Australian Labor Party (ALP)

Income support to get through tough times

Labor recognises that the rate of Newstart is too low. It simply hasn’t kept up with the cost of living for Australians that rely on it. It’s so low it’s acting as a barrier to getting work; with people struggling to afford transport, clothes and essentials.

Labor will conduct a root and branch review of Newstart – as well as related payments and supports – as a matter of priority.

A comprehensive review is needed in order to identify which parts of the system need to change and how to pay for it. The review will focus on alleviating poverty and helping people into the workforce.

A review is also needed because Australia’s social security system is complex. Interactions with other payments and services, like the Family Tax Benefit and employment services system, need to be considered. So too do interactions with state government services, like housing. It is important that changes to Newstart benefit vulnerable Australians and are not swallowed up by increases in State Government rents and charges.

Labor’s review of Newstart will also reconsider the age at which single parents move from Parenting Payment to Newstart. Looking after your children is the most important job of all, and every child deserves a good start to life. It’s important that single parents and their children are not forced into poverty.

In contrast to Labor’s plan, Scott Morrison refuses to acknowledge that Newstart is inadequate. The Liberals have spent the last six years demonising people on social security. They have made it more and more difficult for vulnerable Australians to access income support – including trying to make them wait six months to access Newstart, as well as threatening to axe the Energy Supplement.

The reason that Newstart was not cut by the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government was because Labor fought the cuts tooth and nail.

Unlike the Liberals, we do not review payments to cut them, or to push people off them. When Labor was last in government, we commissioned an independent and comprehensive review of the adequacy of the Age Pension, known as the Harmer Review. Following this review, Labor delivered the single largest increase to the Age Pension, Disability Support Pension and Carer Payment – lifting one million Australians out of poverty.

Labor is proud of Australia’s social safety net. But too many people are falling through the cracks.

Real help to find employment

The jobactive system costs the Australian public more than $6 billion over four years. It needs to provide value for money.

Labor knows that the current system isn’t working for unemployed people, businesses or taxpayers. We believe that labour market programs should be geared towards making people more work-ready, helping them get the skills they need, and helping them to get a secure, decent job.

Instead of ticking boxes, jobactive providers should be getting to the bottom of what’s stopping unemployed people getting work, building relationships with employers, and getting a better understanding of the local labour market.

The Government’s own recently commissioned review showed that 18 per cent of employers were using the job services system in 2007, but by 2018 that proportion had dropped to only 4 per cent.

Labor believes that people who are looking for work need to be treated with respect, supported to develop the skills and experience they need for jobs in their local area, and helped to find secure, decent jobs.

Under a Shorten Labor Government, mutual obligation and any compliance measures that go with it, will be aimed at helping people to get off income support and into sustainable work.

A Shorten Labor Government will also make it easier for small business to create new jobs and get more Tasmanains into work – delivering a tax cut for businesses who give young Tasmanians a first start and older Tasmanians another go.

Too many mature Australians are too young to retire, but unable to find work – leaving around 86,000 Australians aged over 55 looking for work.

At the same time, young job seekers today are finding it harder to get a foot in the door – nearly one in three young people in the labour force are either unemployed or underemployed, there are almost 260,000 unemployed youth in Australia that want a job but simply aren’t being given the chance.

Labor’s New Jobs Tax Cut will give small businesses an incentive to put on additional employees aged under 25, over 55 and carers returning to the workforce.

Companies with turnover of less than $10 million which have been operating for more than two years will be eligible for an additional 30 per cent tax deduction for up to five new workers’ salaries for their first year of employment, capped at $50,000 per company.

The New Jobs Tax Cut will be available to businesses hiring Tasmanians who face real barriers to finding work. To be eligible for the additional deduction, new employees need to be unemployed for three months or more and be either:

  • Job seekers under the age of 25 or over 55; or
  • Parents or carers returning to work

The New Jobs Tax Cut is good for jobs and good for the economy. Labor’s plan will help businesses grow and help jobseekers get a foot in the door.

Labor will also support people to develop skills by investing over $1 billion in TAFE and apprenticeships to ensure Australians have the education and skills they need to succeed in our changing economy. Labor will provide 150,000 additional apprenticeships in areas of skill shortages and wave upfront fees for 100,000 Australians to go to TAFE.

A secure, affordable home for everybody

Tasmania is in the midst of a housing affordability and homelessness crisis under the Morrison Government – our housing system simply isn’t delivering for working and middle class Tasmanians.

Rates of home ownership have plummeted to historic lows, record numbers of families are experiencing rental and mortgage stress, and many of the most vulnerable in our communities are at-risk or experiencing homelessness.

The Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government has failed to provide national leadership in housing policy or to invest in the supply of Australia’s affordable housing stock.

Labor has a comprehensive plan to tackle the housing affordability crisis, increase supply, combat growing intergenerational inequality, support jobs and skills, assist Budget repair, and improve financial stability.

