Deloitte, EY, PwC, and KPMG urge Labor’s Anthony Albanese to focus on skills, migration, economic growth and indigenous affairs
“As part of this agenda, I’m hopeful that we will double down on regional development. We also need a critical focus on skills development, including education and skilled migration. In addition, my hope is that there is an appropriate focus on technology innovation and a recognition that we have to connect more effectively to Asia.”
Labor did not mention the use of migration to alleviate skills shortages on its official campaign website, while the Coalition’s one mention of immigration policy stated that a re-elected government would increase “the number of skilled workers to around 110,000”.
The Business Council of Australia has called for a sharp increase in the migration intake over the next two years, followed by a higher level over the long term, as a way to alleviate what it says is a labour shortage problem for the country.
The migration intake is capped at 160,000 but fell into net-negative territory during the pandemic. The BCA wants to increase the cap to 220,000 places in 2022-23 and 2023-24 to catch up on lost skilled migration, and then revert to 190,000 a year.
EY Oceania chief executive David Larocca also endorsed the business council’s call for an increase in the number of skilled migrants as a critical issue for the firm and the wider economy.
“As a son of immigrant parents, I’m very passionate about the economic contribution migration can have to the Australian economy, and it actually delivers economic growth,” Mr Larocca said.
“It delivers the skills we need, it delivers innovation on the technology side, and we support the BCA’s call for a return to pre-COVID migration settings and increasing that migration cap.”
Climate change policy
Mr Albanese went into the election with a climate change policy that would require more than 200 of the nation’s heaviest polluters to collectively lower their emissions over the next three decades. This is part of a plan to help achieve an economy-wide cut of 43 per cent by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2050.
In contrast, the Liberal Party’s climate policy was a non-legislated commitment to net zero by 2050 using technology and a target to reduce emissions up to 28 per cent by 2030.
The Liberal Party lost six formerly blue-ribbon seats on Saturday, including Josh Frydenberg’s seat of Kooyong, to independent teal candidates who are aligned with the Labor push to legislate Australia’s net zero emissions target.
Labor is now on the cusp of gaining an outright majority in federal parliament after winning nine seats from the Liberal Party in Saturday’s election. Seven seats remain undecided.
“It’s clear that Australians have spoken on wanting change, particularly on issues relating to climate … It’s now very clearly no longer a question if, but how, on taking action on climate,” Mr Larocca said.
“From an economic perspective, we are a trade-exposed, carbon-intense economy, which is why our key export industries have ambitious climate change response and energy transition policies. The Albanese government will [also] need to consider how to position Australia for economic growth in what is a rapidly decarbonising global economy.
“More broadly, I think it’s clear that this generation of voters not only want action on climate change but they’re looking for greater empowerment of women and help with the cost of living.”
The new government’s approach to climate change will influence the make-up of a planned second federal budget scheduled for later in the year, PwC chief executive Tom Seymour said.
“They’re on the record that they’ll have a second budget,” he said. “I think that budget in October is going to be a real blueprint for what the [government’s] policy drivers are going to be from an economic perspective, which obviously then feeds into a lot of the government service delivery agendas.
“I think [the Albanese government will be] engaging and preparing for what will be their first really big statement as a government in the budget in terms of how they’re going to drive the economy and link through to their policy agenda.
“I’d say [the new government is also] starting to map out the energy transition around the environment. Now, that will probably take longer, but that’s a big election point of difference and, with the crossbench that will be in Canberra, that will be a really important piece for them.
“I think the combination of the budget, energy transition and then national security, both defence and economic, will be their big agenda items. Probably the last one … I think, they’ll move quickly on is Indigenous reconciliation and Voice to parliament.”
Mr Powick agreed that climate change policy was one of the areas that should be the focus of the new government, particularly “how we drive economic benefit for our nation through thoughtful energy transition, becoming a global leader in renewable energy and adopting innovative climate technology”.
The emphasis on Indigenous reconciliation by the new prime minister was on display when Mr Albanese delivered his victory speech on Saturday night by committing to the “Uluru Statement from the Heart in full”.
The 440-word statement, written by 250 Indigenous delegates in 2017, calls for Indigenous Australians to be given a say on policy and legislation that affects them and their communities.
This would involve a referendum to enshrine an Indigenous Voice to parliament in the Constitution through a permanent body that would represent First Nations people at the highest level of government.
“One thing that really stood out to me actually on the night was the very, very first thing that I think Mr Albanese said [was that] they will implement the Uluru Statement from the Heart in full … so we’re really very supportive of that,” KPMG Australia CEO Andrew Yates said.
“But I think in terms of where we think that they will continue to focus is really on areas of health and social services, clearly renewable energy and climate change, health and wellbeing … [and] upskilling Australians.”
Mr Yates said “there’s strong alignment with many parts of that agenda” between the priorities of staff at the firm and the priorities of the new Albanese government.
Accenture Australia CEO Peter Burns declined to comment.