Kevin Rudd
Kevin Rudd Australian Labor Party

Delivered at Brisbane, Qld, September 1st, 2013

The election was held on 7 September, 2013. On 26 June, 2013 Kevin Rudd replaced Julia Gillard as leader of the Labor Party following a significant drop in caucus support for Gillard and polling indicating large losses for the Labor Party if Gillard contested the election. The Liberal/National coalition was again led by Tony Abbott.

The campaigns of both parties focused on the need for change with the Labor party adopting the slogan of A New Way and the Liberal Party running with Choose Real Change. A Stronger Australia. A Better Future. While Labor highlighted their policies for improving employment and education, the Coalition promised a ‘no surprises, no excuses government’ focused on stabilising the economy and ‘stopping the boats’.

The Liberal/National coalition won the election securing 90 seats in the House of Representatives to the Labor Party’s 55 seats. After a close contest, the division of Eden Monaro retained its status as a ‘bellwether seat’ with Liberal challenger Peter Hendy winning the seat from the Labor Party’s Mike Kelly.

Kevin Rudd
Kevin Rudd

Kevin Rudd was born 21 September, 1957. Rudd was Prime Minister of Australia from 3 December, 2007 to 24 June, 2010 and again from 27 June, 2013 to the swearing in of the Abbott Government on 18 September 2013. Rudd has represented the electorate of Griffith, Qld since 1998.

Elections contested

2007 and 2013

In this election we are now engaged in the fight of our lives.

It is a fight about the values which underpin Australia’s future.

A fight about our vision for Australia’s future.

And it is a fight about how we go about building our nation’s future—a future for the many, not just the few.

And for those who say the fight is up, I say they haven’t seen anything yet.

Because we have something worth fighting for.

And that’s the jobs of all Australians.

The pay packets of all Australians.

And an Australia which still believes in a fair go for all.

These are the things worth fighting for.

And despite everything that is thrown against us every day, I believe in this election we can and will prevail.


We believe in values of freedom, values of compassion and values of a fair go for all.

These are universal values.

They are Australian values.

They are also Labor values.

The values which caused our Party and our movement to come into being more than a century ago.

The values which inspired people to dream of a better Australia.

Values which have inspired women and men across the decades to build Australia’s future.

Values which gave us fair pay, fair conditions and an independent umpire. Values that built the age pension.

Values that built a free public hospital system.

Values that built a university system accessible for all under Gough Whitlam.

Values that built Medicare for all under Bob Hawke.

Values that built DisabilityCare for all under Julia Gillard.

Values that built superannuation for all under Paul Keating.

These are all values worth fighting for.

Values which gave every Australian access to a first class education and first class health care—rich or poor, country or city, long-settled or newly-arrived.

Values that have also caused us as a movement to make the big calls on our nation’s future.

Big calls on the internationalisation of our economy.

The big calls on our place in the region and the world.

For generations we have had the audacity to believe that through the agency of parliament and government we can always build a better Australia than the one we inherited from our forebears.

And that is why we are in the business of progressive rather than conservative politics.

Because we are in the business of building the house up.

The conservatives have always been in the business of tearing the house down.

Ours is always a positive vision that points optimistically to the future.

Theirs a negative vision that points back to some imagined point in a mythical past.

These have always been the competing narratives of Australian history.

The conservatives know what they are against.

But they never really seem to have worked out what exactly they are for.

I have never seen a decent reform that the conservatives haven’t set out to destroy.

Whereas we, for all our faults, are always having a go at building a better Australia.

Yes that means we don’t always get it right.

Yes that means we have made mistakes.

But, as a highly successful migrant who came here after the war told me the other day in Adelaide:

Kevin, the only blokes who never make mistakes are those blokes who never do anything.

But, to be fair to Mr Abbott, he has done a few things:

  • He was one of John Howard’s industrial relations ministers.
  • He did say WorkChoices was the greatest reform of the Howard Government.
  • And as Health Minister he did rip $1 billion out of the public hospitals of Australia.

