Bring on the election, Rebecca White tells Labor conference

LABOR FORCE: Opposition Leader Rebecca White got the crowd going at the state Labor conference at George Town on Saturday, as she told the Hodgman government that Labor was ready to take them on at the next election.
LABOR FORCE: Opposition Leader Rebecca White got the crowd going at the state Labor conference at George Town on Saturday, as she told the Hodgman government that Labor was ready to take them on at the next election.

“Bring it on.”

That was Opposition Leader Rebecca White’s message to Premier Will Hodgman, as she addressed the state Labor conference at George Town on Saturday morning.

The conference, which concludes on Sunday, will be the party’s last before the next state election.

But it is also Ms White’s first as Labor Leader.

“I have a clear message for Mr Hodgman today,” she said.

“We are strong, we are united and we are ready to take back government.”

Indeed, the looming election dominated discussion at conference.

Many motions from Tasmanian Labor branches and from unions referenced the fast-approaching election.

Health and Community Services Union assistant secretary Robbie Moore summed up the sentiment shared by everyone in the George Town Memorial Hall.

“We have to get rid of these Tories,” Mr Moore said.

“They are bloody hopeless.”

Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten delivered a rousing, off-the-cuff speech to conference at about midday.

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Mr Shorten celebrated the ALP’s coup in winning four out of five Tasmanian lower house seats in the 2016 federal election.

“The federal Tasmanian Liberals have suffered the same fate as the Tasmanian tiger,” he quipped.

The ALP Leader said the Coalition judged a person’s success on how much money they made.

“You might be a police officer in Launceston and earn less than $87,000 … [but] you are a success in our books,” he said. 

“You might be a child care worker in Burnie and earn less than $87,000 … you might be a garbo on the council, you might be a hairdresser in Hobart.

Rebecca White and David O'Byrne

Rebecca White and David O'Byrne

“You are a success, you are a success every day.”

Mr Shorten awarded Colleen O’Byrne, the mother of state Deputy Opposition Leader Michelle O’Byrne and former cabinet Minister David O’Byrne, life membership in the Labor Party.

“I was born with the Labor Party in my blood,” Ms O’Byrne said.

“It’s about fighting for the underdog.”

Health Minister Michael Ferguson also made an appearance at George Town on Saturday morning.

He called on Labor to reveal whether its newly announced candidates supported the party policy on mandatory minimum sentencing for child sex offences, which dictated that such penalties were not a sufficient deterrent.

“Will they represent their community or be just another mouthpiece for Ms White?” Mr Ferguson said.