Canberra Connection with Justine Elliot
Labors Pact with Middle Australia
Im joining Kim Beazleys Pact with Middle Australia, a pact built on one promise: When you put in, you get back. Locally people are telling me that the Howard Government has changed. The Howard Government has forgotten about the millions in the middle. Mr Howard and Mr Costello keep claiming the economy is so good, but I know families in Richmond are saying they are under real pressure.
Families are paying for the triple whammy of rising interest rates, rising costs of petrol and cuts to wages and overtime caused by the Howard Governments extreme workplace laws. Peter Costellos short-sighted Budget failed to take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime resources boom to make our country competitive again. It had nothing to address the skills crisis, the childcare shambles or the skyrocketing cost of petrol. It had no national plan to fix our crumbling infrastructure.
Federal Labor has a plan for Australias future. Our Pact with Middle Australia begins with five simple commitments:
Fix the childcare crisis, with $200 million towards building 260 new childcare centres;
Fix the skills crisis by introducing free TAFE for traditional trades and childcare workers;
Build a broadband information super highway so everyone can get access;
Train young Australians instead of importing foreign apprentices; and
Help families secure their future prosperity by putting job security back into the industrial relations system.
The concerns locals raise around the kitchen table are the concerns I fight for in Canberra.
Treasurer ignores Reserve Bank warning
Local small businesses will be bitterly disappointed at the Howard Governments failure to take action on Australias burgeoning skills crisis in its 2006 Budget.
The Reserve Bank has clearly identified the shortage of skilled workers as one of the significant constraints in our economy that is putting pressure on inflation and upward pressure on interest rates. It has warned: Businesses have been reporting that lack of suitable labour was a bigger constraint on their activities than more traditional concerns about the adequacy of demand or sales.
Yet instead of spending more on vocational education in the 2006 Budget to address the skills crisis, the Howard Government has actually reduced the percentage spent on skills and training. Australias skills crisis is the result of bad economic management by the Howard Government. Peter Costellos decision to ignore training and education is an extraordinary display of arrogance and incompetence when everyone from the Reserve Bank to the OECD, AIG and Peter Hendy is sounding alarm bells on the dangers of ignoring the skills crisis. Federal Labor is committed to investing in education and vocational education and fixing this skills shortage.
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