And that’s just for starters.


Values are one thing.

How they shape our vision for Australia’s future is another.

The core of our vision for the Australia of the 21st Century is one where every Australian should have the right to a job.

A good job.

A job with fair wages and conditions.

We also want an Australia where you do not live in daily fear of losing your job.

But where a job is lost, we want an Australia that helps you find a new job in one of the new industries of the future.

We also want an Australia with vibrant small businesses, where your small business can become a medium-sized and then one of the big businesses of the future through the sheer power of your enterprise.

Because if we do not have profitable businesses we will not generate the productive jobs of the future.

We also want an Australia driven by the industries of the future, by new agribusiness, new forms of manufacturing and new industries we haven’t even dreamed of yet.

We want an Australia which equips all your kids with the education, skills and training necessary for them to compete with Asia and the rest of the world.

We want an Australia where you are equipped with the best broadband technologies of the future so that you are not left behind by the rest of the world.

We want an Australia where you can have confidence in a first class health, hospital and aged care system for yourself and your loved ones that does not discriminate between rich and poor.

We want an inclusive Australia where there is no discrimination on the basis of your race, your gender or your sexuality.

And our vision is an Australia with a clean energy future and where Australia is playing its part to preserve a planet from the ravages of climate change—a planet that is worth inheriting for your children and your grandchildren.

And we want an Australia which is confident of its place in the region and the world. And where our voice is respected in the leading councils of the world.

And above all we want an Australia where we bring people together around the negotiating table (government, business and unions) rather than fighting pitch battles that take us nowhere other than to divide our country, rather than bring our country together.

So these are the contours of our vision for Australia’s future—a strong Australia, a secure Australia, a sustainable Australia and an Australia where we never throw the fair go out the back door.

And it is this vision which we put with confidence before the Australian people for this election.


We are in the business of building the nation’s future where as Mr Abbott believes in $70 billion worth of cuts for the nation’s future.

Cuts that will hurt your jobs, your school, your hospital and your cost of living.

And $70 billion of massive cuts that risk throwing the entire economy into recession because we are living through fragile global economic times.

As Prime Minister of Australia I see my job as protecting your jobs, your pay, and your basic conditions.

That’s why we worked hard to keep the economy strong through the Global Financial Crisis, while other economies fell like dominoes around the world.

That’s why we acted decisively to stimulate the economy and to protect jobs rather than allowing the mass unemployment we have seen across the rest of the world.

And the result? Nearly one million more people in work in 2013 than there were in 2007.

That’s why we acted to guarantee the savings deposits of all Australians when banks were collapsing around the world.

And we have done all the above with among the lowest debt and deficit levels in the world and for the first time ever we have secured Australia a triple A credit rating from all three international ratings agencies. But with the end of the China mining boom our economic circumstances are changing and we must now manage the next great transition in our economy—so that we don’t have all our eggs in one basket.

That’s why we must continue to support the small business sector in our country—because from small businesses big businesses grow.

I am announcing today a major small business tax boost for our next term in office.

If the Government is re-elected, from next Sunday our Small Business Tax Boost will provide an upfront tax deduction for small businesses when they buy new equipment worth up to $10,000 to help small businesses with cash flow.

The combined tax benefit of this and other existing measures for small business adds up to more than $5.4 billion.

Mr Abbott may think he can get away with his $5.4 billion hit on small business, but I intend to stand up for small business with our $4.4 billion immediate tax break because I want to help small business succeed.

Big business is also a critical part of our nation’s future. Tens of billions of dollars are being invested in projects around Australia like new mines, ports, roads and major infrastructure investments.

Yet too often the multinational firms which develop these projects default to bringing in overseas suppliers rather than using Australian suppliers and Australian skills.

Today I announce that a re-elected Labor Government will legislate to require all projects worth $300 million or more to adopt Australian Industry Participation Plans.

This measure is expected to generate up to $624 million in extra work for Australian industry and jobs every year.

