Australia’s 31st prime minister on Monday reflected on his first 100 days in office during a speech to the National Press Club ahead of the government hosting its marquee jobs and skills summit later in the week.
Albanese asserted reform and renewal would characterise the next phase of Australia’s recovery from the pandemic as his government moves to implement its keystone election commitments.
“I understand that many Australians feel like government doesn’t work for them, that politics is obsessed with the short term,” he said.
“Frankly, the only way to change that is to deliver on what matters to the Australian people – cheaper medicine, cheaper child care, more affordable housing, more renewable energy to bring down power bills.”
The Labor government will aim to use industrial relations reforms stemming from the summit to “arm people with every chance to fulfil their potential”, according to the prime minister.
“Our government is only 100 days into this journey but we are resolved on the destination of a better future,” he said.
“We are focused on building a fair-wage, strong-growth, high-productivity economy.
“I see it in phases. We’ve been through the pandemic response, we are in the middle of the recovery and reform will be the key to renewal.”
Albanese listed flood support, increasing biosecurity measures, lifting the emissions reduction target, backing a minimum pay rise and moving on paid domestic violence leave as achievements.
“We’ve hit the ground running,” he said.
“If we act with purpose and urgency and ambition then we won’t just ride out these tough times, we will be well on our way to a better future. That better future remains our light on the hill.”
However, his first 100 days in office haven’t been roundly praised.
Nationals leader David Littleproud said the first few months of the Albanese government showed worrying signs of things to come, particularly in the agriculture sector.
He singled out the response to foot and mouth disease (FMD) and the scrapping of the agriculture visa as major concerns.
“Australian farmers are rightly worried by this new government from what they’ve done in just 100 days, which is eroding confidence in an industry that is crucial to Australia’s prosperity,” he said in a statement.
“In responding to an $80 billion FMD threat to our economy, Labor took over four weeks to put in foot mats at airports, allowing tens of thousands of people to waltz through our borders from Indonesia, despite our calls.”
The prime minister flagged laws to criminalise wage theft as a priority for parliament.
But he rejected the need to revisit the third stage of income tax cuts from 2024, which will abolish the 37 per cent tax bracket, start the top 45 per cent bracket from $200,000 and cut the 32.5 per cent rate to 30 per cent for all incomes between $45,000 and $200,000.
The jobs and skills summit follows more than 100 consultations since the government took office and will bring around 140 key stakeholders to Canberra at the end of the week.
Discussions will span boosting economic participation for women and disadvantaged groups, addressing migration and boosting training in areas of new technology.
Albanese hopes to get some “immediate actions” out of the summit.
“For the first time in a long time, I believe we will be moving to agreement on how to solve these problems rather than arguing over who is to blame for them.”