ABC 7.30

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Tuesday, 10th May 2022

ABC 7.30

Discussing pay equity, Labor’s plan for Cheaper Child Care and more.

SUBJECTS: Wages; employment summit; enterprise bargaining; pay equity; Labor’s plan for Cheaper Child Care; Labor’s Powering Australia plan; National Anti-Corruption Commission; crossbench; climate policy.
 
LAURA TINGLE, HOST: Anthony Albanese, wages are a crucial issue in this election. You have made them a really important point. Can you explain to voters what it is a government can do to change basic wages?

ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: The first thing I would say, Laura, is that the Government wanted to deliberately keep wages low over the last decade, and they have. I deliberately want to see wages increase, and I will.

TINGLE: How do you do that?

ALBANESE: You do that through a range of mechanisms, Laura. Importantly, what you need to do to increase wages at the same time as you increase profits is to increase productivity. I spoke to the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry just last week about this. I will convene a full employment summit that brings unions and business together to talk about how we get wages moving, how we get business going, grow the economy in a way that the economy works for people, just not the other way around. There are a number of other specific measures that can happen as well. I believe very firmly that people who are on the minimum wage, which is just $20.33, shouldn't fall further behind. And I believe in particular sectors like the aged care sector, where the Royal Commission said unless we increase wages people will leave the sector - more people will leave the sector - that we need to address that. And the Government should make a submission to the Fair Work Commission for the case that is before it right now and say they support a wage increase for people in the aged care sector.

TINGLE: What about in the minimum wage case though, would an Albanese Government intervene in that case to make a case for wages to catch up with inflation?

ALBANESE: Well, what we know is that at the last increase the Fair Work Commission made, it was 2.5 per cent, even though inflation was just 1.1. So we know that the Fair Work Commission has taken these issues into account.  We have clearly said that people should not fall further behind. It is one of the themes of my campaign at the moment, Laura, is no-one left behind and no-one held back. The idea that people who are doing it really tough at the moment should have a further cut in their cost of living is in my view, simply untenable.

TINGLE: What levers does government have in the current system? Do we need to look at overhauling the system? Both sides, employers and unions, say the enterprise bargaining system is broken, we have seen wages continue to decline. Do we need to actually overhaul the Act?

ALBANESE: Well, we need to have enterprise bargaining work effectively so productivity drives those wages and profit increases at the same time. So we have a win-win. But we also need structural changes. We will make secure work an objective of the Act. We will also make achieving pay equity for women an objective of the Act as well.

TINGLE: Feminised work forces include aged care, child care, employment services and the NDIS. These are all sectors with contracted out workforces but they are providing government services. Do you think we need to have another look at how these sectors work, and is this why we have got problems in those particular labour forces?

ALBANESE: We need to make sure that we don't create a whole section of the labour market whereby people are competing in a race to the bottom - someone says they will do this job for this amount and then someone undercuts them. These are issues that need to be looked at in order to ensure we get good outcome. Not just for workers but also for the delivery of services.

TINGLE: One of the overlooked bits of your campaign launch speech was that you were talking about the bringing the principles of universality and affordability that we see in Medicare to child care and aged care. That suggests over time that we will see a bigger bill for the government, doesn't it?

ALBANESE: Laura, we need to encourage the full economic participation of women. Women workers are underutilised, undervalued, at the moment. Australia has fallen to 70th in the world for economic participation and opportunity of women. We need-

TINGLE: This is going to go on the government tab, isn't it?

ALBANESE: We need to do so much more across the board, and with child care - child care is a great example whereby it is not welfare. It is not about going on the government tab, what it is about is growing the economy. If you remove the distortion which is there that stops women working a fourth or a fifth day, what you will get is a growth in workforce participation. You will get a growth in productivity and a growth in the economy as a direct result of that, which is why business are crying out for this area of reform. It is good for equality, but it is also good for the entire economy, women and men, if we get the economy growing more strongly, if we get more productivity bonuses and it also is good for those businesses to have those permanent workers as well as being good for closing the gap that is there in the retirement incomes of women.

