My fellow Australians
Working together, we can build a better future.
An economy with stronger wages and more secure work.
Investing in Australian skills, jobs, and manufacturing.
Backing clean energy and building new infrastructure across the country.
Taking pressure off the cost of living by making child care and power bills cheaper.
Protecting Medicare. Building more affordable housing.
Fixing the crisis in aged care.
Building an economy that works for people, not the other way around.
This is the vision I want to share with you tonight.
Not a bunch of last-minute, one-off handouts for problems that have been a decade in the making.
Not a collection of promises that have a use-by date – conveniently after the election…
…but a real plan for a better future.
The past two years of heartache and hardship have shown us the great strengths of our Australian community…
…but they have also exposed some fundamental weaknesses of our economy.
– Too many people are working jobs that don’t pay the bills, or let them plan for their future.
– Too many businesses can’t find skilled staff.
– Too many industries are at the end of global supply chains, at the mercy of an uncertain world.
We cannot let this be the new normal.
We got through the pandemic because we worked together.
We must now build a stronger economy – working together.
Family businesses and workers, big employers and unions, states and the Commonwealth.
All of us, co-operating to boost productivity and increase profits and wages.
Driving growth – and sharing its benefits.
After all the challenges and the sacrifices made during the pandemic, floods, and bushfires, Australians need and deserve a better Budget for a better future.
A future where no one is held back, and no one is left behind.
Labor has a real plan for growth and prosperity – a plan to get incomes rising and costs under control – with five pillars:
1. Our Powering Australia plan to drive investment in cheap, renewable energy. We’ll create 604,000 new jobs by 2030, with five out of every six in the regions, and lower power bills for households and businesses alike.
2. Our plans for a Future Made in Australia – making more things here, diversifying the economy and revitalising the regions. Using our National Reconstruction Fund, we will work with business to help turn good ideas into good, secure jobs and new homegrown industries.
3. Our plans to invest in infrastructure, because roads, rail, ports, and high-speed broadband are the building blocks of a stronger, more connected, more efficient economy.
This government thinks infrastructure is about spending millions on car parks that don’t get built. I see infrastructure as a sustainable, long-term investment in vital national projects – creating jobs and boosting productivity.
Labor will make sure that those investments really stack up using the Infrastructure Australia model that I established.
1. Our plans for secure work and more opportunities for training with more university places and 465,000 fee-free TAFE places, and the creation of Jobs and Skills Australia.
2. Our plan for cheaper child care because it’s good for productivity, workforce participation, and economic growth. And it’s good for children.
Education is the biggest and most powerful weapon we have against disadvantage.
Labor believes that at every stage – from early learning, through to school, TAFE and university – education lifts us up, not just as individuals but as a country.
This agenda isn’t radical.
My team and I are promising renewal not revolution.
A renewal of the best of Australia’s values: fairness, decency, supporting aspiration, looking out for each other, rewarding hard work.
I want the sacrifices all of you have made through these tough times to lead to a better future.
THE CHANGE WE NEED
My fellow Australians
You understand our country is facing serious challenges right now.
You’re living them.
The cost of everything is going up – but your pay isn’t.
Petrol, groceries, rent, child care, health care – the costs keep piling up, and have been piling up for some time now.
The pandemic has ripped through everything from hospitality and tourism, to our universities and the entertainment industry.
Climate change is here and its consequences are devastating.
Yet on all of these issues, on every challenge facing our country…
…instead of this decade-old government being part of the solution – they are part of the problem.
And instead of this Prime Minister stepping up, taking responsibility, and helping – he runs for cover and blames someone else.
And we saw it all again on Tuesday night.
A Budget that spoke for a wasted decade.
No help or hope for young Australians.
No vision for the future.
Just one-off handouts to get through an election, with all the sincerity of a fake tan.
I think Australians will see this for what it is.
I don’t think, I know.
The Budget was – as it always is with this Prime Minister – long on politics, short on plans.
