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Sector looks ahead to priorities as new prime minister is sworn in

23 May 2022 at 4:38 pm
Danielle Kutchel
Anthony Albanese’s win has been broadly welcomed by the sector.

Danielle Kutchel | 23 May 2022 at 4:38 pm


Sector looks ahead to priorities as new prime minister is sworn in
23 May 2022 at 4:38 pm

Anthony Albanese’s win has been broadly welcomed by the sector.

The nation has let out its collective breath after the election winner was declared on Saturday following six weeks of campaigning.

Anthony Albanese was sworn in on Monday morning as Australia’s 31st prime minister, after Labor, the Greens and independent MPs wiped out a Liberal path to victory.

In the first moments of his acceptance speech on Saturday night, Albanese pledged to implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full, in what would appear to be a clear signal that Labor plans to put Australia’s First Nations people first. 

And since that moment, Albanese has outlined some of the other priorities for his government: establishing an anti-corruption commission and his long-promised convening of an employment summit.

Reactions to Albanese’s win have begun to flow through from the for-purpose sector, with many not for profits and charities welcoming the incoming Labor government (at time of writing, it remains to be seen whether this will be a minority or majority government). 

For many, it seems they’re hopeful that this election will mark a turning point in society, with a sharpened focus on fairness and equity for all.

A vote for…

Political analysts have noted that with such strong swings to the Greens and independent candidates, including the so-called “teal wave”, voters have backed stronger action on climate change and integrity in government.

Climate change in particular was touted as the biggest issue for voters as measured in various surveys, including the ABC’s Vote Compass.

Australian Conservation Foundation chief executive officer Kelly O’Shanassy said the election was “a huge win for the environment”, with trends showing voters were driven by a desire for stronger climate action.

“Australians were frustrated by the Morrison government’s inert response to the urgent climate crisis, its reckless support for a ‘gas-led recovery’ and its attempts to water down already weak nature protection laws. A new government provides the opportunity for a re-set, a new start, a better way,” O’Shanassy said.

Similarly, Environment Victoria CEO Jono La Nauze said voters had sent a “clear message” to the Liberal party.

“Voters vented their frustration at rising fossil fuel power prices and a government intent on wasting public money on polluting coal and gas industries. Australians clearly want to see action that improves their lives and creates jobs with clean, renewable energy,” he said.

“The most consistent outcome emerging from this election is voters’ demand for stronger climate action – across both urban and regional electorates.”

He congratulated the Greens and independents on their wins, as well as the incoming Labor government.

Housing also proved to be one of the biggest issues this election, with the housing crisis receiving much media and political attention as the major parties vied for votes. 

National Shelter, which hosted a pre-election forum for candidates to discuss their solutions to the crisis, released a statement welcoming Albanese’s election.

National Shelter and other housing and homelessness peaks have worked closely with Labor, through Jason Clare, while in opposition. We know the experience and knowledge they bring to this portfolio,” said Emma Greenhalgh, CEO of National Shelter. 

“We also acknowledge that the incoming prime minister grew up in public housing and understands the importance of secure and stable housing as the foundation of providing opportunities for all.”

She noted that Labor had made a number of commitments aimed at plugging gaps in housing and addressing the crisis, including the construction of 30,000 social and affordable homes and the development of a national housing and homelessness strategy.

“We urge the incoming Labor government to work quickly on advancing these solutions to meet the magnitude of housing need being experienced in Australia right now,” Greenhalgh said. 

“We also urge the incoming government to progress solutions to assist the 30 per cent of Australians who are renting. The private rental market is failing so many Australians right now with distressing outcomes.”

Other issues were also at stake this election, and charities and advocates have been quick to promise to work for their priorities.

In a statement acknowledging the election result, the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) said the vote showed “that Australians want a more humane and compassionate country for refugees”. 

Within the new government’s first 100 days, the ASRC said it wanted to see Labor implement its policies to provide permanent protection to refugees living on Temporary Protection Visas and Safe Haven Enterprise Visas, ending the “fast track” system of review and increasing the refugee intake.

The Lowitja Institute said it was pleased by Albanese’s commitment to implementing the Uluru Statement.

“This acknowledgement was an honourable way for Mr Albanese to start his term in office and sets the stage for race relations in this country,” said Lowitja Institute chair Selwyn Button.

“The Uluru Statement from the Heart is a gift to the nation, and the Labor government’s commitment upholds the respect it deserves.”

The institute also welcomed the forthcoming appointment of Linda Burney to the Indigenous affairs portfolio.

Community Council for Australia CEO David Crosbie was positive about the election result and said he looked forward to working with Labor.

“The Labor party has adopted a strong set of policies informed by a fundamental commitment to working with charities rather than against them,” he said. 

“ALP policies include developing a blueprint for the sector, increasing incentives for philanthropy, supporting digital transformation, staff development, increasing the length of contracts, establishing two new high level advisory groups, and ending red tape impediments to charity fundraising and productivity.”

The Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association congratulated the Labor Party on the win, with acting chief executive Kylie Woolcock saying the organisation hoped it could work with the government “to ensure all Australians can achieve good health and equitable access to healthcare”.

Mary Sayers, CEO of Children and Young People with Disability Australia, said there was “so much for the new government to do to address inequity for children and young people with disability”, and pledged to meet with new ministers to make sure that the organisation’s election priorities are acted on.

And ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie said voters had indicated “a clear desire for a collaborative, focused federal government that works to bring us together to tackle the big economic, social and environmental challenges we so clearly face”.

“[Saturday] night’s result is a clear call to action for the Albanese government to create a more equal community and forge a resilient and brighter future for this and the next generation,” she said.

Danielle Kutchel  |  @ProBonoNews

Danielle is a journalist specialising in disability and CALD issues, and social justice reporting.

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