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Transcript of doorstop interview of the Leader of the Opposition, Kim Beazley, MP: Parliament House, Canberra: 7 March 2005: Traineeships; infrastructure.

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Subjects: Traineeships; infrastructure.

BEAZLEY: John Howard is out there suggesting today that it would be a good thing to encourage young people to leave school at Year 10. He’s got to stop playing politics and start to get about being part of the solution. What we want to do is to see young people trained, trained to the maximum extent that they can be and the Commonwealth’s got a job to do. The job of the Commonwealth is to match the States on their increased funding for vocational education and training. If the Commonwealth had matched the States over the last five years, there would have been $840 million more spent by the Commonwealth on vocational education. There would have been a large percentage of the 270,000 people who couldn’t get a place at TAFE getting places and the Commonwealth would not now be seeking to import skilled labour because they’d have enough trained young Australians.

The second thing that was interesting today, that’s been out there in the media, is that there are Coalition Members of Parliament now saying that the Coalition should support Labor’s idea of a Council on Infrastructure. We need national infrastructure leadership in this country it’s not just the Labor Party saying it. It’s the Reserve Bank saying it. It’s the OECD saying it and now, apparently, some of the panic Coalition members are saying it. The Labor Party stands for a sensible, consistent policy building this nation. It’s time we were joined in leadership on this by John Howard.

JOURNALIST: Do you agree with the sentiment though that many people are better off leaving school at Year 10 and getting into a trade?

BEAZLEY: Nobody is better off unless they’ve got a trade or in some form of training. Why doesn’t the Commonwealth think a bit innovatively about this like some of the States do. The States are now including in the final years of High School the first years of apprenticeships, that’s a much better idea. Don’t encourage people to leave school, encourage the States, back them up. Back them up when they devise the schemes that they’re now putting in place to ensure that there’s a stream in High School that give young people a start on apprenticeships. The longer you keep young people in training, the longer you

keep them in school, the better the chance you have of them making a life choice that’s right, right for the country and right for themselves.

JOURNALIST: Was there no innovation in the announcement for the twenty four federally funded and run apprentice college, TAFE colleges?

BEAZLEY: We’re not going to get one new apprentice out of the federal Government’s TAFE scheme to create a separate federal Government TAFE alongside the State Government TAFE. We’re not going to get one new apprenticeship out of that until 2010. We’ve got to do a lot better than that and a lot quicker. Now, the federal Government starts to come in behind the States in the way in which the States have been out there increasing the provision of resources available for vocational education. You provide the resources to keep young people who are dropping out of apprenticeships interested in staying in apprenticeships.

JOURNALIST: So a Labor Government would always match State funding on training?

BEAZLEY: The Labor Government will have, as a focal point of its policy, at the next election as it had at the last election, as it had at the election before, the fact that we needed skilled people and the fact that the federal Government has to be prepared to invest in resources for that.

JOURNALIST: Mr Beazley, you attacked the Government this week on its economic record, do you think that events of the last week or so that you’ve now got something to work with?

BEAZLEY: We’re not doomsayers about this economy. We’re proud of the fact that we, in office, created the conditions, the flexible conditions, the outward looking conditions that ensured that Australia had a growth economy. That’s what we did when we were in office but we are very annoyed when we see a

government that’s now had nearly ten years in office that’s not added any value to that at all in the decisions that it has taken. And we will hold the Government responsible for maintaining the good growth economy that they inherited. That’s what we’re going to do.

JOURNALIST: Mr Beazley it looks like uniform defamation laws are closer than they’ve ever been before, the Government’s backed down on some of its demands in relation to them, is that a good move.

BEAZLEY: I think uniform laws in that sense are always a good move.