All announcement, no delivery.
Far too little, way too late.
This is a Government whose entire economic record is riddled with waste and rorts.
A Government that blames a generation of deficits on Covid, but had already doubled debt before the pandemic ever reached us.
A Government that is leaving Australians behind.
If you vote Labor in May, I can promise you this will change.
If I’m Prime Minister, I won’t go missing when the going gets tough – or pose for photos and then disappear when there’s a job to be done.
I’ll show up, I’ll step up – and I’ll work every day to bring our country together.
If people want proof of Labor’s capacity to bring people together and deliver policy reform, just look at what we’ve done on climate change.
Powering Australia: a fully costed, comprehensive plan that has received the support of the Business Council of Australia, the Australian Industry Group, the National Farmers Federation, and the ACTU.
Labor will end the climate wars.
We will give people and business the certainty they need.
It is this objective of bringing people together in the national interest that will characterize a Labor Government I lead, in stark contrast to this government that is always seeking to divide.
My fellow Australians,
We’ll be a government that backs the aspirations of all Australians: to find a good job that pays a fair wage, to gain an apprenticeship or start their own small business.
We’ll be a government that creates safe and respectful workplaces for women. And we will implement every single one of the recommendations of the Respect@Work report.
We will create a National Anti-Corruption Commission because public money should always be invested in the public interest.
In this increasingly uncertain and unstable world, we will need to increase Australia’s defence spending.
But that spending needs to lead somewhere. It needs to actually improve technology and capabilities – and deliver them when they are needed.
Spending billions to rip up contracts and blindside our allies is no way to enhance our security.
We will make sure our veterans get the care they need, by cutting wait times for claims and rolling out new veterans’ hubs across the country.
We will establish a Disaster Ready Fund, because Australians deserve a plan to mitigate the ever-intensifying impact of natural disasters.
Families like those I met in Lismore, Ballina, Murwillumbah, Brisbane, and Maryborough deserve – need – a government ready to roll up its sleeves and tackle the challenge of climate change….
….not just create a fund and let it sit idle while people’s homes and livelihoods are swept away.
And I say to those Australians still reeling and rebuilding from the Black Summer bushfires…
…the people I had the honour of shaking hands with on the New South Wales north coast, in Moruya, in the Adelaide Hills, in Victoria, and in Cobargo….
….You deserve a leader who holds a hose and a government that stands up for you.
My fellow Australians,
We will act on climate change and seize the chance to transform our country into a renewable energy superpower.
It will make us more resilient and less dependent on global supply chains.
Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine has reminded us that we must be prepared for the uncertainty that global events unleash here at home.
The pandemic too has shown us that we are not immune to global events. We must be more self-reliant.
We can revitalise Australian manufacturing – and power that manufacturing with Australian made renewable energy.
Exporting resources will always be important to Australia’s economy.
But we should also use our resources – like our minerals and rare earths – to make products like batteries here, instead of just shipping them offshore and importing the finished goods.
We can and should add that value here.
And at a time when petrol prices are on everyone’s minds, we need to face the fact that two of Australia’s four fuel refineries have closed during this Government’s term.
We need a government with a real plan to ensure supply — using Australian flagged vessels with Australian seafarers in a strategic fleet — and a fuel reserve that’s accessible, not in the Gulf of Mexico as it is now.
This is what Australians will get to choose in just a few short weeks.
A government that looks forward and plans ahead.
An Australia that stands on our own two feet.
A better future, with a Labor government focused on:
– Creating secure, well-paid jobs
– Making our future here
– Strengthening Medicare
– Making child care cheaper
My fellow Australians
It was Bob Hawke’s Labor government that created Medicare.
A policy driven by one simple principle: that every Australian should be able to access and afford the health care they need.
Paul Keating created universal superannuation to ensure every Australian could save for financial security in their retirement.
Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard created the National Disability Insurance Scheme, so every Australian affected by disability would be guaranteed the support and respect they deserve.
