Labor promises childcare, energy reforms in budget reply speech

Childcare costs will be slashed and the energy grid will get a $20 billion revamp under a massive reform agenda pledged by Labor leader Anthony Albanese.

In his budget reply speech on Thursday night, Mr Albanese committed to making childcare more affordable to get thousands of mums back into the workforce.

He also unveiled a new energy blueprint to create new jobs and make power bills cheaper for households and businesses.

“We have a once-in-a-generation chance to rebuild our economy and our country for the better,” Mr Albanese said.

“To launch a recovery that delivers a stronger, fairer and more secure future for all Australians.”

Under Labor’s plan for early education, the maximum childcare subsidy rate will be lifted from 85 per cent to 90 per cent and the $10,560 subsidy cap scrapped.

More than one million families would benefit from the proposal, which would cost $6.2 billion over four years.

“Working mothers should be able to afford childcare for their kids,” Mr Albanese said.

“In the worst recession in 100 years, we have to make sure women aren’t forced to choose between their family and their jobs.

“If I’m elected prime minister, I’m going to fix this.”

The consumer watchdog would also be called on to review the sector and design a fee regulation mechanism.

The Opposition also plans to rebuild and modernise the nation’s electricity grid, which would include building new interconnectors to bring down energy costs.

Mr Albanese has also proposed establishing a new government-owned company, Rewiring the Nation Corporation, which would create around 9000 jobs.

Labor has revived a jobs policy it took to the last election that would ensure every major work site receiving federal government funding would require one in 10 workers to be an apprentice, a trainee or cadet.

“We will also consider how this principle can be extended to federal government subsidised sectors like aged care, disability care and childcare in co-operation with providers,” Mr Albanese said.

Labor will also head to the next election proposing for trains to be built in Australia instead of being bought from overseas and make defence projects publicly disclose how much work is being done locally.

The party has also pledged to establish an Australian Centre for Disease Control and repair social housing needing maintenance.

“We can change this for the better,” Mr Albanese said.

“We can emerge from this crisis with a stronger economy and a fairer society.”

The Opposition leader condemned the federal budget, released on Tuesday, as leaving fundamental problems unresolved.

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