Daniel Andrews: Campaign Launch Speech

Speech to Victorian Labor’s 2014 Campaign Launch at the Geelong Performing Arts Centre.



Welcome to the headquarters of Australian industry and the future of our economy.

Welcome to Geelong.

First, can I acknowledge the traditional owners of this land and their elders past and present – because the oldest continuous culture in human history deserves nothing less.

Of course, I want to thank Cath and my three kids, who are my everything.

I want to thank Lisa Neville, for her words and her hard work and her passion for this place.

In the audience today are four people who have shaped a modern Victoria: John Cain, Joan Kirner, Steve Bracks and John Brumby

Also in the audience today, two people who have shaped my life – Jan and Bob Andrews, my mum and dad.

Finally, can we put our hands together for our Federal Leader, and the next Prime Minister of Australia, Bill Shorten.

Bill stands up to a Liberal Government that, like all of them, has only one default setting:

Invent a fake budget emergency and cut, cut, cut.

It’s the great lie at the heart of the Liberal agenda and Bill has exposed it.

He won’t let Denis Napthine and Tony Abbott get away with it, and neither will I.

And I only need to give you one reason why.

He was 23 years old, playing soccer with his mates.

His parents loved him.

He collapsed on the pitch.

The ambulance couldn’t arrive on time.

And his parents never saw him again.

He was a good kid, worked for six years, and the Government relied on him.

But the first time he relied on the Government, they let him down.

Can we please thank Steve and Jo for telling their story.

Over the last four years, I’ve heard too many stories like it.

Too many people, taken too soon, because the ambulance took too long.

That’s why I will end Denis Napthine’s war on paramedics and get the health system working again.

Because we can’t afford another four years of tragedy.

We can’t endure a health crisis, or a jobs crisis, a moment longer.

We can’t have families left on their own.

We can’t accept the highest unemployment rate on the Australian mainland.

We must do more, we must do better, especially in Geelong.

This proud city is home to generations of hard-working people and I know what employment means to them.

It’s more than a pay slip – it’s pride.

That’s why Labor has a plan to create the high skill, high wage jobs of the future, to get this city, and this state, back to work.

But I’ll say this:

The best jobs will mean nothing, unless we have the best students in the country and the best skills in the world.

And that starts at school.

From the first day of kinder, to the last day of training, I want every square inch of our education system to help our kids build their career and begin their life.

Today, I want to tell you how a Labor Government will change our education system and change our future.

Outside the home, a child’s world is their school.

That world has to be safe.

That world has to be comfortable.

But when you see children learning in a portable classroom with asbestos in the ceiling, nails on the floor, rattling windows, filthy bathrooms – that’s not a world that a child should ever inhabit.

The Liberals abandoned our schools.

They rolled up master plans and wound up construction work.

Across Victoria, classrooms are crowded, facilities are failing, kids aren’t comfortable and kids aren’t safe.

They have first-rate teachers and support staff, but they can’t get a first-rate education in a second-rate classroom.

So I’m proud to announce, today, that a Labor Government will rebuild our schools and make them safe.

$120 million for needy Catholic and Independent schools and an initial investment of $510 million for Government schools.

And we can’t forget about the little ones, either.

My wife, Cath, was the president of our local kindergarten, and like so many centres in Victoria, it does so much without the Liberals’ support.

To have children, in their most vulnerable years, eating and learning and playing in facilities that aren’t up to scratch – that is unacceptable.

And that’s why a Labor Government will invest $50 million to build and upgrade kinders across our state, so our little ones get the best start.

A Labor Government will rebuild our schools, and a Labor Government will restore our skills, because the best jobs will mean nothing without them.

As we speak, the youth unemployment queue is growing.

Our own lost generation is forming.

Good kids, smart kids, who work hard in school, and want to work hard in life, but won’t get the chance.

Because the Liberals cut TAFE.

In the middle of a jobs crisis, they closed down a jobs machine.

