ACT Labor campaign launch

17 September 2016

Thank you all for being here today – candidates, family and friends, members and supporters, men and women of the labour movement – for your passion and your determination to see the re‑election of an ACT Labor Government.

Why we love Canberra

On the eve of this city-defining election, it is a privilege to stand before you today as ACT Labor leader and Chief Minister of our great Territory.

From the first Ngunnawal people who called this place home, through the birth of a national capital, to the mature and confident city of today, Canberra people have built a life here: in our suburbs and schools, in the public service and business, in our universities and national institutions.

We are proud to call Canberra our home.

For 40 years I have lived and breathed this city. I am tremendously grateful for the opportunities Canberra and its people have given me.

I am here because of the support and love of my family, and partner Anthony. 

I’ve seen this city grow up and I am proud of what Canberra has become.

Nothing that we love about Canberra happened by accident – it’s because good Labor governments have made good decisions. 

And I am determined to lead Labor to victory so we can make it even better.

This election will define our city, now and for years to come.

It is not just a choice between two different governments for our city.

This election is a choice between two different ways of thinking about our city.

It is a choice between a progressive, experienced, confident government; or an inexperienced party, with out-dated ideas, who could only take Canberra backwards.

Canberra can continue to grow as a forward-looking, confident and engaged international city; or retreat to a conservative, inward-looking, provincial town. 

Over the years, Canberrans have chosen Labor Governments to help them reach their potential, to support their lives and choices, and to back them in.

But I have never believed that Canberra is a Labor city.

What I DO believe is that Labor is a Canberra Party.

I know our party and I know my colleagues, and I know we all love Canberra: our inclusive and welcoming community, our natural spaces and bushlands. We want to keep the city we love, and build a positive new future.

The Choice for Canberra


This election will be about four fundamental issues: a strong health system; schools that help our children reach their true potential; creating and supporting secure and well-paid jobs; and delivering the infrastructure a growing city needs.

Only Labor will properly fund a health system that gives you care when you need it, not when you can pay.

We are the only party that plans and funds the healthcare needs of our growing community; the only party with a 10 year plan for health that will deliver essential facilities where people need them, including:

  • A major expansion of women’s and children’s services
  • A new general hospital in Woden and a teaching hospital at the University of Canberra
    • New walk-in health centres in Weston Creek and Gungahlin, based on the successful centres in Belconnen and Tuggeranong; and
    • More bulk-billing GP clinics in our Southside.

Real investment in real hospitals and health services, delivering the best care across Canberra, for everyone.

Labor is the party of education for life.

Only Labor will ensure every Canberra child has the opportunity to achieve their best possible future – a future determined by realising their potential, not by their postcode or parents’ salaries.

A re-elected Labor Government will deliver:

  • A further $100 million to revitalise our schools and ensure high quality learning environments.
  • The latest technology – new equipment for every public student from year 7 on – so that no child misses out because their parents can’t afford it.
  • Supportive learning environments and 20 psychologists to work across the school system.
  • Canberra schools will also continue to be Safe Schools
  • We will ensure the CIT remains the primary provider of high-quality vocational education.
  • And I guarantee every Labor MLA will continue to fight for the full implementation of the Gonski needs-based funding model.

This must be a city where our young people get the skills they need, to get good jobs and build fulfilling careers. That is exactly what a re‑elected Labor Government will deliver.

Labor is the party of creating and protecting jobs; the party of strong wages and better conditions.

I am proud that ACT Labor has defended Canberra workers and the local economy from the Federal Liberal Government’s harsh cuts over the last three years.

We have worked hard to create and defend local jobs.

Because we know that every sacked worker is a person, not a number on a Finance Department balance sheet.

For a long time we’ve known Canberra can’t just rely on the federal public sector. Now we face up to three more years of dysfunctional Federal Liberal rule.

That’s why we are strengthening and diversifying our economy:

  • Using the skills and ideas of entrepreneurs, researchers and policy makers to develop new industries
  • Creating job opportunities through the arrival of direct international flights
  • And helping local people and businesses compete, and win, in a global economy – not by being cheaper, but by being better.

And it’s working: we have the fastest growing economy, the fastest growth in service exports, and the strongest jobs growth, in the country. Our tourism market is booming like never before.

But there can be no proper plan for jobs without a plan for infrastructure.

We are building the infrastructure now that will keep Canberra such a great place to live. More than five thousand new people join us every year. That’s two suburbs of new people each and every year.

We don’t want the traffic gridlock that makes people’s lives so difficult in Melbourne and Sydney.

We simply must build an integrated transport network and provide Canberrans with better transport.

That means boosting our bus services, road network and bike paths, and building light rail from Gungahlin through the City and Parliamentary Triangle to Woden, to have a true north-south spine joining our city together.

We understand that it makes economic, as well as environmental sense, to deliver our 100% renewable energy target by 2020.

And we support Canberra arts – artists, performers, writers and musicians – because we know a strong local arts scene is a vital component of Canberra’s cultural life and economy.

The alternative

With so much at stake – for our health system, our childrens’ education, and our economy – Canberra just cannot risk the untested and unknown.

And Canberra cannot afford the extreme social conservatism and economic lunacy of the Canberra Liberals.

As much as they try to conceal it – the Canberra Liberals are the most socially conservative branch in the country.

From women’s choice, to the republic, to marriage equality, to cutting penalty rates for low-paid workers– the local Liberals want to take this community backwards.

We know what Liberals who hold these views look like: Abbott, Abetz, Bernardi, Dutton and Andrews. Their Canberra cronies would be just as bad.

They are out of touch with Canberra’s values – and out of touch with what our city requires.

Their only solution, the fallback for Liberals every time and in every jurisdiction?

Sacking frontline public sector workers. That’s what they do, because their ideology is small government, whatever the cost to the community. 

To the candidates

Today I have outlined Labor’s priorities – but it is a statement of values I do not make alone.

I want to thank our team of candidates, and all those supporting them, for putting yourselves forward for the Labor party and our community.

I am so proud of your work, your passion and your dedication.

Grass roots campaigning, knocking on doors and staffing stalls is rewarding – but hard work.

At times, the Light on the Hill can seem distant.

But you are writing your own chapter in a proud Labor history that stretches back over 125 years, to when those first brave men and women stood up for their fellow workers in this great country.

And today you are part of the strongest Labor team ever standing at a Territory election.

As part of a united Labor team, you will keep Canberra the most progressive, the most inclusive, and the strongest jurisdiction in this country. 



I launch ACT Labor’s campaign today with optimism and determination.

We know what is at stake.

Only a re-elected Labor Government will provide the certainty, the forward planning, and the values that will keep our growing city great.

We will work hard together over coming weeks.

And through our hard work we will win this election.

And we will govern for all Canberrans – for Canberrans’ health, education and jobs – to keep the city we love, and make it even better.

Thank you.