The Hon Anthony Albanese MP used the Budget-in-Reply address to focus on Health, cost of living and Energy, making these issues central to his campaign for Government.

The Labor Leader’s speech included a centrepiece on improving Aged Care: a traditional Labor policy area.

Notably, Mr Albanese proposed the establishment of a National Anti-Corruption Commission to create further transparency on the investment of public money. Mr Albanese also called for a constitutionally recognised and mandated Indigenous voice in Parliament.

There were other pointers to election battleground areas, including Childcare Affordability, a $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund, Climate Policy, and Defence spending. This Budget-in-Reply is a concerted effort for Labor to reclaim the leadership on social policy whilst presenting their economic and defence credentials.

Of note, Labor’s 2022 Women’s Budget Statement is an underlying force in this year’s Budget-in-Reply. It outlines Labor’s plan to integrate gender equality across all portfolios.

The following looks at some key policy areas mentioned in tonight’s Budget-in-Reply.

 

HEALTH

Health was prominent in this year’s Budget-in-Reply speech, focusing on increased Aged-Care funding using the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Report and reinvesting into Medicare. The Labor Party’s plans include closer engagement with State Premier and Chief Health Ministers to deliver proper healthcare.

Mr Albanese has proposed an investment of $15 billion through the National Reconstruction Fund to rebuild Australian industries and provide domestic sovereign capability post-COVID.

Other notable Health announcements include:

  • Reforms to the Aged Care system through 5 pillars:
    • One: Every aged care facility will always be required to have a registered qualified nurse on-site.
    • Two: Raise the standard of aged care across the board with a minimum of 215 minutes of care per day for residents.
    • Three: Pay rise for aged care workers in conjunction with reforms to the Fair Work Commission.
    • Four: Better nutrition for residents through a mandatory nutrition standard, in line with recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care.
    • Five: Government integrity and accountability ensure the deliverance of the policies above and proper care for residents.

 

WOMEN

Mr Albanese has prioritised Women’s Issues as a campaign focus, outlining critical areas for improvements, such as childcare, economic equality, job security, women’s safety and shelter, and sexual harassment.

A breakdown of gender-based policy announcements in today’s Women’s Budget Statement and Budget-in-Reply address included:

  • Childcare: Delivering high-quality and more affordable childcare by:
    • Lifting the maximum childcare subsidy rate to 90%.
    • Increasing childcare subsidy rates for every family earning less than $530,000.
    • Extending the increased subsidy to outside school hours care.
  • Economic Security Taskforce: Establish an Independent Women’s Economic Security Taskforce to inform educated government investments to advance economic equality.
  • National Gender Equality Strategy: The Introduction of a National Gender Equality Strategy.
  • Respect@Work Report: The application of all recommendations made in the Respect@Work report to combat sexual harassment and support women who experience sexual harassment at work.
  • Family and Domestic Violence: National leadership and focused investment to combat Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence by matching the $1.3 billion package funded in the 2022-23 Budget, as well as:
    • Establishing a new Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence Commissioner as a voice for victim-survivors.
    • Legislating 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave.
    • Housing for women and children fleeing violence.
    • Funding 500 new community sector frontline workers to support women in crisis.
    • Investing $77 million to provide accessible and age-appropriate consent and respectful relationships education.
    • Supporting justice reinvestment in First Nation’s communities with a $79 million investment to reduce incarceration rates.

 

HOUSING

This year, Labor’s housing policy proposals expanded on the $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund to build social and affordable housing.

Mr Albanese announced that a Labor Government would provide an additional 20,000 social housing homes, of which 4,000 will be set aside for Women and Children escaping domestic violence. This is alongside a further investment of $100 million into crisis accommodation to support victims of domestic violence. This plan proposes $1.7 billion directly allocated to women and $1.6 billion for long-term housing.

Announced by the Hon Jason Clare MP earlier in March, Labor also proposed the Regional First Home Buyer Support Scheme to provide 10,000 Australian families a year in regional areas the ability to buy their first home. Mr Albanese announced that deposits would remain at 5% under this plan without the need to pay Lender’s Mortgage Insurance, saving families up to $32,000.

 

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Mr Albanese announced two critical environments and energy focused proposals:

  • Powering Australia Policy: to drive investment in cheap and renewable energy
    • Creation of 604,000 new jobs by 2030 and a decrease in power bills by $275 by 2025.
    • Lower power bills for households and businesses alike, such as through the Community Battery Plan, investing $200 million to install 400 community batteries across the country
  • ‘Prevent, Prepare, Rebuild’ – Labor’s Disaster Readiness Plan:
    • $200 million per year on disaster prevention and resilience.
  • Continue to fully fund disaster recovery through the existing Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.
  • Improve the efficiency of Disaster Recovery processes and assist with spiralling insurance premiums in disaster-prone regions.

 

JOBS & EMPLOYMENT

Mr Albanese announced plans to secure jobs to combat the rising cost of living and gender inequality. Mr Albanese proposed the Secure Australian Jobs Plan, which will aim to combat insecure work and increase female employment through:

  • Making job security an object of the Fair Work Act.
  • Implementing Labor’s Infrastructure Australia Model.
  • Legislating a fair, objective definition of casual employment and limiting the number of fixed-term contracts.
  • Introduce “Same Job, Same Pay” laws to ensure genuinely negotiated enterprise agreements are not undercut.
  • Give the Fair Work Commission powers to set minimum standards for gig workers.
  • Criminalise wage theft and make it easier for workers to recover the money owed to them.

Mr Albanese also announced Labor’s plans for A Future Made in Australia to revitalise the regions and increase domestic manufacturing under the National Reconstruction Fund.

Mr Albanese has also announced Labor’s plans to create 1.2 million Australian tech-related jobs by 2030, growing with an additional 340,000 jobs. This will be achieved with a focus on:

  • 465,000 fee-free TAFE facilities and 20,000 additional university places, focused on skills shortage areas, including tech.
  • Establishing Jobs and Skills Australia to plan for the needs of the future workforce.
  • Establishing the National Reconstruction Fund to support growing businesses.
  • Support the creation of new firms and strengthen existing ones by leveraging Commonwealth spending under Labor’s Buy Australian Plan.

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