COALITION’S BUSH WAGE SUBSIDY A POLITICAL FIASCO

25 Feb 2019

Labor’s concerns over the Government’s One Nation-inspired ‘bush wage’ apprentice subsidy have increased after a number of remarkable revelations in Senate Estimates last night.

SENATOR THE HON DOUG CAMERON
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR SKILLS, TAFE AND APPRENTICESHIPS
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES

COALITION’S BUSH WAGE SUBSIDY A POLITICAL FIASCO
 

Labor’s concerns over the Government’s One Nation-inspired ‘bush wage’ apprentice subsidy have increased after a number of remarkable revelations in Senate Estimates last night.
 
It was revealed in Estimates this ideologically obsessed Government has tailored the $60 million program to exclude any employer that engages its staff under an enterprise bargaining agreement.
 
This means thousands of the small businesses that Skills Minister Michaelia Cash purports to represent, those with a proven track record of investing in their employees, are not eligible for the generous scheme.
 
Instead, about 1600 regional businesses that pay minimum wages, most having never invested in apprentices, will receive the windfall.
 
Bizarrely, the Department of Education and Training told Estimates that these employers had already hired apprentices in anticipation of being selected for the program.
 
However, both the Minister and the Department failed to adequately explain what happens to those apprentices whose new employer fails to secure a subsidy.
 
The Government needs to guarantee that apprentices employed at businesses that don’t get approved won’t end up losing their jobs.
 
Minister Cash must also guarantee the families of these young workers that they will be safe on the job in these untested rural training environments.
 
The Government must ensure those employed under the scheme are not exposed to the rampant exploitation of apprentices exposed in recent Fair Work Ombudsman reports.
 
Shadow Minister for Skills, TAFE and Apprenticeships, Doug Cameron said apprentices are a critical business investment and this policy simply encourages business to see them as a source of cheap labour.
 
The Coalition has failed regional Australia on vocational education, closing TAFE’s, reducing apprenticeships and not providing the skilled workers rural businesses need.
 
There are 140,000 fewer apprentices since the Coalition was elected.
 
In Senator Cash’s home state of Western Australia, there are 9,615 fewer apprenticeships, including more than 7000 in trade occupations.
 
The Liberals have severely damaged vocational education in Australia, cutting more than $3billion 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.

The bush wage does nothing to address these systemic and widespread problems caused by the Coalition.
 
FRIDAY, 22 FEBRUARY 2019
Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra.