Labor Central Coast Campaign Launch

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Monday March 9, 2015

(CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY)

Thank you – it’s great to be here in Gosford to launch Labor’s Central Coast campaign.

And a special thanks to you, David – let me tell you, they won’t need to build any monuments to David Harris around here on the Central Coast.

Those monuments are already standing tall – Warnervale Public School, Wyong police station, the Tuggerah commuter carpark.

David, I know there’s so much more you want to achieve and that’s why we want you roaring back into Parliament in three weeks time

Along with all our great Labor candidates for the Coast –

Kathy Smith in Gosford.

David Mehan in The Entrance

Jeff Sundstrom in Terrigal

Yasmin Catley in Swansea                                                                              

I also want to acknowledge my wonderful deputy and Shadow Minister for the Central Coast Linda Burney.

The Central Coast is a place where people of all ages seek a better quality of life.  

Being detached from the big city has its benefits, but I believe the Coast is tired of being treated as a poor cousin by this Liberal Government.

It’s tired of being told that promises made to gain a splashy headline in Sydney – will one day reach them.

At this election, what the people of the Coast are looking for above all is an ambitious plan for investment.

They’ll support a party which says – you don’t necessarily need to travel down to Sydney, you can live, study, work and achieve your dreams right here.

Today, I say to the people of the Central Coast – this is what you can expect if you vote Labor on March 28.

We will keep the electricity network in public hands.

Unlike Mike Baird, we won’t sell off Ausgrid, supplier of power to every Coast home and every Coast business.

We’ll use the profits our electricity network makes to fund improved services on the Coast and above all, to invest in local hospitals and schools.

We’ll attack the scandalous 28 per cent teenage youth unemployment here on the Coast.

And we’ll permanently ban the Wallarah 2 mine and impose a moratorium on coal seam gas – including Mangrove Mountain! 

This election, you can choose a new approach for the Central Coast.

I say to local Labor Party members – we can all feel the change in the air; in the Victorian and Queensland election results; in the turmoil of conservative politics in Canberra. 

This thing can be done – and it starts by winning seats on the Coast.

The Coast that the Liberals have ignored all through their term.

When you have Liberals obsessed with privatising electricity so they can promise distant mirages in Sydney…

It’s time for a new approach here on the Central Coast. 

When you have Wyong and Gosford Hospitals urgently in need of upgrades and Tony Abbott and Mike Baird cutting $18 billion out of the health budget…

It’s time for a new approach here on the Central Coast.

And when you have young people desperate for opportunity and the Liberals locking people out of university and TAFE…

It’s time for a new approach here on the Central Coast.

For NSW Labor, the last four years has been a journey back to the people, a journey back to our origins, to find our best self.

We had to re-examine ourselves, find humility – and change… 

With a refreshed policy approach centred on the needs of the people of the entire state.

And the highest integrity standards for MPs of any party anywhere in Australia.

Today, politics on the Central Coast desperately needs change.

In 2011, many people on the Coast voted Liberal for the first time, thinking change was on the way.

The Liberals promised they would stop Wallarah 2.

They wore bright red t-shirts saying “Water, not Coal.”

No ifs, no buts – a guarantee.

Then as soon as the election was over, they broke their commitment.

And so, at the heart of this election is the fundamental issue of rebuilding trust.

Can we find a new way to make politics work on the Central Coast?

A new way to build the schools, hospitals and roads of tomorrow without blackmailing people that they must accept the sale of their electricity network?

A new way to plan for the growth of the Central Coast in a way that respects local communities and keeps what is special?

I say to the people of the Coast.

...You deserve a new politics, you deserve a new approach.

 And that is what I will offer in three weeks time.

***

Nothing could better symbolise the old politics that the people want us to abandon than the Liberals’ plan to sell the electricity network and the Abbott Government’s plan to pay them to do it.

And they’re now blackmailing the Coast for basic infrastructure needs.

If the Queensland election tells us one thing – it is this.

You can stop privatisation by voting Labor.

Will prices go up? Of course they will. The only reason someone buys an asset is to make money on it.

In South Australia following privatisation, $420 a year from every customer goes directly into the pocket of the private billionaire owner.

Will infrastructure be better? Of course it won’t.

There will be more cuts to schools, hospitals and TAFE as the Liberals can’t explain how they will fill the black hole when billions of dollars of electricity profits are lost to the state.

And what if the Liberals’ fail to sell the electricity network, or fail to get the price they expect?

After all, they couldn’t even sell the Vales Point power station here on the Central Coast in December.

Well, in Mike Baird’s own words, there is no plan B.

If he fails – he can't fund his extravagant promises.

The contrast with Labor’s infrastructure approach could not be greater – and a classic example is the Pacific Highway upgrade between Ourimbah and Lisarow.

Mike Baird’s telling the people of the Coast, cop the privatisation of electricity and we will buy you off with a road.

