Albo says pandemic has given ‘rare opportunity’ for nation-building

Australians have to come through the coronavirus pandemic still saying, “We’re all in this together” if the nation is to rise out of the economic slump.

May 11, 2020, updated May 11, 2020
Anthony Albanese says he's ready if the PM calls a snap poll. (Photo: AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Anthony Albanese says he's ready if the PM calls a snap poll. (Photo: AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese says the crisis is a once-in-a-political lifetime event that creates a rare opportunity to renew Australia’s federation and reshape its economy.

“The pandemic has exposed another inconvenient truth: we are living in uncertain times and maybe our economy isn’t as resilient as we like to think,” he will say in a speech to the Labor caucus on Monday.

“The fact is that too much of the risk in our economy has been shifted onto those with the least capacity to manage in tougher times.

“Our economy has become riskier and we need to think through what that means for us all.”

Albanese has asked Labor frontbenchers to offer ideas for the recovery.

He will detail some of these in the speech, including a need to revitalise manufacturing using cheap, clean energy and build big infrastructure projects such as high-speed rail.

Another plan Labor is pushing is for government to work with the private sector and superannuation funds to build more social and affordable housing.

Albanese says this has the twin benefits of driving continued construction work in a dwindling sector and helping low-paid, essential workers find affordable rental homes close to their work.

The speech comes a day before Treasurer Josh Frydenberg delivers an economic statement to parliament in lieu of the budget that has been pushed back to October.

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Albanese is critical of the government’s assumption the economy will “snap back”.

And he says it shouldn’t have taken a pandemic for the coalition to have come around to Labor’s point of view on many areas.

That includes the need to lift unemployment payments, the vital role of unions, the importance of fast and reliable broadband, and the essential service provided by early childhood educators.

“Let’s not snap back to insecure work, to job seekers stuck in poverty, to scientists being ignored,” he will say.

“We must move forward to having not just survived the pandemic, but having learned from it.”

Monday’s speech is the fifth in a series of vision statements Albanese is using to put his stamp on the Labor leadership and reshape the party and its policies.

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