we asked for
it’s a priority for us
the budget delivered
a fair industrial relations system
The Secure Jobs and Better Pay legislation
passed in late 2022 contained much-needed reforms to make Australia’s
industrial relations system fairer, by establishing job security and gender
equality as objects of the legislation and strengthening employment
protections. The implementation of these reforms and their practical impact
will now need to be monitored and assessed.
Major IR reforms were delivered
prior to the Budget and the targeted review of modern awards included in the
Budget is welcome to ensure a fair safety net in the context of the new
gender equality and job security objectives in the Fair Work Act.
While significant progress has been made in industrial
relations reform, further changes will be required to deliver better outcomes
for all workers – changes that will benefit casual employees and improve
fairness, pay and conditions for gig workers, a growing number of whom work
in professional roles.
investing in emerging knowledge-based industries
As our nation grapples with significant
domestic economic pressures and an uncertain economic future, Australia's
international competitiveness and future prosperity could be protected by an
uplift in strategic investment in emerging knowledge-based industries like
biotechnology, advanced manufacturing, artificial intelligence, ICT, and
technology-led environmental sustainability.
$116.0 million over 5 years for development
of technologies in industries that support new jobs, particularly in quantum &AI.
Commitment to AUKUS and advanced
manufacturing with 4000 new STEM university places to underpin Australia’s
Strategic investments in hydrogen and
renewables to make Australia a leader in these sectors.
$1 billion boost to strengthening
The investment in renewables and advanced
manufacturing (particularly in defence and AUKUS) are big wins for workers in
We are pleased this has been matched by a
dedicated STEM skills investment, so these long-term investments result in
a Just Transition to Clean Energy
An independent Just Transition Authority is
essential to ensure that: the transition to a low carbon economy is well
planned and coordinated, the voices of affected workers and communities are
heard and shape the future and that secure, well-paid green jobs are
available in strong and diversified local economies.
A new National Net Zero Authority will be established
support workers in emissions-intensive
sectors to access new employment, skills and support as the net zero
coordinate programs and policies across
government to support regions and communities to attract and take advantage
of new clean energy industries and set those industries up for success;
help investors and companies to engage with
net zero transformation opportunities
This has been a priority for the union
movement, including Professionals Australia for a long time and is a win for all
workers affected by energy transition.
in workplace skills
Investment in the evolving technical and
broader workplace skills of engineers, scientists, IT professionals and other
professionals through modular training is required to ensure we have a highly
skilled and agile workforce to lead us through economic recovery.
4,000 new university places for STEM
disciplines to support the AUKUS program.
Over $5 billion for a new national skills
agreement, additional fee-free VET and TAFE places, and support for
foundation skills programs and apprenticeships.
The investment in STEM skills is a big win
for those working in STEM professions.
of engineers to the economy
Without qualified engineers, our economic
recovery, and the delivery of priority projects to drive economic growth are
at risk. Qualified engineers provide new ideas, products and solutions across
a range of sectors. Unfortunately, the engineering profession still does not
have its proper place at the decision-making table, and a lack of engineering
input is thwarting innovation, increasing project waste and cost, and the
timely delivery of safety and quality outcomes. National leadership to
support Chief Engineers in each state is needed to ensure that reconstruction
efforts are delivered and do not compromise quality, standards and safety.
$5 billion for 4000 new
university places in STEM.
As mentioned above, the STEM
skills investment is strong recognition of the critical role of our sector in
the future growth industries.
We will continue to advocate for
greater national leadership on Chief Engineers and engineer registration to
lift the status and recognition of engineers, including as part of
state-federal relations to gain a consistent approach.
STEM skills in the Australian Public Service
The Australian Public Service is critical to
delivering the new Federal Government's reform agenda. However, public
service and public sector agencies continue to struggle to attract and retain
highly skilled technical staff due to poor wages and conditions of
employment. This problem's scope and impact were noted in submissions to the
APS Hierarchy and Classification Review. The 2023-24 Federal Budget must
develop and fund a full public service STEM workforce plan and change the
current wages policy to attract and retain staff with vital STEM skills into
the public service and public sector.
The Government has committed to wind back
its reliance on consultants and outsourcing with the Finance Minister stating
they would rein in these costs incrementally, in the order of 10-15% per
year. This is part of the Government’s agenda to in-source and re-invest in
the capacity and capability of the public service.
Key commitments include $10.9 million to
establish an in-house consulting function, $8.4 million to build the
capability of the APS and $3.4 million to support the Government's commitment
to achieve 5% First Nations employment by 2030.
The Government has laid the foundations to
re-build public sector capacity over the past 12 months.
Wages and conditions remain a high priority
for Professionals Australia and will be a focus of our advocacy for APS staff
in the coming months, along with seeking a commitment to a public services
STEM workforce plan.
in construction and infrastructure
Further investment in residential
construction and civil infrastructure, including road and rail projects, is
critical for ongoing growth. While the new Federal Government's commitment to
investing in social housing is welcome, after a decade of inertia, further
investment in social housing construction is required to address housing
affordability and accessibility.