TINGLE: In the package that we have just seen from James Glenday, we talked about some of the reform issues and issues in the economy that aren't being discussed in the election. One of them is about the budget hole that is looming. You have talked about some spending savings, you have been a little bit vague about what you would do about tax beyond multinational tax changes. To quote a former leader of yours, does ‘the reckless spending have to stop’ and is there a good call for you to make to say we are putting down some markers for what is going to happen to budget policy in the next three years?

ALBANESE: We have put down the markers and that is why we have identified our spending priorities as being things that will grow the economy and grow productivity. Whether it is child care that we were just discussing, whether it is infrastructure directed towards productivity-boosting infrastructure, including the National Broadband Network, our energy reforms through our Powering Australia plan, these are measures, these are measures that will grow-

TINGLE: They're not budgetary measures, Mr Albanese. Otherwise you are just talking about what the Government is talking about, which is growing your way out, not actually making any precise decisions yourself to cut spending.

ALBANESE: Well what we have done, Laura, is we haven't gone out when it comes to spending, what we haven't done is get out a colour-coded spreadsheet. We are talking about productivity-boosting infrastructure that grows the economy. Our Powering Australia plan will lead to $52 billion of private sector investment, 604,000 additional jobs by 2030 and making Australia a renewable energy superpower will be an enormous benefit for our economy. Good for the environment but importantly an economic driver. And using that to grow the economy so that our fiscal position is better in the future. We will inherit $1 trillion of debt, that is why we are being very careful about our spending commitment and making sure they're prioritised to things like making more things here, Powering Australia, child care, better infrastructure and the NBN.

TINGLE: You have said you won't negotiate with the crossbench on getting support for a minority government because you are going for a win. You ran the Parliament when it was a minority government before and you know that you have to negotiate. What is the scope for negotiating on climate and on the integrity commission, and do you still support the crossbench proposal for an integrity commission?

ALBANESE: We will have a government proposal for a National Anti-Corruption Commission. We certainly supported the crossbench proposals to be debated. We think the Parliament should have debated that legislation but in government, you can have the advice of departments, including the Attorney-General's Department, to make sure you get it right. And we are confident that we will, and we are confident that our model - which will be one that has serious powers, one that is independent of government - will receive overwhelming support of people like Helen Haines and others because it will be one with teeth, one that is serious. What is very clear is that the only way that Australia will get a National Anti-Corruption Commission is with the election of a Labor Government.

TINGLE: If we have a Parliament where we see a number of ‘teal’ candidates on the crossbench and a minority government, won't that be a vote for more action on climate change and give you scope to negotiate a tougher position on reducing emissions?

ALBANESE: We have a serious position on emissions reduction and one of the things that we did, Laura, we didn't come up with a figure and then work out how to get there. What we did was come up with a serious plan that involves-

TINGLE: Will you come up with a better figure for 2030?

ALBANESE: No, we will come up with the figure that we are taking to this election, which is 43 per cent, which is consistent with getting to net zero by 2050, which is consistent with the support that we have got for this plan. This is a chance to end the climate wars. This plan that we have put forward has the support of the Business Council, Australian Industry Group, Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the National Farmers Federation and the ACTU. We need to stop the debate, give business the certainty that they need and take advantage of the opportunity that is there from acting on climate change. It will be good for the economy, good for jobs, at the same time we will join the world effort in order to tackle the great challenge that is climate change. We have seen with the floods and the bushfires, the challenge is here right now. The issues are there right now, which is why we will act.

TINGLE: Mr Albanese, thanks for your time tonight.

ALBANESE: Thanks very much, Laura.

ENDS

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Electorate Office

334a Marrickville Road
MARRICKVILLE NSW 2204

Phone: (02) 9564 3588
Fax: (02) 9564 1734
Email: A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au

Parliament House Office

PO Box 6022
CANBERRA ACT 2600

Phone: (02) 6277 4022
Fax: (02) 6277 8562

Phone: (02) 9564 3588
Fax: (02) 9564 1734
Email: A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au

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