Wong lists Labor achievements before handing over to Jason Clare, who’s been a standout performer recently. Wong says:
It is Labor governments that have changed this country for the better. Medicare, the NDIS, accessible education, universal superannuation, the Sex Discrimination Act, the Racial Discrimination Act, native title, the apology to the Stolen Generations.
Wong describes leader Anthony Albanese as a clear-eyed optimist. She says:
The Albo I know is a man of courage and conviction. The most steadfast of friends. The toughest of fighters. And the kindest of hearts. I know no-one braver for his cause. No-one more reliable when you need him. He will stand with you when it is easy and when it is hard. Because he is driven by belief and compassion and integrity.
To call him a people person would be underselling it. There’s nothing quite like turning Albo loose in a full room and seeing just how much he thrives on the energy.
Wong’s first point is that Labor will implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
“Who governs matters,” she says, before tracing the tribulations of the past couple of years:
The smoke of the black summer fires had barely cleared when Covid-19 reached us. And we were thrown into a new reality of lockdowns, masks and QR codes. We worked from home and set up classrooms around the kitchen table. We had Zoom meetings, Zoom drinks…
(Wong gets a chuckle from the crowd, and continues):
We had sad times, too. Tragically, we had Zoom funerals. Families and friends were separated. Livelihoods were lost. And industries were ravaged by a combination of the pandemic and deliberate government neglect. Australians in insecure work felt the brunt, older Australians in aged care homes were left vulnerable. And then the floods came. Yes, the worst of times brings out the best in Australians. But, too often, their strength has not been matched by leadership. And as the world at home shifted, so, too, did the world beyond. And we feel those reverberations today. Russia continues its brutal war on Ukraine. And closer to home, developments in Solomon Islands remind us that complacency can exact a heavy price.
Geez, that deliberate “deliberate” was… deliberate.
“We’re more than a party, we are a movement,” Mascarenhas says. “No more pitting mate against mate or state against state.”
(Please forget the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd years).
And she’s introduced Labor senator Penny Wong.
The Labor candidate for Swan (Liberal held, marginal), Zaneta Mascarenhas, is up now. There’s rapturous applause as she welcomes all the Labor luminaries.
She’s highlighting her experience in the mining industry, followed by her work on climate action. That’s one of the tricky lines politicians of all stripes have to tread.
Sandra Harben, a Noongar woman, thanks former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Paul Keating for “starting the healing of our country”. She says:
The Noongar rainbow serpent, the creator of the Noongar people and law … gives the Noongar meaning to the foundation of life, because it created the beautiful Swan River. The beautiful part which Noongar says represents the body. The place where Noongar people crossed to the Perth city. And the bend of the river where the Optus Stadium now stands.
The ABC reports that former Labor prime minister Julia Gillard hasn’t been able to get back for this launch – and of course deputy leader Richard Marles has been taken out by Covid.
Now it’s the welcome to country, before this critical moment for the opposition.
I’m pretty sure the hectic beat in the background at the imminent Labor launch is Kylie Minogue’s Can’t Get You Out of My Head.
The election will be an “absolute squeaker”, Jim Chalmers says. “It’ll go right down to the wire.”
He’s also hinted that there’ll be an announcement about making medicines cheaper, after the Coalition promised a $10 cut to prescriptions.
The ABC’s Jane Norman asks Labor Treasury spokesperson Jim Chalmers about whether tax changes should be part of addressing housing affordability. He says:
My view is that this [Labor’s shared equity plan] is the best way, combined with the other policy, social housing, affordable housing and some of the other steps that we’re taking.
The ABC is reporting that former Labor leader Bill Shorten is at the campaign launch (it would be remarkable if he weren’t) and that he’ll be joined by former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Paul Keating. So there’s some star power from the past. South Australian premier Peter Malinauskas is also there – his big win in the state election is providing some inspiration to the opposition.
Geez, hard to campaign when you’re in hiding: