The fight of our lives

Kim Beazley

Thank you for your generous welcome. Thank you for fighting so hard for true Australian values at work. Thank you for working day and night for a Labor government. John Howard must be defeated. And with him his extreme, unfair, unbalanced industrial relations laws. This is the fight of my life.

Since the last election, Howard has gone too far. He said he'd govern for all of us. But instead he governs for his mates. He said he'd keep interest rates at record lows. But instead rates are going up and up and up. He said winning wouldn't go to his head. But then he arrogantly rides roughshod over every check and balance. He said he'd get the economy right. But instead he's squandered the opportunities of this once in a century resources boom.

He said he'd protect us from terror. But instead he took us to a war in Iraq that's made all Australians less safe. He said a lot of things. But there are some things he never said anything about. Nothing about his plans to slash wages. Nothing about smashing awards. Nothing about scrapping penalty rates, overtime, and redundancy pay. All that cleverly concealed by a cynical politician.

Next time Australians will get the choice they didn't get last time. To say no, Mr Howard - you've gone too far. And make no mistake - if Australians miss this chance, there's worse to come. Because John Howard is not finished with working families yet.

I will rip up these extreme and unfair laws. It's the first thing I'll do in office. And I'll build a new system. A fair system based on genuine Australian values. A fair day's pay for a fair day's work. Fairness. Opportunity. Reward for effort.

"The stakes could not be higher. This is truly the fight of our lives. More important than just a fight for our own survival. It's a fight for the future."

The stakes could not be higher. This is truly the fight of our lives. More important than just a fight for our own survival. It's a fight for the future. A fight for families who work so hard and make our economy strong. A fight for the type of country we want to hand to our kids. A fight for the hopes and aspirations of middle Australia.

For families who need us to build a fair IR system as we go about building a modern, competitive economy. An economy that builds a new generation of prosperity. An economy that harnesses the toil and talents of all our people. An economy that rewards hard work. So when the families of middle Australia put in, they get back.

I'm here today to talk about my plans for our nation's future. Our role in building it. My plans for a new industrial relations system for Australia. But first let me tell you how I see our relationship. The relationship between the two mighty wings of the great Australian labour movement. The movement I've devoted my whole life to. A relationship I've long been committed to.

Together, we've achieved so much for decent working people. We've fought so many battles. Won some. Lost others. But let me be honest: the battles of the past no longer interest me.

Now and in government, all my energies, all my efforts, all my time will be spent on this one great challenge: How we build a nation we're proud to hand to our kids and grandkids. As we go forward, I will listen to you and work with you. Just as I'll work with business, experts, and everyone else who'll put a shoulder to the wheel, to build together a modern, competitive economy. But in the end, the decisions rest with me and my government.

We will have our differences. That's normal. Healthy. I will always be your friend and ally, but I will not be unquestioning. I will tell you when I think you're wrong, just as I expect you to tell me when you think I'm wrong.

And know this: I will govern in the interests of all Australians, never just for the vested interests of a few. In the national interest not sectional interests. In the interests of millions of Australians, not just a few. That's what makes me different to John Howard.

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