Since the Australian Labor Party was first established 120 years ago, one of its enduring core values has been equality of opportunity.
For me, the provision of education is one of the most important policy challenges for all governments. I firmly believe that every Australian child – no matter what their family background, income, or postcode – should have the best possible education.
Like many of my generation, I was the first in my family to have the opportunity to attend a university. I studied and became a teacher, going on to teach in high schools and TAFE in the Wollongong region. One of my main reasons for becoming active in the Labor Party was my belief that education is the key to life success.
Australia today has the most educated population in its history and this is largely an achievement of successive Labor Governments.
The Whitlam Government made reforms to higher education that enabled thousands of young Australians in the 70s to attend university and get a degree. Many of them were, like me, the very first in their family to aspire to, and achieve, a University education.
Hawke and Keating set a goal of more Australian children finishing their secondary education.
I would like to personally thank each and every person who participated in the National Disability Insurance campaign. This campaign was fundamentally important for the future of the NDIS in Australia and I was proud to have been a part of it.
The Gillard Labor Government announced in the 2013/14 budget that they would create and fully fund DisabilityCare Australia, the National Disability Insurance Scheme, transforming disability services throughout Australia.
These historic reforms provided certainty and security for 410,000 Australians with a disability, their families and carers and ensure they are provided with the care and support they need throughout their lifetime.
This was the most fundamental social policy reform since the introduction of Medicare, and one I have been very passionate about. We were committed to building a better life for Australians with a significant and permanent disability.
Australia is a big country and it is undergoing some big changes.
The Illawarra region has been shouldering both the burden and opportunities of change for the last three decades.
We now live and work differently to how we did only 10 years ago.
Technological change has transformed our daily lives.
We’ve moved from rushing to the bank in our lunch breaks to getting our money from a machine in a wall.
We rarely use payphones; instead relying on the ease of mobile phones.
We check our letterboxes less than we check our (multiple) email inboxes.
The invention of the internet and its constant innovation will continue to transform our lives.
It’s one of the reasons why I’m so excited about the National Broadband Network (NBN), which is rolling out across the region.
It’s under-appreciated but the NBN roll-out across the Illawarra is the single largest regional roll-out of this high-speed fibre broadband in the country.
As creating and supporting jobs is a primary objective of the Gillard Labor Government, we have been working with unions and industry to develop A Plan for Australian Jobs. Industry and workers across Cunningham are set to benefit from this $1 billion investment in boosting Australian innovation, productivity and competitiveness and creating jobs.
The Gillard Government will help local manufacturers win more work at home from major projects in areas such as mining and infrastructure. We will also support local industry to increase exports and win new business overseas and boost assistance for small businesses to grow.
The Plan will facilitate better collaboration between businesses and research institutions through a major new network of Industry Innovation Precincts. Local small businesses and start-up companies will be provided with expanded business assistance and better access to finance through measures to further stimulate Australia’s venture capital market.
Our vision is for Australia to have a broad-based economy with innovative, productive and competitive industries and high-skilled, well-paid, and rewarding jobs. The Gillard Government’s Plan for Australian Jobs is a $1 billion investment in this vision.
Our goal is to ensure Australia remains a country with a strong economy and decent, well-paid and skilled jobs and I will be working tirelessly to ensure that these benefits are captured for the people of the Illawarra.