What Does The Labor Party Actually Stand For?

labor policies australia 2022

Labor is hoping to sweep the election next month and take power for the first time in nearly a decade. Judging by the latest polling, it’s looking likely that they could do just that.

Of course, it’s still all to play for, and everyone remembers how badly the pollsters got it wrong during the 2019 federal election.

Labor are sitting well out in front, with all of the major polls putting them somewhere between 52.6% and 57.0% over the Coalition’s 43% to 47.4% in preferred party voting, but many of the seats held by the coalition are not marginal ones, meaning Labor will need big swings to claim victory, and this is not guaranteed.

With media coverage claiming Labor Leader Anthony Albanese is ‘untested’ and that voters still don’t really know who he is, this is very much Labor’s election to lose.

So, just who is the Labor Party and what do they stand for? Here’s our guide to the red team fighting for your vote in this election.

Who are the Labor Party?

The Australian Labor Party, otherwise known as the ALP or simply Labor, is Australia’s major centre-left party and the oldest political party in the country.

They were founded as a federal party in 1901, after Australia became a federated nation, drawing together the various state Labor parties that had existed since the 1890s.

Sixteen Prime Ministers out of the 30 we’ve had have been from the Labor party, however, they’ve only won three elections while in opposition in the past 70 years. They last held government in 2013, when Kevin Rudd was defeated by Tony Abbott, ruling for six years from 2007. Since then, they’ve contested the last two elections under Bill Shorten, who narrowly lost to Scott Morrison in 2019. Anthony Albanese became leader of the Labor Party after the last election.

In terms of politics, the Labor Party are ostensibly a democratic socialist party, but they incorporate a wide range of views. Shorten was from the right-wing of the party while Albanese is from the left. Labor are also affiliated with some of the country’s biggest labour unions.

Who is Anthony Albanese?

Hailing from Sydney’s Inner West, Albanese has been fighting federal elections for decades. This will be his ninth.

He’s been the member for Grayndler since 1996 and served as Shadow Minister for Employment and Shadow Minister for the Environment. He was Deputy Prime Minister under Kevin Rudd and has been Leader of the Labor Party since 2019.

Albanese has consistently supported strong climate action policies, environmental protection, and social welfare policies. He also wants Australia to be a republic, supported marriage equality during the plebiscite, and has given strong support to refugees and asylum seekers.

‘Albo’, as he’s been dubbed, is known to be a big music fan and often sneaks quotes from popular songs into his speeches. He can DJ, has hosted a show on Rage, and once personally lifted transport restrictions to allow Dolly Parton to tour Australia.

He often talks of the hardships he endured being raised by a single mother in public housing. He’s been a lifelong supporter of the South Sydney Rabbitohs and is occasionally spotted in the breweries of Marrickville, where Willie the Boatman once named a corn ale after him.

Last year, Albanese was involved in a car crash in Marrickville where he suffered fairly serious injuries. He cites the incident as the motivation behind his recent headline-grabbing physical transformation, losing 18kgs and donning tight-fitting trousers, trendy glasses, and a crisp white shirt.

He married former Deputy Premier of New South Wales, Carmel Tebbutt, in 2000 and has one son, Nathan, with her. They divorced in 2019 and he is currently in a relationship with finance worker Jodie Hayden.

What Are Labor’s Main Policies?

In this election, Labor will be mainly campaigning on how bad of a job Scott Morrison has done while promising to strengthen Medicare, increase job security and the education and training sector, boost childcare support, and invest in domestic industries.

Climate and the Environment

Labor’s environmental and climate change election policies gave them a boost in the polls when they were announced at the start of the year. While they are more progressive than the Coalition, they are not nearly as radical as the Greens, who have seen strong support because of theirs.

Labor wants Australia to reach net-zero by 2050, and reduce emissions by 43% by 2030. This is in line with IPPC recommendations, but only just. Labor is also relying on Australia’s carbon credits scheme to get to net zero, which is a thoroughly flawed system.

They plan to spend $24 billion on energy policies that will upgrade the national electricity grid, invest in electric vehicles, and force the nation’s top polluting companies to cut their emissions.

They want to install 400 community batteries across the country and roll out 85 solar banks while helping those in the fossil fuel sector transition to new jobs with the funding of 10,000 training programmes.

