ACTU calls for government-led National Economic Reconstruction plan for job creation

Over a million secure jobs would be created or supported under a “comprehensive and bold” economic reconstruction plan to help steer Australia through and recover from the COVID-19 crisis, according to an ACTU press statement.

The ACTU is calling for a government led National Economic Reconstruction plan and offers up five concrete ideas that are designed to create and save jobs, protect and nurture whole industries, support public and private sector jobs, invest in future skills and training and strengthen Australia’s physical and social infrastructure.

These ideas include a national commitment to free early child education and care, massive investment in training (including 150,000 free TAFE places), a “Rediscover Australia” initiative to help our travel and hospitality sectors survive, a large and sustained increase in infrastructure investment and a comprehensive plan to expand sustainable manufacturing.

“We need government to put in place an ambitious and comprehensive National Economic Reconstruction plan to get the country back to work,” Michele O’Neil, president of the ACTU said. She added that the (federal) government must help build ongoing local jobs, more training and education opportunities to get people into jobs and provide support for people who are making things here in Australia.

“We need big and bold Government investment and action in order for Australia to return to health – both socially and economically.

“Whether it is free and universal childcare, the expansion of public infrastructure investment with locally made materials, free TAFE courses focussed on rebuilding our skills and training sector, support to revitalise our travel and hospitality sectors and regional communities or building a sustainable  manufacturing capacity this plan delivers jobs, community infrastructure and a future for Australia.”

The training for reconstruction proposal includes:

  • A new nation-wide Free TAFE program supporting 150,000 places, which would also support 10,000 jobs in the TAFE system.
  • TAFE put back at the centre of Commonwealth and state governments training funding with committing 70 per cent  of all government VET funding directed to TAFE.
  • A Rebuilding TAFE fund – updating and modernising facilities with a particular focus in regional areas.
  • Commonwealth wage subsides for up to 100,000 apprentices and trainees for the life of their apprenticeship/traineeship and a guaranteed job at the end.
  • And to assist our higher education sector, the  Commonwealth government must extend JobKeeper wage subsidies to universities (which are currently excluded from the program) through the 2020 academic year, thus helping to protect another 20,000 higher education jobs at risk from the current crisis in international education.

And the sustainable manufacturing strategy includes:

  • that the government rules to ensure Australian made products in all new infrastructure and public service procurement,
  • zero interest loans for new renewable energy developments with a direct link to manufacturing,
  • support for large gas and electricity users to upgrade equipment as part of energy conservation plans,
  • expanded Commonwealth investments in rapid decarbonisation of the energy sector,
  • technology grants to support commercialised research and development
  • five new Sustainable Manufacturing Clusters in key areas including: lithium battery and value-added manufacturing; renewable hydrogen production; green primary metal manufacturing; electric vehicle manufacturing and servicing; and renewable energy machinery
  • a “Superpower Investment Fund” to undertake co-investments (including public equity shares) in new sustainable manufacturing activities