An Aussie CDC: Labor reveals plans for government in budget reply

By Matthew Elmas

Friday October 9, 2020

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese (AAP Image/The Guardian Pool, Mike Bowers)

A Labor government would establish an Australian Centre for Disease Control, build new social housing and create a new national corporation to rebuild the national energy grid.

Those were some of the commitments made by Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese in his budget reply speech last night, in which he sought to press the case that the Morrison government’s plan to end the recession and associated pandemic has left many Australians behind.

“The Budget reflects the Government’s character of being guided by short term politics, not long term vision,” Albanese said.

“…women have suffered most during the pandemic, but are reduced to a footnote. The best the Government can offer is they can drive on a road. And if you are over 35 you have certainly been left behind.”

The next federal election is still more than 18-months away, but if elected into government Labor would expand the scope of the public service with several new entities.

As previously flagged, a Centre for Disease Control would be established, mirroring similar agencies in other countries like the United States, with a mandate to bolster Australia’s responsiveness to outbreaks of infectious disease.

“It is also the case that our pandemic preparedness was poor. The last national pandemic preparedness exercise was run by the Rudd Government in 2008,” Albanese said.

There’s not much detail about what this would look like, but if models in other jurisdictions are anything to go by, it would be quite a large and sprawling agency, with a mandate to collaborate across government.

A Labor government would also establish a new Commonwealth owned corporation to “rebuild and modernise the national electricity grid”.

“Fixing transmission is technology neutral and will allow the market to drive least cost, new energy production,” Albanese said, noting that the Australian Energy Market Operator has already flagged required improvements.

“The current network takes no account of the rise of renewables as the cheapest new energy source, and doesn’t help link these new sources up to the national grid,” he said.

Labor would also invest in social housing and would ask the Productivity Commission to evaluate moving to a 90% childcare subsidy for every Australian family.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission would also be ordered to design a price regulation mechanism to “ensure every taxpayer dollar spent flows directly through to savings for Australian families.”

A full transcript of Albanese’s speech is available here.

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