Budget reply: Labor vows to tackle sluggish wages and housing affordability

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on May 14, 2021
Budget reply: Labor vows to tackle sluggish wages and housing affordability

Last night Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese delivered his Budget reply, outlining ways Labor would tackle slow wage growth and housing affordability.

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Throughout 2020, real wages (wage growth minus inflation) often went backwards, while there is talk of a 'housing bubble' following record lending and house price growth through the start of 2021.

While the finer details are yet to be ironed out, Mr Albanese in his speech highlighted several ways to boost wage growth, including:

  • Writing job security into the Fair Work Act;

  • Properly defining casual work;

  • Public reporting on the gender pay gap for large companies; and

  • 10 days' paid domestic and family violence leave.

'Wage theft' will also be a crime under Labor's Budget.

Mr Albanese said Labor would also be "cracking down on the abuse of cowboy labour hire firms to ensure people who do the same job get the same pay".

Reports in the Sydney Morning Herald also indicate Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers is mulling over winding back the Government's 'Phase Three' tax cuts, due to kick in by 2024-25.

What about housing?

Labor has promised a $10 billion 'Housing Australia Future Fund', with annual investment returns to build social and affordable housing and "create thousands of jobs". 

Estimates show the first five years will see around 20,000 social housing properties built, and Mr Albanese said these plans "will create over 21,500 jobs each year". 

There was no mention of JobSeeker increases in Mr Albanese's speech, contrary to what was widely tipped.

Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) chief Dr Cassandra Goldie welcomed Labor's Budget reply, but said more needs to be done.

“While this [social housing] won’t meet the full housing needs of people on low incomes and in housing crisis, the fund would exist in perpetuity, providing a sustainable funding base to give more people greater housing options," she said.

"Labor must commit to raising social security payments above the poverty line, including JobSeeker, which is now a brutal $44 per day."

Image Source: Anthony Albanese on Twitter @AlboMP

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Harrison is Savings.com.au's Assistant Editor. Prior to joining Savings in January 2020, he worked for some of Australia's largest comparison sites and media organisations. With a keen interest in the economy, housing policy, and personal finance, Harrison strives to deliver and edit news and guides that are engaging, thought-provoking, and simple to read.

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