Oct 7, 2020






SUBJECT: Federal Budget.


LISA MILLAR, HOST: Labor Leader, Anthony Albanese, joins me now from Parliament House. Good morning, welcome to Breakfast.




MILLAR: So, is this Budget going to get Australia back on track?


ALBANESE: Well, the Budget itself says that there’s going to be a trillion dollars of debt, but 160,000 people will join the unemployment queue between now and Christmas. And then once again, just as we saw with previous government measures, people being left behind, there’ll be more people left behind or held back by the Budget. There’s no plan for women’s workforce participation in this Budget. There’s no plan for climate change. And if you’re over 35, first of all, you have had your JobKeeper cut, you’ll get your JobKeeper removed or wage subsidies removed in March, unemployment benefits will go back to being $40 a day, pushing people into poverty, and then you’ll have to compete against other people trying to get back into the workforce when others are subsidised but if you’re over 35 you get nothing. You get thrown on the scrap heap. What we have seen in the past with recessions is older people missing out. They leave the workforce and can never get back. There’s no plan in this Budget for those people.


MILLAR: But the Budget forecast also says that a million jobs will be created within four years and economic growth by next year will hit 5 per cent, that the economy is going to roar back. The argument from the Government is, of course, that will then benefit all those people that you mentioned.


ALBANESE: Well, it’s the triumph of hope over reality when you look at the Budget papers. What we have here is the five largest deficits in Australian history will all be from last year through to the four years of the forward estimates. There’s no comprehensive jobs plan in this Budget.


MILLAR: You don’t think JobMaker is a comprehensive jobs plan? You don’t think the subsidy, the 50/50 payment for trainees, none of that is ticking the box for you?


ALBANESE: Well, take the payment for apprentices. What you have is an 11-month subsidy. What happens, of course, if you do an apprenticeship, it’s four years. What businesses have said to me is that we need support for four years if we’re going to have this actually deliver in terms of an apprenticeship taking someone on. So, it is very short-term. It’s all aimed, as like everything else with this Government, it’s all aimed at a short-term headline. It’s all about the announcement, not about the delivery. There’s no major economic reform or social reform in these Budget papers.

What’s the legacy of how we come out of the Morrison recession, but able to emerge stronger with some change in place that makes a substantial difference? When Paul Keating had the recession, we had compulsory superannuation, which is now, of course, made an enormous difference and provided a ballast for the Australian economy as well as providing improved retirement incomes and, of course, what we see from this Government is just an attack ongoing on superannuation because they don’t support it.


MILLAR: The Government is indicating that there is no time to waste, they’re going to be introducing this Omnibus Bill today. Will Labor support it?


ALBANESE: Well, we’ll support the tax cuts. We called for stage two of the tax cuts to be brought forward. But I got to say, this is a Government that doesn’t like scrutiny. This is a Government that doesn’t like accountability. There’s a reason why we have the Budget on Tuesday night every year, we have the Budget reply on the Thursday night which is the commencement of debate on Budget measures. That’s what’s happens every year. That’s the way our Parliamentary democracy works. But Scott Morrison doesn’t want any scrutiny whatsoever. And, of course, we know that when it comes to tax cuts, they can be implemented as the Australian Taxation Office does, they look at, as happened in the past, they look at what the major parties are saying, confirm those measures will go through the Parliament.


MILLAR: You indicated you’re going to agree on the tax cuts. But what about the other elements? Because they’re all going into this bill that’s going to Parliament today. Are you saying you’re still holding out on the rest of it?


ALBANESE: That’s the point, Lisa. We’re entitled to some scrutiny. We had less time in the lock-up than any other opposition has ever before. We are entitled, I think, to look at the detail and we’ll do that. We’re inclined, of course, to support business investment measures, but we will look at the detail. This is taxpayers’ money and every dollar of it is borrowed. And it’s borrowed not just from taxpayers of today, but because of the trillion-dollar debt that’s been racked up by Scott Morrison’s Government, we have doubled the debt, by the way, before any of this occurred. Last year this debt had already doubled under this Government, then we’re entitled to have a look and make sure there’s value for taxpayers’ money.


MILLAR: How much time do you need?


ALBANESE: This Government has a terrible record.


MILLAR: How much time do you need?


ALBANESE: Well, the normal process, Lisa, if you have read all the Budget papers, you’re better than me.


MILLAR: I gave it a good shot, but you’re right.


ALBANESE: I haven’t read all the Budget papers yet. I have looked at it as much as I could in the limited time that we have had, but we’re entitled to scrutiny. There’s a reason why you have Parliamentary Budget estimates so that the detail can be got out. That historically, of course, is what has happened. And these measures, of course, won’t be passed through by the Senate this week. It is appropriate that there be scrutiny. But if the Government wants to avoid scrutiny, well, then all of the mistakes and problems that are there, they will completely own.


MILLAR: Alright. Anthony Albanese, thanks for your time.


ALBANESE: Thanks very much.