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Labor: the heart of the country: address [to] NSW Labor Party Conference, 11 November 2000



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Labor - The Heart Of The Country Simon Crean - Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Treasurer

Address - NSW Labor Party Country Conference, Coffs Harbour - 11 November 2000

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I NEED NOT REMIND YOU THAT TODAY IS AN IMPORTANT DAY ON THE AUSTRALIAN CALENDAR - REMEMBRANCE DAY.

TODAY IS SET ASIDE AS A DAY TO REMEMBER THE SACRIFICES OF THOSE WHO HAVE DIED FOR AUSTRALIA IN WARS AND CONFLICTS.

IT IS FITTING THAT THIS CONFERENCE PAUSE IN REMEMBRANCE.

TODAY IS ALSO THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF AN EVENT THAT STANDS OUT IN THE HISTORY OF OUR GREAT PARTY.

TWENTY FIVE YEARS AGO TODAY THE WHITLAM GOVERNMENT WAS DISMISSED.

WHILE WE MAY CONDEMN THE ACTIONS LEADING TO THAT DISMISSAL -AND THOSE THAT PERPETRATED IT - WE STILL CELEBRATE THE ACHIEVEMENTS AND THE LEGACY OF GOUGH WHITLAM AND HIS GOVERNMENT.

THE DISMISSAL DIDN'T DETER US. WE STRUCK BACK WITH THE HAWKE/KEATING GOVERNMENTS AND AUSTRALIA WAS THE BETTER FOR IT.

IT'S TIME AUSTRALIA HAD ANOTHER GOVERNMENT WITH VISION AND A COMMITMENT TO EQUITY AND FAIRNESS IN OUR COMMUNITY.

ANOTHER LABOR GOVERNMENT. MORE ON THAT A BIT LATER.

IT IS A GREAT PLEASURE TO ADDRESS THE NSW LABOR COUNTRY CONFERENCE HERE IN COFFS HARBOUR - MY SECOND TRIP UP HERE THIS YEAR. LIKE MACARTHUR, I DO RETURN.

I HAVE BEEN SPENDING A LOT OF TIME IN COUNTRY AUSTRALIA.

TAMWORTH, ROCKHAMPTON, EUROA, GRAFTON, BEECHWORTH, COOBER PEDY, BENDIGO, BALLARAT, CASTLEMAINE, CABOOLTURE, MALENY, GYMPIE, GOULBURN, LAUNCESTON, AND I'M OFF TO KALGOORLIE IN A COUPLE OF WEEKS.

I HAVE INDEED BEEN EVERYWHERE, MAN. AND THAT'S JUST IN THE LAST SIX MONTHS OR SO.

THE SAME CANNOT BE SAID OF PETER COSTELLO.

IN FACT, SOMEONE ASKED PETER COSTELLO THE OTHER DAY WHEN HE WAS GOING TO VISIT THE COUNTRY, AND HE REPLIED 'WHICH ONE'.

I CHECKED HIS TRAVEL DIARY.

BETWEEN THE 1996 ELECTION AND THE END OF 1999, HE SPENT JUST TEN NIGHTS IN REGIONAL AUSTRALIA.

BY MY CALCULATIONS, THAT'S TEN NIGHTS OUT OF MORE THAN 1300 - LESS THAN 1% OF HIS TIME IN THE REGIONS. THIS BLOKE'S LESS PRODUCTIVE THAN PETER REITH.

FOUR NIGHTS IN CAIRNS - FOR THE SOUTH PACIFIC FORUM.

TWO NIGHTS IN TOWNSVILLE.

ONE NIGHT IN COOLANGATTA.

ONE NIGHT IN MAROOCHYDORE.

AND TWO NIGHTS IN THREDBO - FOR A COALITION 'RETREAT'.

HARDLY A SWEEP OF THE REGIONS. THOUGH HE DID GET A NICE TAN.

AND IT'S LITTLE WONDER HE STAYS AWAY.

