Labor wants to spend $500 million on social housing and tackle childcare and wage subsidies in its Budget response

Federal Labor Leader Anthony Albanese will hand down the Opposition’s Budget response. (Alex Ellinghausen, SMH)
  • Labor will present its response to the Federal Budget on Thursday.
  • Leader Anthony Albanese has indicated that childcare, social housing, and changes to the government’s wage subsidies will all be included.
  • Labor is also putting a large emphasis on policies that affect women, alleging the federal government has failed to provide for them.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

The Federal Opposition has begun to draw the line in the sand for the Morrison government, as it prepares the Budget Response.

Leader Anthony Albanese will deliver Labor’s annual response on Thursday evening, revealing what support and resistance the government is set to encounter in realising its policy strategy.

Previewing what’s to come, Albanese and other Labor MPs have indicated on Thursay what their demands are likely to be.

$500 million for social housing

A lack of social housing investment remains one of Labor’s biggest frustrations, with the Opposition to demand a $500 million package.

“This Budget is a lost opportunity. What we know is that the low-hanging fruit in terms of creating jobs in construction for tradies is in public and social housing,” Albanese told reporters.

“We know that there is a maintenance backlog in this country for about 100,000 social housing dwellings. We know also that maintenance backlog could be filled. It’s a job plan that’s ready to go.”

It is Labor’s plan to stimulate demand for the construction sector and tradespeople as building slows to a crawl. Under its Budget, the Coalition instead proposed doing so via an expansion of the first home buyer scheme as well as its much-debated HomeBuilder scheme.

“In terms of bang for your buck, you can’t beat investing in housing,” Shadow Minister for Housing Jason Clare said. “One dollar invested in building houses or repairing houses equals $3 in the economy. And we’ve got a housing industry at the moment that is in crisis that’s going off a cliff.”

Childcare and a greater policy emphasis on women

Labor is also set to zero in on the 51% of voters that it believes the government has missed. Women.

On Thursday, it released its ‘Women’s Budget Statement’, outlining its strategy to do more for those who have been disproportionately disadvantaged during a ‘pink recession’.

“A larger proportion of women have lost their jobs and more women are dropping out of the labour force,” Shadow Minister for Women Julie Collins said. “Women aren’t just facing many of the consequences of COVID-19 more harshly, we also know they are doing much more of the dangerous frontline work to combat the pandemic.”

In response, Collins said Labor would “put forward a genuine reform agenda that includes addressing job losses in industries dominated by females, the gender pay gap, Australian women’s shrinking superannuation balances, and the discrimination that is fuelling these issues.”

Similarly, a form of subsidised childcare is likely to be a major policy proposal.

“Good policy on childcare that encourages women’s participation in the workforce is obviously good for participation but it’s also good for productivity,” Albanese said.

Expansion to JobKeeper and JobSeeker

Having supported the Coalition’s introduction of the JobKeeper wage subsidy and JobSeeker benefit, Labor is likely to back expansions to both policies.

It has called for JobKeeper to be expanded to casual workers, and wants a permanent increase to the JobSeeker payment, which is otherwise set to return to NewStart levels by Christmas.

Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers also indicted that Labor would pursue changes to the government’s ‘hiring credit plan’, which subsidies wages of new workers under the age of 35.

“The issue that we have raised, is that there are 928,000 Australians on unemployment benefits who are not eligible for the Government’s hiring subsidy,” Chalmers said.

“It beggars belief, as I said, when you’ve got a trillion dollars in debt, you’ve got all of this money being sprayed around, that not just older workers, but workers in their 30s, workers with young families, are being left out and left behind and left in the lurch.”

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