Construction and housing sectors
were big winners of this budget.
$2 billion for social and
affordable housing is matched with a significant change to the tax system
that incentives for build-to-rent projects.
Those working in the building
and construction sectors will benefit from growth in build-to-rent and social
Investments in roads and rail are
steady but not growing. This should be a priority in future budgets and will
remain a focus of our future advocacy.
gender equality & diversity in STEM
PA welcomed the Respect@Work Bill in 2022
and looks forward to the positive impact this will have on Australian workplaces
across the country. While an essential first step, significant work is still
required to support more women to enter, develop and remain in the STEM
workforce. This will increase the capacity of STEM to drive higher ongoing
workforce participation and productivity growth. In addition, ongoing
government investment in affordable and geographically accessible quality
childcare will be critical to strengthening women's workforce participation.
The Australian Skills Guarantee
now includes national targets for women in apprenticeships, traineeships and
cadetships on major government projects. This aims to see the proportion of
women apprentices and trainees on major government construction projects more
than double by 2030 and the proportion in trades apprenticeships triple.
The government passed its cheaper childcare
package last year and this is funded in the budget. The lower childcare costs
will start flowing from July. A typical family earning about $120,000 with a
child in care three days a week will save about $1,700 a year.
Improvements to Paid Parental Leave (announced in
October Budget)– the amendments to the Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 have
passed, giving effect to the first stage of paid parental leave reforms
announced in the October 22 Budget.
the single parent payment has also assisted many women.
The Government has done more in
its October and May budgets to support gender equality than the previous
government did in a decade.
There is however more work to be
done to encourage more women to work and remain in the STEM professions.
Further action is also needed to
pay super on paid parental leave and remove the activity test for childcare.
As the nation's health system emerges from
the extreme difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic and governments seek to
review the structure, operation and delivery of primary health care, a
significant opportunity exists to recognise the crucial role pharmacists play
in health care and how their pay, conditions and working arrangements can be
improved to ensure we build a pharmacy workforce that meets our community’s
health care needs now and into the future.
The Government will /support more
than 300 Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme medicines to be dispensed in greater
amounts, phased in from 1 September 2023. Some patients will be
able to get 2 months’ worth of the medicine they need for a stable,
chronic health condition.
Pharmacists will also be funded to deliver
vaccines to eligible patients under the National Immunisation Program, with
an investment of $114.1 million over 4 years. The Government is
providing $2.2 billion over 5 years for new and amended listings to
the PBS, including treatment for cystic fibrosis.
The new dispensing policy
provides financial relief to many community members.
We are working through the
impacts of the full suite of budget initiatives with the Government,
prioritising the interests of workers in community pharmacy.
The investment in pharmacy under
the National immunisation program is a start in recognising the bigger role
pharmacists play in primary health care and we will be working to ensure that
investment is made in workforce development and that the skills and expertise
of employee pharmacists are fully recognised.
key professions in regional communities
support is required for professional employees such as pharmacists and
veterinarians who provide critical services in regional communities. Employee
pharmacists and vets in regional communities report being significantly
understaffed, working long hours, with inadequate remuneration which fails to
reflect their skills, responsibilities, and workloads. Incentives are
urgently required to attract and retain pharmacists and vets in regional
locations or risk exacerbating the country/city economic, health and social
The Government will support regional
and remote pharmacies by investing $79.5 million over 4 years to
double the Regional Pharmacy Maintenance Allowance which supports the
continued operation of around 1,093 community pharmacies in regional and
Support for regional and remote
pharmacies is a positive but further action is needed to attract and retain
pharmacy employees in regional communities.
R&D investment by 0.1% every year to 2030
To provide high-quality job growth,
Australia needs to continue to increase our current research and development
investment of 2.2% by 0.1%, or more, each year until we achieve 3% of GDP.
Increased R & D investment underpins the innovation required to create
new products and services and to strengthen our international
While we are disappointed this year’s budget
did not make significant progress in this area, we recognise this is a
long-term priority and investment needs to occur over multiple years.
Increasing R &
D investment will remain a key priority for Professionals Australia and will feature in our
advocacy efforts throughout this Government’s term.
education and research
Federal Government failed to provide adequate assistance to universities and
research institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic, significantly affecting
staffing, organisational capabilities, research, and the education of
tertiary students. Universities and research institutions are vital to
lifting productivity, generating jobs, and creating new businesses. Further
investment in research capacity is required to ensure that Australia
strengthens its research base after the challenges of the pandemic. The
tertiary education system must be supported to respond to industry needs,
build the nation's STEM skills base and better meet the changing needs and
circumstances of tertiary students.
The budget makes worthwhile investments with $4.5 billion in science
and research through universities in 2023–24 and $3.3 billion to support
research and development in industry.
There is also more than $3.5 billion in the science agencies like CSIRO,
Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and Questacon received some
Australia will continue to advocate for investment in education and research
to ensure that we have strong STEM workforce capability to support innovation,
industry development and economic growth.