Apr 01, 2022

Albanese promises to fix aged care ‘crisis’ as he sets his sights on election

Anthony Albanese to save aged care industry
Image: ABC News.

In his budget reply message, Mr Albanese made his pitch for returning Labor to government after nine years out of the top spot.

The ABC reports that Albanese implored, “If we want to change aged care in this country for the better, then we need to start by changing the government.”

Much is being promised, the $2.5 billion pledge of Mr Albanese consists of around-the-clock nurses for aged care facilities, improved food and better conditions for residents, and raised pay for workers.

He strongly outlined that the abandonment of the industry had occurred under the Coalition’s watch. 

“The simple truth of it is this: The Liberals have had a decade to do something about aged care,” he noted.

“Even an interim royal commission report – with the searing title “Neglect” – wasn’t enough to spur them into action.”

The Coalition on Tuesday unveiled its budget, promising to take 50% off the tax on fuel, and offering further one-off cost-of-living payments as it endeavours to woo the public for a fourth term at the helm. 

Soaring commodity prices on Australian exports, and a reduced unemployment rate, have meant government coffers are pleasantly weighing heavier over the last half year.

While these factors have led to a healthier budget bottom line, the Coalition was clear it would not forecast a budget surplus for another 10 years.  

Mr Albanese assessed, “Australians know that the cost of everything is going up – food, petrol, rent, child care, doctor’s bills – and their pay has fallen behind.” 

He continued, “So let’s be really clear about this: You can’t put the worst-ever decade of wages growth down to a long run of bad luck.

Mr Albanese’s speech shared five core elements that will guide Labor’s plan to reduce costs and raise wages:

  • Strategies to kickstart investment and jobs in economical, renewable energy
  • Strategies to increasingly centre manufacturing in Australia 
  • Increased investment in infrastructure
  • Increased opportunities in training for multiple sectors
  • Reducing the cost of childcare

He shared, “After all the challenges and the sacrifices made during the pandemic, floods and bushfires, Australians need and deserve a better Budget for a better future.”

Coalition promises

The Coalition’s budget has four key areas:

  • Providing cost-of-living relief
  • Long term strategies for the creation of jobs
  • Investing in core services
  • Increased defence and national security spending

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg recently reduced the fuel excise to 22 cents per litre, and the government assesses drivers will experience this cut in the coming weeks. 

Additionally six million concession card holders and pensioners will be receiving a $250 tax-free payment, automatically deposited into accounts, during April. 

Within the budget, there was also a provision of an expansion to a tax offset for those in low to middle income brackets, inclusive those earning up to a threshold of $126,000 a year. 

In reaction, Labor has backed most of the cost-of-living pledges, and intimated it would likely execute the Coalition’s strategy to simplify the scheme of paid parental leave, opening up for couples to share the 20 weeks, irrespective of gender. 

Labor commitments set to increase

The Opposition has announced it will be unveiling further pledges between this week and election day. 

Then Labor leader Bill Shorten had promised a daring ‘greater investment in Medicare in a generation’ in his budget reply speech in the lead-up to the 2019 election, attaching a $2.3 billion cancer plan. However, Mr Albanese has differed in his approach, choosing a more measured and smaller agenda than Mr Shorten. 

Coalition says Labor’s plan is light on detail

Finance Minister Simon Birmingham suggested Labor’s aged care pledges were without sufficient detail and expected that the promises would encounter more obstacles to implement than Mr Albanese has said. 

He continued, “And this is part of the false promise Anthony Albanese is offering – pretending none of this costs anything and pretending it’s all just easily done.”

Mr Albanese has doubled down on a pledge to support a union case with the Fair Work Commission, currently striving for a pay increase for aged care workers, and to fund whatever is settled on by the commission. 

The Coalition was non-committal when funding a potential pay rise was put to them. 

“We’ll deal with those issues if and when they come,” Mr Birmingham replied.

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