It is only Labor that ever does the big reforms.
These reforms are the markers of a decent society – and they are the drivers of a stronger economy.
Not only because they boost participation and productivity – and lighten the load on employers and businesses….
But because good, reliable, affordable and universal services give people the confidence to pursue their aspirations, to fulfil their potential, to be their best.
Better care means Australians can live better lives. It’s that simple.
So, if you vote Labor in May, you can be confident that:
Our government will always protect Medicare.
Our government will keep universal superannuation strong.
Our government will stop the Liberals’ cuts and get the NDIS back on track.
And we will bring the principle of universal, affordable and quality service to Child Care and to Aged Care.
Because for too long, our youngest Australians and our oldest Australians – and their families – have been left with little alternative to shouldering the costs of a broken system.
In my first Budget Reply speech, I announced Labor’s plan for Cheaper Child Care.
We will eliminate the complicated mess of subsidy cliffs and barriers to working more.
This isn’t some one-off hand-out five minutes before an election…
…it’s meaningful help with the cost of living and a permanent saving for millions of families.
Under our plan, no family will be worse off, but almost all families will be better off.
Making child care cheaper will mean more Australian children get access to early education, giving them a great start in life.
And, crucially, cheaper child care is an economic reform.
Our plan will end the economic distortion that stops mothers in particular from working more than three or four days a week.
It will boost productivity and workforce participation across the economy.
Cheaper Child Care. Stronger Medicare.
And – tonight, at the heart of my third Budget Reply is our plan to fix the crisis in aged care.
My fellow Australians
Tonight, I’m announcing Labor’s plan to put security, dignity, quality and humanity back into aged care.
Put simply: to put the care back into aged care.
The global pandemic and a Royal Commission have confirmed what so many Australians already knew – our aged care system is in crisis.
More of us are living long enough to need extra care in our later years.
But currently that thought fills a generation of Australians and their families with dread.
Older Australians fear that the final chapter of their life will be an aged care facility where they are not properly cared for, let alone afforded real dignity.
Their children wrestle with the dilemma of sending them to a place that might not be good enough, versus the risk of leaving them at home when it’s becoming unsafe for them to be on their own.
We’ve all been chilled by stories of unforgivable neglect.
Maggots in wounds.
People going days without fresh air, a shower, or a change of clothes.
Stories of residents lying on the floor, crying out in pain, and nobody is there to help them.
It goes against everything we are as Australians.
And while our loved ones suffer…
…and their carers, mostly women, are underpaid and overworked…
…some of the operators running these places are doing very well.
It’s no coincidence that COVID swept through some aged care facilities with such deadly force – because for far too long the Liberals have turned a blind eye to operators who put profit ahead of the people in their care.
The simple truth of it is this: the Liberals have had a decade to do something about Aged Care.
Even an Interim Royal Commission Report – with the searing title ‘Neglect’ – wasn’t enough to spur them into action.
If they are left in power, nothing will change – and the bleak present they have created will be the bleak future awaiting so many more Australians.
Now I know there are many facilities out there that do a magnificent job caring for people.
I know aged care workers show up every day and do their absolute best with what they have, showing love and respect for those in their care.
And they will be the first to tell you that the system is at breaking point.
If we want to change aged care in this country for the better, then we need to start by changing the government.
Tonight, I announce five concrete, practical measures a Labor Government will implement to ensure older Australians receive the aged care they deserve:
One. Under a Labor Government, every aged care facility will be required to have a registered, qualified nurse on site, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
We are going to put nurses back into nursing homes.
This will save thousands of stressful, expensive and ultimately unnecessary trips to hospital Emergency Departments, for issues a nurse could solve on the spot.
Because every Australian living in aged care should get the medical attention they need, the moment they need it, day or night.
This is just common sense – and it is common decency.
Two. We are going to raise the standard of aged care across the board – by ensuring there are more carers, who have more time to care.