HE WANTS TO SELL OFF TELSTRA, CUT YOUR WAGES, CLOSE YOUR BANKS, SHIFT YOUR SERVICES ELSEWHERE, MOVE YOUR JOBS TO THE CITY, KEEP PETROL PRICES HIGH, AND MAKE YOU PAY MORE FOR EVERYTHING WITH HIS GST.

HOWEVER, I WAS INTERESTED TO HEAR THAT JOHN ANDERSON IS TAKING THE TREASURER OUT TO WALGETT LATER THIS MONTH.

THAT'LL BE GOOD - 'THE BROTHERS GRIM' GO BUSH.

WHAT'S WALGETT DONE TO DESERVE THIS?

AS THEY FLY TO WALGETT OVER THE TOWNS AND VILLAGES AND FARMS THAT THEIR GOVERNMENT HAS FORGOTTEN, THEY MIGHT LIKE TO THINK ABOUT JOHN HOWARD'S NYNGAN DECLARATION.

YOU KNOW, THE PRIME MINISTER'S PERSONAL PLEDGE TO MAINTAIN SERVICES IN THE BUSH, WHATEVER THE COST.

THE 'RED LIGHT' FLASHING IN THE PRIME MINISTER'S OFFICE EVERY TIME THERE'S A THREAT TO SERVICES IN THE BUSH.

WELL, SOMEONE MUST HAVE TAKEN THE BULB OUT. OR, MORE LIKELY, JOHN HOWARD JUST DOESN'T WANT TO KNOW.

THE RED LIGHT MAY NOT BE WORKING, BUT THE LIGHT ON THE HILL IS STILL THERE FOR COUNTRY AUSTRALIANS.

I WANT TO PAY TRIBUTE TO COUNTRY LABOR. WHAT A GREAT JOB THEY HAVE DONE.

THEY HAVE RE-CONNECTED LABOR WITH COUNTRY VOTERS. THEY HAVE GIVEN COUNTRY PEOPLE IN NSW A REAL ALTERNATIVE, A REASON TO VOTE LABOR.

AND IT'S NOT JUST THE NAME. IT'S THE PEOPLE, THE POLICIES, AND THE HARD WORK ON THE GROUND.

IN QUEENSLAND, VICTORIA AND TASMANIA LABOR HAS DELIVERED ON ITS PROMISES TO RURAL AND REGIONAL AUSTRALIA.

THEY ARE NOW ALL IN GOVERNMENT. WE'LL BE THERE FEDERALLY SOON.

LABOR'S VISION FOR GOVERNING IN AUSTRALIA IS ONE WHERE ALL LEVELS OF GOVERNMENT WORK IN PARTNERSHIP WITH EACH OTHER AND WITH LOCAL COMMUNITIES TO ACHIEVE THE GOALS OF THE COMMUNITY.

LOCAL COMMUNITIES NEED TO BE EMPOWERED, TO DETERMINE THEIR OWN AGENDAS FOR GROWTH AND TO WORK TO BRING THOSE AGENDAS TO REALITY.

A "TOP-DOWN" APPROACH TO GOVERNING SIMPLY WON'T DELIVER THE BEST OUTCOMES FOR THE COUNTRY.

IT IS VITAL THAT LOCAL REGIONS HAVE LEADERS PREPARED TO ARTICULATE THEIR VISIONS FOR DEVELOPMENT.

AND THIS IS THE CHALLENGE FOR ALL OF YOU IN THIS ROOM. AS A PART OF THE LABOUR MOVEMENT, IT IS IMPORTANT FOR YOU TO BE PART OF THE ACTION, IF YOU LIKE, IN YOUR AREA, YOUR REGION.

IT IS YOUR JOB TO IDENTIFY THE AREAS OF GREATEST NEED IN YOUR COMMUNITY - BE IT AGED CARE, CHILD CARE, DOCTORS, SCHOOLS, ROADS, TRAINING, THE TELEPHONE, THE INTERNET, WHATEVER - AND MAKE SURE THE LABOR PARTY PLATFORM ADDRESSES THEM.

GET THE MESSAGE UP THE CHAIN - LOCAL TO STATE TO FEDERAL. A CO-OPERATIVE APPROACH.

