Labor leader Anthony Albanese has called for the Commonwealth to invest in nation-building infrastructure and deliver co-ordinated procurement the help the Australian economy recover from COVID-19.
Mr Albanese says the COVID shutdown has caused severe damage to the economy and the threat of a prolonged impact is very real.
In his 5th Vision Statement delivered on Monday, Mr Albansese presented a roadmap for the nation’s emergence from the crisis, saying the goal must be to come back stronger than before.
“This is a once-in-a-political lifetime event … and a once-in a generation chance to reshape our economy,” he said.
He said a post-COVID Australia needed more permanent jobs and more job security, and ploughing forward with key infrastructure projects, including the High Speed Rail, was part of that.
“We must invest in nation building infrastructure including iconic projects like High Speed Rail and we should be building trains here,” he said.
Government procurement policy in rail manufacturing has previously boosted imports and regional jobs, Mr Albanese said.
“The Commonwealth can deliver coordinated procurement across States and Territories and the private sector to smooth out production, lower costs and build skills and capability.”
Easing urban congestion
Mr Albanese also said the experience of working from home had changed the nature of work forever and offered a solution to urban congestion.
“An appropriate decentralisation strategy which boosts regional economic development and takes pressure off our capital cities should be at the heart of national economic development,” he said.
“We could start by restoring public sector jobs in areas such as Centrelink, Medicare and Veterans Affairs that deliver services to regional communities.”
Mr Albanese also called for an end to the contracting out of essential public services and called for the government to work with the private sector and superannuation funds to invest in social housing.
Australia needed a well-designed conservation program supported by Landcare and targeting pest control, river revitalisation, emissions reduction and bushfire restoration to boost regional employment, he said.
Government also needed to embrace science to encourage high tech manufacturing, and must restore funding to the CSIRO to support vaccine development efforts.
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