Anthony Albanese has pledged a Labor government would make gender pay equity an objective of the Fair Work Act and strengthen the Fair Work Commission’s powers to order pay rises for workers in low paid industries dominated by women.
The gender equity promise was one of five initiatives in the opposition leader’s policy speech, delivered to an audience of the Labor faithful in Perth on Sunday.
Paying tribute to care worker’s efforts in the pandemic, Albanese said they were the “arteries of our nation” and must be given “the respect and the investment they deserve”.
A Labor government would set up a care and communities sector expert panel and a pay equity expert panel to improve expertise within the commission.
Two former prime minsters, Paul Keating and Kevin Rudd, were at the launch, and Albanese was introduced by Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan. Newly-elected South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas was also in the audience.
Education spokeswoman Tanya Plibersek, a very popular Labor figure, was missing from the launch, amid commentary in recent days that she has not been prominent during the campaign. Albanese said earlier in the weekend that Plibersek would be missing because she was representing him at Sunday’s May Day rally in Sydney.
Albanese – who has just emerged from a bout of COVID – told his audience that as prime minister he would want to “work with all premiers, regardless of which party they are from. I want to bring all the states together and get things done for the whole country.”
In other announcements, Albanese said Labor would build more electric vehicle charging stations across Australia, reduce pharmaceutical charges, make it easier for people to purchase houses by having the government take partial equity in them, and invest $1 billion in a fund for value-adding to resources.
He said building more electric vehicle charging stations would close the gaps in the network.
“That means you’ll be able to drive an electric vehicle across the country. Adelaide to Perth, Brisbane to Mount Isa.
“Together with Labor’s already announced electric vehicle discount, we’ll make it easier and cheaper for your next car to be electric.
“Imagine a future where you don’t have to worry about petrol bills”.
On pharmaceuticals, Albanese said Labor would reduce the cost of medication on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) by $12.50, making it cheaper for general patients. This would mean the maximum people paid for a PBS script would be $30, a reduction of 29%.
Someone taking one medication a month would save $150 a year. Labor’s changes to the PBS would start on January 1 next year.
The government has also just announced also a cut in the cost of medical scripts – by $10 a script.
Under Labor’s “help to buy” housing initiative, the federal government would provide an equity contribution for 10,000 aspiring home owners annually. The scheme would be available for low and middle income earners.
“If you have saved 2% of you deposit, we will contribute up to 40% of the purchase price of a new home or 30% for an existing home”, Albanese said.
He said the plan “will assist Australians to buy a home with a smaller deposit, smaller mortgage and smaller mortgage repayments.
“An Australian Labor government will help you achieve the great Australian dream of homeownership”.
Albanese also announced that as part of Labor’s proposed national reconstruction fund it would invest $1 billion in developing value-adding products from the nation’s resources.
“We will take resources like lithium and nickel – essential elements of the batteries that will power the vehicles of the future – and instead of shipping them to another country to make batteries, we’ll have what we need to make them right here”.
“We’ll bring manufacturing back home”.
Urging Australians to “vote for a better future”, Albanese said: “As your prime minister I won’t run away from responsibility. I won’t treat every crisis as a chance to blame someone else.
“I will show up, I will step up, I will bring people together. I will lead with integrity and treat you with respect”