OPINION PIECE: Labor’s National Conference, Monday 27 July 2015

 

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

LABOR’S NATIONAL CONFERENCE

Last weekend, the extended Labor family got together in Melbourne for our national conference.

It’s something we do about once every three years.

As you’d expect at any big family gathering, there were a few differences of opinion.  And like any family, we worked through our differences knowing there’s a lot of love in the room.  At the end of the day, everyone understands we’re stronger together.

In stark contrast, Liberal Party conferences are behind closed doors affairs – sanitised, policy-light board meetings where no one breaks a sweat.

I’m proud that Labor has always had the confidence to talk about our ideas, and to do it for all to see (Labor’s conference is open to the media and other observers).  For us, unity has never meant conformity.  We question each other.  We challenge each other.  We decide together.  And then we back each other.  Labor policy is better for it.  And when you look at Labor’s impressive record, you see our nation is better for it too.

Naturally, most media attention was devoted to the more hotly debated issues.

But the reality is that many proposals were endorsed by the conference unanimously, including fantastic policies on the economy, health, and education.

In case you missed them, here are just a few of the issues that were discussed at Labor’s conference –

Gender equality

Women are half the population, and they should make up half of our parliament too.  Labor Cabinets in Victoria and Queensland already have equal representation of women and men.  But Labor’s conference raised the bar further, committing that within the decade 50% of Labor parliamentarians will be women.  A huge achievement!

Marriage equality

It’s time for marriage equality.  Labor wants Tony Abbott to get out of the way so we can make marriage equality a reality now.  But if he doesn’t, we announced that in the first 100 days of a Labor Government, we will make marriage equality law.

Immigration policy

The conference agreed to welcome more refugees to Australia, but to bring them here safely. Labor announced we will: double Australia’s humanitarian refugee intake; contribute $450 million to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (more help for the record 60 million people displaced worldwide); abolish temporary protection visas; and appoint an independent children’s advocate.

Climate change

We know that Tony Abbott thinks climate change is ‘absolute crap’.  That possibly explains why his climate change policy involves giving billions of taxpayer dollars to big polluters, to keep polluting.  Labor is the only party that will deliver real action on climate change.  And on the weekend, the Labor conference agreed to an ambitious target of 50% renewable energy by 2030, and strong pollution reduction measures.

Labor has debates because our members, and our MPs, are passionate about the future of our nation.  We all want to make Australia a better, fairer place.  With Tony Abbott, we have a government that is cynical, divisive, and damaging.  Labor needs to beat them.  And we need to do it in one term.  We are ready.

This article was originally published in MAMAMIA