That’s their legacy – a padlock on the front gates of our future.

Some campuses shut overnight.

The others are doing half the job with half the funds and shrinking every year.

They’re on their knees and they need our help.

Gough Whitlam built our TAFE system and I refuse to sit back and watch it die.

That’s why I’m proud to announce that a Labor Government will immediately implement a $320 million Rescue Fund to save our TAFEs.

We’ll pry open the padlocks and give our kids a chance.

And the funds will start flowing on day one of an Andrews Labor Government.

Because this is an emergency and this cannot wait.

Our TAFE Rescue Fund will re-open campuses that closed, bail out campuses in strife, and upgrade labs, workshops, buildings and classrooms across our state.

We’ll make sure the system survives next year – but we also want to make sure it survives the next decade.

Bruce Mackenzie founded Holmesglen TAFE and ran it for 31 years.

He’s an education leader who spoke up against the TAFE cuts.

Under a Labor Government, he’ll lead an urgent, independent review into the way we fund our training system – because we need to get this right.

Friends, Labor will always fight the cuts to our kids’ education.

But we’re not defined by what we’re against.

If all we ever did was repair Liberal damage, we wouldn’t move forward an inch.

We need new ideas, to fix our economy and our education system, to build something bigger and leave behind something better.

We can all agree, Victorian students deserve a head start on a hands-on profession. They shouldn’t have to wait.

So I propose a powerful change to the way our system works.

I’m proud to announce, today, that a Labor Government will reintroduce Tech Schools, to prepare our kids for the jobs of the future.

A $125 million plan for Ten Regional Centres of Excellence, across our state, focusing on local industries for students in years 7 to 12.

Whether they want to build engines or fix engines.

Whether they want a degree or a trade certificate.

Wherever they want to go, this is where they’ll come from.

Tech Schools have been tried before.

Here’s how ours will be different:

1) It won’t be an either/or.

Students who enrol in the regional Tech will also stay enrolled in the local secondary school.

They’ll spend a set period of time every month getting their technical education alongside their secondary studies – not in place of a comprehensive education, but as part of it. And:

2) For the first time, they’ll be run by TAFEs, universities and industries.

Local companies will help design the courses they need for the workers they want.

It’s not just a path to a career. It’s a red carpet.

And it’s the next big reform.

There will be ten across the state.

And one of them will be built right here, so today’s Geelong students can be tomorrow’s Geelong workers.

It’s about bringing TAFE, universities and employers into the classroom – closer to home and closer to families.

Be in no doubt, Tech Schools are coming back, refined and reformed.

Because a Labor Government won’t waste time talking about an economic transition. We’ll be making it.

But the true task, the art and the science, of education, is not just preparing our young men and women for the workplace, but preparing them for life.

Helping them fit in.

Keeping them safe and sound.

Teaching them to enter our economy with confidence.

Education exists to take our kids forward.

Failure strikes when we leave them behind.

So if there’s a kid out there who learned to read in an old portable, learned to kick a footy barefoot, learned on an empty stomach, couldn’t see the whiteboard, couldn’t go on school camp, or on sports trips, or on excursions – well, then there’s a kid that’s been left behind every single step of the way.

These are kids who are loved, but their families are doing it tough.

Think about the tens of thousands of Victorians who’ve lost their job under the Liberals.

They aren’t bludgers.

They’re hard workers whose lives changed in a single phone call.

They’re the families the Liberals forgot.

Teachers and support staff try their best.

I know that. I’ve seen it.

But there’s only so much a teacher can do if the system is letting them down.

A system that’s been hit with the biggest cuts in history.

And when the Liberals cut, nothing is spared.

Free fresh fruit. Free vaccines. Free visits to the local GP.

Even a program to help kids learn how to read.

My boy, Noah, did Reading Recovery and it worked.

The program didn’t cost much.

It was something that every Government could afford – in their wallet and in their heart.