IT WOULD BE AN IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENT AT THIS TIME IN OUR HISTORY.

THE POLICY DIVIDE IN AUSTRALIAN POLITICS IS NOW VERY WIDE INDEED.

THE HOWARD GOVERNMENT'S BROKEN PROMISES AND FAILURES ARE MANY.

TAKE A LOOK AT TAX - THE GST.

TAKE A LOOK AT PETROL PRICES.

TAKE A LOOK AT WHAT THEY WANT TO DO WITH TELSTRA AND AUSTRALIA POST AND THE ABC.

TAKE A LOOK AT THEIR INACTION ON THE BIG BANKS - AS BRANCHES CLOSE, JOBS ARE LOST, SERVICES DISAPPEAR AND FEES GO THROUGH THE ROOF.

TAKE A LOOK AT EDUCATION - WHAT THEY ARE DOING TO OUR SCHOOLS, OUR KIDS' EDUCATION.

AND TAKE A LOOK AT HEALTH WHERE THEY POUR MILLIONS INTO PRIVATE HEALTH AND DO NOTHING TO HELP OUR PUBLIC HOSPITALS.

AND THERE ARE STARK DIFFERENCES IN OUR VIEWS ON INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS, THE REPUBLIC AND RECONCILIATION.

YOU'LL BE PLEASED TO KNOW THAT WE DO SHARE A CONCERN WITH THE GOVERNMENT ON THE ISSUE OF SALINITY.

BUT LET'S TAKE THESE ISSUES ONE BY ONE.

LET'S LOOK AT WHERE THE GOVERNMENT IS FAILING HARD-WORKING AUSTRALIANS.

AND LET ME TELL YOU HOW LABOR WILL UNITE AUSTRALIANS AND PUT SOME HOPE AND OPTIMISM AND COMPASSION BACK INTO OUR COMMUNITIES.

TAX-GST

THE GOVERNMENT LIKES TO THINK THAT TAX IS AN ISSUE THAT WINS THEM VOTES.

THEY ARE WRONG.

THE GST HITS LOW-INCOME EARNERS THE HARDEST.

AND REMEMBER - BECAUSE PRICES ARE HIGHER IN THE COUNTRY, COUNTRY PEOPLE PAY MORE GST.

LABOR WILL MAKE IT FAIRER - BASED ON OUR ASSESSMENT OF WHERE IT IS HURTING THE MOST AND THE STATE OF THE BUDGET.

IT'S NOT ONLY FEDERAL LABOR SAYING IT.

FOR EXAMPLE THE BLAIR GOVERNMENT CUT THE VAT ON HEATING OIL WHEN THEY CAME TO POWER. THEY HELPED LOW-INCOME PEOPLE IMMEDIATELY.

WE TOO WILL HELP LOW-INCOME FAMILIES…AND WE WILL HELP SMALL BUSINESS.

THE GST IS A COMPLEX TAX. IT AFFECTS BUSINESS PROFITABILITY. THEREFORE, IT AFFECTS BUSINESS VIABILITY.

LABOR ARGUES THAT THERE HAS TO BE A SIMPLER WAY FOR SMALL BUSINESS TO COLLECT THE GST. LESS RED TAPE. LESS STRESS. MORE TIME

TO GET ON WITH RUNNING THE BUSINESS.

AND I SEE JUST THIS WEEK THAT TONY BLAIR ANNOUNCED A SERIES OF SIMPLIFICATION MEASURES FOR SMALL BUSINESS.

BLAIR'S APPROACH MATCHES LABOR'S IN AUSTRALIA - MAKE IT FAIRER, MAKE IT SIMPLER.

WE NEED TO DO IT. WE CAN DO IT. LABOR WILL DO IT.

PETROL

COUNTRY PEOPLE ARE PAYING MORE FOR PETROL BECAUSE OF THE GST.

THERE IS NO BETTER EXAMPLE OF THE GOVERNMENT'S GST DECEIT THAN THE PRICE OF PETROL.

JOHN HOWARD BROKE HIS ELECTION PROMISE ON PETROL.

