ANTHONY ALBANESE MP
LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY
MEMBER FOR GRAYNDLER
ABC RADIO AM WITH SABRA LANE
WEDNESDAY, 7 OCTOBER 2020
SUBJECT: Federal Budget.
SABRA LANE, HOST: Anthony Albanese, good morning and welcome to AM.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Good morning.
LANE: The Government is bundling up all of these major Budget measures into one bill that goes into Parliament this morning. Will Labor back it?
ALBANESE: Well, the fact is we do support the tax cuts. We argued for a bring forward of stage two of the tax cuts last year. We’ll examine the detail regarding the business investment measures. But normally, of course, what occurs is that we have a Budget on Tuesday, we then have a Budget reply. This Government seems to try to avoid scrutiny. And this is a grab bag of headlines seeking announcements. But when you’re talking about a trillion dollars of debt, the Government should be prepared to have proper scrutiny of it.
LANE: Let’s just bust some of this down. A $27 billion incentive for businesses to buy anything and write it off, how confident are you that will create jobs and is it good public policy?
ALBANESE: Well, that’s the detail that is unclear at this point in time. Of course, it’s a good thing to have incentives for business investment. The question goes to the detail, will there be any prospect of this being abused? We want to make sure that every single dollar that is spent, because every single dollar of it will be borrowed money from Australian taxpayers of today and tomorrow, given the size of the debt that this Government is racking up, we want to make sure it represents absolute value for money.
LANE: You’ve said the Government is not doing enough to create more jobs quickly enough. What would Labor do differently to turbocharge job creation? And how soon would you achieve six per cent unemployment?
ALBANESE: Well, we, of course, will have our Budget reply tomorrow night. But it’s fair to say, if you look at what we’ve been saying, which is consistent with what economists have been saying, for example, social housing investment. We have around about 200,000 Australians who are on the waiting list for social housing. We have at least 100,000 of public housing units around Australia that could be done with some repair work. That’s low hanging fruit. They are jobs that could be undertaken and started within a couple of weeks in terms of the upgrades there, providing jobs for sparkies and plumbers and other trades people. And there’s a range of things that they could have done that they haven’t done in this Budget. It’s extraordinary that the Government expects another 160,000 Australians to be added to the jobless queues by Christmas. We have a trillion dollars of debt, but millions of Australians being left behind by this package.
LANE: Just on the debt number there, I gave the Prime Minister an opportunity to nominate a time by when the trillion dollars of debt would be paid off. He said he couldn’t do that. Are you prepared to do that? And assuming, because it’s going to take a long time, how would Labor aim to pay that off?
ALBANESE: Well, this is Scott Morrison’s debt, of course. And one of the things that we’ll be doing is examining all of the details in the Budget. We were, of course, given less time to scrutinise the Budget than any previous opposition yesterday, because of changes to the lock-up procedures. We’ll examine the detail. But one of the things that we’re very concerned about is that we do have a trillion dollars of debt, there’s still no comprehensive plan for jobs. There’s still people being left behind. We’re concerned about people over the age of 35. JobKeeper and wage subsidies will end in March. The unemployment benefits are going back to $40 a day, driving people into poverty. And if you’re over 35, you’ll be competing against people who are being given some wage support. So, you’ll be at a disadvantage. There’s some 928,000 people who are currently aged over 35 who are on unemployment benefits. And we don’t think those people should be just thrown on the scrap heap. We want to see people put into work, young people as well as older workers.
LANE: Mr Albanese, thanks for your time on AM this morning.
ALBANESE: Thank you.