Time to Fight Liberal Attacks on West Australians

This is an important time for Labor.

A time for us to keep campaigning and reminding West Australians of what we have always known and always told them – that is it is only Labor that can be trusted with the household budget, with our workplaces, our health system, our hospitals, our schools, universities, jobs and opportunities.

The West Australian public are now confronted with the truth of what we have told them. That we were right. The Coalition was lying all along.

They outright lied and made false promises in not one but two election campaigns here in WA in the last six months.  Before these elections Tony Abbott promised no cuts to education, no cuts to health, and no changes to pensions, no cuts to the ABC or SBS and no new taxes.

Tony Abbott broke every single one of these promises in this month’s Budget.

When Liberals try and spin that its Labor’s mess they are fixing up, don’t stand for it.  We must continue to call out their lies and fight back.

Australia is strong and so is the legacy that Labor left behind—we left low inflation; a million new jobs, low interest rates, low net debt, a triple-A credit rating and superannuation savings larger than the size of our economy.

This budget is simply an attempt to justify the Abbott government's ideological blueprint for a less fair Australia, which has dismantled egalitarian values so that the rich can grow richer leaving the rest of Australia behind.  These aren’t social or economic principles that work.

Labor knows that squeezing the spending power of those on low and middle incomes will mean lower demand, which is bad for growth and our economy. Unequal access to education shuts people out of the labour market and stops people from reaching their potential.

We also know that large disparities between rich and poor undermines social cohesion, this erodes cooperation and trust. An abandonment of egalitarian values isn’t good for people and nor is it good for productivity or the economy.

It is egalitarian values that have always underpinned Labor’s approach to our economy, to work, income, superannuation, retirement, health, education and more.

The scale of the betrayal of these values in the 2014 Budget is unprecedented.

Hidden in the budget papers – but yet to be revealed will be massive cuts to many of the NGOs that support community services here in WA. I ask party members and supporters to please have your eyes peeled and let our Labor members of Parliament know about these cuts when they occur.

Also hidden in the Commonwealth budget papers – but now being revealed is an $80 billion cut to schools and hospitals—a cut for which there had been not a shred of consultation, no forewarning and no discussion.  Cuts that will further compound what have already been devastating reductions under Barnett for the schools and hospitals of our state.

Cuts which will again hit household budgets because they will force the State to increase state taxes.

It was only Labor forewarning voters of these cuts, of the risk of the Coalition to the family budget and to our schools and hospitals.  It’s a grave shame that the public didn’t hear our warnings, not only because of their mistaken confidence in the Coalition’s out and out lies.

But also because at both elections in the last six months we left the WA public with the firm impression that we couldn’t keep our own house in order and couldn’t be trusted either.  However, I have great confidence in our capacity to fight back. Our Federal Shadow Cabinet is very much on the front foot in campaigning against this Liberal betrayal.

It’s terrific to see this is a united fight. State Labor is fighting hard to stop Colin Barnett introducing a Hospital Tax for treatment in our emergency departments.  It’s clearly an absolute disgrace that Colin Barnett is so profoundly missing from the deep criticism coming from State Premiers about the impacts of Abbott’s cuts.

Colin Barnett as you can see from the cuts he has already made is in ideological lock step with the Liberal Party’s abandonment of egalitarian values. 

The momentum for reform of our party is building not just here in WA but right around the country, reform that will build the public’s confidence in our party, just as we had a boost in confidence following our federal leadership ballot.

It has been wonderful to see party members advocating for change at the many Shaping Labor Forums taking place around the State. I hope like other party members to see substantial reform propositions put forward at our WA Labor Conference in July.

I would encourage ALP members to talk to their Branch delegates to our upcoming conference to make sure they are prepared to commit to giving branch members a real say in the future of our Party and in who our candidates will be.

Together, making the most of the very broad base of our party we can successfully fight Abbott’s attempts to dismantle the egalitarian Australian values that Labor has fought so hard to build.


Senator Louise Pratt