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Brumby and Baillieu lay business policies on the table

Friday, 26 November 2010 | By Michelle Hammond

Victorian voters will go to the polls tomorrow to decide who should lead the State for the next three years.

 

According to Roy Morgan Research, opposition leader Ted Baillieu is tipped to win, leading Labor by 2% on a two-party preferred basis.

 

However, when electors were asked who would make a better Premier, 43.5% backed Premier John Brumby, compared to 39% for Ted Baillieu.

 

Both parties have come under fire for relying on scare tactics in their election campaigns, with many voters still unclear as to what each party stands for, particularly with regard to business.

 

A spokesperson for the Premier says a future Brumby government will see a range of business policies unrolled, including $6 million for a new grants program for regional apprentices.

 

For apprentices in regional and rural Victoria who start their own business, the program will provide them with a “financial kick start” and access to an experienced mentor.

 

Regional and Rural Development Minister Jacinta Allan recently announced the Regional Trade Business Grants Program.

 

It will provide grants of up to $10,000 for at least 600 recently qualified apprentices in high-demand industries over four years.

“The grants could be used for business start-up costs, such as buying tools and equipment, advertising or even further study,” Allan said.

 

“Recipients will also be offered support from an experienced tradesperson who will act as a mentor and provide important advice to help get the business off the ground.”

 

The Brumby government will also commit $20 million to a new manufacturing policy titled Looking to the Future: Securing Victorian Manufacturing Jobs.


Key measures include:

 

 

 

 

  • Invest $6 million to help Victorian manufacturers become more globally competitive by boosting the Competitive Business Fund.
  • Provide $5.7 million to establish a new research centre to position Victoria as a global leader in electric vehicles.
  • Extend the Industry Capability Network with $8.3 million to ensure local manufacturers take full advantage of Victorian government infrastructure projects.
  • Amend the Victorian Industry Participation Policy to include firms with up to 500 employees to make it easier for Victorian SMEs to win government work.
  • Lead the development of a national manufacturing strategy to grow exports, strengthen local supply chains and secure manufacturing jobs in Victoria and Australia.
  • Revamp the Victorian Industry Manufacturing Council to focus more strongly on innovation.

 

Finally, the Brumby Government says it will address workplace policy to ensure “workplaces where employees are protected as well as providing enhanced skills for workers and support for pay equality.”

 

Key measures include:

  • Work with the rail and construction industries to improve training facilities, as well as establishing an Energy Efficiency and Renewables Academy to deliver training for electricians on the latest clean energy and energy efficiency technologies, and expanding the Plumbing Industry Climate Action Centre.
  • Require Victorian government agencies which purchase clothing or uniforms to do so from suppliers which adopt ethical production methods.
  • Develop and implement a code of practice for Victorian outworkers in consultation with stakeholders.
  • Facilitate investment and job creation in public works.
  • Support appropriately structured project agreements.
  • Support appropriately structured right of entry to Victorian workplaces.
  • Use panels to ensure that contractors listed on Victorian Government Supply Registers act in compliance with legal, industrial and OHS obligations.

 

Opposition leader Ted Baillieu has unveiled his own set of policies in relation to business, including a promise to commission a competitiveness report on the Victorian economy.

 

Baillieu said the report would cover the full spectrum of the state’s competitive fundamentals from state taxes and regulation, to the quality and price competitiveness of its infrastructure services, its education and skills base.

 

“Our aim will be to ensure Victoria is the state of first choice for business, for investment and for lifestyle,” he said.

 

“Private sector investment and jobs are the lifeblood of a stronger Victoria. An economic crisis is precisely the wrong time to demonise the creative spirit of enterprise in our society.”

 

“We should also be encouraging the Gen X and Gen Y thinkers and doers; Victoria’s business leaders of tomorrow.”

 

“That’s why later this year I will convene a roundtable of young Victorians – men and women who are already making their mark in business.”

 

“We want to hear their views about how we position Victoria not just for the next two to three years, but for the next two to three decades… I am determined to reach out to those with the energy and ideas to kick-start private sector growth and to restore Victoria’s long-term competitiveness.”

 

Another key policy is the establishment of a $1 billion Regional Growth Fund to spearhead a regional resurgence in Victoria.

 

Shadow minister for regional and rural development Peter Ryan said the fund would deliver funding for building and upgrading local services and infrastructure, as well as investing in local skills and industries to promote jobs.

 

The fund will be available for projects in regional Victoria which:

  • Provide better infrastructure, facilities or services.
  • Strengthen the economic base of communities.
  • Create jobs and improve career opportunities for regional Victorians.

If Baillieu wins the election, his government would also undertake a complete rewrite of Victorian WorkCover legislation.

 

Assistant shadow treasurer Gordon Rich-Phillips said: “The Coalition will rewrite and consolidate existing WorkCover legislation to make it simpler and clearer, so that all parties, employers, workers, agents and the VWA can understand and meet their obligations to support injured workers and return them to work as quickly as possible.”

 

The Coalition has also expressed concerns at some provisions in Labor’s bill, including Labor’s failure to fund increases in benefits beyond this year.

 

“Now is not the time to be driving up WorkCover premiums for Victorian employers who are just emerging from the effects of the economic downturn, and in the case of many small businesses, yet to show recovery,” Rich-Phillips said.