Plibersek urges for an Australian economy ‘that works for everyone’

Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek says Australian society is less equal than it’s ever been in the past 75 years.

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Ms Plibersek will deliver the annual Light on the Hill speech, honouring former prime minister Ben Chifley, in the NSW regional city of Bathurst on Saturday night.

After 25 years of continuous economic growth, there are still 2.9 million people living below the poverty line and 1.8 million either unemployed or underemployed.

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“Australians are working harder than ever, but they are not getting ahead,” Ms Plibersek will say.

Low wages and insecure work mean lower aggregate demand, leading to weaker overall economic growth.

“People who are worried about paying the electricity bill, or whether they will have a job next week, don’t buy that coffee on the way to work.

“They don’t take the kids to the movies on Friday night.

“They keep their money in their pockets, they don’t create work for others.”

Ms Plibersek called for a national plan for “inclusive prosperity”.

“We need a new growth story, a new plan for inclusive prosperity, a new way to deliver an economy that works for everyone.”

She compared the leadership styles of Bill Shorten and Malcolm Turnbull, saying the Labor leader was “someone who has dedicated his life to standing up for ordinary Australians”.

“Ben Chifley was a plain speaker – so let me put it bluntly: Give me a union leader over an investment banker any day.”

Chifley was born in Bathurst on September 22, 1885.

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