I’m aware that many people are learning about me today for the first time.
I probably look and sound a bit different to recent Labor leaders.
My professional background in the private and not-for-profit sector and in the media, is different.
And while today I represent one of Sydney’s most multicultural electorates, I come from a place that is different – the small town of Gloucester.
When I first announced my candidacy, I spoke about growing up in the country.
These country values still guide everything I do.
But Gloucester is a town that traditionally has not voted Labor.
The Labor Party I lead will reach out to those in the community who have not voted for us in recent years.
It will be a big tent – and it will have a big heart.
And that means reaching out to rural towns, our multicultural communities, our small businesses and tradies, and those who live in our outer suburbs. And, you won’t hear me talking the politics of class – we’re all in this together.
When Neville Wran assumed the leadership in 1973 – he won by one vote over Pat Hills. And three years later, he formed the first Wran Government – and would go onto win another three elections – based on vision, trust and competency.
He also got out of Macquarie Street and met the people – in country towns, the regions, and the suburbs. He let people know who he was, what he stood for and what a Labor Government would do for them.
And that is exactly what I intend to do…
As I’ve said during this campaign, Labor’s values of compassion, inclusion and opportunity for all stand eternal.
But it will be our mission to apply these values to new circumstances.
And whatever those circumstances, Labor must be a Party where the notion that people matter is central to everything we do and say.
But today - I want to talk about homelessness.
Under this Government, homelessness in NSW has increased by 37% with over 37,000 people experiencing homelessness on any given night.
The Premier has made much of signing an agreement to halve street homelessness by 2025, however there were no measures attached to that commitment in the budget and she’s given no indication how she will achieve that goal. Can I say, I’d be very happy to work collaboratively with her.
But street homelessness is only part of the problem - there are people living in severely overcrowded dwellings every night. The women’s and youth refuges that have survived this Government report a 43% increase in the number of clients over the last four years.
Our social housing stock has been plundered and there are more than 60,000 families on the social housing waiting list.
Burwood has one of the highest homelessness rates in the state, and yet it's left to people like Father James from St Paul’s Anglican Church to help these people.
I often turn to Father James for support and I’ve asked him to be here today to talk to you about his work in my community. And why homelessness will be a priority issue for me as Leader.
I will appoint a Shadow Minister for Homelessness and Housing, and I’m going to talk about social housing, which no other Labor Leader has. We will tackle the difficult issues and we will embed in everything we say and do the notion that ‘people matter’.
It won’t be easy - but something big, bold and brave rarely is.
This is what Chifley talked about when he referred to the Light on the Hill - a vision of a society where everyone has a purpose, everyone has a role and everyone is looked after.
The Labor Party needs to be a big tent with a big heart, and that begins today under my Leadership.