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Nurse at an aged care facility

Budget gives $49.5 million for aged care training, but what about wages?

Tuesday’s budget will provide $49.5 million for aged care training for existing workers and people who want to work in the sector.

With aged care beset by a shortage of staff as well as an under-trained workforce the funding, over two years, will be for an additional 15,000 subsidised vocational education and training places.

But the sector’s workforce shortages go centrally to the issue of low wages.

The Australian Aged Care Collaboration, said in a Monday statement workers in the sector “should be getting the pay they deserve and career certainty”.

It said the royal commission into aged care had called for higher wages, better qualifications, and more time for staff to spend with those they were caring for.

“As we approach the 2022 federal election, the government and opposition have both so far failed to commit fully to implement and fund the royal commission’s workforce recommendations,” AACC said.

AACC represents six aged care peak bodies whose membership delivers the majority of aged care services in residential and home settings across Australia.

The budget will be firmly focused on the May election, its centrepiece a cost of living package, with a cut in petrol excise, expected to be temporary, and cash handouts to lower and middle income earners, pensioners and others tipped to be main sweeteners.

The government has already unveiled a $17.9 billion infrastructure package, sparking claims the project funding is politically skewed.

q12 On the economic side the budget will forecast that Australia’s unemployment rate, now 4%, will fall to 3.75% in the September quarter. This would be the lowest rate since August 1974 – and three percentage points below the forecast in the October 2020 budget, delivered in COVID’s first year.

The budget will predict unemployment will stay historically low over the forecast period, and wages growth to pick up to their strongest in a decade. The budget’s deficit will be lower than forecast in the December mid-year update.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said on Monday:“With more people in work and less people on welfare the budget bottom line is improving after providing unprecedented economic support to Australians.

"But there is more to do and now is not the time to risk the gains we have made in our economic recovery with Labor’s higher taxes.”

Anthony Albanese stressed to reporters the budget reply he will deliver on Thursday “is a speech. It is not an alternative budget.”

However his reply will contain a major policy announcement.

Parliament is back for just one week of sitting, before the election is called for May.

The Senate sitting was brought forward to Monday for a condolence motion for the late Labor senator Kimberley Kitching who died of a suspected heart attack. Her death triggered contested claims that she was bullied by senior Labor women senators, allegedly dubbed “the mean girls” by Kitching and some of her supporters.

In her condolence speech NSW Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, who has just lost out in a preselection battle, drew parallels between her troubles and those of Kitching.

“The concept of mean girls is not confined to one political party,” Fierravanti-Wells said.

“I empathised with Kimberley about the bitter internal factional fights within our respective political parties. We both had factional enemies who desperately wanted to see us defeated, and they worked very hard at it.”

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