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Labor pledges $1 billion for VET

Friday, 05 April 2019
By Jake Nelson

Backing public TAFE: Bill Shorten pledges $1 billion to VET in his budget reply speech.

A Labor government will inject $1 billion into vocational education and training, including $200 million to overhaul regional and outer suburban TAFE campuses.

In his response to treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s budget speech, opposition leader Bill Shorten yesterday outlined $440 million of new education spending, including $330 million to offer 150,000 apprenticeship subsidies in areas with skill shortages.

“When it comes to vocational education, Labor is backing public TAFE all the way. I’ve been fortunate to visit about 30 TAFEs around Australia since the last election, the teachers and students are inspirational. So tonight I’m pleased to announce we’re going to double the size of our rebuilding TAFE fund, up to $200 million to renovate campuses in regional and outer suburban Australia,” he said.

Labor will also cover upfront TAFE fees for 100,000 students, and uncap higher education to add 200,000 places.

In other news for SMEs, Shorten also gave the thumbs up to small business tax cuts.

“We backed a tax cut for small and medium businesses and we will provide an extra twenty per cent tax break for every business that invests in productivity boosting equipment above $20,000, whether that’s a big manufacturer buying new technology or a tradie getting a new ute,” he said.

Calling the upcoming election a “referendum on wages”, Shorten told Parliament that since the 2016 election, company profits had increased by 40 per cent, and wages by only five. He promised to restore penalty rates on Sundays and public holidays; take action against sham contracting and control labour hire; guarantee that every subcontractor on Commonwealth-funded projects would be paid on time and correctly; and create a “living wage” for the lowest-paid workers.

“We need to get wages growth going again – for workers, for the economy, for confidence and consumption. Because when we boost the spending power of working people, that money flows back into the till of small businesses,” he said.

Pros and cons for print: Andrew Macaulay, CEO PIAA.

Andrew Macaulay, CEO of Printing Industries, said Labor’s plan offered both positives and negatives for printers.

“The VET training announcement is excellent,” he said. “The tax and spend nature of the plan, plus the IR plan, raise concerns about wages pressure for SMEs in what is already a tight economy. PIAA is now discussing detail with both government and opposition about direct impact on the visual communications sector.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to call the election this weekend for May.

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