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Earn or Learn

A society where every person between the age of 16 and 70 is either working or studying is an unrealistic nonsense even in the best of times. Considering the Coalition are trying to tell us that we are facing the worst of times, I fail to see how they hope to achieve this goal. What makes it even more incongruous are their policy decisions which are actively working against this aim.

The budget has ripped $80 billion out of funding for the States for education and health. The Government’s justification for this (read Credlin-prepared spin) is that they don’t run any schools or hospitals. They seem to ignore the fact that citizens pay income tax to the federal government to pay for our schools and hospitals. I would much prefer that revenue to be spent in those areas than in defence.

They have also deregulated University funding and cut the Commonwealth’s contribution. This will have the effect of turning over our most prestigious universities to the wealthy who can afford the fees. Course selection at other universities will narrow. Decisions will be made on the basis of profit rather than benefit to society and certain areas of study will become exclusively the domain of those who can afford it.

I understand that students can choose to go into debt on which they will pay interest. In fact they have extended this privilege to tech courses. Foregoing income for several years and starting working life with a $100,000? debt and no assets would be very daunting for many people.

The government has also backed away from its “unity ticket” on needs based funding for schools by refusing to honour the agreement signed with the States. This move has gutted billions of dollars from education and reneges on an agreement signed in good faith and the commitment made during the election that “on education there is no difference between Labor and the Coalition.”

But it gets worse.

Hundreds of thousands of students in Queensland and New South Wales are expected to lose key opportunities to learn a trade while at school after the Federal Government axed $1 billion in funding for Trade Training Centres. According to estimates by the Opposition, NSW will lose 277 proposed centres and Queensland will lose 123.

AEU federal president Angelo Gavrielatos said students in struggling communities and regional areas would feel the brunt of these changes.

“(The centres) are vital right across Australia but are very important in regional centres where we need to ensure future development, future employability of our students and productivity of our regions. One would have thought this is the time to invest in skills development for their future and for the future productivity of Australia as a whole.”

Senator Kim Carr said Prime Minister Tony Abbott has broken vows made before the election there would be no cuts to education.

“Communities across Australia know how valuable Trades Training Centres in Schools are – they keep our kids in schools and give them the skills they need to get a job. Ripping $1 billion from Trades Training Centres means a generation of students will simply miss out.”

With unemployment rising and cuts to education, I cannot see how we are going to find jobs and courses for everyone. But for those who cannot find work, or who are not able to do a course for whatever reason (feeding their family perhaps?), how will they survive if they only receive income support for 6 months of the year? They are already below the poverty line. Are we forcing young people to stay in abusive homes or to live on the streets and survive by whatever means they can? Nothing has been done to address the affordability of housing. In fact the Coalition stripped $44 million from the capital works of the National Partnership agreement on homelessness – money that was to be spent on building accommodation for the homeless.

What sort of future does this offer to our young people? Has no-one in the Coalition ever had to struggle? Have all of them come from wealthy privileged families who can buy them a unit in the city and a car to run around in and pay for the cleaning lady to come in once a week? They do not understand the despair and fear that some young people feel when they find themselves on their own for whatever reason. Or they become an additional burden on their family who may well be living at subsistence level.

Since the Coalition came to power we have witnessed an unending stream of job losses – manufacturing, mining, public service, Qantas, charities to name a few. The only strategy to combat this is to spend tens of billions building roads that have had no cost-benefit analysis prepared or viability studies done. They are also recruiting almost 3,000 people for the military which adds nothing to productivity or the nation’s wealth.

Add to this the Newman government’s decision to axe $4.5million from programs after Skilling Queenslanders for Work (SQW) funding was cut. The programs, ranging from Green Army work placements helping flood recovery around Goodna to literacy programs, involved 918 participants.

15,000 of our young people will be conscripted into a Green Army which is essentially a workforce that is paid at half the minimum wage. These people were supposed to work with volunteer groups but the budget then slashed funding to the National Landcare Program which will lose $483 million of its funding over five years.

The remaining Landcare money will have to fund several programs new to its area, including cane toad eradication in Western Australia’s Kimberley, $9 million of fishing programs and a strategy to protect the Great Barrier Reef, the $40 million Reef 2050 plan.

It is unclear how, or whether, Landcare groups and the Green Army will work together but there is a whole new industry opening up in being a ‘service provider’ ie you organise the Green Army teams and send them out as free labour for which you will be paid a handsome cut along with being given the money to pay your staff (who get no benefits like superannuation) and to buy the equipment they need. I am sure that will be a very lucrative business. I wonder for whom?