So the Liberals weren’t forced to cut it.

They chose to cut it.

Because they don’t get it.

And they don’t care.

But I know: every child who is held back holds us all back, and I want to tell you how we’ll take them forward.

Help them fit in.

Help them work hard.

Help them thrive.

We have a plan, and it starts with what they wear:

A school uniform is not as simple as a pair of blue stubbies, anymore.

They’re becoming unique and more expensive.

And if you’re not wearing the right uniform, or the right shoes, or the right stripe, then that’s a big thing for a young kid.

State Schools Relief have provided uniforms and shoes to struggling families for 80 years.

They get almost no support from the Government.

There’s so much they cannot do.

Victorian kids should worry about their school work, not their school wear.

That’s why a Labor Government will invest over $15 million into the school uniforms program, to help more kids fit into their clothes and fit in with their mates.

It’s not just uniforms.

Kids can’t get a decent education if they can’t even see the whiteboard.

State Schools Relief want to partner with OPSM to provide free eye tests and free glasses for 250 disadvantaged schools.

But the plan needs funding to get off the ground.

And I’m proud to tell you, that funding will come from a Labor Government.

One thing my mother taught me: breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

But one in seven Victorian kids come to school hungry.

The slump sets in straight away, because an empty stomach is an empty mind.

The previous Labor Government pioneered Free Fruit Fridays.

The Liberals abolished it, of course.

This week marked the 119th

So schools got creative.

Breakfast clubs popped up around the state, providing fresh fruit and cereal.

Fruitless Friday.

Families and kids rely on these clubs, and now they rely on us.

The clubs want to do more and we want to help.

That’s why a Labor Government will invest over $13 million to feed 25,000 hungry primary school children every single day.

Camps, sports trips and excursions cost families and schools a lot of money.

But for kids, they’re priceless.

They’re an extension of the classroom, and they’re not just about learning new things – they’re about fitting in.

But the Liberals cut the allowance.

Schools are cancelling excursions, because they don’t have the funds.

Kids are missing out on camps, because families can’t afford them.

And it’s leaving a hole in our education system.

A school I visited last year:

There were 95 kids in Year 11 and 12, and all but five of them had never been to the Melbourne CBD – until they went on an excursion that year.

If not for a school visit at the cusp of their adult life, they would have never been to the main street of their own city.

And you could see the city from where we were standing.

I want to help more kids fit in: with their mates, in their classroom, on the field and in our world.

And that’s why I’m proud to announce that a Labor Government will establish a $150 million Camps, Sports and Excursions Fund, so our kids get that chance.

Because our kids deserve that chance.

They deserve safe classrooms and the best skills in the world.

They’re entitled to it.

They’re worth it.

And our plans will guarantee it.

They’re fully funded and fully costed, and they’ll be signed off by a leading global accounting firm, because we want to get to work on day one.

Denis Napthine and Tony Abbott’s cuts have taken us backwards.

But we won’t just repair the Liberal damage.

We’ll build something bigger and better.

Friends, we’re here today in the shadow of a man who towered above his time and towered above us all.

Gough Whitlam marched our nation into the future and found our place in the world.

But according to the man himself, his greatest achievement was schools.

And the father of Australian fairness suggested, as his personal definition of equality, ‘every child with a desk, a lamp and their own room to study.’

Because he understood this powerful truth:

Every child that’s held back holds us all back.

And every student who reaches their full potential helps us all reach ours.

So I make this promise to Victorian families:

From preschool to postgrad, a Labor Government will be there for you, every step of the way, to help your kids get through the most important years of their lives.

We won’t just fix schools, we’ll help them do more.

We won’t just fund TAFE, we’ll guarantee it for good.

We won’t just help students get by, we’ll help them get better.

We’ll take our economy back to school.

We’ll make Victoria the Education State.

And we’ll give every child every chance – because they’re worth every cent.