Education, apprenticeships and training

I have always been passionate about education around the single vision that we must nurture the best educated, best trained, best skilled workforce of anywhere in the world.

We have been building this vision—brick by brick over the last five years from early childhood education to our primary and secondary schools and our universities where there are now more than 190,000 more students at university than there were when we were first elected.

The one remaining element of the education system that has not been dealt with in our reform program is TAFE.

We’ve increased the number of apprentices in training—50,000 more apprentices and trainees in training than five years ago.

But Australia must do better.

If re-elected I will increase the Tools for Your Trade payment to apprentices to $6000 to help buy their first set of tools.

This would give 70,000 Australian apprentices more cash in their pockets to buy the tools they need.

I want to help young Australian apprentices get started in their trade with a grant while Mr Abbott instead simply offers you a $20,000 loan—that is a $20,000 debt to hang over your head before you even get started.

But Australia’s TAFE system also has to do better to support the apprentices of the future.

Commonwealth annual funding for VET has increased by 25 per cent in real terms since we came to office, with over $19 billion invested over the last five years.

Which is why it is worrying to see state governments making TAFE cuts and jacking up fees.

We have seen this in Victoria, WA and Queensland where we see TAFEs starting to wither on the vine.

I will simply not stand idly by and continue to hand over Commonwealth funds to state governments to run TAFE colleges while those state governments cut their own TAFE funding.

The TAFE system has a proud history in Australia and I intend to ensure it has a proud future too.

I announce today that a re-elected Labor Government will require that state governments maintain and grow their funding of TAFE.

Second, if those conditions are not met by 1 July 2014, we will move to provide Commonwealth funding directly to individual TAFE colleges.

Third, if state governments frustrate this ambition, then from 2015 the Australian Government will begin directing its own TAFE funding into a new TAFE Australia Network directly funded by the Commonwealth.

Given that the Commonwealth’s annual funding for skills and training to the states and territories amounts to $7 billion over the Budget cycle, properly directed Commonwealth funding would in time build a new TAFE Australia network that would rival the great polytechnics of France and Germany.

The Jobs Training and Apprenticeships Guarantee—JTAG

We must also continue to tackle the challenge of unemployment by bringing together our vast employment services system with our training and apprenticeships system across the nation.

Today I announce a major reform to the system through a new Jobs, Training and Apprenticeships Guarantee and a new institution—Jobs and Training Australia that will bring together the employment services and training systems of Australia.

This guarantee has three core components.

Number one: if you lose your job, then within two days of registering with an employment services provider the provider you will get a return to work plan relevant to the jobs in your local area.

Number two: job seekers will then be guaranteed access to either a publicly funded apprenticeship or traineeship at certificate three level, and relevant to local employer demand; or if they already have a qualification, they can access a VET loan of over $90,000 to acquire other qualifications; or they can access a university place.

Number three: through strong leadership of local Jobs and Training Boards, Jobs and Training Australia will best be able to offer a real job relevant to their skills , locally, regionally, or nationally, drawing on the Jobs and Training Australia network.

Job Services Australia is not directly linked to the apprenticeship and traineeship providers both government and non-government across Australia.

This link must now be joined.

The choice

This election is a clear choice about Australia’s future.

We believe in building the future.

Whereas Mr Abbott believes in $70 billion worth of cuts to your future.

We believe in building and protecting the jobs of the future.

Mr Abbott believes in massive cuts to jobs, just as Campbell Newman has cut jobs here in Queensland.

$70 billion is more money than the Commonwealth pays to the states in hospital funding over four years.

Or put another way, if Mr Abbott cut just $20 billion of his $70 billion it is the equivalent of all of: closing 5000 of your hospital beds, the sacking of 1 in 20 of your teachers, and cutting five per cent away from your family payments.

We believe in building the education system of the future through our $15 billion of additional investment in the Better Schools plan.

Whereas Mr Abbott has stated he will cut $8 billion from the better schools plan.

