I rise today to talk about the achievements of the recent 47th national conference of the Australian Labor Party. I had the privilege of attending the conference and giving the ACT an important voice on the major policy issues we discussed, ranging from the environment, to marriage equality, to equal opportunities for women.
We are a democratic party. We are a party that has its debates in the public eye, and we are a party that is open to contributions from people of all backgrounds.
Looking at the hundreds of observers you did not just see Labor members; you saw a wide range of progressive activists and interested people wanting to see democracy in action. When Bill Shorten made his opening speech, when we discussed the tough issues of immigration and when we moved forward with our commitment to marriage equality, the conference hall was packed with hundreds of people there to hear what Labor stands for. We are able to discuss the tough issues in public because that is what political parties should do. I believe Labor’s commitment to transparent policy making is what keeps us in tune with the wider community.
I was pleased to be there when the ALP renewed its commitment to take serious action on climate change. By 2030 our federal Labor counterparts have promised that 50 per cent of electricity will be provided for by renewable energy and that Labor will introduce an emissions trading scheme. Labor is the only party that has consistently supported action on climate change and is the only party both able and willing to take the steps needed to tackle climate change. The ACT government remains committed to 90 per cent renewable energy by 2020, and this move by federal Labor shows that we are on the right track.
ACT Labor also has some of the highest levels of female representation in the country: 40 per cent of our current ministers are women, 50 per cent of our MLAs are women and 66 per cent—two out of three—of our federal representatives are women. Labor has been leading the way, and now federal Labor is committed to 50 per cent women’s representation in parliament by 2025. While Tony Abbott cannot even find a woman to be his minister for women, Labor is leading the way by promoting diversity amongst our representatives.
Another of the major achievements was a progressive policy on marriage equality. I stand with my colleague and friend Andrew Barr and the rest of the ACT Labor delegation and the Labor caucus when I say that any two people who love one another should be able to marry regardless of gender. The attitudes of the current federal government are holding back the ACT and other jurisdictions from bringing marriage equality to our country and our city. Within 100 days of a Shorten federal Labor government being elected, marriage equality will be legislated for. This is well overdue. It is time to make this change.
Whilst it will be a somewhat smaller affair, I am also looking forward to attending the ACT Labor conference later this month. Just like our federal counterparts, ACT Labor is the only party in Canberra which conducts its debates in public. Hundreds of activists from the Labor Party and the labour movement will meet to discuss how we can grow a strong, diverse and inclusive Canberra. I will be backing the Chief Minister’s vision to ensure that Canberra remains a great place to live, work, study and do business.