SPEECH: VICTORIAN LABOR CAMPAIGN LAUNCH

This part of the world is pretty special to our family.

It’s where Cath and I both went to uni.

Here, in this theatre actually, is where Cath worked one of her very first jobs.

Just across the road was where the two of us first met.

When… somehow… something about a nerdy 21-year-old caught Cath’s eye.

It was a little bit further down the road that we bought our first home… it's still our home.

It’s there that we’re raising our three children.

And there we’ve celebrated those ordinary events that every family makes their own:

Christmases. Anniversaries.

Losing the cat. And after eight months, finding the cat again.

First words. First steps. And first days of school.

The kids are getting older now. Watching them today, I’m prouder than ever.

Our family chose to make Melbourne’s south east our home.

And it’s been the surrounding streets and suburbs that have mapped our lives ever since.

But we didn’t just find our home here. We found our community here too.

A genuine melting pot of people with different stories, and from different circumstances.

A community of people united by more than just our location. More than just our connection to a place.

But a connection to each other.

It’s the same here today.

People from every background. Every belief.

United by a common creed: That we are all in this together.

That we’re stronger for our diversity, and greater for our difference.

That education is power, and that every child deserves every chance.

That good, secure, decent jobs are a right, and that workers’ rights must be protected.

These are the values that our Government has lived by.

And every day over the last four years, we’ve been doing what we said we would:

Putting people first.

We backed fairness for renters, and first home buyers.

We banned fracking, for good and forever.

We made addressing family violence our priority.

We made adoption equality a reality.

And we haven’t just rescued TAFE. We’ve made it free, and better than it has ever been.

That means young Victorians are now getting the skills they need.

And, just as important, they now have every reason to be optimistic about their future.

Because, under our watch, more than 390,000 Victorian jobs have been created.

Tens of thousands of them, the direct result of our investments.

That’s because, from day one, we chose to be a government that builds.

And across our city and across our state, there are cranes in the sky, and shovels in the ground.

Boots in the mud, and boom gates in the bin.

We’re building the Metro Tunnel.

Upgrading every regional rail line.

And 29 level crossing are gone for good.

But for us, it’s never just about building “stuff” for stuff’s sake.

Instead, each of these projects - every ounce of concrete, every dollar of investment - is about making life better for working people.

But we know that our work is far from over.

And that in every community and in every corner of our state, there are families who rely on Labor Governments.

Right now, almost two people in Victoria take their own lives every day.

It’s a silent epidemic. An indiscriminate tragedy.

Something must be done.

It’s why earlier this week, I made a promise that will change our state, and change lives.

Our nation’s first Royal Commission into Mental Health.

From the scourge of addiction, to the inadequacy of current services – nothing will be off limits.

Because if you’re fair dinkum about keeping communities safe, you’ve got to acknowledge when the system is broken.

We saw that with family violence.

And although that work is far from over, only by laying bare our failures, can we begin to fix them.

It’s why we so desperately need this Commission:

To identify the gaps. To recognise the failings. To find those answers.

And ultimately, to save lives.

Because whoever you are, wherever you live, whatever you do –

Nothing matters more than your health, and the health of the people you love.

In four short years, we’ve made a lot of progress.

Our brand new Women’s and Children’s Hospital for families in the west, named in honour of our friend, and Labor legend, Joan Kirner.

A bigger, better Monash for families in the south-east.

And from Ballarat to Wonthaggi, we are rebuilding our regional hospitals too.

But none of that work will ever be as important as supporting the men and women who support all of us.

Before we were elected, we made a promise: that we would end the war on our ambos.

And we did.

Four years on, ambulances are responding faster than ever.

In fact, today, we saw the best winter results on record.

I’m proud to lead a government that backs our ambos.

Because if you’ve ever had to make that call, if you’ve ever had to experience that agonising wait –

You know that every second matters.

Complacency doesn’t cut it.

We saw that four years ago.

I still think about the ambos back then.

Constant professionals, but overstretched and overburdened.

And I wonder just how different things could have been for them, and for their patients, if only the ambulance system had actually worked.

Friends, I never want another paramedic to think… If only.

And I never want another parent, like Steve and Jo, to have to search for answers in a broken system.

That’s why, today I can announce that a re-elected Labor Government will make sure our ambos have everything they need to be there for every family.

We’ll invest an extra $109 million for new vehicles, new equipment, new stations.

And most importantly, new paramedics.

Because if, in that most awful moment, your body fails you – your government shouldn’t.

We made another promise four years ago: to protect nurse to patient ratios and enshrine them in law.