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  1. Terry2

    Both the Howard and Rudd/Gillard governments realized that in the 21st century there was a need for a degree of national input to education and hospitals rather than having the states replicating the administration and effectively doing their own thing. An element of central administration makes sense – think of the national curriculum and digitizing medical records.

    In an over cute about turn (it does sound like Credlin) we now have Abbott, Hockey and Pyne saying ,”but health & education are constitutionally the responsibility of the states not the commonwealth”. This, again, flys in the face of what Abbott had said when he was Howard’s health minister when he wanted the commonwealth to take over hospitals. But worse, they use the constitutional argument to rip money out of the system and to provoke the states into pleading for a GST increase.

  2. patsy

    about time the abbott crew looked at the homeless situation………my daughter has taken in a women and her son in an area that has thousands of homeless ………this is not going away…….but will become even worse….the budget will add many many many more to this list…….do you really think any of the abbott crew have a conscience or are they so smug as to ignore these desperate human beings…….sad but true …..not all of them are there by choice…….how dare they hide behind the pretence of being good Christians…..greed the only disease that cannot be cured and…they have it BIG time…….

  3. Kaye Lee

    I admire your daughter patsy. She was obviously brought up to be a caring compassionate productive member of our society. I fear we will need more like her in the coming years.

  4. patsy

    thank you kaye ……my daughter has a degree in science and works for the Samaritans….caring for the disabled….sure she had a very good upbringing and we are grateful that we can help the homeless as we do …I was a novice in the 50’s but decided it was not for me….but I continued my teachings in my life by helping others when I can……..that is why I cannot come to understand abbot and his crew who had the same teachings as I and do not care for anyone but their greed…….

  5. CMMC

    This is like Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution, but in a warped universe.

    Instead of bourgeois elements singled out for public criticism we have humiliation and harrassment of the unemployed.

  6. MissPamela

    If Health and Education are constitutionally the responsibility of the states, why do we have a National Curriculum ( that precious, precocious, pernicious Pyne is trying to dictate) and National Litercy and Numeracy testing the result of which are used to rank schools across Australia?
    How are children to get an education if they are not attending school because their family is homeless and they are moving around looking for work?
    How are children able to concentrate if they do attend school tired (because they are too cold or hot to sleep – if they have somewhere to sleep), hungry ( because this week’s money has run out – if there was any) and sick ( because their parents can’t afford to take them to the doctor) – they come to school anyway because school is warmer / cooler, they might get something to eat and they can fall asleep on a beanbag. This situation is now not uncommon in some areas – it will get worse!

  7. Stephen Tardrew


    I hate to say it but they just don’t care. Neoconservative dogma overrides the impact of their policies. Blame the victim and absolve yourself from responsibility. Great ethical values aren’t they? They would never think of visiting the homeless to explore causal contributing factors because that would mean they would have a moral responsibility to act. Hiding behind economic dogmatism is a cowards game.

  8. George

    Abbott & Howard were more than happy to intervene in the Tasmanian health system & prop up the Hospital in Devonport, despite the fact it was unviable. That was done for totally base political reasons.
    Abbott is a fraud.

  9. Kaye Lee

    I guess these days are gone? No need to buy votes anymore.

    “Independent MP Andrew Wilkie has questioned Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s judgement in making a $1 billion offer to rebuild the Royal Hobart Hospital, describing it as “almost reckless”.”

  10. Wayne Turner

    100% agree with Stephen.

    These Libs have on idea of the real world,and reality.They simply do NOT care about people NOT like them.

  11. bobrafto

    I agree with all you said.

    I was thinking of the word co-payment.

    Is Lying Joe saying that the govt. is stumping up the bill for health costs and a measly $7 from the public is a small co-payment?

    What is the medicare levy supposed to be doing? if not paying for health costs.

    And this co-payment has nothing to do with mending the so called budget emergency, in fact it’s a wedge to force the public into financing a grand plan, a plan we do not know about, a plan that will inflict pain and misery onto thousands, a plan that should be on the wish list for better climes and don’t be surprised that when the details are revealed the main winners of this plan will be big business and offshore ones at that.

    The msm and every blogger should be demanding that Lying Tone reveal the details of this plan to the public now..

  12. Kaye Lee

    AMA president, Steve Hambleton, said: “The government is replacing a very straight, a very simple, very clear system with a very complex, very obtuse co-payment system which requires new software,” he said.