We will mandate that every Australian living in aged care receives a minimum of 215 minutes of care per day, as recommended by the Royal Commission.
That means more care for every resident, every day.
So, if you have a loved one in aged care, you can be certain they will get more time with a registered nurse and more time with enrolled nurses and personal care workers.
Not just for essential medical treatment – but basic, important things like helping people take a shower, get dressed, eat a meal.
And – also – the time to talk. The chance to have a conversation that isn’t about medication or hygiene or a sudden emergency.
Some company and human interaction, especially on those days when family can’t visit.
A reminder that our older Australians aren’t a just number, they aren’t a burden. They are people who deserve respect, courtesy, and the best possible attention.
Three. A Labor Government I lead will back a real pay rise for aged care workers.
At the start of this year, the Prime Minister announced a one-off, pre-election payment for aged care workers.
This week it was reported that over 90% of them still hadn’t received a cent.
That is this government in a nutshell. A big announcement, no delivery. Too little. Too late.
Labor knows that these carers – who work long hours doing such important and often back breaking work – are underpaid and undervalued, with some earning as little as $22 an hour.
Unlike this Prime Minister who won’t take any responsibility, a Labor Government won’t muck around.
We’ll support the workers’ call for better pay at the Fair Work Commission.
And a Labor government will fund the outcome of this case.
Because if we want higher standards of care – we need to support higher wages for our carers.
We know if we want to recruit and retain more carers to look after a population that’s growing older…
…we need to treat their vital and essential work with respect…
…and reward it with better pay.
Number four is about better food for residents
A really hard part of growing old and losing some of your independence, is not being able to cook for yourself, let alone visitors or family.
For most of us, meals are something we look forward to. A daily ritual that brings us together, gives us moments of joy.
This makes it all the more outrageous when the food served up to some Australians in aged care is a scandal itself.
The interim Royal Commission report found that over half of aged care residents were not getting enough nutrition. They are literally starving.
We’re going to change that.
A Labor government will work with the sector to develop and implement mandatory nutrition standards for aged care homes to ensure every resident gets good food.
Tasty and nutritious meals which respect cultural, religious and dietary requirements.
And the fifth part of our plan to fix the Aged Care crisis is about integrity and accountability.
Labor will deliver new funding, more staff and better support to the aged care sector.
And I am determined to see that every single dollar of that investment goes to better care for people.
We will work with multicultural communities to support culturally appropriate care, because we know that many older people revert to the language of their birth in their later years.
We will give the Aged Care Safety Commissioner new powers.
And we will make residential care providers report – in public and in detail – what they are spending money on.
The days of residents going without decent food and clean clothes will come to an end.
– Registered nurses on site 24/7.
– More carers with more time to care.
– A pay rise for aged care workers.
– Better food for residents.
– Dollars going to care.
That’s how a Labor Government will solve the crisis in aged care.
Child Care. Medicare. Aged Care. Because Labor cares.
That’s a different approach to what we heard on Tuesday night.
Australians knew what the Prime Minister and the Treasurer would say about this Budget.
People have seen it and heard it all before.
The big promises that are never kept.
The taxpayer-funded advertising ready to roll before the end of Married at First Sight.
And the big bucket of money ready to be splashed around in an election campaign.
A Budget for the next 6 weeks, when we need a plan for the next 6 years
The problem for this Prime Minister is that the Australian people have figured him out.
This government will say whatever it takes and promise whatever they think will get them a second decade in office.
But the facts do not lie. And we have a decade of facts to look at.
Take the cost of living.
Australians know that the cost of everything is going up – food, petrol, rent, child care, doctor’s bills – and their pay has fallen behind.
So let’s be really clear about this.
You can’t put the worst-ever decade of wages growth down to a long run of bad luck.
And it’s not due to COVID.
It’s not an accident at all.
This government wants to keep your wages low.
They have said it themselves: low wages growth is a deliberate design feature of their economic architecture.
