Parliament House Doorstop Interview

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Tuesday, 11th May 2021

Parliament House Doorstop Interview

Discussing the Federal Budget 2021, economic reform and more.

SUBJECTS: Federal Budget 2021; economic reform; quarantine; international travel; vaccine rollout; child care; NDIS.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: This is a Government that waits until there's an absolute crisis before it acts and then it's all about political management. This Budget looks like an Easter Show showbag, something that's flashy, looks good in the short-term, but doesn't actually last. The fact is that this Government have been in place now for eight long years. On aged care, they received a report in 2019 titled 'Neglect'. A report that outlined maggots crawling out of wounds, a report that said over a half of aged care residents were suffering from a lack of nutrition, they're literally starving. The Government also dismissed last year, when we announced our Cheaper Child Care policy, the Government said it was of no benefit. The Government said there wasn't an issue with child care affordability. What's changed in the last year is political pressure on the Government to acknowledge two things. One, that families were paying the fourth highest costs of child care in the world. And secondly, that this was a handbrake on our economic activity. The Government's own estimates in its media release say that this will cost $1.7 billion over four years but will contribute $1.5 billion every year to economic growth. Well, it will help one quarter of the families that Labor will support with our Cheaper Child Care plan that will assist the economy by that much. We are quadrupling that support and recognising that child care is an economic reform, not a welfare issue. And that will help so many more struggling families. This Budget will still be the largest deficit in Australian political history. It's a Budget aimed at politics and short-term political management. There'll be measures in the Budget about women's economic security. But does anyone think that they wouldn't have done exactly what they did last year, which is to ignore women on Budget night, if there hadn't been a reported sexual assault become an issue just 50 metres from the Prime Minister's Office, if there hadn't been the March 4 Justice or pressure on this Government and its attitude towards women? This is the same Government in the week in which that was released, abolished the Family Court of Australia in an act which defied comprehension. This is a Government that don't have a medium or long-term plan for Australia's economic future. They don't advance social reform. And they certainly don't have, still after eight long years, still don't have a climate policy or an energy policy.

JOURNALIST: What do you welcome in the Budget?

ALBANESE: We welcome additional spending in areas that were called for. Areas like mental health reform. It's good that finally, having cut $1.7 billion from aged care, Scott Morrison is going to put some money back into aged care. We welcome spending where it is required, but we'll look at the details. And we'll look at the detail, for example, of their infrastructure spending, where they are always good at making the announcements but when you look at the details, it is over 10 years. So it's not in the life of this Government or even the term of the next one. You look at the detail of what they're saying that they'll invest in and then you look at what they've done. And the big gap for this Government is the gap that is always there between announcement and delivery. Once the announcements are made, this Government thinks its job is done, because they are never worried about the delivery. And that's having a real impact on Australians, that failure to deliver what they said they will do. And there's nowhere that that's more evident than in the two fundamental jobs that this Government had, to roll out the vaccine and to set up appropriate quarantine facilities. This Government said that we were at the front of the queue. And we're way down the back. This Government said, regarding Australians who are stranded overseas, that they would all be home by Christmas. And we know there's more than 30,000 Australians stranded. So you have to look at what this Government does, not just what it says.

JOURNALIST: On the issue of the NDIS, we're expecting the Budget today to suggest that the cost of the NDIS will get to $30 billion by 24/25 financial year. The Government keeps saying it needs to make the system sustainable. That's the way the Finance Minister described it this morning. Are you concerned that with that rising costs, the Government could see the NDIS as a fruitful area to cut costs and improve the Budget? 

ALBANESE: Well, the Government ripped four billion dollars out of the NDIS previously. That was in their announcement when Josh Frydenberg stood up and said the Budget was already in surplus when he's about to hand down Australia's largest ever deficit. So this is a Government that when it comes to cuts, will hide them in the lead-up to an election but will bring them down immediately afterwards. You can just see this Government establishing already some of the groundwork. 'Oh, well. Now we need to do something to pay back debts and targeting some of the most vulnerable people through programs'. Just like this Government cut funding for aged care in the past. When you look at the real reforms that transformed Australia, the NDIS, superannuation, they are support for structural reforms that make a difference, paid parental leave. This Government haven't used this economic crisis for any major reform. And it's because they don't have a vision. It's all about short-term political management. And that's what tonight's Budget will be about. Thanks very much.

ENDS

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MARRICKVILLE NSW 2204

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

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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

We acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which our offices stand and we pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging. We acknowledge the sorrow of the Stolen Generations and the impacts of colonisation on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We also recognise the resilience, strength and pride of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

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