Peter Khalil: Three weeks ago we saw a federal budget that, much like JobKeeper and JobSeeker before it, spent a lot of money and was wrapped in lots of announcements. But, once you held it up to the light, you would see, just like with JobKeeper and JobSeeker, the cracks that so many Australians have fallen through. And now with the budget, those cracks are chasms. As the Leader of the Opposition pointed out, the budget demonstrated the government’s character: being guided by short-term politics, not long-term vision. It was a missed opportunity to build a future that Australians deserve.
COVID-19 has changed everything. Australians want a vision for our future and a plan for a recovery that is inclusive, that unites Australians and that is about giving Australians a fair go. Unlike the Morrison government, Labor has a plan for the future, one that aims for a fair, more secure and more sustainable nation. Our plan starts with a future made in Australia. A strong, local manufacturing sector can deliver world-class products, incorporate the best technology and provide the good, secure jobs our workers need and deserve. Our national rail manufacturing plan does just that. It will see more trains built in Australia by Australian workers, boosting local jobs and local industry. Our plan also includes an Australian skills guarantee, ensuring that one in ten jobs on Commonwealth funded infrastructure projects are given to apprentices, trainees or cadets. This is our plan to get Australia back to work.
Unlike the Morrison government, we know that empowering and supporting women is key to Australia’s economic recovery and our future. Childcare fees in Australia are some of the highest in the world. In my own electorate of Wills, fees have gone up 4.5 per cent in the last year alone. Too often, it’s working mums who cop the worst of it. For millions of working women, it’s simply not worth working more than three days a week. An Albanese Labor government will invest $6 billion in child care to fix this, by scrapping the childcare subsidy cap and lifting the maximum childcare subsidy rate from 85 per cent to 90 per cent and increasing childcare subsidy rates and tapering them for every family earning less than $530,000. Under our plan, 97 per cent of families using child care will be better off—no child or family left behind.
Australia can and should be a renewable energy superpower. Labor will invest $20 billion to establish a new rewiring the nation corporation to rebuild and modernise our electricity grid and help the transition to a renewables dominated grid. We must deliver affordable, reliable energy to power our country into the future and tackle climate change at the same time. The Prime Minister’s energy announcements left out renewable energy investment almost entirely. We can’t afford to stall. We must address the challenges of climate change. Labor’s plan to rebuild the electricity grid and modernise it will also create thousands of jobs and deliver up to $40 billion in economic benefits. It will also help us to reach our target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050—a goal that everyone except the Liberal-National government supports. We’ve even seen UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson trying to push Prime Minister Morrison on that target as well.
As pointed out by the Leader of the Opposition, there are 100,000 public housing dwellings around the country that are in need of urgent repair—mould growing, windows smashed, front doors that don’t close properly. These are government owned buildings. If it were the PM’s office, it would be fixed instantly. If Labor were in government, we would be investing $500 million into public housing for maintenance and construction, creating jobs and giving people back their dignity. It’s a win-win. As someone who grew up in public housing, this is an issue close to my heart.
There has to be a vision for Australia’s future. We are at a moment in time, globally, with this pandemic, where there is an opportunity to make big structural reforms, to make big changes that will change the direction of the nation to be more inclusive and more egalitarian and give more Australians a fair go. This is our vision. This is our plan: make things in Australia; make Australia a renewable energy superpower and create thousands of jobs; empower women to get back to work with affordable childcare; and fix public housing and create jobs at the same time. That is how we are going to power the economic recovery.