People shouldn’t have to accept that blackmail – and Labor will refuse to play ball.

I have already made clear that Labor will reserve $100 million to upgrade the Pacific Highway between Ourimbah and Lisarow.

And unlike the Liberals, we’ll upgrade the Highway without privatising our electricity network.

Labor has a fully-funded $10 billion infrastructure plan to invest in new hospitals, schools and roads across this State. 

We don’t believe the Liberals have delivered the Coast a fair return from the sale of electricity generators and the State’s ports – and that’s why we have created a specific $141 million Central Coast Infrastructure Fund.

Today I can announce that Labor will reserve $45 million, out of this fund, to complete the Warnervale Link Road.

This will connect the growing community of Warnervale to the jobs and education hub of the Wyong Town Centre…

… Halving current travel times and reducing traffic loads on the Pacific Highway.

Only a Labor government will deliver it – no strings attached.

Labor will also complete the West Gosford Interchange, intersection upgrades to Wyong Road and the Central Coast Highway at East Gosford.

And I know Jeff Sundstrom will be delivering the Terrigal Drive upgrade.

Labor’s infrastructure plan maintains the budget surplus over the economic cycle.

We will maintain the State’s AAA credit rating.

I am not making extravagant promises that my opponent is making in this campaign – but what we promise, we can pay for.

NEW APPROACH TO HEALTH ON THE CENTRAL COAST

Friends

This election, Labor is offering a new approach for the NSW health system.

The Auditor General has reported that too many Central Coast families are waiting in hospital emergency departments for too long.

And too many senior citizens are queuing up to a year for hip replacements, cataracts and other elective surgery.

The bed occupancy rate on the Central Coast is 95 per cent.

That’s right on capacity – and because of the jam in the wards, it takes ambulances an average of 42 minutes to get patients off stretchers at Gosford – and 33 minutes at Wyong.  `

Friends, now is the time to build the Central Coast Hospitals of tomorrow.

Today, I am proud to announce $200 million to upgrade Wyong Hospital – fully funded without privatising electricity.

Unlike the Liberals, I will never make hospital upgrades conditional on asset sales. I just refuse to do it.

Labor’s upgrade of Wyong will create 79 new acute adult inpatient beds, 4 new intensive care unit beds, 4 new acute stroke patient beds …

… New emergency department treatment spaces, resuscitation rooms and two additional operating theatres.

We will also provide expanded pediatrics, chemotherapy, medical imaging capability and mental health services.

The population of Wyong LGA is set to increase by 18 per cent over the next seven years.

Labor’s Wyong Hospital upgrade will help address the growing demand from young families – and the growing demand from our seniors.

Today, I can also confirm that Labor will complete the $368 million redevelopment of Gosford Hospital.

Labor will deliver a brand new emergency department, expanded intensive care unit, improved operating theatre and maternity services.

I’m so proud of Kathy Smith, our candidate for Gosford, a cancer survivor, the former Chair of Cancer Voices –

She fought against the Liberals’ chemotherapy copayment – a payment Labor will abolish.

Kathy also helped secure funding to build the Regional Cancer Centre, saving residents a trip to Sydney for treatment.

With Kathy Smith as the local Member, make no mistake – Labor will get the Gosford Hospital redevelopment done.

Labor will support the work of Wyong and Gosford Hospitals with new paramedics.

We will deliver 500 new paramedics across the State over the next four years.

We will invest $46.6 million to hire the very best paramedics and supply them with state of the art vehicles, defibrillators and equipment.

Friends, Labor will also establish a brand new Nurse Walk-in Centre on the Central Coast.

Our Nurse Walk-in Centres are part of a $40 million commitment across NSW – staffed by 45 additional nurses.

Mums and Dads know how hard it is to access health services late at night or on the weekend.

Under Labor’s plan – announced last month on the Coast by Linda Burney and David Mehan – experienced nurses will provide free medical advice between 7.30am and 10pm for patients with minor injuries and illnesses.

The Nurse Walk in Centre will operate seven days a week – and it will work in tandem with Wyong and Gosford Hospitals.

We are deliberately introducing this service to take some of the pressure off Wyong and Gosford Hospitals.

Nurse Walk-in Centres have been successfully introduced in the UK and the ACT.

Fully costed and fully funded.

And not one cent relies on privatising electricity.

In all, Labor is proposing a record investment of more than half a billion dollars in Central Coast hospital and ambulance services to position the region for the future.

It’s a new approach – and we’re proudly bringing it to the Central Coast.

NEW APPROACH TO EDUCATION

Friends

There are close to 1.2 million children in NSW schools today.

And between now and 2031, we’ll need 6000 extra classrooms for as many as 270,000 more students.

Huge growth across the board – and it’s happening right here on the Coast.

