Statement by NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley


It is with pride and humility that I assume the leadership of Australia’s oldest and most storied political party, NSW Labor.

On this day, I look to the future.

I will lead a modern Labor Party that brings forward positive plans to address the challenges facing our state.

The Party I lead will be a party of solutions, and never a mere party of protest.

I bring to this job ideas, energy and, above all, my Labor values.

Those values are timeless:

  • a fair go for all;
  • a decent life for everyone; and
  • a helping hand to those most in need.

I will always be guided by these timeless Labor values, but I will apply them to modern circumstances. 

My vision for NSW is this:

I want NSW to be the great economic powerhouse of Australia, the great employment generator in our nation and at the same time our nation’s social conscience. 

This means both ensuring our economic growth and prosperity is shared across the community.

And offering a helping hand to those in need. 

My priorities as Leader will be to…

  • Create new jobs in all of our suburbs and regions
  • Invest in our hospitals, schools and TAFE
  • Protect our natural environment 

Creating more jobs close to home will reduce the length of the daily commute to work, relieve congestion on our roads, trains and buses and give people more time with their loved ones.

I don’t want people in our suburbs and regions to have no choice but to travel to the central business district of Sydney for a rewarding job.

I want the residents of the south and the west of Sydney to have the same opportunities in life that are available to the residents of the city’s north and east.

I want to grow smart jobs and opportunities throughout the greater west of Sydney, and on the Central Coast, in the Hunter and the Illawarra, and in our regions.

To achieve this we need to invest our public services.

This is why I will make investing in our hospitals, schools and TAFE a top priority, to ensure our public services keep up with the growth of our state so every child has access to a high quality education – giving them the best possible start in life and everyone has access to affordable and high quality public health care. 

The biggest challenge we face is to ensure that our schools and hospitals keep up with our growing population.

The population of NSW will increase from 7 and a half million people today to 9 million in just 15 years from now.

Eighty percent of this population growth will be in Sydney.

We will have to find places for 347,000 more school children in NSW in 2030.

In metropolitan Sydney alone, there will be 300,000 more school children than there are today.

Today there is no integrated planning for future schools and hospitals.

And the Liberals and Nationals are cutting funding from education and health, with the State government cutting $1.7 billion from our schools and TAFE, and $3 billion from our hospitals; and Tony Abbott cutting a further $25 billion of funding from education and health in his Federal Budget.

We can’t afford these cuts. We need to be investing for the future.

Let’s plan the growth of our education and our health sectors, so that these industries can grow, and provide both high quality services to millions and smart jobs.

I will also prioritise the protection of our environment. 

I will champion economic activity that creates jobs and prosperity, and at the same time I’ll champion environmental protection. 

Our economic prosperity and our quality of life need not be underwritten by the needless destruction of our environment. 

The governments led by Neville Wran and Bob Hawke proved that we can grow the economy and jobs, and at the same time protect our natural environment. 

I welcome the Premier putting forward his policies for the state, and will work constructively with him to implement them where they are in the best interest of the state.

I am not an ideologue. I will always approach each issue on its merits.

And if I don’t agree with the Premier’s position, I will explain why – and put forward an alternative approach.

I agree with the Premier that we need to invest in infrastructure, but not by cutting funding for schools, hospitals and TAFE. 

This is why I oppose his plans to privatise electricity, which will see the state lose more than a billion dollars in dividends returned to the budget each year, money used to fund our schools and hospitals.

Electricity privatisation is not the silver bullet for addressing the state’s infrastructure challenges.

Those are not my words – they are the words of former Liberal Premier Barry O’Farrell.

Labor will release our fully funded and responsible infrastructure policy early in the election campaign – with key priorities for planning for new schools and hospitals to cater for population growth and the demands of the future and relieving congestion by creating more jobs in our suburbs and in our regions. 

As the Leader of the NSW Opposition I will always strive to put forward a positive alternative that is in line with Labor’s vision for this state.

Under my leadership there will be breadth to Labor’s policy agenda.

I will put before the people of NSW at the 2015 election an economic agenda, a social agenda and an environmental agenda.

I thank my colleagues for placing their trust in me. 

I look forward to working with you all over the coming months.

And I am happy to take any questions.