Labor attacks the budget while supporting it
Anthony Albanese’s budget reply last night – in which he proposed a universal childcare subsidy covering 90 per cent of costs and a $20 billion investment in the electricity grid – did enough to stave off fears that the Labor leader has zero appetite for policy risk. Describing this week’s historic budget as a missed opportunity and a “reform desert”, Albanese channelled his mentor, the left luminary and World War Two POW Tom Uren, who said that Australians survived the Burma Railway because they lived by a simple code: “The healthy looked after the sick, the strong looked after the weak, the young looked after the old.” Hear, hear. Call it economic nationalism, but the most stirring part of Albanese’s speech was his discussion of the Coalition’s failure to support Australian manufacturing, from killing off the car industry in 2013 to failed defence minister David Johnston’s memorable attack on local shipbuilders, whom he “wouldn’t trust” to build a canoe. “Last December,” Albanese said, “I visited the Downer EDI site in Maryborough, Queensland, where skilled Aussie workers are refitting rail carriages purchased from overseas by the former Newman LNP government. This work is being done in a factory that’s been building quality trains since the 19th century.” Inexcusable and gutting. Albanese proposed a national rail manufacturing plan, and if the Opposition can come up with an optimistic platform that restores economic sovereignty and creates blue-collar jobs by revitalising local manufacturing, powered by cheap renewable energy, it will be onto something.
Albanese needed to come up with something because Scott Morrison has been sharpening his lines lately, accusing the Labor leader of taking an each-way bet on everything. On the floor of Parliament House, Morrison gives the appearance of being sublimely untroubled by his opponent. This week, Morrison gave Albanese a backhander during his tribute to the late Labor pioneer Susan Ryan, who Morrison said “was not a two-bob-each-way politician”. There is more than a grain of truth in the PM’s criticism, or at least there has been to date. In return, Albanese has flagged a more combative approach from here on in, and went the niggle this week, as David Crowe observed in the Nine newspapers, when he goaded Morrison for being disrespectful by naming his chooks at the Lodge after Hazel Hawke and Tamie Fraser.
The stiff opposition in Albanese’s budget reply, however, is softened by the support Labor gave yesterday to waving through the Senate the omnibus legislation enabling the key tax-and-spend measures. Greens leader Adam Bandt slammed Labor’s capitulation: “Instead of fighting Tories, Labor is cuddling them … This budget is a trickle-down con job that spends big, but spends badly, and will prolong the recession. It favours millionaires over the millions, and puts corporate welfare ahead of helping people recover from the pandemic. This was a chance for our government to invest in delivering full employment and meaningful work in clean industries, as well as investing in the care economy, education, affordable housing, renewables and sustainable infrastructure. Instead, Liberals and Labor chose a gas-powered future that delivers billions in corporate welfare and tax cuts for millionaires.”
The Morrison government has squibbed the opportunity to build back better and greener, opting for a hugely expensive business tax giveaway, which journalist Ben Eltham describes as a move that “takes from the poor to give to the rich”. After this year from hell, Albanese asked: “Do we want to return to the same work insecurity, the same cuts to TAFE and unis, the same second-rate services for the bush, the same stale arguments over climate change?” The answer, surely, is no. It will be interesting to see whether Labor can make a policy fist of it.
“I don’t want grandma to die. I want grandma to be protected, unlike what Cuomo did in NY. But we can do both, allow young people to go to school and live a normal life while protecting the most vulnerable. The neurotic just need to pull themselves together.”
New York Post columnist Miranda Devine walks back her inflammatory comments on Fox News.
Albanese draws the political battlelines
In his budget reply speech last night, Opposition
Leader Anthony Albanese outlined his alternative response to the economic crisis and criticised the federal government for spending in the wrong places. Today, Paul Bongiorno on how the political battlelines between the major parties are being drawn.
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Paddy Manning is contributing editor (politics) at The Monthly and has worked for the ABC, Fairfax, Crikey and The Australian. He is the author of Body Count: How Climate Change Is Killing Us, Inside the Greens and Born To Rule: The Unauthorised Biography of Malcolm Turnbull.
Anthony Albanese’s budget reply last night – in which he proposed a universal childcare subsidy covering 90 per cent of costs and a $20 billion investment in the electricity grid – did enough to stave off fears that the Labor leader has zero appetite for policy risk. Describing this week’s historic budget as a missed opportunity and a “reform desert”, Albanese channelled his mentor, the left luminary and World War Two POW Tom Uren, who said that Australians survived the Burma Railway because they lived by a simple code: “The healthy looked after the sick, the strong looked after the weak, the young looked after the old.” Hear, hear. Call it economic nationalism, but the most stirring part of Albanese’s speech was his discussion of the Coalition’s failure to support Australian manufacturing, from killing off the car industry in 2013 to failed defence minister David Johnston’s...
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