‘BUSH WAGE’ WON’T MAKE UP FOR 140,000 LOST APPRENTICESHIPS

31 Oct 2018

The Coalition’s $60 million ‘bush wage’ announced in The Australian today is an ill-conceived Band-Aid on a vocational education system in crisis from the Liberal’s $3 billion cuts to the sector.

The Coalition’s $60 million ‘bush wage’ announced in The Australian today is an ill-conceived Band-Aid on a vocational education system in crisis from the Liberal’s $3 billion cuts to the sector.

Senator Michaelia Cash’s projection of 1,630 new apprenticeships will not make up for the 140,000 lost since the Coalition was elected.

In the Wagga Wagga district alone, where Senator Cash and Nationals leader Michael McCormack announced the policy, there are 1,108 fewer apprentices since the Liberals came to office.

In Senator Cash’s home state of Western Australia, there are 9,615 fewer apprenticeships, including more than 7000 in trade occupations.

Under this policy, it would cost more than $11 billion to reach the target of 300,000 apprenticeships set by the Government in its shrinking Skilling Australians Fund.

Shadow Minister for Skills, TAFE and Apprenticeships, Doug Cameron said apprenticeships are a critical business investment and this policy simply encourages business to see them as a source of cheap labour.

“The evidence is clear that highly skilled apprenticeships provide excellent returns to employers,” Senator Cameron said.

“Business owners should be committing to apprenticeships as part of their investment in the future of their business.”

The so-called ‘bush wage’ is modelled on a One Nation thought bubble to justify capitulating on the Government’s $65 billion tax giveaway to the top end of town.

Senator Cameron said the policy is a direct attempt to stem the bleed of Nationals voters to One Nation.

“The Nationals are on the nose in the bush due to their failure to deliver for regional and rural Australia, ongoing leadership tensions, its poor response to the drought, subservience to the coal lobby and recent infiltration by neo-Nazi groups,” Senator Cameron said.

“The Coalition has failed regional Australia on vocational education by closing TAFE’s, reducing apprenticeships and not providing the skilled workers rural businesses need.

“This ill-conceived, expensive One Nation policy announced by Senator Cash and Deputy PM McCormack is nothing more than a populist entreaty to people intending to vote against the Nationals and for One Nation.”

The Liberals have severely damaged vocational education in Australia, cutting more than $3 billion in funding, closing TAFE campuses around the country and allowing for-profit providers to charge thousands of students for courses they did not undertake.

“Under the Coalition, the vocational education system has been damaged by privatisation, poor regulation and unhealthy competition,” Senator Cameron said.

“The ‘bush wage’ does nothing to address these systemic and widespread problems caused by the Coalition.”

Within the first 100 days of being elected, a Shorten Labor government would conduct a once in a generation inquiry into the post-secondary education system.

Labor will also provide $100 million to the Building TAFE for the Future Fund to revitalise campuses across Australia and waive upfront fees for 100,000 TAFE students, including 10,000 for early childhood educators.

And one in 10 Commonwealth-funded jobs will be filled by an Australian apprentice.

“By announcing this One Nation thought bubble, the Coalition has again shown its desperation to save itself at the expensive of sound, well-crafted and properly costed policy,” Senator Cameron said.