At this election, Labor’s bold new approach to education

  • employs 200 new specialist maths and science teachers in primary schools;
  • plans the growth of new schools
  • replaces some of the Coast’s worst demountable buildings; and
  • rescues TAFE and reverses the Liberals’ fee increases.

Under Labor, every new school will be required to have childcare or before and after hours care facilities on site.

It will be the policy of the State

Over the past four years of Liberal Government, capital expenditure on schools has been savagely cut.

Labor’s priorities are very different.

If elected, we will provide an additional $1.3 billion to build and improve our schools and TAFE colleges – and we will do it without privatising electricity.

If elected Premier, I will also demand Tony Abbott reinstate the tens of millions of dollars of Gonski funding he’s ripped out of Central Coast schools from next year.

Mike Baird failed to stand up to Tony Abbott then – Labor will get Gonski back on the COAG agenda.

Mike Baird’s also failed to stand up to Tony Abbott’s $100,000 university degrees.

Labor believes that everyone should be able to access a university education as a basic right – no matter their financial circumstances and no matter their geography.

NEW APPROACH TO JOBS AND THE VISITOR ECONOMY

Friends

Labor will never be satisfied with a Central Coast unemployment rate above the State average.

Yasmin Catley has been calling for a Central Coast jobs summit – and if Mike Baird’s not interested, then we’ll gladly do it.

I’m determined to renew the Gosford and Wyong town centres – catapulting them into thriving coastal cities.

The Liberals cut scores of jobs out of WorkCover in Gosford during this term.

Labor is proud that we brought the Police Assistance Line and Crimestoppers Call Centre to Tuggerah and we will investigate bringing another Government Department or agency to the Central Coast.

Today I can also announce Labor will reserve $12 million to build a New Performing Arts Centre at Gosford.

The Liberals’ arts and cultural fund for NSW relies on privatising electricity; Labor believes it’s obscene to link the two and we will always deliver money for the arts, no strings attached.

At this election, Labor will also provide tax relief to race clubs at Gosford and Wyong – delivering tax parity with Victoria.

The racing and venues industry is essential to jobs on the Coast.

Easing the burden on race clubs will allow them to invest, diversify and put on stronger meets that pack the grandstands and send people teeming out into the shops.

I’m interested in new approaches to boost the region’s visitor economy.

A standalone – major – Sydney Saturday race meeting at Gosford …. Held in summer … will quickly become the annual highlight of the Central Coast sporting calendar …

And I’m determined to make it a reality.

Labor’s racing policy will be a boon for Wyong, a boon for Gosford and it will create new jobs in retail, hospitality and tourism the entire length of the Coast.

NEW APPROACH TO ENVIRONMENT

Friends

There can be no new approach for the Central Coast without a bold agenda for environmental protection.

This is one of the passions of my public life.

As Shadow Environment Minister, I introduced a Bill to Parliament to permanently ban mining at the site of the proposed Wallarah 2 coal mine.

As Premier, I will not allow the Wallarah 2 coal mine to proceed.

Labor will relegate the Liberals’ tawdry broken promise to the history books.

If elected in March, Labor will declare a statewide moratorium on coal seam gas – all over the Central Coast – including the Mangrove Mountain.

We will also commit $2 million to clean up Tuggerah Lakes – significant new investment to mitigate stormwater pollution, foreshore erosion and loss of wetlands and marine life.

Today I can also announce Labor will ensure Peat Island is preserved and enhanced as public space – stopping dead the Liberals’ push to sell it off to developers and drop in multi-storey apartments.

This is a special place on the doorstep of the Central Coast, surrounded by the Hawkesbury and five National Parks.

A Labor Government will consult with local residents and ensure that any enhancements are handled sensitively.

We will ensure Peat Island remains a treasure of the Coast – a special place whose Aboriginal heritage, environmental and tourism values demand its protection.

CONCLUSION

Friends

Mike Baird is a polite fellow with a nice smile, there’s nothing personal between us.

But he’s a Liberal Premier and he’s making choices that hurt – choices to cut health and education, choices to privatise electricity, choices to damage the environment and trample over local communities right here on the Coast. 

I believe in something different – Labor has always believed in something different.

We believe in a fair go for all. We want a decent quality of life for everyone.

We want a helping hand for those who need it most.

That’s why I’ll fight every day until this election is done.

What the Central Coast needs today is a new approach.

What the people of the Central Coast can vote for in three weeks time is a good Labor government.

At this election the choice could not be clearer. A vote for the Liberals would be a vote to privatise the State’s electricity network.

It would be a reward for a Liberal Party that has let the Coast down.

A vote for Labor is a vote for to keep the electricity network in public hands …

It’s a vote to put the brakes on coal seam coal seam gas, banish Wallarah 2 forever… and invest in the schools and hospitals of tomorrow…

It’s a new approach … for the Central Coast!