By: Michael Crooks
Sharpen your pencils – the 45th Australian Federal Election is less than two weeks away.
Australians will go to the polls on Saturday, May 21, to decide which party will be in government for the next three years.
The Coalition of the Liberals and Nationals has been in power since 2013, under the stewardship of Prime Ministers Tony Abbott, Malcolm Turnbull and now Scott Morrison.
Their pitch to the Australian people is that they have navigated the nation through a world pandemic and are better equipped at managing the economy.
“I know Australians have been through a very tough time,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison during the election announcement in April.
“I also know that Australia continues to face very tough challenges in the years ahead. More than ever, I know that we live in the best country in the world and I am optimistic about our future and what I know Australians can achieve.”
On the other side, Labor, under Anthony Albanese, is pledging to improve aged care and Medicare, and take steps to improve housing affordability and the cost of living.
“This election will determine if we can come together to build a better future,” said Mr Albanese last month, before he contracted COVID-19, forcing him to isolate for seven days. “That is what this election is about – building a better future.”
So which future to vote for? Here’s our guide to some of the major policies of the two major parties.
“Australia’s economic recovery is leading the world,” the Liberals said in a statement.
“There are now 394,400 more Australians in employment than there were prior to the pandemic.”
Unemployment is also down to four per cent, which is the lowest in 48 years.
But inflation has jumped to 5.1 per cent – its highest in decades – meaning there could be an interest rate rise during the election (the last time this happened was in 2007 and John Howard’s Coalition government lost to Kevin Rudd).
“Today’s inflation figures have confirmed what Australians already knew about the past decade of Liberal Government: the cost of everything is going up, but your wages aren’t,” Mr Albanese tweeted on April 27.
The Australian Labor Party promises to “strengthen Medicare” by making it easier and simpler to see a doctor. Labor claims that the Morrison government has weakened Medicare by making more cuts.
“Labor built Medicare,” a Labor statement said. “Australians know they can trust us to keep Medicare safe and strong, and to put the health of our people first.”
Meanwhile, the Coalition said its funding for public hospitals will “more than double” compared with Labor’s plans.
It said it is providing $375 million “for more than 50 additional Medicare-eligible MRI machines, enabling more Australians to access scans for cancer, stroke, heart and other conditions”.
Under the Morrison government, Medicare is also covering the cost of MRI and PET scans for breast cancer patients.
The ALP plans to invest in free TAFE for all and provide more university places. Mr Albanese also pledges to make people’s jobs “more secure with better pay and conditions.”
The Coalition said its budget provides more than $19 billion in funding for universities in 2021-22.
The Morrison government said that since it came to office, 280,000 more children are in childcare, and childcare expenditure is up 77 per cent.
The ALP promises that childcare will be cheaper under an Albanese government.
In his budget reply speech, the Opposition Leader pledged to spend an extra $2.5 billion fixing aged care.
“Labor will deliver new funding, more staff and better support to the aged care sector,” Mr Albanese said.
The Liberal Government “is investing $110 billion over 10 years on infrastructure,” a statement said.
The 10-year plan includes major highway and local road upgrades “to bust congestion and improve safety for all road users”.
Mr Albanese has pledged that his government will work with businesses to invest in manufacturing and renewables to create more jobs.
Under the Coalition, Australia will undertake the “biggest rebuild of our Navy, Army and Air Force since World War Two”, a statement said.
Over 10 years, the plan involves a $270 billion investment in Australia’s defence capability.
In the battle against climate change, the ALP has a “Powering Australia” plan.
“The Labor government will close the yawning gap between our current Federal Government and our business community, agricultural sector and state governments when it comes to investing in the renewables that will power our future,” a statement said.
“Our plan will create 604,000 jobs, with five out of six new jobs to be created in the regions.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his treasurer Josh Frydenberg said they have successfully guided Australia through the pandemic.
“On both the health and economic fronts, Australia has fared better than most countries in dealing with COVID-19,” Mr Morrison said.
“And while Australia has been doing it tough our economy is resilient.”
The Prime Minister said that the Coalition’s national plan “is a safe plan, to bring our country back from COVID, and give Australians certainty”.
Meanwhile, the ALP said its plan for the future is better.
“Australians deserve a leader who is not afraid to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work needed to get things done,” Mr Albanese said.
“From the bushfires to the bungled vaccine rollout to not securing enough rapid tests, Morrison’s mistakes have held Australians back.”
For where to vote (before or on election day) and find candidates for your area, visit the Australian Electoral Commission.
Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.