Di Smith’s Labor pitch in Wentworth


By Di Smith

30 July, 2013

People often ask me why I have put myself in what they perceive to be an impossible situation: pitting myself against someone who is respected, well liked and, according to some commentators, quite possibly the most popular politician in the country.

There are also those that say nothing is at stake this election. That the choice between Labor and Liberal no choice at all. To those people I say, look closer.

My name is Di Smith. I am an actor, an activist, a teacher and a campaigner. Most people who still recognise me from my acting career remember the years on A Country Practice, others from stage performances over many years. I’ve been a member of the ALP since the reformist Hawke and Keating era, and I’ve called Wentworth my home for almost twenty years. My connection to Wentworth is deep and real, as is my commitment to Labor values of equality, fairness and opportunity.

Probably the first really political thing I ever did was stand in front of a couple of hundred shooters in Martin Place to call for uniform gun control laws in Australia. The profile of exposure in a popular television show meant that I could put that visibility and popularity to work – long before the Port Arthur massacre forced the government’s hand on the issue.

I’ve run for local government, been involved with many campaigns to protect Australian content on our screens and stages through Actor’s Equity and MEAA and recently ended a seven year stint in the Bondi Beach Public School community and P&C raising funds and getting involved in whatever was going. This will be the first year I’m won’t be sizzling sausages or parking cars on City2Surf day – I’m actually going to walk it with my cousins (probably wearing a red Labor T-shirt).

But between now and election day day I’ll be fighting Tony Abbott and telling the positive story that Labor has to tell. Because come election day so much is at stake. Even in Wentworth, a vote for Malcolm Turnbull is a vote for Tony Abbott.

Our children’s education is at stake. Labor’s National Plan for School Improvement will raise the education standards of millions of Australian children. It is representative of a Labor government that is committed to better schools for all Australian kids, and contrasts with the Coalition, for whom education funding is merely a fiscal inconvenience.

Equality and social justice are at stake. In Kevin Rudd, Australia has for the first time a prime minister who supports same-sex marriage. In Tony Abbott, Australia has a backward-looking reactionary who would turn back the clock on LGBTI rights.

Our digital economy is at stake – and this is about our future. Labor’s NBN is nation-building infrastructure. The Coalition says that our NBN is like having a Rolls Royce in every driveway, but their plan would give every home a two-stroke Victa ride-on parked at the end of the street. Mr Turnbull’s fibre to the node is very like the old joke about not going all the way and ‘getting off at Redfern’ – very unsatisfying and totally irresponsible.

The environment is at stake. Labor’s emissions trading scheme will make a difference when it comes to climate change. It has already reduced emissions, and it will help Australia lead the way in renewable energy technology. On the other hand, some Coalition MPs aren’t even convinced that climate change exists.
Despite what he would have you believe, Malcolm Turnbull is not a progressive in conservative clothing. He is not some socially liberal Trojan Horse lying in wait behind Coalition gates waiting to wreak untold havoc on poor, unprepared right-wingers.

He voted for WorkChoices. He claims to support marriage equality, yet when given the opportunity, voted against it – something I find truly disappointing as one of his constituents, so I can only imagine the frustration felt by the gay community. To top it off he champions a Coalition broadband plan that would leave millions of ordinary Australians behind.

Labor has a great story to tell. DisabilityCare, like Medicare before it, is something I am so very proud of as a Labor reform. It speaks volumes about who we are, what we stand for. Labor is and has always been the party which reaches back for the people who may get left behind. The National Broadband Network, the National Plan for School Improvement, carbon pricing, an economy that is the envy of every developed nation – these are accomplishments that any government in our nation’s history would proudly call their own.

That’s why I’m here in this apparently impossible situation. Bring it on.


Wentworth seat report scene-setter

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  1. joy cooper says

    Thank you, Di Smith. Labor could not have a better, more committed & passionate candidate standing for Wentworth. You are eminently qualified for this role & I wish you well. While I do not currently live in your electorate, it was a place I used to call home so I do have some vested interest in seeing it given a real chance in voting for a hard working, enthusiastic Labor candidate.

