On Tuesday Prime Minister Scott Morrison outlined his vision for skills and training and industrial relations reforms.
But the major address at the National Press Club fell flat as far as South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris was concerned.
"The Prime Minister had a golden opportunity to address one of the greatest policy failures of our time, the privatisation of the skills and training framework and the underfunding of the TAFE system in this country and finished his speech without committing one extra dollar," Mr Rorris said.
Mr Morrison said training up tradespeople and skilled workers will be the government's top priority as it leads Australia out of the COVID-19 economic crisis.
He flagged a major change in the way TAFE and VET institutions are funded, which in the present state were "clunky and unresponsive" to skills demand.
"(It is) a funding system marred by inconsistencies and incoherence, with little accountability back to any results," he said.
The PM indicated the federal government would play a more hands-on role on how the $1.5 billion dished out to training institutions each year would be spent in the future.
And he said the newly-established National Skills Commission would provide detailed labour market analysis to identify where the skills shortages were.
Total spending on vocational education and training has fallen to its lowest level in more than a decade, with $7.7 billion spent in 2017 according to the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research
"Morrison talks about a clunky and dysfunctional training system without once mentioning the elephant in the room, the fact that Governments of all persuasions have turned this part of the education sector into a business, milking students of cash they don't have and encouraging the growth of fly-by-night shonky operators that leave our young people high and dry and our employers with skill shortages," Mr Rorris said.
Mr Morrison also announced an overhaul of industrial relations laws, with employers, industry groups, workers and governments to work together in good faith to "chart a practical reform agenda".
But Mr Rorris wasn't buying what the PM was selling.
"Either Morrison is a late convert to consensus politics or he has been forced by the COVID crisis to tick a few boxes before he relaunches his anti-worker agenda. Time will tell," he said.
"The question is, are workers rights and job security on the agenda? and will addressing growing inequality and increasing wage share be a priority?
"I think workers are entitled to view these initiatives with some caution."
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