HE SAID 'THE GST WILL NOT INCREASE THE PRICE OF PETROL FOR THE ORDINARY MOTORIST'.

WHERE'S THE RED LIGHT ON THIS ONE?

PETROL PRICES IN REGIONAL AUSTRALIA ARE OUTRAGEOUSLY HIGH - $1.05 A LITRE, $1.10 A LITRE, AND REPORTS OF $1.55 A LITRE IN RABBIT FLAT UP IN THE NORTHERN TERRITORY.

EVEN HERE IN COFFS HARBOUR MOTORISTS ARE PAYING ALMOST A CENT A LITRE MORE TAX TO JOHN HOWARD THAN THOSE FILLING UP AT NEUTRAL BAY IN SYDNEY.

AND THEY ARE PAYING 3.2 CENTS A LITRE MORE TAX THAN THEY WERE BEFORE THE GST.

COUNTRY ROADS WILL TAKE YOU HOME - BUT ONLY IF YOU CAN AFFORD IT.

WE GAVE THE GOVERNMENT A CHANCE TO GIVE SOME RELIEF TO MOTORISTS ON PETROL PRICES THIS WEEK.

I MOVED AN AMENDMENT TO SOME TAX LEGISLATION THAT WOULD HAVE REMOVED THE EFFECT OF THE GST FROM THE FUEL EXCISE INDEXATION ADJUSTMENT IN FEBRUARY 2001.

A SAVING OF UP TO TWO CENTS A LITRE BY REMOVING THE GST SPIKE ON PETROL.

BUT THE GOVERNMENT VOTED IT DOWN.

THE NSW NATIONALS VOTED IT DOWN. SO DID THE QUEENSLAND NATIONALS.

THE NATIONALS MAKE NOISES IN THEIR ELECTORATES ABOUT PETROL PRICES, BUT THEY ARE SILENT IN CANBERRA.

HEROES AT HOME, COWARDS IN CANBERRA.

WE CALLED FOR AN INQUIRY INTO FUEL PRICES. THE GOVERNMENT KNOCKED IT BACK. THE DEMOCRATS KNOCKED IT BACK.

SO WE SET UP OUR OWN INQUIRY.

IT HAS ALREADY STARTED ITS WORK AND WILL BE TRAVELLING AROUND THE COUNTRY HEARING SUBMISSIONS. NOT JUST PETROL, BUT DIESEL, LPG AND OTHER FUELS.

THE NFF FRONTED THE INQUIRY ON THURSDAY AND THEY ARE NOT HAPPY WITH FUEL PRICES. NOBODY IS.

WE WANT TO ESTABLISH THE EXTENT OF JOHN HOWARD'S GST WINDFALL FROM PETROL.

AND WE WANT TO FIND OUT FROM THE COMMUNITY HOW BEST TO RETURN WINDFALL TO MOTORISTS.

WHAT'S CLEAR IS THAT AUSTRALIAN MOTORISTS ARE BEING RIPPED OFF.

WITH PETROL, WE KNOW IT IS THE GOVERNMENT RIPPING THEM OFF. WHAT'S LESS CLEAR SO FAR IS THE REAL POSITION ON DIESEL AND LPG.

LABOR'S FUEL INQUIRY WILL FIND OUT.

I NOTE THAT THIS WEEK TONY BLAIR HAS PUT A FREEZE ON FUEL EXCISE.

BLAIR LISTENED TO THE CONCERNS OF MOTORISTS. JOHN HOWARD WON'T.

SO, MY ADVICE TO COUNTRY MOTORISTS IS KEEP UP WITH YOUR PROTEST. JOHN HOWARD WILL HAVE TO LISTEN EVENTUALLY.

PETROL IN ITS OWN RIGHT IS A HUGE ISSUE. IT - LIKE THE TREATMENT OF PENSIONERS - GRAPHICALLY BRINGS HOME THE DECEIT OF THE HOWARD GOVERNMENT IN RELATION TO THE GST.

HONEST JOHN, INDEED.

NOT ONLY IS HE OUT OF TOUCH.

