28 July 2017
NSW Labor Annual Conference 2017
Speaking to the ‘Prosperity and Fairness at Work’ report

Thankyou, Chair. Delegate Searle, SPLP.

I’m proud to be here today. It’s been a long time since industrial relations and the world at work took up so much of Conference’s attention.

It’s because we’re the Labor Party, not some other left-of-centre political organisation – we’re a party for whom the world at work, its impact on society, communities, families and the individual is central to who we are and what we do. That was exemplified in the speech of NSW Labor leader, Luke Foley, addressing conference today.

We know that there is systematic exploitation taking place, not only of our young and vulnerable workers, but of many other workers right across the spectrum here in NSW and across Australia.

We know that the changes to society and the economy, the loss of union density, the loss of industrial rights at a federal and state level, have led to more unequal outcomes in work. Unequal outcomes in terms of pay increases, in terms of working conditions, in terms of control over your lives.

More and more workers are being required to be on-call and able to respond out-of-hours to every request. People are becoming a commodity in the economy.

We must remember that the economy is there to serve society. There is an economy because people engage in trade and commerce. We are not units of labor simply to serve the machine of an economy.

You all know and the community knows that our party, the Labor party, is always going to lead to better outcomes for workers – whether you’re in the private sector, the non-government sector, or the public sector. Better conditions, better outcomes, better jobs, more security.

We know the Liberals’ way of doing everything is to set arbitrary limits, to privatise, to strip people of their conditions. We saw it in the transformation and the creation of the NDIS – the forceable transfer of workers from the government sector to a community sector. No, nothing against the community sector, but there was no protection for wages and conditions.

NSW Labor fought in the Parliament against those measures. You can rely upon the NSW Labor Party to stand up for working people.

Liberal governments in Canberra and in Macquarie Street have overseen wage stagnation in our economy for too long. You can see that now where the Reserve Bank itself is saying ‘this is hurting our economic growth and hurting the economy’.

In 16 years of Labor government here in NSW, we delivered 15 straight budget surpluses, maintained our AAA credit rating and we didn’t have to sell $50 billion worth of public assets and attack people’s conditions to do so.

NSW Labor will always make sure our frontline police, teachers, nurses, healthcare workers, DOCS workers and all those who are now paying higher costs of living expenses, especially on the electricity front – we will make sure that workers in this state have a better outcome.

And of course, the fact that we are spending so much of our time this weekend at this conference debating these important issues to do with the world at work shows our commitment to working people and how seriously we take the issue.

We take the issue seriously at this conference, because unlike our opponents – the Greens who won’t let anyone into their conference, and the conservatives, where their conferences don’t matter – this conference matters.

The platform that you set guides Labor governments here and in Canberra. It matters what we set down as our policies. It matters what commitments we make here, together, today.

Luke Foley’s speech, outlining our approach to issues like regulating labour hire companies, criminalising wage theft and the other measures outlined are just the beginning.

We took a bold platform on working life to the 2015 election. Luke Foley’s built on that today and we will continue working together and building on it as we head towards the 2019 election.

Delegates, I recommend the platform and the motions and the amendments to you, and congratulations on spending so much time thinking about these important issues. Because the world of work really matters to people’s identity, their place in the community, and ultimately makes arguably the greatest single contribution to a more equal society for all of us.