May 10, 2006

Costello Fails Training Test


Wayne Swan MP

Federal Labor Shadow Treasurer

10 May 2006

Peter Costello has failed young people in middle Australia – refusing to invest in them to build future prosperity.

The Howard Government’s skills crisis is putting a handbrake on Australia’s economy and Peter Costello has again failed to make the investment needed to solve it.

Now more than ever Australia’s economy needs skilled young Australians to get investment moving again and start to pay off Peter Costello’s alarming foreign debt.

Now more than ever, young Australians need world-class skills. The Howard Government’s extreme industrial relations laws are punishing our young people. They need world-class skills in today’s insecure job market.

What sort of Australia is Peter Costello handing our young people?

Peter Costello must invest in this generation of young people to build the future prosperity of our economy and to help the next generation build their own prosperity.

The 2006/07 Budget is another lost opportunity, with Peter Costello continuing to import foreign workers, rather than train young Australians.

It will take Australia down the low wage road, rather than Labor’s high skills road.

Funding for the COAG training agreement and for existing New Apprenticeship Centres is welcome but nowhere near enough.

The capital funding in this Budget for universities will not see Australian universities anywhere near catching up to the rest of the developed world.

Since 1995 Australia has been the only OECD country to cut public investment in universities and TAFE. This Budget does nothing to reverse that appalling record.

The Howard Government’s technical colleges have barely got off the ground. Budget papers reveal the Government this year spent just $40 million of the $64 million allocated, with only four of the 25 colleges open.

The belated spending on training nurses and doctors will not deliver the services people need today.

Australia’s economy will continue to be held back for as long as Peter Costello fails to understand the seriousness of the skills crisis he helped create.

The Government must take concrete steps to solve Australia’s skills crisis, starting with getting rid of TAFE fees for traditional apprentices and setting up a $2,000 Trade Completion Bonus for traditional apprentices who complete their training.