Kaila Murnain Conference Address

Speech to the 2018 NSW Labor Annual State Conference by General Secretary, Kaila Murnain

'Delegates, it’s great to be here with you, the members of Fortress NSW.

Together we carry an enormous responsibility. When the Labor Electoral League first gathered at the Temperance Hall in 1892, or at our first Conference in the Sydney Town Hall in 1960, it did not begin with a performance like the one we just witnessed.

The faces of those sitting where you sit today were white, male and Anglo-Celtic. 

And some of the resolutions they passed would raise more than an eyebrow in today’s world.

But those delegates shared a common conviction with all of us.

They had cheek. Like many of you.

And they knew then, as we know now...

That power and wealth should never be a birthright.

That the good society maximises the talent all of its people.

That everyone is entitled to dignity, decency and respect.

Most importantly, they knew they had to seize the levers of government to make this a reality.

And that those with the power would do everything they could to keep them from it.


Delegates, I’m proud to say, we have a party bursting with talent and energy, and ready to continue our historic mission for all Australians.

We have shifted from a party that once banned women attending this conference, to one that is inches from equal representation.

Our First Nation people represent us with distinction as Labor Candidates and in parliaments across our Country. 

Our affiliated trade unions keep us tethered to the reality of working life. Decisions made here, in this secular cathedral of social reform, make our workplaces safer, our jobs more secure, and our jobs better paid.

And we include people of ALL cultural backgrounds in our decisions. 

Not because we are virtue signalling or politically correct.

But because we have an unwavering commitment to equality and respect

Delegates, this is OUR modern Labor Party.

Delegates we have preselected the majority of candidates in State and Federal electorates:

a record number of women - more than 50% in NSW - from all walks of life.

Doctors, teachers, health professionals, tradies, our first indigenous elder Norma Ingram in the State seat of Newtown.

Our team is ready for Government.

Both in Macquarie Street and in Canberra.

This responsibility must guide everything we do this weekend.

We will disagree on some questions of policy and politics.

And we should have those debates with vigour and we do it with the world to see.

Nothing will stop us, not even WW1 or 2 could stop us debating the issues that truly matter to the people of NSW.

But the gravity of our mission must remain front of mind.

I want us to resist cheap shots. Rise above the politics of personality.

And certainly, avoid the juvenile self-indulgence of the Liberals and Nationals.

Who ignored stagnant wage growth at their recent conference.

Who ignored the 700,000 people who will lose their penalty rates tomorrow.

But found time for privatizing the ABC.


Delegates this weekend, we don’t have time for this sort of nonsense. 

Because we must win. One of the NSW Liberal Party’s biggest failures sits fifty metres from us through those doors.

Ms Berejiklian’s tram to nowhere. The same place she’s taking our State.

And we won’t let it continue.


Our mission has never been more important, and it’s a mission that must be won in the trenches, only with the commitment of you: the members of the great Australian Labor Party.

I have witnessed your hard work on the phones, on the doorsteps, and in your communities. I thank you for the sacrifices you make every day to help our Party succeed.

I pay tribute in particular to all of our State and Federal Candidates, and in thank the NSW Labor Party Officers and Officials, Mark Lennon, Tara Moriarty, Pat Garcia, Deb O’Neill, Tim Gartrell, David Dobson, Jay Suvaal, Elly Harding, and Julie Sibraa and of course our resilient Assistant General Secretary Rose Jackson. Strong women succeed when they are supported by other strong women, and my heart goes out to you Rose, and your family at this difficult time. 

We have a huge year ahead, we have a huge weekend ahead, but together we will prevail.

I will leave you with a quote from our favourite son, former Federated Municipal and Shire Council Employees' Union organiser, Paul Keating:

 “The Labor Party is a party of conviction. The Liberal Party is a party of convenience.”

Delegates, together, let’s show them, we are fortress NSW.'