NOT ONLY IS HE FOR THE BIG END OF TOWN.

BUT YOU JUST CAN'T TRUST HIM.

TELSTRA, AUSTRALIA POST AND THE ABC

THE HOWARD GOVERNMENT LIKES ATTACKING OUR INSTITUTIONS.

AND THERE ARE THREE ICONS OF COUNTRY AUSTRALIA THAT THE HOWARD GOVERNMENT PARTICULARLY LIKES GETTING STUCK INTO.

THEY ARE AT THE HEART OF COMMUNICATION, JOBS AND TRADITION ACROSS THE NATION.

THEY REFLECT THE AUSTRALIAN WAY OF LIFE ACROSS GENERATIONS.

I'M TALKING ABOUT TELSTRA, AUSTRALIA POST AND THE ABC.

WHAT DOES THE GOVERNMENT WANT TO DO?

THEY WANT TO SELL OFF THE REST OF TELSTRA.

THEY WANT TO FURTHER DEREGULATE THE POSTAL SECTOR.

AND THEY WANT TO CUT THE ABC TO THE BONE.

LABOR WILL NOT ALLOW ANY FURTHER PRIVATISATION OF TELSTRA, EITHER IN TERMS OF THE TOTAL COMPANY OR IN TERMS OF PRIVATISATION BY STEALTH - BIT BY BIT.

WE WILL NOT ALLOW PEOPLE IN RURAL AND REGIONAL AUSTRALIA TO BE FURTHER DISADVANTAGED BY A PROFIT-DRIVEN TELSTRA.

COMMUNITY SERVICE OBLIGATIONS WILL BE ENFORCED.

LABOR WILL OPPOSE FURTHER DEREGULATION OF OUR POSTAL SECTOR.

LABOR'S PLAN IS TO SEE AUSTRALIA POST PLAY A CENTRAL ROLE IN THE DELIVERY OF SERVICES, INCLUDING EMERGING DIGITAL DATA SERVICES, PARTICULARLY TO RURAL AND REGIONAL AUSTRALIA.

AND WE WON'T ALLOW THE ABC - AND ITS DISTINCTIVE PROGRAMMING - TO BE CONSIGNED TO HISTORY.

FROM BLUE HILLS TO BELLBIRD TO SEACHANGE, THE ESSENCE OF COUNTRY AUSTRALIA HAS BEEN BROADCAST AROUND THE COUNTRY AND TO THE WORLD.

QUALITY NEWS SERVICES AND COMMENTARY ARE A FEATURE OF THE ABC.

SPECIALISED PROGRAMS LIKE LANDLINE, THE COUNTRY HOUR, AND AUSTRALIA ALL OVER ARE ESSENTIAL SERVICES FOR COUNTRY PEOPLE -NOT THINGS TO BE WRITTEN OFF BY THE BEAN COUNTERS.

LABOR WILL DEFEND THE ABC.

BANKS

WE WILL ENCOURAGE CHANGES, HOWEVER, IN ANOTHER INSTITUTION - THE BANKS.

BETWEEN THEM, THE BIG FOUR BANKS MADE MORE THAN $9 BILLION IN PROFITS IN THE LAST YEAR.

AT THE SAME TIME, THEY ARE CLOSING BRANCHES AND INCREASING FEES AND CHARGES.

NOT GOOD NEWS FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT A BASIC SERVICE FROM THE BANKS - SOMEWHERE TO PUT THEIR MONEY.

COUNTRY AUSTRALIA HAS BEEN HIT HARDEST BY THE NEW ATTITUDES OF THE BIG BANKS.

THERE WAS A TIME WHEN THERE WAS A STRING OF BANKS ALONG THE MAIN STREETS OF COUNTRY TOWNS. THEY ARE EMPTY SHELLS NOW.

KIDS WOULD LEAVE SCHOOL TO START A CAREER IN THE BANK. THAT CAREER PATH IS LIMITED THESE DAYS.

AND THERE WAS A TIME WHEN LITTLE ACCOUNTS - LIKE FIRST ACCOUNTS FOR THE KIDS - USED TO EARN A BIT OF INTEREST.