But as far as we’ve come, I’ll never ever forget what a nurse at the Royal Children’s Hospital once told me:

“Every day, you walk out having given everything you’ve got. But never feeling you did everything you could.”

She was referring to the small things.

Those extra minutes spent caring for a patient.

The extra time spent listening to their family.

And even if nothing could be done, making sure those last moments are as comfortable as they can be.

Ratios matter.

They matter to safety. They matter to job satisfaction.

But, fundamentally, ratios are a recognition that if you’re in pain, if you’re sick, if you’re scared:

Each of us deserves to be taken care of.

It’s why today, I’m proud to announce that if re-elected, Labor will deliver 1100 more nurses in Victoria's public hospitals.

We'll strengthen nurse to patient ratios and fund even more nurses on our night shifts.

For those who’ve just had surgery, just had a baby –

Older, frailer patients and new bubs in our special care nurseries –

It will mean an extra nurse on every night shift at our busiest hospitals.

Put another way: extra set of eyes, an extra pair of hands and those extra moments that make all the difference.

Indeed, for many communities, it is the little things that make the biggest difference.

Earlier this year, I visited Elmhurst Bush Nursing Centre.

Elmhurst is about halfway between Ararat and Avoca.

It’s home to a pub, a general store and a great local nursing centre.

As part of our Regional Health Infrastructure Fund, Elmhurst applied for, and received $27,000.

Not a grand sum. But enough to buy a new car.

One of the staff explained to me exactly what that money would mean:

That one car would allow the service to get out and see a few more patients every day.

A few more elderly, unwell Victorians who could stay in their own home just a little bit longer.

And a few more families that, because of this service, their loved ones are getting the care they need –

And most importantly, the dignity they deserve.

To me, that will always be money well spent.

Because I stand here, not just as the Premier. Not just as a politician.

But as a brother, a husband, a dad.

The son of a loving mum, who’s here today – and of a dad, who gave me everything.

He was at the last campaign launch, and I can still hear him telling me: “say what you do, and do what you say.”

Two years ago, Dad lost his battle with cancer.

The last quality time we shared together, just the two of us, was on one of his many visits to Melbourne for specialist care.

He’d had his treatment and I helped put him into the Transport Ambulance for the long journey back to the Farm.

So many of his final months were spent away from home, away from his community, getting the care that he needed.

He never complained, he just accepted it.

But it’s not right. And it’s going to change.

Because today I’m proud to announce that a re-elected Labor Government will fund an extra 500,000 appointments with medical specialists for patients in our regional communities.

These appointments will cover the things that local families need most.

Caring for Victorians with a heart condition.

Those struggling with arthritis.

Those suffering from chronic pain.

And those fighting cancer.

But it’s not just 500,000 extra appointments.

It’s 500,000 more opportunities for assessment.

Half a million chances for hope.

And it’s the peace of mind that only comes when you know, dedicated specialised care is close at hand, and close to home.

But it’s not just families in our rural and regional communities.

That sheer terror of comforting a sick child in the middle of the night –

That helplessness of having a loved one on dialysis, or chemo –

It doesn’t matter whether the trip between home and the hospital is 30 kilometres...or 300.

If you’re scared, alone or unwell, it’s terrifying.

It’s why today, I can announce, we’ll build and expand ten community hospitals across our suburbs, and across our state.

From Pakenham to Point Cook.

Cranbourne to Craigieburn.

Phillip Island to Torquay.

It’ll mean after hours care, treating broken bones or kids’ fevers.

And for patients on chemo or dialysis, no longer will they have to make that trek into the city.

Instead, they’ll be able to get the care they need, in the community they’ve helped to build.

It’s one of the biggest shake-ups of healthcare in Victorian history.

And the kind of reform that only Labor offers.

It’s why this election matters so much.

Because although we’ve achieved a lot –

This contest isn’t just about defending the status quo.

Instead, it’s about everything still to be done.

Our movement has never been about standing up for standing still.

It’s not what we do. It’s not who we are.

And right now, there are thousands and thousands of Victorians counting on us.

Kids like Maddie – who need a great local school and sometimes, a bit of extra support. Young people like Emily and Jessica – who need strong TAFEs to build a future, for themselves and their children.

Locals like Lena and her grandkids in Bentleigh – who are relying on us to build better and safer road and rail.

Our paramedics and our nurses, just like those at Elmhurst and just like those here today, who want to be there for every patient.

And families, like yours and mine, deserve to know there’s always care close to home.

These Victorians are why this election matters.

And these Victorians are why, over the next 27 days, we need your support.

Because we are all in this together.

And what we have is the most powerful force in politics....people.

Only Labor offers a positive and optimistic plan for our state’s future.

And only together, can we keep delivering for all Victorians.