    There is never a “safe seat” in politics, as the electorate where we now live was considered a secure Nationals’ seat. It was so taken for granted that the area’s needs & infrastructure were totally ignored. Then along came a great Labor candidate, a local & well known, who gained the seat for Labor in 2007 & retained it in 2010. The benefits of this for our area have been profound.

  2. Trevor Minlaton says

    So, the only positive in your replaying of ALP advertising blurb is DisabilityCare, a policy which has bipartisan support. This is not to take away from the ALP’s initiative in developing the reform.

    I said from the day that Julia Gillard wrested the Prime Ministership from Kevin Rudd, that any PM who spent more energy attacking their opponent than doing their job was going to be in trouble. And so it was with Julia. Now Kevin is repeating it.

    You use age-old political tactics here: Announce a policy, assert benefits and then characterise opponents as trying to take those benefits away, despite the fact that the benefits don’t yet exist. This is meaningless nonsense, no matter who does it. This is in the realm of propaganda and it does you no credit. You might as well forget telling people your name and just say ALP Candidate for Wentworth, for you are offering up nothing else.

    • I suggest you have another read Trevor. Unless of course you don’t consider marriage equality, a ‘proper’ NBN and better schools as being positives.

      To many people, those things are far from nonsense.

    • So Trevor, are you saying there will be no benefits from improving school resourcing? No benefits from better communications infrastructure? No benefits from limiting atmospheric CO2?
      I agree that these are (mostly) yet to be realised, so they obviously can’t be benefits that will taken away under a coalition government, but they are certainly benefits we WILL NOT GAIN should Abbott et al gain ascendancy. As such, it is perfectly reasonable to discuss them in these terms. This is NOT propaganda, it’s policy.

      • Nope. Definitely propaganda, there is no policy statements, only topic areas on which it is asserted that the opposition will take things away. It is the very nature of propaganda convert complex issues to black and white choices. Us good, them bad. So unless you believe there is only one way to achieve certain outcomes and that the ALP has a monopoly on that way, the post is just propaganda.

  3. I’m sure residents of Wentworth will embrace FTTP NBN rather than copper. Best of luck with your campaign. Beneath that Turnbull half smile is another Abbott but with brains

  4. Joel Hill says

    Good on you, mate. Without people like you there is no democracy. Labor could choose not to bother running a candidate, throwing their hands in the air, or the other situation of course is that nobody bothers to show up. Well done for keeping the wheels greased and making sure that even the safest of seats is still shown to be a place where democracy has a chance. People should have options, as far fetched as they may be.

  5. Anything is possible and any electorate assumed to be very safe tends to be ignored by its sitting member, could be a backlash.

  6. With regards to the NBN MT has been lying about ownership of the copper network. In the oursay debate with Stephen Conroy (transcript is on MT’s own blog – http://www.malcolmturnbull.com.au/media/transcript-oursay-debate-6-may-2013#.UgHbU9LzRmB), Conroy pointed out in no uncertain terms that NBN does not own the copper network, they paid only for access to the ducts, however MT stated on ABC radio recently (Mornings Tim Holt – http://blogs.abc.net.au/nsw/2013/08/malcolm-turnbull-and-the-nbn.html) that Telstra “for all intents & purposes sold it [copper network] to NBN” – this is a shocking lie and the cost of leasing/buying back the copper network in support of the FTTN solution has not been provisioned. Leaves TLS in a very strong negotiating position, no copper = no FTTN, only alternative FTTH!

    The statement that NBN own the copper network – which MT has made again and again – is false. It is a shocking lie and MT should correct it!

    • joy cooper says

      It is important that these types of lies be challenged loudly & often, but unfortunately, the complaisant media will never do this. Malcolm Turnbull makes it sound as if he understands the technical complexities of the NBN but in truth he doesn’t appear to. All he does is spout mendacious gobbledygook with some techno garbage thrown in for effect to dazzle those who aren’t so IT savvy. It’s smoke & mirrors .with the Coalition re the NBN.