FEES EAT LITTLE ACCOUNTS THESE DAYS.

THOSE DAYS WON'T COME BACK WITH THE BANKS, BUT LABOR WANTS TO SEE SOME UP-FRONT COMMITMENT TO THEIR COMMUNITY OBLIGATIONS.

LABOR IS PROPOSING A SOCIAL CHARTER FOR THE BANKS.

WE WANT THE BANKS TO SIT DOWN WITH GOVERNMENT TO DEVELOP A SOCIAL CHARTER - ONE THAT INVOLVES COMMUNITIES - AND DEVELOP A COMMITMENT, A SET OF RESPONSIBILITIES TO THEIR COMMUNITIES, NOT JUST THEIR SHAREHOLDERS.

LABOR WOULD LIKE TO SEE THINGS LIKE FEE-FREE ACCOUNTS FOR PENSIONERS.

INCENTIVE ACCOUNTS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE.

FULL DISCLOSURE OF BANK FEES AND CHARGES TO CUSTOMERS.

THINGS THE BANKS USED TO DO.

NOT EVERYONE IS INTO OR CAPABLE OF INTERNET OR PHONE BANKING. A LOT OF PEOPLE LIKE THE OLD WAY. THE FRIENDLY WAY.

EDUCATION

ONE OF THE REALLY BIG CHALLENGES IS EDUCATION.

THE CONTRASTING APPROACHES TO EDUCATION ARE STARK.

LABOR IS CHAMPIONING THE KNOWLEDGE NATION.

EDUCATION MINISTER, DAVID KEMP, IS THREATENING TO WITHHOLD FUNDS TO THE STATES IF THEY WON'T LET HIM ATTEND THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF SCHOOL TOILET BLOCKS.

LABOR WILL INTRODUCE EDUCATION PRIORITY ZONES TO PUT EXTRA MONEY INTO SCHOOLS THAT NEED IT.

BETTER FUNDING FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS, BETTER RESOURCES FOR COUNTRY SCHOOLS.

WE WANT TO KEEP SCHOOLS IN COMMUNITIES SO EDUCATION REMAINS

ACCESSIBLE TO ALL.

MEANWHILE, THE HOWARD GOVERNMENT IS GIVING THE BIGGEST FUNDING INCREASES TO THE WEALTHIEST PRIVATE SCHOOLS.

THE COALITION WANTS TO PROVIDE EDUCATION FOR THE FEW WHO CAN AFFORD IT.

LABOR WANTS TO PROVIDE AN EDUCATION TO THE MANY WHO DESERVE IT.

WE WILL ABOLISH THE ENROLMENT BENCHMARK ADJUSTMENT, WHICH CURRENTLY TAKES AROUND $60 MILLION PER YEAR FROM STATE SCHOOLS.

AND WE WILL DOUBLE THE NUMBER OF RESEARCH FELLOWSHIPS TO KEEP OUR BRIGHTEST AND BEST SCIENTISTS AND RESEARCHERS AT HOME.

WE WILL STOP THE 'BRAIN DRAIN'.

LABOR'S KNOWLEDGE NATION AGENDA IS EMBARRASSING THE GOVERNMENT, AND THEY KNOW IT.

HEALTH

HEALTH IS ANOTHER AREA OF GREAT CONCERN TO ALL AUSTRALIANS - AND GREAT EMBARRASSMENT TO THE HOWARD GOVERNMENT.

AS I SAID EARLIER THE GOVERNMENT HEALTH AGENDA IS ALL ABOUT PROPPING UP THE PRIVATE HEALTH SYSTEM - TO THE DETRIMENT OF THE PUBLIC HOSPITALS.

THROUGH OUR MEDICARE ALLIANCE WE WILL WORK WITH STATE GOVERNMENTS TO STOP THE BUCK PASSING AND PUT MORE MONEY INTO PUBLIC HOSPITALS - IN THE COUNTRY AND IN THE CITIES - OPEN NEW BEDS AND RE-OPEN CLOSED WARDS, REDUCE WAITING TIMES, EMPLOY MORE NURSES AND DOCTORS, BRING NEW TECHNOLOGY INTO MORE PUBLIC HOSPITALS.