A Shorten Labor Government will:

  • Reform negative gearing so that deductions can only be claimed on newly built homes, which will increase new housing supply and support jobs. We will reform the capital gains tax concession and allow existing investors maintain their current CGT and negative gearing entitlements. There will be no retrospective taxation or impost on existing investors.
  • Build 250,000 new affordable rental homes over the next decade in partnership with the community housing sector for Australians on low and moderate incomes. We will also ensure that 1 in 10 employees engaged in building new housing stock under our scheme are apprentices.
  • Create a viable Build to Rent sector in Australia – giving institutional investors better tax concessions, encouraging more construction and stimulating the housing market. We will cut the managed investment trust withholding rate in half from 30 per cent to 15 per cent to encourage new housing supply.
  • Provide $88 million over two years for a new Safe Housing Fund to increase transitional housing options for women and children escaping domestic and family violence, young people exiting out-of-home care and older women on low incomes who are at risk of homelessness.
  • Develop and implement a national plan to reduce homelessness through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG).
  • Limit direct borrowing by self-managed superannuation funds. Limited recourse borrowing in SMSFs has exploded in recent years, increasing risk in the superannuation system and crowding out first home owners.
  • Facilitate COAG processes to introduce a uniform vacant property tax across all major cities.
  • Increase fees for overseas investors buying Australian real estate, and increase penalties when they break the law.
  • Achieve better results from National Agreements, including better rights for renters, planning reform, inclusionary zoning, and accelerated land release.
  • Re-establish the National Housing Supply Council and appoint a dedicated Federal Housing and Homelessness Minister.
  • Establish a new and independent COAG Economic Reform Council that will be given the autonomy to examine, track and report to COAG on long-term reform priorities, including on housing affordability and supply.

Secure housing is essential to wellbeing, participation and inclusion and that all Australians have a right to safe, affordable and appropriate housing throughout their lives.

A Shorten Labor Government will ensure that the issue of affordable housing for all Australians is front and centre of our national agenda for the next decade and beyond.

Quality health and community services for all in need

In our pursuit of a fair society, Labor is always guided by our duty to protect the most vulnerable: alleviating poverty, combatting homelessness, and reversing disadvantage.

Labor supports a vibrant, strong and innovative community sector. Our community sector makes an enormous social and economic contribution. It provides frontline services to our most vulnerable people including early intervention, crisis support and legal assistance for those at risk of homelessness, escaping domestic violence or who are excluded from their communities.

The sector builds the capacity of communities to respond to entrenched and emerging social challenges and create opportunities for the participation and inclusion of all Australians.

Labor believes in investing in health care so all Australians can access and afford the best possible quality care. Labor has a proud record in health care – we invented Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and have always fought to protect them.

We have consistently stood up against the billions of dollars in Liberal cuts to health and hospitals that began with the horror 2014 Budget.

Labor will invest in an extra $2.8 billion in a Better Hospitals Fund which will benefit every public hospital in Australia by restoring the core funding cut by the Liberals. This investment will mean more doctors, nurses, hospital staff and beds. It will also reduce elective surgery and emergency department wait times and fund new capital projects like hospital expansions, new and refurbished wards, upgraded emergency departments and new palliative care and mental health facilities.

In Tasmania, Labor has announced a suite of policies to deal with the crisis in our state’s health hospital system.

Labor’s plan includes:

  • $40 million for a new sub-acute ward in Hobart with at least 32 beds.
  • $35 million for a new sub-acute ward co-located with the Launceston General Hospital with at least 32 new beds.
  • $20 million for two walk-in care centres on the North West Coast.
  • $30 million to blitz elective surgery waiting times.
  • $15 million for a new Community Mental Health Hub in Launceston, including 25 acute care beds.
  • An estimated $11 million to slash waiting times for cancer patients in public hospitals.
  • An estimated $11 million to blitz emergency department waiting times.
  • $7 million for RFDS Base in Launceston.
  • $4.5 million to restore the Tazreach service for visiting medical specialist appointments in regional Tasmania.
  • $3.5m million for a full headspace for Burnie and outreach services to the West Coast.
  • $1.7 million for the Strength2Strength program.

Labor will always invest more in Medicare. We will lift the Liberal’s six year Medicare rebate freeze, meaning we will invest an extra $200 million into Medicare to unfreeze 100 GP items – and make GP visits more affordable for patients. Labor has also committed to new Medicare-funded MRI licences across the nation, making safe and potentially life-saving scans more affordable.

Labor’s $2.3 billion Medicare Cancer Plan will slash cut out-of-pocket costs for cancer patients and fund millions of free scans, millions of free consultations and cheaper medicines for cancer patients.

Labor has committed to a $115 million Indigenous health package and to the development of a National LGBTIQ Health and Inclusion Strategy to address the health needs of groups facing different barriers to accessing services.

Investing in quality early childhood education and care is one of the best ways to break down intergenerational disadvantage and build a more equal society.

A Shorten Labor Government will deliver massive cost of living relief for nearly one million families struggling with the costs of child care. From July next year, Labor will put more money back in the pockets of 887,000 Australian families.

Labor will also introduce a new National Preschool and Kindy Program, guaranteeing around 700,000 Australian children a year will be able to access subsidised preschool in the two years before formal school.

A Shorten Labor Government will make a record Commonwealth investment of over $660 million in the Fourth Action Plan to reduce violence against women and their children, more than doubling current funding and committing to long term change. This will include an extra $90 million to make sure women threatened by violence don’t go through the legal system alone, by boosting funding to Community Legal Services and other services and supports.

Labor will also invest in an $88 million Safe Housing Fund, provide an extra $60 million for refuges and emergency housing and build 250,000 new affordable rental properties.

Further support will be provided through a $62 million grants program for community-based prevention efforts and frontline services. Labor will provide 20,000 Flexible Support Packages to provide practical financial assistance to people escaping violence.

And we will provide $40 million to emergency relief organisations across the country to support people in financial hardship.

Labor will pay for these commitments by making multinationals pay their fair share and closing tax loopholes used by the top end of town.

Find our more or contact the Australian Labor Party (ALP).