Investment in transport infrastructure and opposition to privatisation of public transport services were two of the big issues raised by the RTBU at last weekend's NSW Labor Conference.
Our Union played a big role in the Conference, putting forward important policy ideas and supporting the election of the party’s first ever female General Secretary.
National Secretary Bob Nanva gave an important speech about party reform, while NSW Branch Secretary Alex Claassens was Chair of the policy committee examining transport, urban planning environment, energy, regional development and local government issues.
New ways to fund transport projects
NSW Labor has embraced the RTBU’s policy of using “value capture” and the development of rail assets to fund new public transport projects. The issue was highlighted in the Sydney Morning Herald in the lead-up to the Conference, and caused quite a bit of discussion around the Conference.
The RTBU’s policy resolution was moved by National Secretary Bob Nanva, and seconded by the Labor Member for Londonderry Prue Car MP. It was accepted by the Economics Policy Committee and endorsed unanimously by the Conference.
NSW Labor rejects the argument that new infrastructure can only be funded through the divestment of other government-owned assets, and supports the use of alternative funding models such as value capture - which ensure the financial benefits of public investments are not monopolised by private interests.
Labor notes that a combination of value capture mechanisms, along with increased use of transit-oriented developments, can underpin a program of public transport expansion in outer metropolitan areas, while also addressing the urgent demand for affordable, sustainable housing.
Labor will examine a range of alternative funding options – including the development high-density housing along public transport corridors and hubs, and will reinvest revenue from these projects into new public transport infrastructure.
Privatisation of public transport
NSW Labor has committed to keeping all existing government-run public transport services in public hands, endorsing a policy resolution from the RTBU.
NSW Labor will keep all existing government-owned public transport operations in public hands.
The resolution was moved by the RTBU’s Craig Turner, and seconded by Paul Garrett of the MUA.
The RTBU also put forward a resolution condemning the Baird Government for its proposed privatisation of Newcastle Buses.
NSW Labor recognises the importance of keeping government-owned public transport operators in public hands.
After the shameful truncation of Newcastle’s heavy rail line, the privatisation of the city’s remaining public transport services will result in a further erosion of public transport services to Newcastle residents.
The proposed B-Line bus rapid transit services to Sydney’s Northern Beaches area must also be integrated into the existing Sydney Buses operations.
NSW Labor condemns the Baird State Government for its proposed privatisation of Newcastle’s bus, ferry and tram services.
RTBU NSW Branch President Joanne McCallum moved this resolution, which was seconded by the Shadow Minister for Transport Ryan Park.
Sydney Bus Services
The controversial changes to Sydney’s bus timetables also came in for criticism, with the RTBU putting forward a resolution to restore bus services connecting commuters to critical destination points such as Circular Quay.
NSW Labor believes bus services should be designed to meet the needs of the communities they serve.
The Baird State Government changes to Sydney metropolitan bus timetables, however, have made bus travel less convenient for thousands of commuters.
The new timetable, for example, no longer has any services running between the Eastern Suburbs and Circular Quay, while the free CDB shuttle has been axed.
- Recognises the critical role that local services play in providing Sydney residents with affordable and practical transport options;
- Condemns the Baird State Government for changes to local bus services in Sydney, and for the leaving thousands of commuters without access to practical and convenient bus services; and
- Commits to restoring bus routes that connect Sydney residents with important destinations such as Circular Quay.
The bus services motion was moved by RTBU National Executive Officer Stewart Prins and seconded by Toby Dagg from Labor’s Kings Cross Branch.
Kaila Murnain: Labor’s first female General Secretary
The election of NSW Labor’s first female General Secretary was a highlight of the Conference.
Kaila is an energetic and talented campaigner and she grew up in Narrabri and joined the Labor party when she was 15 and has worked tirelessly for the party ever since and she certainly gave an inspiring speech to the Conference floor.
Shorten announces Labor’s plan to tackle housing affordability
Speaking on the first day of the Conference, Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Labor would reform negative gearing and the capital gains tax discount to make the tax system is fair and sustainable.
Bill Shorten said the policy would save $32.1 billion to help fund health and education, while bringing fairness back into the housing market and the dream of home ownership back within reach of working and middle class families.
Morey questions start-up obsession
New Unions NSW Secretary Mark Morey used his address to the Conference to question Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull's obsession with start-up businesses.
Mark said working or a start-up could be precarious, as new businesses often failed and were unable to pay workers their entitlements.
He said that if we were going to make Australia a "start-up nation", then we need to know what that actually means for workers.
Foley promises more affordable and accessible pre-school
NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley told the conference a NSW Labor Government would tackle the soaring cost of pre-school.
In a speech that focused heavily on education, Foley said investment in pre-school would ensure all four year olds would be able to get off to a good start in the school system.
He also promised to ensure all primary school children were taught a second language, to upgrade the Olympic Stadium at Homebush, and to improve transparency around political donations.
Life Membership for Andrew Reekie
Former RTBU Delegate Andrew Reekie was awarded a life membership of the party. Andrew has been involved in the ALP since 1983, and has been an active member of the Seven Hills and Lalor Park Branches. He also served as an RTBU Delegate for 27 years. Andrew was nominated for Life Membership by the Lalor Park Branch, and his nomination was supported by the Member for Greenway Michelle Rowland.