News wrap, 12/03/12


News wrap, 12/03/12

Abbott’s public sector attack ‘incorrect and offensive’ | Abetz attacks ALP’s ABCC amendment | Heavy vehicle tamperers on notice in NSW | Jobs cuts in NSW schools | Engineering skills shortage in private sector.


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Abbott’s public sector attack ‘incorrect and offensive’ | Abetz attacks ALP’s ABCC amendment | Heavy vehicle tamperers on notice in NSW | Jobs cuts in NSW schools | Engineering skills shortage in private sector.

Abbott’s public sector attack ‘incorrect and offensive’
Public sector workers have hit back at Opposition leader Tony Abbott, after he suggested many of their jobs could be slashed under a Coalition Government.

Speaking at a Victorian Employers’ Chamber of Commerce and Industry conference recently Abbott asked, ‘whether the federal health department really needs all 6000 of its current staff when the Commonwealth doesn’t actually run a single hospital or nursing home … whether the federal education department really needs all 5000 of its current staff when the Commonwealth doesn’t run a single school’.
CPSU national secretary Nadine Flood said:
‘If Tony Abbott wants to be taken seriously on public sector issues he should get his facts right before he starts hacking into jobs and services.
His comments are misleading at best — and in my view — offensive to the hard-working people in these agencies.

Firstly, the health department Mr Abbott refers to is actually called the Department of Health and Aging (DoHA). It has 4,200 staff, not 6,000.

They don’t run any hospitals because, as Mr Abbott knows, that is a state responsibility.
But they do perform crucial tasks including the implementing COAG reforms to ensure we have a fair and effective national health system; ensuring there are decent national standards in aged care and nursing homes, and making sure we all have access to safe medicine through the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Secondly, the education department Mr Abbott wants to slash is actually the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations (DEEWR).
They have 4300 staff not 5000. They don’t run schools because, as Mr Abbott knows, that is a state responsibility. They do critical work such as ensuring private sector employment service providers deliver value for money. DEEWR staff also run the General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme (GEERS) program which ensures workers get basic entitlements if their employer goes bust.
Other DEEWR staff administer national school curriculum including the MySchool website as well as maintaining national standards and accountability in the childcare sector. They also oversee national standards across the tertiary education sector, Australia’s third largest export earner.
Does Mr Abbott really want to slash these services? As an alternative Prime Minister, Mr Abbott needs to provide more than just glib and inaccurate spin to the Australian community.’

Abetz attacks ALP’s ABCC amendment

The Shadow Minister for Employment & Workplace Relations, Senator Eric Abetz, said the Law Council of Australia has raised serious concerns echoing those of the Coalition about Labor’s last minute sneaky amendment to their Bill to abolish the Australian Building and Construction Commission.

The Law Council’s intervention condemning the last-minute Green inspired Labor amendment to the ABCC legislation fully vindicates the stance of the Coalition in not only condemning the Legislation but seeking a further Senate inquiry into this unprecedented new aspect, Senator Abetz said.

Heavy vehicle tamperers on notice in NSW
The NSW Government has announced it is ‘getting tougher’ on truck drivers and transport operators who engage in ‘illegal and unsafe’ practices, including tampering with speed limiter devices.

The government agency, Roads & Maritime Services (RMS), announced the crack-down on ‘heavy vehicle rogues’ who ‘flout the law’ after the success of a joint NSW Police and RMS investigation into Scott’s Transport last week.

‘Operation Overland’ was launched after one of the company’s B-double trucks was caught driving on the Hume Highway at Mittagong at 142 km/h on Monday, 5 March. Safety laws require trucks to be speed limited at 100 km/h.

According to Peter Wells, customer and compliance director for RMS, the vehicle was travelling at a speed that was ‘ridiculous … for any vehicle let alone a heavy vehicle’.

Wells said the State Government has announced it is ‘getting tougher’ on those drivers who disregard the safety of other road users.

‘While all of the normal speeding and demerit point offences apply if heavy vehicle drivers travel above 100km/h, if detected above 115km/h, these drivers will now also bear the brunt of a full speed limiter inspection which can lead to fines in excess of $16,000 as well as the heavy costs of downtime and significant repair bills,’ he said.

‘We’re giving the industry a warning. If you are travelling in or operating a speed limiter modified truck, get it back to factory specs or expect a heavy fine.’

The RMS said the maximum fine for driving a vehicle without a compliant speed limiter was $3300 for an individual and $16,500 for a corporation.

Jobs cuts in NSW schools
The O’Farrell Government must guarantee that no school in New South Wales will lose funding as a result of hastily-announced changes that cut vital education positions and left principals and teachers in the lurch, Shadow Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt said.

‘With his accident-prone record as a Minister, Adrian Piccoli is the last person who should be given a blank cheque to alter funding arrangements that will affect every public school student in NSW,’ Tebbutt said.

Engineering skills shortage in private sector
Consult Australia has recommended that governments undergo significant reform in their procurement processes, to ease the burden of the engineering skills shortage on the private sector.

Calling for improved capabilities within government; public sector contributions to the private industry’s training burden; and a more efficient use of the potential labour force, the Association sees these changes key to unlocking the industry’s ability to help ease the shortage and deliver the infrastructure Australia needs.

Consult Australia’s chief executive officer, Megan Motto, said: ‘Industry is concerned by the impacts of the shortage on the nation. If the skills shortage is not addressed, we will continue to see a backlog for new infrastructure as well as critical maintenance and repair.
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