Not bad luck – bad policy.
And this is a central difference between this government and Labor on jobs and on cost-of-living.
I believe in a fair-wage, high-productivity economy. An Australia where working hard means you can pay the bills, support your family, save for the future and achieve your aspirations.
But this Prime Minister and this Treasurer see the last nine years of record low wages growth as a great success story.
And that’s why they cannot and will not ever be able to do anything meaningful to help with the cost of living.
Australians know the difference between structural reforms that change people’s lives for the better and cynical one-off payments designed for an election.
This government might as well have stapled cash to your ballot paper.
We’ll deliver those payments as well, because we know the pressure Australians are under.
But if you vote Labor in May, our work on cost of living won’t stop when the votes are counted.
Because we know that the costs you’re dealing with aren’t one-offs.
Your kids don’t go to child care for one week.
You don’t use electricity for a few days.
The relentless pressure of flat wages and rising prices won’t stop because of a short-term, pre-election promise.
The truth is if you want real, permanent, meaningful help with the cost of living, you need a plan to get wages growing again.
And you need a Labor Government to do it.
A Labor Government that is upfront with our plans.
Not a Liberal-National government that has driven down wages and has plans for cuts once they get through an election.
Because make no mistake: if the Liberals get a second decade, more cuts to services you count on are coming.
A BETTER FUTURE
My fellow Australians
It was clear enough, on Tuesday night, that the Liberal and National parties think this Budget will be enough to get them through the next election.
The only jobs they are concerned about are their own.
They’re asking you to trust them that somehow they’ll be better in their fourth term.
After all the waste and rorts and scandals, can you imagine how arrogant and dismissive they will be if they enter a second, long decade in office?
But this election isn’t about their political future – it’s about our country’s future.
And it’s a choice only you can make.
We live in the greatest country on earth.
But ask yourself: is this really as good as it gets?
Because I believe we can aim higher.
I believe Australians deserve a better future.
I believe in higher wages.
I believe in universal, accessible, high-quality health care
I believe our schools, universities and TAFEs are powerful national assets.
I believe in dignity and respect for older Australians, including pensioners, who built our nation.
I believe every Australian deserves a roof over their heads and the doors of opportunity open before them.
I believe our natural environment needs protection and that dealing with climate change presents opportunities not just challenges.
I believe it’s a privilege to share this continent with the oldest continuous civilisation on earth.
I believe in hope and optimism, not fear and division.
As I ask you for the privilege of forming government, I think about the path of my life that has led me here.
I grew up in a council house, raised by a single mother. Mum and I didn’t have much, but we had each other.
I learnt the value of a dollar. I learnt about the strength of community. I learnt about the power of optimism in the face of adversity.
I learnt about the strength of a parent’s love, and how they will move mountains to give their kids a better life.
It’s where I learnt to fight for what I believe in and what it means for everyday people to have leaders who fight for them.
It’s why I’ll fight so hard for a better future.
I went into politics because I believe good government can change the lives of Australians for the better.
Reaching out to those who’ve fallen back, and creating opportunities that make it possible to get ahead, to be the best we can be.
That’s the dream I hold for my son, Nathan. I want to build a strong Australia to hand to his generation.
An Australia that gives them the chance to follow their dreams, to study what they want, to learn the trade or get the job they want, to buy a home, to start a family.
An Australia of boundless opportunity.
An inclusive Australia that celebrates our rich diversity and values our multiculturalism as an asset.
An Australia that embraces the generous Uluru Statement from the Heart, including a constitutionally recognised Indigenous Voice to Parliament.
My fellow Australians
I have unlimited faith in our country’s potential.
And if I have the honour of serving as your Prime Minister, I can promise you I will work as hard as I can every day to see that potential realised.
I will act with integrity, lead with responsibility – and treat you with respect.
We’ve been a through a tough couple of years, but I know our best days can be ahead of us.
I will work with you, to build a better future.