    Doctors will be financially penalised $11 for bulk-billing concession card holders and children under the government’s proposed changes to Medicare.

    I am also very dubious about this medical research future fund. That means they are just stashing the money away to make the bottom line look better – we are paying to make Joe look like he is reducing the deficit. I am aslo concerned that any money that is eventually doled out from it will go to Tony’s pollie pedal sponsors.

    Hambleton said the policy would hit the most disadvantaged the hardest including low-income earners, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders and people with chronic illnesses.

    “It’s a nightmare,” he said.

  13. Kerri

    Small correction Kaye Lee? Opposition spokeswoman for Education is Kate Ellis. Kim Carr is a bloke.
    I cant help but feel this is all a grand plan. Why make such devastating changes so quickly? There must be more to come.i suspect they are deliberately making conditions ridiculously harsh so that closer to 2016 they can call in Malcolm Turnbull and reverse much of it to keep power and continue payouts to big business and building their army of boys toys. The whole military thing brings up Hitler, Amin, Gaddafi, Hussein, the Kims and every other fascist dictator who kept power by installing a strong but desperate military force. Hey Clive? Bring on that double dissolution we are all behind you.

  14. Kaye Lee

    They really do not think anything through do they…or perhaps they do.

    People earning over $180,000 will have nine months to salary-package and avoid the debt levy, because of a loophole in the budget, tax experts said.

    Someone on $200,000 could package the $20,000 cost of a new car lease over those nine months. This reduces their income to $180,000, and the debt levy does not apply.

    “This will provide more even more incentive for private businesses to accumulate profits which are subject to the corporate tax rate,” PwC partner Kel Fitzalan said.

    Institute of Public Accountants senior tax adviser Tony Greco said salary packaging might come back into vogue. “We are hoping Treasury’s forward projections have taken into account changes in individual behaviours, as taxpayers with incomes over $180,000 generally have access to good advisers,” he said.

    Mr Greco said tax planning could also occur around the differential between top marginal tax rate and corporate tax rate, which drops to 28.5 per cent come July 1, 2015. “The differential will increase to 20.5 per cent, representing an enticing opportunity for individuals able to restructure,” Mr Greco said.

    CPA Australia’s head of policy, Paul Drum, said: “The government’s planned three-year debt levy is in fact a two-year debt levy for some who avail themselves of smart tax planning. I’m not sure if this was intended at all.”

    And Pitcher Partners’ Peter Braine said the change will increase tax paid by people earning less than $180,000 who salary-sacrifice.

    This means anyone salary-sacrificing cars – teachers, sales people and senior management – may need to review their salary packaging arrangements,” Mr Braine said.”We suspect that there will be far more people inadvertently affected on lower incomes by this attempt to stop higher-income earners manipulating the system.”

    Read more:

  15. Buff McMenis

    :'( I need say no more …

  16. Lee

    I listened to Christine Milne’s budget reply speech last night and was stunned at the projected figures on estimated HECS debts following the deregulation. A nurse would take over 40 years to repay the debt.

    Not only will this prevent young people from studying, it will hit mature age students as well. A lot of mature age students are single mums who take up study when the kids are old enough to look after themselves a bit more. When they graduate, they won’t be in the workforce long enough to repay the debt. Or how about middle aged people who get retrenched from a dying industry (and the Abbortt government is doing its best to kill them off) and need to retrain for something else?

    As soon as these people start retiring with an unpaid HECS debt you can bet that the threshold for repayment will be changed so that the government can recoup the money it is owed. That could then affect people who are still studying, or new graduates who haven’t found (full time) employment yet. A HECS debt that takes 40+ years to pay off will prevent a lot of people from owning their own homes too.

    I got an even worse taste in my mouth when I read this morning that doctors will face an $11 penalty if they continue to bulk bill their patients. Other professions are allowed to offer discounts to pensioners. Tradies often do. Doctors are being forced to shaft their poorest patients.

    Clearly there is no depth too low for the LNP to sink with their nastiness and pettiness. They despise the working class with every fibre of their being. I can’t even find enough adjectives to describe just how despicable they are. Why are conservatives consumed with so much hatred and malice?

  17. Anomander

    I seem to recall at one stage the government making grandiose statements about helping households alleviate “cost of living expenses”.

    Funny, I’m not seeing any help forthcoming in the budget due to increased taxes, levies, charges, surcharges, co-contributions, jobs slashed, fees increased and services diminished or costing even more.

