Eight priorities for Anthony Albanese’s new Labor government

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Before jetting off to the Quad summit, Anthony Albanese confirmed Australia’s parliament will meet before the end of July, and he has already asked for work to begin on an anti-corruption commission.

We’ve taken a look at that and seven other top priorities for the new prime minister and his Labor government.


1. Anti-corruption commission

Related: Australia’s new PM flags ‘difficult’ China ties as he heads to Tokyo for Quad meeting

Long promised by Labor in opposition, Albanese elevated the commitment to establish a federal anti-corruption commission mid-campaign by announcing it would be established by the end of the year.

Labor’s proposal is already clearly tougher than the Coalition’s, promising the watchdog powers to:

  • Start its own inquiries without referrals from politicians.

  • Investigate “serious or systemic corruption” that occurred before it was established.

  • Hold public hearings, where the commission determines it is in the public interest.

But beyond its broad “design principles”, Labor has not released a detailed bill for the integrity body. That will be the first step: drawing up an exposure draft, and then putting it out for consultation.

2. Employment summit

On Monday Albanese told reporters in Canberra he would convene an employment summit of unions and businesses and thanked them for “discussions that we have had already about the way that that can be progressed”.

Guardian Australia understands the summit could be held by September.

Labor has other proposed reforms in industrial relations, with criminalising wage theft the top priority.

3. Respect at work

Labor has committed to implement all 55 recommendations of the sex discrimination commissioner Kate Jenkins’ Respect@Work report.

The biggest unfinished item, a recommendation the Coalition merely “noted”, is to legislate a positive duty on employers to safeguard their staff from sexual harassment.

Labor has also promised to legislate 10 days paid domestic and family violence leave as a workplace entitlement; and to legislate gender pay equity as an objective of the Fair Work Act.

4. Voice to parliament

Labor has committed to implementing the Uluru statement from the heart in full, including progressing a referendum to enshrine a voice to parliament in the constitution.

A referendum will require a bill to pass both houses of parliament. Given Australia’s record of most proposed constitutional changes being rejected at referendums and the sensitive nature of Indigenous affairs, this is one Labor will want bipartisan support on, even though it’s not strictly necessary.

5. New agencies and funds

Many of Labor’s promises involve setting up new statutory agencies and off-budget funds to invest in areas including energy, industry policy, skills and employment.

On Monday Albanese cited establishing the $15bn national reconstruction fund as a priority. That body will provide loans, guarantees and equity to invest in sovereign capabilities in clean energy, resource processing, manufacturing and defence. It will require legislation.

Labor has committed to establishing Jobs and Skills Australia, to strengthen workforce planning and vocational education and training.

6. Climate policy

The centrepiece of Labor’s climate policy is a target of net zero emissions by 2050 and a medium-term reduction of 43% by 2030.

Related: This election marked a turning point on climate – but what will it mean for Australia?

Technically, legislation is not required but Labor’s climate spokesperson, Chris Bowen, has said it is practice to do so, and Labor will aim to pass bills to end the climate wars in what could be an early test for the Liberal-National opposition.

Labor’s promise to improve the Coalition’s safeguards mechanism by progressively decreasing the baseline of emissions could be done without legislation but some stakeholders think creating credits to trade would require it.

The $20bn rewiring the nation plan may not require legislation, and could be delivered through the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.

7. Aged care

Labor didn’t set itself a deadline for its biggest aged care changes: increased minimum care times; a registered nurse on-site 24/7; accountability for how government funding is spent; and better food.

But the equal pay case for aged care is being heard in the Fair Work Commission right now, so making a government submission to that will be a top priority, and one that does not require legislation.

8. Cheaper childcare

Labor has promised to spend an extra $5.4bn over four years on childcare subsidies, changes that will make 96% of families better off and the rest no worse off.

The changes are due to start from July 2023, so there is about a year to legislate this promise.

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