The master plan


Bill shorten

Which elements of Labor’s election platform are relevant to pharmacy? Here’s some of the policies, including small business jobs, tax cuts, plastic bag bans and hospital funding boosts

Opposition leader Bill Shorten has officially launched the ALP 2019 federal election platform. Here’s some of the items of interest and relevance to pharmacists:

New small business jobs

Labor’s New Jobs Tax Cut will give small businesses an incentive to put on additional employees aged under 25, over 55, or who are carers returning to the workforce.

Companies with turnover of less than $10 million which have been operating for more than two years will be eligible for an additional 30 per cent tax deduction for up to five new workers’ salaries for their first year of employment, capped at $50,000 per company.  

The New Jobs Tax Cut will be available to businesses hiring Australians who face real barriers to finding work. To be eligible for the additional deduction, new employees need to be unemployed for three months or more and be either:  

  • Job seekers under the age of 25 or over 55; or
  • Parents or carers returning to work

Wages

Labor will reverse the cuts to penalty rates in our first 100 days, restoring fair pay for up to 700,000 workers. And we will change the laws to make sure they can’t be cut for anyone again.

Living wage: Labor will ensure that the minimum wage is a living wage – fixing the law so that the Fair Work Commission has the tools to deliver a living wage for Australia’s low-paid workers to ensure they have a decent standard of living.

Labor will end the use of so-called ‘permanent casuals’ by introducing an objective definition of casual. We will also allow workers to request permanent part-time or full-time employment after 12 months of regular hours with the same employer, and provide workers with the right to challenge an employer who unreasonably refuses such a request.

Small business

Labor will:

  • Support the corporate tax rate for small businesses reducing to 25 per cent by 2021-22.
  • Support increasing the instant asset write-off threshold from $25,000 to $30,000.
  • Provide an Australian Investment Guarantee for all businesses that will allow all businesses to immediately deduct 20 per cent of any new eligible asset worth more than $20,000.
  • Ensure small businesses are supported to defend themselves against anti-competitive conduct by improving access to justice – Labor worked hard to legislate this from Opposition.
  • Legislate to establish a new position of Second Commissioner (Appeals) within the Tax Office to ensure small business disputes are given the care and attention they deserve.
  • Protect small businesses by making unfair contract terms illegal and punishable with multimillion dollar fines.

Plastic bags

The ALP platform proposes introducing a national ban on lightweight, single use plastic bags and microbeads from 2021. We will consult with state and territory governments and industry on how best to do this.

This will create a consistent approach across the country – following moves of many state and territory governments to phase out single-use plastic bags, as well as manufacturers phasing out microbeads, Labor says.

Hospitals

The proposed $2.8 billion Better Hospitals Fund will benefit every hospital and every patient in the country by restoring every cent of the core funding cut by the Liberals, the ALP platform states.

Labor’s investment means more doctors, more nurses, more hospital staff and more beds.

We have committed $1 billion in new capital projects – physical infrastructure like hospital expansions, new and refurbished wards, upgraded emergency departments and new palliative care and mental health facilities.

Cancer medicines

Labor says it will guarantee that every drug recommended by independent experts will be listed on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, cutting out-of-pocket costs for cancer medications.

Gender pay gap

Labor proposes to change the Fair Work Act to make it clear that the Fair Work Commission must consider pay equity a central objective of the workplace relations system. It also advocates:

  • Establishing a statutory Equal Remuneration Principle.
  • Giving the Commission greater capacity and funding to conduct Pay Equity Reviews and order pay increases in undervalued feminised industries.

The NBN

To better protect small businesses and consumers against excessive NBN downtime, Labor will establish an NBN Service Guarantee to set service standards for fault repair and installations. This policy will better safeguard small businesses and consumers against unreasonable and excessive periods of NBN downtime.

Remedies will apply when service standards are not met, with stronger penalties to apply for issues which impact on small businesses. Downtime for small businesses isn’t just stressful – it costs money. Less downtime and greater accountability – that is what we want to deliver.

Rural Health

Labor supports the development of a national rural health strategy so there is clear and targeted action towards closing the gap in health outcomes between Australians living in rural areas and their metropolitan peers.

Regional, rural and remote Australians have much higher levels of serious illness, chronic disease and lower life expectancy than city dwellers.

The differences can often be directly attributed to poorer access to health services including early detection of illness through widely used screening tests.

Labor’s plan for a National Rural Health Strategy recognises the challenges that rural and regional Australians face which require more targeted support.

It will help achieve this goal of all levels of Government working more closely together, to reduce fragmentation and duplication.

We will look at the platforms of other parties during the next week

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