Australia

Anthony Albanese pledges $10 billion to build social housing in budget reply speech

Labor has pledged to build 30,000 social and affordable houses over five years through a $10 billion future fund if the party wins the next federal election.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese used Thursday’s budget reply speech to reveal his plans to create the kitty from borrowed money.

In its first five years, investment returns would build 20,000 social houses with 4,000 allocated for women and children fleeing domestic violence, and older women on low incomes at risk of homelessness.

Health and emergency services workers would be allocated a further 10,000 affordable properties.

“The security of a roof over one’s head should be available to all Australians,” Mr Albanese told parliament.

Labor expects 21,500 full-time jobs in construction and broader economy will be created in the first five years, with a guarantee one in 10 on-site workers will be apprentices.

The money to create the fund would be borrowed and not come from the federal budget.

The Future Fund Board of Guardians would manage it, with investment returns annually transferred to the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation.

Returns are also slated to provide $200 million for repairs and improvements on housing in remote Indigenous communities.

Some $100 million would be spent on crisis housing for women fleeing violence and older women at risk of homelessness.

Veterans who are homeless or at risk of falling into that category would be provided with $30 million in new houses and specialist services.

Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese makes his budget reply speech in Canberra, Thursday, 13 May, 2021.

AAP

Mr Albanese also pledged $100 million to support 10,000 apprentices who chose to train for jobs in solar, green hydrogen, energy efficiency home upgrades and renewable manufacturing.

There would be 2,500 places a year over four years with $2,000 for starting a qualification and the same amount each year as well as on completion, capped at $10,000.

The federal government in Tuesday’s budget promised to spend $2.7 billion over four years giving first-year subsidies to employers who take on new apprentices and trainees.

Mr Albanese said the government’s big-spending budget was all about trying to get voters to forget the coalition’s failures over the past eight years.

“Make no mistake – the budget handed down on Tuesday night is not a plan for the next generation – it is a patch-up job for the next election,” he said.

The Labor leader also promised to implement federal wage theft laws after consulting with unions, employer groups and state governments.

The coalition dumped wage theft from its industrial relations omnibus bill despite the proposal receiving support from across the political spectrum.

Mr Albanese pledged to make bosses responsible for taking reasonable measures to eliminate sexual discrimination, harassment and victimisation at work.

The government has come under fire for its response to Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins’ Respect At Work report, which made 55 recommendations including that legal change.

Labor would also offer 2,000 students the opportunity to be mentored by innovative universities and private-sector incubators to turn their ideas into future businesses.

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