    We already have record numbers of electricity disconnections

    Our prisons are overflowing with people unable to pay their fines and bills and the costs of housing them is adding an additional burden onto state revenues

    I often wonder how the young will ever be able to make any headway when they start their working life lumbered with a massive HECS debt, which will only grow larger as universities are stripped of funding and given free rein to charge whatever they like and the interest rate in HECS is increased.

    Add to this the demand older workers will need to work later in life, coupled with the elimination of hundreds of thousands of jobs, where exactly will people be actually find employment? Plus the devastation of TAFE course and training programmes, elimination of any support framework to assist the unemployed and we are faced with a dire future where only the wealthy will survive.

    Then we have the extravagant expenditure of jet fighters that will be redundant in a few short years and the building of roads, but I wonder who exactly will need to use those roads if people don’t have jobs to go to? Let’s also not mention the ludicrous scheme to pay women to have babies – who would want to have a baby and raise it with such dismal job prospects?

    I don’t know about you, but I’m not seeing this government taking any steps whatsoever to help households and their cost of living. Unless when they said “help” they got confused with the word “harm”?

  18. Lee

    The LNP know darn well that the debt levy won’t be hitting its advertised target. Large numbers of them will avoid it with creative accounting. The wealthiest people in the nation have no taxable income. But Abbott is pretending that the wealthy are sharing the burden, just like he is pretending the politicians voluntarily decided on a salary freeze for themselves.

  19. Lee

    Apologies for the link. Having a brain fart and posted it in the wrong place.

  20. Mic

    “Well, with a Degree in Mathematics and another in Astro-physics, it was either that or the dole queue on Monday…”

  21. Kaye Lee

    ‘There may not be a great job for them but whatever there is, they just have to do it, and if it’s picking up rubbish around the community, it just has to be done’

  22. MissPamela

    “Has no-one in the Coalition ever had to struggle? Have all of them come from wealthy privileged families who can buy them a unit in the city and a car to run around in and pay for the cleaning lady to come in once a week?”
    No probably not and nor have many of their followers. I have spent much of today interrupting my thesis writing to have an online discussion with a young woman who firmly believes in all the cuts the LNP are making. She is a self professed practicing Christian, who has clearly had a middle class up-bringing, a good education and has experienced no economic challenges. Her attitude is that if she gets up in the morning and goes to work, earns money, pays for her own groceries and her own and her children’s doctor’s visits then everyone else can do that. There is no need for the government to continue to support “these people” to make the choice to be lazy and take handouts they do not need. She has clearly never worked or mixed with people from different backgrounds (cultural or socio-economic) and does not believe that poverty and disadvantage are not a choice, that struggling to make ends meet is a reality for many. She is unconvinced by any material presented to her as her attitude is so entrenched. They are left wing publications which are not telling the truth. She does not see that the MSM is presenting a biased point of view because it is her point if view. She is probably one of many LNP supporters?
    She is completely (and sadly) unaware, but our politicians are actually aware of how they are disadvantaging the young, the elderly, the disabled, families, children’ education, the health of Australians etc etc to follow their own agenda, but they do not care.

  23. Kaye Lee

    They are cutting all veteran’s affairs pensions including for widows and disabled veterans. I wonder how long until they cut something that the woman you were speaking to cares about MissPamela, how long until someone close to her is affected?

  24. Lee

    Miss Pamela, a lot of them are like that. I’ve got a Liberal voter in my workplace today who can be heard all over the department and I’m trying hard not to tell her what I really think of her. The budget won’t have much of an effect on her, and everyone without a job is just bludging. If she was unemployed, she would do anything to earn money. Anything.

    When one has never been retrenched, never experienced long term unemployment, never experienced financial difficulty, was raised in the city where jobs are easier to find, was private school educated and was supported by one’s parents as one attended university, talk is cheap.

  25. MissPamela

    Kaye Lee. The way they are going it will not be long. There is not much they are not cutting except their own entitlements. Oops sorry I guess they not called that any more as the age of entitlement is over. Perhaps they are their now their “rights” as high caliber members of society. The rest of us do not have those “rights” and now we no longer have “entitlements”.
    It is also very strange that the Age of Entitlement is now over when their esteemed leader has reinstated the titles of Sir and Dame for those he chooses to “entitle’ thus.

  26. MissPamela

    Lee – Poor you. At least my conversation was online and I could shut it out when I chose. You are stuck listening to it,. I admire your restraint.

  27. corvus boreus

    The green army philosophy; we will replace trained professionals and committed volunteers with unwilling conscripts, underpaid and uninsured, to fight a fight they don’t believe in against an enemy they don’t understand or care about. It won’t work effectively in terms of outcomes and people will get hurt, but it may save the odd buck for war toys. Our current government is dominated by ignorant and deluded sociopaths.

