The Business Council of Australia has moved to put education back at the centre of the election campaign, arguing that Australia’s education system needs significant reform and billions of dollars in extra funding in order to address the skills shortage.
In his departing speech as BCA president, Michael Chaney said $4 billion needs to be injected into education to attract more people into teaching and increase the quality of teachers.
Chaney also argued that teachers should be put on an incentive payment system that would enable them to earn up to $130,000 a year, well above current average teacher pay levels.
A national curriculum and renewed focus on literacy, numeracy and computing – measures the Howard Government has focused on over the past year – were also important, Chaney said.
The speech will put pressure on both sides of politics to bring forward likely announcements on education reform. Opposition leader Kevin Rudd in particular has constantly sought to campaign on Labor’s “education revolution”, but is yet to release substantial policy detail apart from a $3 billion package of rebates for education purchases outlined in his recent tax announcement.
There was little action on hustings yesterday as both sides of politics turned their focus to the increased likelihood of an interest rate rise next month.
Prime Minister John Howard promised to establish two defence service technical colleges, one in Adelaide and in south-east Queensland, as part of a $208 million package for defence training. Money will also be put to increasing the skills of army reservists, while $50 million will be spent to provide 2200 defence skill scholarships over the next four years.
Labor leader Kevin Rudd was in Victoria, where he committed $1.2 billion to upgrade the Western Ring Road and the Western Gate Bridge in Melbourne. Rudd said 6500 new jobs would be created to carry out the upgrades.