By Neeraj Nanda
MELBOURNE, 2 Sept 2020: The quarterly dip of seven percent GDP for the June quarter, has pushed Australia officially into recession. This the country’s first recession in 30 years due to the pandemic lockouts and restrictions. Some of the restrictions in Melbourne are likely to be relaxed on Sunday 6 August. This has necessitated thinking about how to overcome the economic downturn in the post COVID period.
Australia needs a plan for jobs in the post-pandemic period, says Anthony Albanese, Leader of the ALP, and member for Gryndler. Anthony was replying to a question by South Asia Times (SAT) as to what are the essential steps needed to revive the Australian economy in the post-pandemic period? The Labor leader was speaking at a Zoom media conference today for CALD media groups.
He said, ” And that can be across a range of traditional areas, but also new areas. The pandemic has identified as someone said to me at one of the forums, a pandemic is like an X-ray, it shows us what’s broken. And there is a range of things that are broken. The fact that we have issues, even if there is a vaccine, do we have enough vials? Are we able to produce them here in Australia?
A whole range of areas where we’ve been shown to be vulnerable, things that should be produced here, there was an issue with ventilators, for example. So we need to look at what areas of manufacturing are required and how the government can support the private sector to undertake work there. There’s also going to be a direct public investment required in areas such as infrastructure bring forwards, both in terms of transport infrastructure, in the traditional way that it’s seen, but in other areas as well, such as social housing. We have a great need that’s on the waiting list for public housing in this country are enormous, people just can’t get in.
Now, during the pandemic, we put homeless people up in hotels because there weren’t housing options available. We think that direct job creation to public housing expansion would as well of course create an asset at the end and that’s why it would be valuable. Other areas as well, we had the New South Wales premier last week say that New South Wales wasn’t very good at making trains or public transport infrastructure.
It’s absurd that that’s the case and regional centers like Maryborough in Queensland, Newcastle historically, and Ballarat in Victoria, in Western Australia the WA Government making sure that they make things here is really important for those communities. When you visit Melbourne and see made in Victoria on the trams, on the side. People are proud of that. So we need to have a concerted job creation program, which we’re not seeing from this government at this point in time.”
Answering another question by the South Asia Times (SAT) to comment about Ex-PM Tony Abbott’s speech in London where he made comments that families would have to make decisions, to let nature take its course and allow elderly people to just die during this in the context of the pandemic, Mr. Albanese said, “Tony Abbott was never known for his compassion, but this is a new low. The idea, he’s not alone, there have been some other commentators have a view that because the pandemic doesn’t exclusively, but older people are more vulnerable to the impact of COVID-19, than people who are younger and fitter, can impact young people as well. But, they’re particularly vulnerable, and we knew that that was the case.
The idea, that as has been said that we just old people are going to die anyway, this just brings it forward. Where that sort of attitude ends up is, I think, in a place, I don’t want Australia to be. The idea that we are essentially complacent, and we essentially see older people as being well, they going to die anyway and therefore we don’t have to do everything we can to keep them in good health and if they do get sick to look after them. This flies in the face of humanity.
I was shocked, frankly, by the heartless nature of the comments. But I was also shocked that Scott Morrison said that 97% of aged care facilities didn’t have COVID-19, as if that was a good outcome. I am concerned that for both those comments for the more than 450 grieving families who have lost a loved one, will be hurt by that. These are real people, with real families. They’re our mums and dads, our grandfathers, our grandmothers, they’re our sisters and brothers. And I just think that Tony Abbott’s comments were regrettable, is the kindest word that I can say.”
The media conference was also attended by Andrew Giles MP, Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs & Assisting for Immigration & Senator Kristina Keneally Deputy Leader in the Senate.