Low and middle income families, first home buyers and retired workers will be the main beneficiaries of a decisive move by the Rudd Labor Government to head off the impact of an economic downturn through a package to stimulate the economy the Australian Council of Trade Unions said today.

Unions expect that this package of measures, along with the Rudd Government’s moves to shore up Australia’s financial system will help ward off job losses and insulate our economy.

Measures to improve job security through new IR laws as well as greater support for families struggling to pay mortgages and loans are also needed say unions.

ACTU President Sharan Burrow said the package announced today will benefit working Australians and their families in both the short and long term.

“In the short term it will provide relief for Australians feeling the pinch from rising petrol, housing, food and other basic living costs.

“This will be especially useful in the lead up to Christmas and the holiday season, a time when we know many low and middle income families have to dip into savings or max out their credit card.

“These measures will provide a necessary immediate injection into the local economy that will counter the impact of the global financial crisis.

“In the longer term, the package will also benefit working Australians through extra training places and the accelerated implementation of nation-building projects.

“While it is very early days, there are worrying indications that many Australians could lose their jobs if the downturn caused by the global credit crunch worsens.

“The Government should consider giving priority to those infrastructure projects that will help generate new jobs and provide secure employment, including in sustainable industries that help Australia respond to climate change.

 “Working Australians and their families have been left terribly exposed to a potential downturn as a result of the former Howard-Costello Government.

“The Coalition’s tax cuts for property investors worsened housing affordability for home buyers and a lack of regulation under the Liberals of the banks and other lenders means household debt has climbed to an unsustainable 156% of GDP.

“It is essential that any measures to strengthen our financial architecture also deal with the Liberals’ legacy of record debt by providing direct support to families struggling to cover mortgages and loans.

“The Coalition’s WorkChoices laws also left working families exposed to an economic downturn by reducing job and income security and taking away rights to redundancy pay and other entitlements.

“The current financial crisis highlights the importance of the Rudd Labor Government introducing new IR laws that restore workers rights and provide greater job and income security,” said Ms Burrow.