Western Australian State Election

21 March 2017

I rise this evening to congratulate my state Labor colleagues, the Western Australian Premier, Mark McGowan, and the whole of the WA Labor team on their election. I rise to thank so many of the volunteers who played a part in the election, including WA Labor's Community Action Network, who had activists from Derby to Albany to Joondalup to Serpentine and right around the state. Their efforts were relentless: knocking on doors, calling households, staffing prepolls and polling booths, and letterboxing.

The election we just had in Western Australia was historic in a great many ways. WA elected over 41 Labor members to the Legislative Assembly, the largest majority ever elected. We have also elected a historic seven regional members and 30 women to the parliament as a whole. So the outcome of this election shows that Western Australians do not want to see Western Power privatised, Roe 8 constructed or a range of broken promises, and all of those issues have federal implications. The national power debate is playing out over here, and WA has had many similar themes with state based power because it is not part of the national electricity network. Indeed, Roe 8, where the Commonwealth is refusing currently to give that funding to Western Australia for public transport, is something that will come back to haunt this federal government.

What Western Australians want at both state and federal levels are governments with a fresh approach and a real plan for jobs. We want a leader, and we have that in Mark McGowan, who understands the state's needs, and not what we had in Colin Barnett, who has proven to be arrogant and out of touch. WA Labor at this election ran on a comprehensive policy platform. Systematically, we went about highlighting the importance of local jobs, quality health care, education, keeping public goods in public hands and the need for a dynamic public transport system.

At the cornerstone of this policy platform was our Plan for Jobs, which captured the minds of Western Australians right around the state. Currently, we have the highest unemployment in the nation. We are the only party that brought a comprehensive plan to the WA public: a commitment to invest in our economy in order to tackle Western Australia's climbing unemployment rate. As part of our Plan for Jobs, WA Labor committed to building the Ellenbrook train line and extending the current lines to Yanchep and Byford under METRONET. This will create thousands of construction jobs and apprenticeships. The McGowan Labor government will increase local content requirements on government contracts, including more apprenticeships.

This election also saw the rejection of the Barnett Liberal government's plan for the Roe 8 project and the privatisation of Western Power. Thankfully, the deeply flawed Perth Freight Link project will now not go ahead. The Beeliar Wetlands, I am very overjoyed to say, will be restored and saved under a Labor government. The Mark McGowan government is ready to renegotiate the recently signed Roe 8 contract and to allocate the funds for Perth Freight Link to other worthy projects that will relieve traffic congestion and create jobs. This should be a warning to the likes of Christian Porter because, currently, they are denying funding that would contribute to public transport to his electorate. Something that I would call upon this Liberal government to consider is that there is no point in building a road to nowhere when there are roads and highways right around the state that need to be relieved of heavy congestion. The Turnbull government needs a commitment to working in good faith with the Mark McGowan Labor government. It is time to deliver infrastructure and transport, because Western Australia desperately needs it, and we should not be deprived of those opportunities.

Under a Mark McGowan Labor government, it is really important that Western Power remain in public hands. As I went about talking to people during the election, people were dumbfounded by the decision to privatise a public good. Everyone knows—and the eastern states electricity market is as sign of this—that when you privatise services get worse, prices go up and jobs go overseas.

Whilst the election platform and values of WA Labor are integral to explaining the party's success at the election, my favourite part of the state election success is the stories of the surprise candidates who were elected. I would like to highlight some of their stories to the Senate tonight. We had candidates and small campaign teams working behind the scenes with few resources who have seen success because they have been really passionate about their communities.

There are three candidates I want to highlight the stories of tonight: Yaz Mubarakai, Jessica Stojkovski and Robyn Clarke. Yaz Mubarakai ran for the seat of Jandakot in the South Metropolitan region and had a massive swing of some 18.3 per cent. He is a local businessman and a father and has been a local councillor in the area before. He runs a range of franchises and is an Indian migrant who has been in Australia for more than 20 years. He has lived in the local area for 20 years and over that time he has built up his small businesses, including the Success post office along with the Majestic India restaurant and Cafe Royal, all in the heartland of Cockburn Central. As a candidate, his primary focus was on developing a real plan for congestion along local roads such as Jandakot Road. Like a number of candidates in seats with large margins, he was focused on running a quality campaign and never focused on the consequences nor anticipated winning.

On 11 March, Labor was very successful in the hotly contested northern suburbs of the state. Whilst we knew we would pick up a number of seats, it was not expected that we would pick up Kingsley. Our candidate, a good friend of mine, Jessica Stojkovski, has always been a tireless fighter for her community. She has held various roles, including president of the Landsdale Residents Association, chair of the Perth Rose of Tralee and a member of her family's school P&F and now the school board. Like many mothers, she made the decision to return to university as a mature-age student with a young daughter, where she completed a Bachelor of Planning (Policy & Governance) and started working as a town planner at the City of Wanneroo. Jess is tenacious and energetic, and whilst it may have been a surprise for some, it was not a surprise to all of us that she was elected. It was no surprise to me.

Arguably the biggest surprise of all was Robyn Clarke. She was an exuberant candidate for the seat of Murray-Wellington. It is a regional electorate stretching from Mandurah all the way up to Australind and across three local councils. Robyn made thousands of phone calls and campaigned every weekend despite working in her job right up to the election, apart from the two weeks before it. She has proven her passion for standing up for local needs. Apparently, she was equally as shocked to learn of her win, because she had a holiday to Bali which, needless to say, she has postponed.

I want to give a special mention to Kevin Michel, the Labor candidate and now member for Pilbara who knocked off the Nationals Leader Brendon Grylls in another historic win. Kevin's passion for the community shone through as well as his willingness to tackle high unemployment in the previously booming mining region.

Tonight it is a really wonderful thing for me to be able to take the time to congratulate the McGowan Labor government, its ministers and members on their election. I am very much looking forward to working with you on the challenges that confront our state and to further the interests of Western Australia and the people we represent together.