A Fair Go for All Australians to this National Conference for debate.

This chapter speaks to who we are as members of the Australian Labor Party.

It speaks to our compassion for our fellow Australians, particularly those most in need.

And it speaks to our passion for making a difference — making sure that all Australians, wherever they live and wherever they come from, have the opportunity of a good life.

The Labor Party is the architect of the modern Australian nation.

A living wage. The age pension. Medicare. Compulsory superannuation.

We have built the foundations for fairness in Australia.

Labor is about having strong values and big ideals – but we are about more than that.

We are about turning those values, those words, into action.

Labor hears the voices of the voiceless, and we hear the conversations over kitchen tables and in lunch rooms.

We hear the worries – and the hopes – of ordinary Australians, and their families, who want something more for themselves and for their children.

Labor stands up for these people – our work is to give a voice to the voiceless, to stand up for the working families of this country, and to make a difference for them.

We turn these whispers into roars – and into action.

The chapter we will debate this morning is about how we as Labor take the nation’s kitchen table conversations, and the needs of the most disadvantaged, into our nation’s Parliament.

It’s about fairness – but it’s also about how we make a fair society a reality.

Because the question for Labor is:

How do we make a difference?

How do we use the power of government to make peoples lives better?

For decades, families worried how they would manage the family budget when taking time off work to care for a new baby.

For thirty years, the union movement and the women’s movement took these concerns from kitchen tables to the national debate.

It took the Australian Labor Party to take those concerns and turn them into action.

This year, after many years of campaigning, we have delivered Australia’s first, national Paid Parental Leave scheme.

More than 100,000 Australian families have benefited from Paid Parental Leave in its first year.

More than 100,000 new babies will benefit from spending those precious first few months with mum or dad – they’ll get the best start in life.

Paid Parental Leave is an entitlement earned by the working men and women of this country, and by their advocates in the women’s and labour movements.

And one delivered by this Labor Government.

We in the Labor Party understand that “how” is the hardest question.

Because while others may make beautiful speeches, or argue why we can’t – Labor looks to how we can.

Delegates, this Chapter asks us to confront, and to deliver on, some very big questions.

Questions that go to the heart of creating a fairer nation.


Of marriage equality;

Of how we treat those who seek asylum on our shores;

Of our work to see Indigenous Australians – the First Australians – recognised in our nation’s constitution, and to see the gap closed, and

Of our work to build a National Disability Insurance Scheme to deliver the care and support we want to see for people with disability and their carers.

As always our debates will be robust. They will be compassionate, and they will be passionate.

But delegates, make them also about how.

How do we, as Labor, make the difference we want to see for Australia, and for Australians.

Delegates, I commend the Chapter to you.