The federal election is over, promises have been made and now the challenge for Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s government will be to deliver on the weight of this expectation.
Mr Albanese has pledged to bring Australians together with a vision of optimism, saying he wants to leave behind the combative politics of fear and division.
He has named action on climate change, enhancing economic productivity for businesses and workers’ wages, opportunities for women, a national integrity commission, and improving the recognition of First Nations people through embracing the “Uluru Statement from the Heart” as his priority areas of focus.
Here are his Labor government’s plans to implement its vision for a “better future” and the challenges that it could be forced to grapple with seeing this become a reality:
In his first speech as prime minister-elect, Mr Albanese declared he wanted to unite the country to “end the climate wars” and take advantage of the opportunity to turn Australia into a “renewable energy superpower”.
The government has committed to reducing Australia’s emissions by 43 per cent by 2030 on the pathway to enabling Australia to reach net zero by 2050.
This would be underpinned by a plan to upgrade the power grid to improve energy transmission as well as a plan to make electric cars cheaper by exemption many models from tariffs and fringe benefits tax.
The target has also received the backing of the Business Council of Australia, National Farmers Federation and Australian Industry Group.
But despite this support, there are others who don’t think the ambition goes far enough toward addressing warnings from scientists to keep global warming under 1.5 degrees.
Elected independents Zali Steggall, Allegra Spender, Monique Ryan, Zoe Daniel, Kate Chaney, Kylea Tink and Sophie Scamps have backed plans to cut emissions by at least 50 to 60 per cent by 2030.
The Greens want a target of 75 per cent emissions reduction by 2030 on 2005 levels, also pushing strongly for a ban on coal mining and coal and gas power plants.
It means even with Labor set to form a majority government, it will face calls from those members within parliament demanding even stronger climate action.
Official figures from the Australian Electoral Commission on Monday show Labor leading in 76 seats in the House of Representatives – which, if confirmed, would be a majority in the 151-seat chamber.
Another key platform of Labor’s election campaign had been to lift stagnant wage growth as Australians struggle with rising costs of living.
The most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics data released last week showed wages grew 0.7 per cent in the March quarter and 2.4 per cent over the year.
This failed to keep up with inflation at 5.1 per cent over the year to March, associated with the war in Ukraine and supply chain pressures.
Mr Albanese has outlined that he wants to drive an “economy that works for people” and they shouldn’t “go backwards” in the face of rising inflationary pressures.
Labor has promised to make a submission to the Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) annual wage review, given the deadline for submissions is 7 June.
The prime minister has said he will respect the decision of the FWC despite saying he would “absolutely” welcome a decision that keeps pace with inflation.
Mr Albanese has also said he wants to hold an employment summit with businesses and unions aimed at driving productivity and wages.
But the ultimate verdict will be down to the independent umpire – the FWC – and could also be impacted by turbulent global economic conditions.
Relations with the Pacific
In a positive sign for relations with the Pacific, Fiji’s Prime Minister Bainimarama on Sunday congratulated Mr Albanese and praised his focus on taking action on climate change.
“Of your many promises to support the Pacific, none is more welcome than your plan to put the climate first – our people’s shared future depends on it,” he said.
The ambition of the previous Morrison government’s 2030 target of 26-28 per cent had been a point of tension with countries in the Pacific who have asked for stronger commitment to reduce emissions.
The election campaign had also placed a spotlight on relations with the region after Solomon Islands’ signing of a security pact with Beijing becoming a flashpoint of debate.
The Labor government has promised to prioritise these relations and strengthen ties with the Pacific through a comprehensive package of measures.
This would include establishing a Pacific Defence School to provide training, boosting aerial surveillance activities and increasing Australian Official Development Assistance to Pacific countries by $525 million over the four years from 2022-23 to 2025-26.
It would also establish a Pacific Climate Infrastructure Financing Partnership to support climate-related infrastructure and energy projects in Pacific countries.
Another focus would be boosting and improving schemes to enable workers from the Pacific to work in Australia.
Mr Albanese has also advocated his intention to make women a “national economic and social priority”.
To achieve this, the party has committed to increasing childcare subsidies for 90 per cent of families with children in care.
It’s also committed to driving a national push to close the gender pay gap, which is currently at 13.8 per cent according to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA).
Another policy would move to legislate 10 days of family and domestic violence leave, which would expand current provisions.
The Fair Work Commission last week also determined that over 2.6 million people employed under modern awards were entitled to the same amount of leave.
A Labor government would also commit to adopting all recommendations of a [email protected] report completed by the sex discrimination commissioner.
The Morrison government had resisted legislating a “positive duty” on employers to take action against sexual harassment, but Labor has committed to this action.
First Nations recognition
In his first speech as prime minister-elect on Saturday night, Mr Albanese began by acknowledging First Nations people and declaring his commitment to the “Uluru Statement from the Heart in full”.
Back in 2017, 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander delegates endorsed the statement laying out key reforms that could improve the recognition of Indigenous Australians.
The Australian flag, the Aboriginal flag and the flag of the Torres Straits Islands are seen behind Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese during his press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Monday, May 23, 2022. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch) NO ARCHIVING Source: AAP / LUKAS COCH/AAPIMAGE
Mr Albanese has committed to holding a referendum on constitutionally enshrining an Indigenous advisory body during his first term.
But it’s understood any decision on committing to a time frame on this would require extensive consultation aimed at ensuring any question to the public had its best chance of success.
The previous Morrison government had resisted committing to this, instead pursuing an option for a legislated voice to parliament.
In another symbolic move, Mr Albanese also fronted his first press conference as prime minister with both the Aboriginal flag and Torres Strait Islander flag displayed behind him.