Co-operation key to Labor delivering for families and nation
On the last day of Parliament for 2023, Australia and Papua New Guinea signed an historic security agreement and our Government passed new laws to ensure more Australians get a fair go at work.
From now on, wage theft and industrial manslaughter will be criminal offences.
This will help make workplaces safer and it will make it clear that businesses can’t get away with stealing from their employees.
We’re also closing the loopholes in Labour hire. Labour hire laws were designed to help employers bring in people with specialist skills or deal with temporary shortages.
But for too long, some companies have used labour hire to undermine enterprise bargaining and drive down wages.
These laws will put a stop to that.
Getting wages moving and boosting job security have been key priorities for our Government through 2023.
Of course, Australians understand that so many of the big challenges we face as a country are not confined to one level of government alone.
Whether it’s health, housing, the environment, TAFE and skills or the National Disability Insurance Scheme, our government knows that working for Australia means working with the states and territories.
I’m really proud of what we’ve been able to achieve this year through the co-operation we’ve built at National Cabinet.
Our Government has made boosting housing supply, affordability and construction a priority right through 2023 and in August, National Cabinet came together to agree on the biggest set of housing reforms in a generation.
We’re working together to make it easier to build more homes by unlocking land, reforming zoning and speeding-up approvals right across Australia.
This will mean more affordable housing that’s closer to public transport, decent services and good jobs.
Together, we’ve also backed a better deal for renters and we’re driving national action to renovate and build public and social housing for Australians most in need of a roof over their head.
In 2023, over 300,000 Australians have enrolled in fee-free TAFE places and in October, every state and territory signed-up to the first National Skills Agreement in more than ten years.
Record new investments in public TAFE, in apprenticeships and in the facilities that will make it easier for Australians to learn the skills they need for the jobs of the future, from the clean energy economy to digital technology.
On Wednesday in Canberra, National Cabinet negotiated a landmark agreement that will guarantee proper funding for public hospitals over the next decade.
The new deal we’ve agreed around hospital funding is about ensuring every state and territory can plan with certainty for future.
It’s also designed to drive new action in the parts of the health system under the most pressure.
By the end of this year, we will have opened 58 Medicare Urgent Care Clinics in regional centres and growing suburbs around Australia.
These clinics are open outside ordinary working hours and fully bulk-billed.
All you need is your Medicare card.
Already, tens of thousands of families have benefited from being able to get the urgent treatment they need, close to home, without having to wait around in a hospital emergency department.
Strengthening Medicare helps families with their cost of living, it also takes pressure off public hospitals and health care workers.
We know our healthcare workers do an extraordinary job and part of the agreement National Cabinet struck this week is about delivering better support to all those doctors, nurses and frontline carers, while boosting recruitment for the future.
Just as importantly, this week also saw a big breakthrough when it comes to securing the future of the NDIS.
By focusing on new support available through school and early education and cracking-down on fraudulent providers, we will ensure the NDIS is sustainable into the future and that every dollar invested delivers better services and opportunities for Australians with disability.
Speaking of sustainable, I’m so pleased that we were able to finish the year with new progress on restoring the Murray-Darling Basin.
This is a huge win for the environment and for farming communities, right along the river.
The final thing I want to mention goes all the way back to 1996.
In the aftermath of the Port Arthur Massacre, Prime Minister John Howard brought together the states and territories to take an essential first step on gun reform.
Last week in Canberra, we took the next step by agreeing to create a National Firearms Register.
This will mean police officers can track firearms and their owners across state borders and get vital information about potentially dangerous situations.
This will save lives.
Whether it’s gun reform, funding hospitals, building more homes or helping the environment, you can always achieve more through co-operation.
Working together, working for Australia.
That’s been our government’s focus this week and this year.
It’s what will drive us in 2024.