Albo’s frugal plan to ‘reward and repay’ COVID sacrifices
Apprentices in the clean energy sector will get a $10,000 taxpayer-funded bonus on top of their wages if Anthony Albanese wins the next election.
The Labor leader has also promised to deliver $130 million for crisis housing for women escaping domestic violence and veterans who have hit hard times, delivered from a $10 billion social housing fund.
In contrast to a big-spending budget handed down by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Tuesday, Mr Albanese outlined a frugal budget reply that would cost taxpayers just $100 million by keeping his social housing fund off the books.
Criminalising wage theft and making sure employers have to take positive action to eliminate sex discrimination and harassment in the workplace will also be Labor policies heading into the next election.
In his pitch to the nation, Mr Albanese framed his budget reply on Thursday night as "rewarding and repaying sacrifices" made by Australians during the COVID-19 crisis.
"I want Australia to emerge from this crisis stronger, smarter and more self-reliant, with an economic recovery that works for all Australians," he said.
He announced a $100 million plan to give 10,000 apprentices in "new energy" fields, including renewable energy, energy efficiency, hydrogen or battery storage, $10,000 each over four years.
Rather than subsidising wages, an Albanese Government would pay apprentices $2000 on starting their apprenticeship, then $2000 a year for four years after that.
"Ever since the Liberals drove Holden out of the country, they've run up the white flag on manufacturing and skills and apprentices," he said.
It was reminiscent of a Shorten-era policy for taxpayers to fund a 20 per cent pay increase for child care workers.
The centrepiece of his plan is was a $10 billion "Housing Australia Future Fund".
It is intended to lead to 20,000 social housing properties and 10,000 affordable housing properties for frontline workers leading to 21,500 construction jobs over five years.
One-in-10 of every job on housing construction sites funded by the projects would be mandated to be apprentices.
Cash raised from investment returns on the $10 billion, off-budget fund would go towards funding $100 million for 4000 crisis housing options for women and children escaping domestic violence, $30 million for housing for veterans experiencing or at-risk of homelessness, as well as $200 million for repairing housing in remote indigenous communities.
Mr Albanese said the money for veterans was about doing "more to care for the brave men and women who have worn our uniform".
"Our housing plan is good for jobs too. This initiative will create over 21,500 jobs each year," he said.
He said a Labor Government would criminalise wage theft, consulting with state governments and employer groups on how to do so.
Employers would also legally be required to take positive action and reasonable steps to eliminate sex discrimination, sexual harassment and victimisation as far as possible.
Originally published as Albo's frugal plan to 'reward and repay' COVID sacrifices