The Coalition must get out of the way and allow the $42 billion economic stimulus package to proceed through the Senate as soon as possible, unions say.
Every day of delay is a dangerous gamble with Australian jobs, said ACTU President Sharan Burrow.
“This package is urgent in order to pre-empt the increasing impact of unemployment and weakening economic demand that will effect the lives of working Australians,” Ms Burrow said.
“The last major recession in the early-1990s provided a valuable lesson that delaying a response can deepen the impact of a slowdown.
“Malcolm Turnbull and his Coalition colleagues seem to be the only people in Australia who don’t think it is a good idea to invest public funds in the economy right now.
“The package has broad support from unions and working Australians, from business and employers, and from economists.
“What reason does Mr Turnbull have for blocking this essential stimulus package except petty political opportunism?”
The International Monetary Fund has urged an injection of 2 to 3% of global GDP from governments this year to ward off the worst impacts of a worldwide recession.
Ms Burrow said the Australian Government had responded to this call decisively with a carefully-tailored package that will provide an immediate boost to business and consumer confidence, create and sustain employment, provide valuable infrastructure for schools, housing and roads, and help reduce carbon emissions.
“A short, sharp Senate inquiry is useful in explaining the economic urgency behind the package,” Ms Burrow said. “But it should not be used as an excuse to stall or block it.”
Ms Burrow said further policy measures will be needed if the economy worsens, including targeted and creative labour market and income security measures.
Employers must also move heaven and earth to retain, retrain and upskill staff, including apprentices.
Unions believe there should be conditions placed on support for the financial sector, including retention of jobs and branch networks, and initiatiaves to prevent mortgage foreclosures.
“These are all small issues relative to the pressing task of getting this stimulus package up and running immediately,” Ms Burrow said.