Federal Budget makes strategic downpayment on a Future Made in Australia

ATTRIBUTABLE TO PROFESSIONALS AUSTRALIA NEW SOUTH WALES DIRECTOR GORDON BROCK

Tuesday 14 May 2024

Professionals Australia welcomes the Albanese Government’s second Federal Budget, which makes crucial investments that address rising living costs, promote equity, create opportunities, and support the well-being of working people and their families.

The budget's significant and timely nation-building investments in climate, housing, defence, industry, and infrastructure are commendable. Additionally, investments in technology and the digital economy, such as the Digital ID Scheme MyGov, will create new high-skill STEM jobs that support living standards.

However, delivering this vision will require a significant uplift in the skills and capabilities of the Australian Public Service. Remuneration frameworks will need to be updated to introduce a separate technical and specialist classification to ensure the APS is competitive with the private sector for professional skills. The APS-wide average staffing level (ASL) cap also needs to be abandoned to ensure we remove unnecessary bottlenecks and have a sufficient number of people, with the necessary skills in the right jobs across our agencies, regulators and government departments.

In allocating resources to skills training, R&D, and procurement connected with these investments, every effort must be taken to strengthen women’s equitable participation in the STEM workforce.

The provision of affordable, accessible early education and the expansion of paid parental leave with appropriate superannuation payments are critical steps that support equal opportunity. They should be accompanied by future investments in STEM education that not only support greater gender equity but also foster a diverse and inclusive workforce.

Allocations for much-needed wage increases for early childhood educators in this budget, after those for aged care workers in previous years, demonstrate the importance of appropriately valuing community work in government-funded sectors.

However, an allocation has not yet been announced to appropriately value the key role played by translators and interpreters in maintaining community cohesion and supporting new migrants. Governments are the primary procurer of language services, and we urge consideration of measures to ensure this vital field provides secure rewarding careers to attract and retain the translators and interpreters that our nation relies upon.

While we welcome the government’s commitment to providing affordable medicines under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, we caution the government to remain mindful of the need for further investment in training and remuneration for the expanded role that pharmacists will play in the delivery of community health services following the Health Department’s Scope of Practice review later this year.

Media contact: Darren Rodrigo – 0414 783 405