WE WILL LOOK AFTER THE REGIONAL HOSPITALS, KEEP THEM SERVING THEIR COMMUNITIES.

WE WANT BETTER CARE FOR THE AGED IN OUR COMMUNITY. THEY WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN BY LABOR.

A MAJOR INITIATIVE OF OURS IS MEDICARE-AFTER-HOURS.

WE ARE GOING TO TAKE THE PRESSURE OFF HOSPITAL EMERGENCY DEPARTMENTS AND MAKE IT EASIER FOR GPS TO WORK AFTER HOURS.

THIS POLICY WILL BETTER UTILISE THE TIME OF GPS AND TAKE THE PRESSURE OFF HOSPITAL EMERGENCY DEPARTMENTS.

LONG UNNECESSARY WAITS IN THE EMERGENCY DEPARTMENT WILL BE A THING OF THE PAST FOR PEOPLE WITH 'MINOR' AILMENTS.

AFTER HOURS MEDICAL ADVICE FROM A NURSE WILL BECOME AVAILABLE THROUGH A NEW HEALTH ADVICE PHONE LINE.

AND THROUGH LABOR'S 'MEDICARE ALLIANCE' WE AIM TO STOP GOVERNMENT'S FIGHTING OVER HEALTH FUNDING TO CO-OPERATE TO IMPROVE PUBLIC HOSPITALS AND OTHER HEALTH SERVICES.

LABOR WILL ENSURE THAT GOOD HEALTH SERVICES ARE ACCESSIBLE BY ALL AUSTRALIANS.

THE HEALTH OF AUSTRALIAN FAMILIES IS A PRIORITY FOR LABOR.

FOR THE COALITION, HEALTH POLICY IS AN IRRITANT.

CONCLUSION

THERE ARE OTHER AREAS OF GREAT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LABOR AND OUR POLITICAL OPPONENTS. THAT'S FOR ANOTHER DAY.

WE HAVE THE POLICIES TO MAKE LIFE BETTER FOR COUNTRY AUSTRALIANS - FOR ALL AUSTRALIANS.

LABOR'S AGENDA IS BASED ON FAIRNESS, EQUITY AND COMPASSION.

THE LIBERAL PARTY TAKES COUNTRY AUSTRALIA FOR GRANTED.

THE NATIONAL PARTY HAS LOST THE TRUST OF COUNTRY AUSTRALIANS. THEY ARE JOHN HOWARD'S LAPDOGS.

WE CAN BEAT THE NATIONALS IN PAGE, RICHMOND AND COWPER.

WE CAN SCARE THEM IN PARKES.

WE'LL JOIN THE REST OF AUSTRALIA IN ENDING JOHN ANDERSON'S POLITICAL CAREER IN GWYDIR.

AND WE'LL BEAT THE LIBERALS IN EDEN-MONARO.

THE DEMOCRATS DON'T COUNT.

THEY THINK RURAL AND REGIONAL AUSTRALIA IS THE ADELAIDE HILLS AND CANBERRA.

AND THEY THINK THE BUSH IS THE PLACE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE GARDEN WHERE THE ELVES LIVE.

ONE NATION HAS HAD ITS DAY.

ONE NATION WAS ALL ABOUT DIVISION. AUSTRALIAN AGAINST AUSTRALIAN. FRIEND AGAINST FRIEND. AUSTRALIANS ARE BETTER PEOPLE THAN THAT. THEY WON'T LISTEN TO THE SIREN SONG AGAIN.

LABOR IS ABOUT FAIRNESS FOR ALL AUSTRALIANS.

AND THE LABOR PARTY IS NOW THE ONLY CHOICE FOR COUNTRY

AUSTRALIANS.

BECAUSE, AS COUNTRY LABOR HAS SHOWN IN NSW, LABOR IS THE HEART OF THE COUNTRY.

THANK YOU.

Authorised by Geoff Walsh, 19 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600.