Labor also wants to institute a national water commission and protect water resources in the Murray Darling Basin. They also pledge to protect the Great Barrier Reef, double the number of Indigenous Rangers, and upgrade water catchment and river protections.

The Economy

The economy is one area where Labor is weak. It’s not that they’re necessarily weak, or have bad policies in this area, but the Coalition will be focusing much of their campaigning on the idea that Labor are poor economic managers.

Because of this, Labor are pushing an economic agenda aimed at addressing the perceived needs of the country. This means an “economy that makes more things here at home, powered by cheap renewable energy.” Jobs and the cost of living are also at the forefront.

This means a $15 billion “national reconstruction fund” if elected, which would expand the mining industry, invest in domestic manufacturing, drive investment in renewables, and create better-paying jobs. Their investment philosophy would put money into projects that are expected to create a return for the country as well as setting it up for a greener future.

Labor also seeks to drive wages, which have stagnated over the past few decades. They plan to do this by increasing scrutiny over wage theft and the gig economy, and funding university places. They also want to create almost half a million free TAFE places in an effort to skill industries that have been hit hardest by the pandemic.

“Same job, same pay” is another focus, with the aim to stamp out unequal pay across the country — this would be a legal requirement they would hope to pass. In a similar vein, they have also pledged to close Australia’s gender pay gap.

Fixing the NBN by expanding full-fibre access to 1.5 million premises is another key pledge. Given the bungled rollout of the high-speed internet, Labor’s plan claims to deliver “world-class gigabit speeds” to 90% of households by 2025.

Healthcare and Wellbeing

Albanese, being from the left of his party, is a big proponent of social equality policies. Under his leadership, Labor say they would strengthen Medicare by increasing access to GPs through better funding and the removal of red tape in hiring processes. However, they do not support adding dental to Medicare.

Labor have pledged to spend $10 billion on 30,000 new social and affordable housing projects over five years — 4,000 of these would be allocated to women and children fleeing domestic violence, as well as older women at risk of homelessness.

Childcare is a big focus of their election strategy, with a promise to lift the maximum subsidy rate to 90% for the first child in care and increase subsidies for single-child families earning less than $530,000. They say their policies will leave 96% of families better off.

Labor also plan to revamp aged care, which was a big focus of their budget reply speech and one area that the Coalition is weak on, given the disasters experienced during the pandemic. They plan to increase wages for workers in the sector, improve the quality of food, mandate each resident receives at least 3.5 hours of care each day, and ensure all facilities have a nurse on-site 24/7.

In the wake of the natural disasters we’ve seen, Labor pledge $200 million a year on disaster recovery and resilience funding while cutting bureaucratic access to disaster payments that would see victims get paid faster.

Social Justice

Delivering “a future where no one is held back and no one is left behind” is one of Labor’s strongest election messages.

To this end, they promise to implement “in full” the Uluru Statement from the Heart, enshrine an Indigenous Voice to Parliament in the Constitution, build on their existing Closing the Gap framework, establish “locally tailored justice reinvestment initiatives” to tackle Indigenous deaths in custody, and invest in remote community housing while also scrapping the Coalition’s controversial Community Development Program and the cashless debit card.

Investing in women’s equality and policies to increase safety are also a big focus, with the full implementation of all 55 Respect at Work recommendations, funding 500 more crisis response workers, strengthening state laws around sexual assault and consent, and establishing a Family, Domestic and Sexual Violence Commissioner to act as a voice for survivors. They would also legislate 10 days of paid domestic violence leave.

Labor is also targeting cuts to the NDIS as something to reverse as a matter of priority. They also plan to overhaul the sector, cutting consults and money spent on legal battles as well as fraudulent providers.

On fraud, a federal anti-corruption commission is one of the most high profile election promises that the Coalition failed to deliver upon and it is something that Labor has said it will establish and empower to go after corruption at the top of government.

They also plan to reverse Coalition cuts to the ABC, create a Youth Minister to address issues facing young people, and invest in a “smarter, self-reliant” Australian Defence Force.

It’s worth saying that a lot of Labor’s election policies have yet to be hammered out in detail and we’re expecting updates on these soon.

Whether the above and the coming manifesto will be enough to get them across the line remains to be seen, however, the anger with Morrison and the Liberal Party is powerful enough that it may not matter too much what Labor do, so long as they don’t mess it up between now and May 21.

Want to know more about what the other political parties stand for? Read our guide to The Liberal Party here and our guide to The Greens here.

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