When you cut through the economic jargon and the mindbogglingly massive numbers, Federal Budget night is really about how much easier or harder your life will be for the next 12 months.
It’s an opportunity for the Albanese Government to support workers and show they care. Honestly, there are so many areas where workers need crucial support.
Here are just three ways the budget could make a difference for you.
1. Pay rises needed now to keep up with cost of living
No one in Australia, let alone the essential workers who keep Australia running, should live in poverty. Yet the cost-of-living crisis is making things so much harder. Making use of food banks. Eating late so you don’t go to bed hungry. Skipping meals altogether.
This is a nation-wide emergency.
We can expect to see some relief in the form of subsidies for your energy bills in the budget but that’s just a one-off response. To keep up with the cost of daily needs, workers need a pay rise.
Every day, millions of working Australians have to figure out new ways of scraping by because their wages have not kept up with price gouging by energy companies, banks, landlords and the big grocery stores.
Frontline workers, in areas like aged care, early childhood education, care and disability services, and retail are made up mostly of women who are underpaid and burnt-out. These workers need wage increases now.
For Federal public servants, the Albanese Government has been a much welcome change to the previous Morrison Government. The former has commited to a good bargaining approach and better consultation with workers.
However, the Albanese Government’s interim pay position of 3 per cent falls well short of cost-of-living pressures. The Australian Public Service will be at risk of losing skilled staff if it does not have competitive pay and conditions.
On a more positive note, the Albanese Government has announced they will fund a 15% increase in wages for aged care workers. And unions are campaigning for a 7% increase for all Award and minimum-wage workers.
2. A just transition with workers at the centre
Union members are all about putting the “just” in “just transition”.
The all-too-recent floods and fires have shown us that we need to pursue net zero emissions to avoid even worse climate-fuelled destruction ahead.
But we need to do it fairly, so that no worker gets left behind.
The Federal Government has just committed to creating a National Net Zero Authority that will ensure that workers, and their families and communities are put first as Australia moves to a clean energy future.
The Authority must put workers in the centre. That means creating new, decent and secure jobs, developing skills, and providing the resources workers and communities need.
The budget will be where the Federal Government will commit the funding to make the National Net Zero Authority a reality.
3. No stage three tax cuts
Other than wage growth, there’s been a huge missed opportunity to ease the cost-of-living burden on working Australians: the Stage Three Tax cuts.
The Albanese Government looked at the Stage Three Tax cuts originally proposed by the Morrison Government and, disappointingly, decided to keep them.
Research from the Australia Institute shows that these tax cuts will only benefit one type of person: the mega rich. They’re not the ones who need a big break right now.
The $254,000,000,000 that these tax cuts would cost could be spent far better. Most Australians would much rather the funding went to education or healthcare.
In fact, twice as many people support the Federal Government abandoning the tax cuts than those that want to keep them.
Working people have spoken. Now it’s time for our political leaders to listen. Luckily, the tax cuts won’t come into effect for a few more years, so we have time to keep putting the pressure on.
There is always a way forward
No matter what turns up in the Federal Budget, your union will always have your back.
Union members don’t wait around for governments to decide the fate of workers. When unions win changes that improve the workers’ lives, it’s a result of all of us coming together to make it happen.
Some of the most powerful changes happen thanks to the day-to-day work of unions. It doesn’t matter what kind of job you do – you could be a video game developer, an early childhood educator or a soccer player – union members make change for the better.
Australian union members are found in all types of workplaces – and we’re here to support each other on that journey – no matter what stage you’re at.