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Tools package won't hammer a nail.

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DEMOCRATS MEDIA 04/950 WEDNESDAY 22 SEPTEMBER 2004 SENATOR ANDREW BARTLETT LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS Tools Package Won't Hammer a Nail The Prime Minister's $800 tool voucher scheme hits the thumb not the nail, the Australian Democrats said today. The Democrats acknowledge that it will provide some assistance to workers but argue that it doesn't address the core skills shortage crisis in this country. "Today's announcement is just another example of the escalating trend in pre-election vote bribes by this Government," said Democrats Leader Senator Andrew Bartlett who has been touring regional Queensland today, meeting with employers who have expressed concerns about the shortage of skilled workers. "It is laughable that the Prime Minister thinks that young people are now going to sign up to apprenticeships to get an $800 tool voucher, while they still struggle every week to make ends meet. "The Democrats believe that appalling low apprenticeship wage rates, especially for first and second year apprentices act as a disincentive for young people to take up apprenticeships" "First ($235) and second ($308) year wage rates are lower than both the away from home youth allowance ($318.50) and the Newstart allowance ($394.60)". "$235 a week would barely cover rent, food, and transport, leaving nothing to pay the bills, clothes, and social expenses. ”The initiatives announced today are not going to redress the Government undermining of the TAFE sector through eight years of funding freezes and cuts, "This skills crisis is the result of eight years of Coalition Government, and the Democrats believe a range of solutions are needed to address apprenticeship and skill shortages. "Tools don't pay the rent," Senator Bartlett concluded. Media Contact - Rowena Bew - 0400 729 555