We are building the health and hospital system for the future with an additional $19 billion investment and by restoring the Commonwealth’s overall investment in hospital funding to 50 per cent when Mr Abbott slashed the Commonwealth’s share—creating a funding crisis for our public hospital system.

We are building the National Broadband Network for all Australians.

Whereas Mr Abbott will cut that network to pieces, providing fibre optic cable only to those who can afford it.

We are providing fibre optic cable for free to your household, your small business because we believe superfast broadband is a universal right for all Australians for the 21st century.

Mr Abbott will cut into your family budget by charging you up to $5000 to get a connection because he regards broadband as a privilege.

We are building a Clean Energy Future to act on climate change for all Australians through our $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

Whereas Mr Abbott has said he will abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation because at the end of the day he doesn’t believe in climate change at all.

We believe in helping Australian families with cost of living pressures by keeping interest rates low, increasing the childcare rebate from 30 to 50 per cent and providing 1.3 million families with the Schoolkids Bonus each year.

Whereas Mr Abbott has said he does not care about cost of living pressures because he is going to abolish the Schoolkids Bonus altogether and then review the Goods and Services Tax which hits the bottom line for every Australian family at the shops.

And we believe in the Fair Work system which protects peoples’ penalty rates and overtime.

Whereas Mr Abbott says he will change the Fair Work Act and his industrial relations spokesperson says that these protections can be removed.

We are in the building business; Mr Abbott is in the cutting business.

And if there is no greater illustration of wrong priorities, it is Mr Abbott’s unaffordable, unfair and economically reckless $22 billion paid parental leave scheme to provide $75,000 to millionaires to have a baby.

This has been Mr Abbott’s one big idea for the entire campaign.

I’m sorry, Mr Abbott has had two big ideas: the other has been to change his turn back the boats policy into a buy back the boats policy which would lead to the biggest boom in the Indonesian boat building industry in history.

I believe these sorts of policies say everything about Mr Abbott’s priorities, his judgement and even temperament when it comes to the responsibilities of high office.

How could anyone support a profligate scheme which provides $75,000 handouts to millionaires who don’t need it, when everyone else is left to pay the bill—including a tax hike for everyone and a $1.6 billion hit to the investment earnings of self-funded retirees and pensioners.


In the critical week ahead as Australians consider how they vote, it is important for them to know precisely what the alternatives are.

Our plan for building Australia’s future is clear.

Mr Abbott’s plan for cutting the future to ribbons remains hidden.

That’s because he knows that if the Australian people knew which jobs, schools and hospitals he would cut, then the people would be too frightened to vote for him.

So I would simply say this to the Australian people: if you don’t understand how Mr Abbott’s $70 billion of cuts will affect your job, your school, your hospital—then don’t vote for him.

And if you are still feeling uneasy about voting for Mr Abbott, there is a good reason for that, because he’s asking for you to buy something sight unseen.

You, the Australian people, have had a long time to get to know Mr Abbott after his 20 years in Parliament—but if you still have doubts, don’t vote for him.

Mr Abbott’s slogan is real change.

If Mr Abbott wins there will be “real change” alright because choosing his real change means choosing massive cuts to your schools, your hospitals, your broadband, your jobs and your pay packets.

To those who say that Mr Abbott has already won this election, I say this—never ever, ever underestimate the fighting spirit of the Australian Labor Party.

Never, ever, ever underestimate my fighting spirit as your Prime Minister.

I have been in tougher spots before and come back from behind.

Or as one young kid said to me the other day in Tassie:

Kevin, we want you to be the comeback kid for Australia

The truth is there is so much worth fighting for.

Fighting to protect your jobs.

Fighting to protect your schools.

Fighting to protect your hospitals.

Fighting to protect your National Broadband Network.

Fighting to protect your Clean Energy Future.

Fighting to protect a future for us all.

So we will fight this election until the last vote is cast next Saturday night.

I believe we can prevail and I believe in the end we will prevail.

We will fight for our values.

We will fight for our vision.

And we will fight for our project.

And we will fight for the heart and soul of the Australia we all want for the future of all members of this great Australian family.