  28. Dawn Whitehand

    Besides the collation not caring, there is almost a sinister intentional agenda here to punish the vulnerable and create a working class poor to support the rich, as in the USA.

    By increasing the unemployment level through raising the pension age and tightening welfare regulations they are intending to create a scenario where they will be able to say – well with so many unemployed we need to make it easier/less expensive for employers to employ people – enter ‘workchoices’ and abolishing the minimum wage! Of course, abolishing the minimum does not increase employment -there are still only so many jobs to go around – but this is the spin they will try to sell.

    Even in a perfect capitalist framework there will be something like 4% unemployment, so punitive measures are not the solution.

    Scary times!

  29. Kaye Lee

    And true to form…what is the headline in the Australian?

    “Labor blocks path to fiscal fix”

  30. donwreford

    The earn or learn policy shows the hypocrisy of those who promote this idea, as the cost of learning is constantly becoming more costly that the lower economic disadvantaged cannot compete with, Abbotts, hope that the economically advantaged will vote for him to keep his high paid job and to support his superior religious beliefs, as “in heaven on earth”? if your idea is simple that having a high income denotes you will be favored by God, may well be flawed.

  31. corvus boreus

    newscorp ; you want the truth read the retractions

  32. Terry2

    The Green Army: if you reckon that the home insulation scheme unreasonably exposed young workers to workplace hazards, just wait until this one gets going !

  33. Terry2

    Kaye Lee

    I had an online subscription to the Australian: I cancelled it today. A young lady called and asked why I was cancelling and I told her that I was paying for news and I did not consider that News Corp were fulfilling that obligation.

    In the region of Far North Queensland in which I live, there are three hard copy dailies: The Australian: Courier Mail: Cairns Post all 100% Murdoch.

    Thank goodness for the Guardian, Crikey and AIMN.

  34. Kaye Lee

    The more people that tell both the media and the politicians about our displeasure the better. Well done Terry. The people have the numbers, they need to start exercising that power.

  35. Kaye Lee

    Terry…you saved yourself from the Weekend Australian …

    “Feeling traumatised after the Budget cuts? Don’t worry, Kevin Andrews can offer some caring couples’ counselling…

    EVERY three years Kevin Andrews and his wife Margaret book themselves in for a joint session on a marriage counsellor’s couch — or the workshop, as he prefers.

    The relationships of Australia are about to get a free tune-up, courtesy of Kevin Andrews. In July this year he will introduce a program whereby couples of all persuasions — those about to be married, the already married, the unmarried, same-sex couples, those hoping to soup up a sagging sex life — will be able to apply online for a $200 counselling voucher. The $20 million pilot will allow 100,000 couples to take that voucher to an approved provider, a marital mechanic, for a service

    It’s a pet issue of his: his wife Margaret is trained as a counsellor, and as a socially conservative Christian he is an avid promoter of the tradition of marriage as “the bedrock of successful societies”. He even penned a book, Maybe ‘I Do’ — Modern Marriage and the Pursuit of Happiness, a 480-page ode to marriage

  36. Kaye Lee

    Business leaders have criticised the ­federal government’s lack of investment in skills and training and harsh measures for young job seekers.

    Ten skills programs will be axed to save $1 billion.

    The Australian Industry Group lamented the loss of the long-standing Workplace English Language and ­Literacy program, which will be discontinued. “Never before has it been so important to develop entry-level skills, especially important trade and technical skills, but we also need to upskill our existing workforce,” AiGroup chief executive Innes Willox said. “Skills are a much-needed productivity enabler.”

    Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said the budget would impose relatively harsh measures on young job seekers without commensurate investment in training.

    “The changes to Newstart [Allowance] look pretty tough,” she said. “When you look at that against the unemployment figure going up, can this be done? [For] a lot of unemployed young people, their literacy is poor, their numeracy is poor.”

  37. Frank P Mcenroe

    Can you imagine two identical new cars for sale, what would happen if you were asked to pay 18 times the cost of the other car. the reason for comparing values. a LNP seat in Canberra has a value.that represents 61.946 LNP supporters who voted to create that seat, . , The GRNs needed 1.097.444 votes., to claim one seat, this is only the tip of the iceberg , change has to happen to end all the lies and deception. , we must change the system so all votes are equal ,

  38. donwreford

    Can you say how many MPs, are now at work at the age of 69?

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