COALITION’S ‘BUSH WAGE’ HAS GROUP TRAININING INDUSTRY ON EDGE

2 Nov 2018

Skills Minister Michaelia Cash needs to reassure the group training industry and its employer partners that her ‘bush wage’ scheme will not cripple the group training sector.

Skills Minister Michaelia Cash needs to reassure the group training industry and its employer partners that her ‘bush wage’ scheme will not cripple the group training sector.

The so called “bush wage”, based on One Nation’s costly apprenticeship policy, has set off alarm bells throughout the group training industry which has been told it is ineligible for the scheme.

There are about 100 group training organisations operating throughout regional, remote and metropolitan Australia, who over four decades have engaged with more than 100,000 employers.

Group training organisations fear existing employers could hand back existing apprentices so they can access  the ill considered and overly generous new scheme.

This would severely undermine the good work being done by quality community-based apprenticeship employers already operating in regional and rural Australia.

Shadow Minister for Skills, TAFE and Apprenticeships, Senator Doug Cameron said this latest policy disaster from Senator Cash will not add a single apprenticeship to the Australian workforce if existing employers decide to cash in on the scheme.

“This has all the hallmarks of Minister Cash’s other ill-conceived and politically opportunistic policies and has been done without any consultation with the experts in the group training industry,” Senator Cameron said.

“This desperate grab for One Nation votes is reminiscent of former Senator Bob Day’s ‘Student Builder’ pilot which the Coalition funded at a staggering cost of $92,000 per apprentice.

“If Senator Hanson has her way, the pilot will be expanded nation-wide and based on the Government’s own targets, will cost taxpayers in excess of $11 billion in just four years.”

Labor is also calling on Minister Cash to outline details of protections within the policy against apprentice exploitation and steps taken to deal with rampant exploitation of apprentices exposed by FWO reports.

“Minister Cash’s track record on apprenticeships is abysmal. Under her draconian Building Code, agreements can’t be made between employers and employees that guarantee the employment of apprentices,” Senator Cameron said.

On top of its $3 billion cuts to vocational education, the Coalition’s last budget cut a further $270 million from apprenticeships as part of its deeply flawed Skilling Australians Fund.

“While Senator Cash is announcing expensive, damaging and incoherent side-deals with the National Party and cross-benchers she has failed to negotiate an agreement on apprenticeship funding with the Victorian and Queensland governments,” Senator Cameron said.

 “Senator Cash needs to come clean on any deals that have been done with the Nationals and One Nation for handing them the $60 million scheme,” he said