The waiting is over. The jingle told us so. The campaign launched. The slogan unveiled.

At Darling Harbour this morning Labor showed it is influenced by more than American spelling. It was like a US nominating convention, a convention that annointed Kevin Rudd as the party’s candidate.

The first example of the “Fresh Thinking” the banners proclaimed is that six months of campaigning will replace the 30 days of elections gone by.

There’s a change in the weather. Now. I see it now. I hear it now. I feel it now.

Those words of the new party ditty will be heard around the country as the Labor Leader embarks on his presidential cavalcade.

And what will be the message? Kevin from Queensland who’s here to help, put his goal in a sentence: “To build Australia’s long-term prosperity without throwing the fair go out the back door.”

Rudd’s  address to the party faithful (watch his opening comments here) — ”friends” no longer “comrades” — gathered together for what is supposed to be a policy making party conference, contained few surprises. With all major decisions already made by party bosses a National Conference of the Labor Party is no place for real debate.

Just repeat the themes of the last few months that we will hear over and over again between now and October. “… we, friends, are the party of the future. And our opponents, friends, have become the party of the past.”

Friends, our core argument to the Australian people is this:

  • First, Mr Howard has abused the power he’s been given by the Australian people. He’s squandered the opportunity he’s been given to prepare Australia for its future. And instead he’s introduced his unfair industrial relations laws – laws which all reasonable Australians now recognise as having gone just too far;
  • Second, I intend to throw out Mr Howard’s WorkChoices laws lock, stock and barrel – because I believe we can build long term prosperity without throwing the fair go out the back door; and
  • Third, having restored these fundamentals, our intention is to face with confidence, determination and fresh ideas the great challenges of our nation’s future. Building long term prosperity once the mining boom is over. Investing in an Education Revolution. Acting on climate change and water. And ending the blame game between Canberra and the States.

Not that all the Rudd thinking is fresh. There is one significant throw back to the Labor past. He committed any future government of his to some very old fashioned protection for manufacturing industry.

“We can build productivity growth through an education revolution, the application of new technologies, by freeing up our businesses from unnecessary regulation and by encouraging a new age of innovation – including our critical manufacturing industries,” he told the Labor delegates.

“I don’t want to be a prime minister of a country that doesn’t make things anymore … And we are capable of building this prosperity on the back of these reforms – without throwing the fair go out the back door.”

Peter Fray

72 hours only. 50% off a year of Crikey and The Atlantic.

Our two-for-one offer with The Atlantic was so popular we decided to bring it back.

But only for 72 hours.

Use the promo code ATLANTIC2020 and you’ll get 50% off a year of Crikey (usually $199) and a year of digital access to The Atlantic (usually $70). That’s BOTH for just $129.

Hurry. Ends midnight this Thursday.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

Claim Now