Minister's Cheap Shot At Apprentices Offensive

Minister Macfarlane’s cheap shot at apprentices today in the Australian Financial Review, accusing them of using the $5,500 Tools for Your Trade grants “to pay for tattoos and fancy wheels for their cars”, is offensive and demonstrates the Minister’s lack of understanding about the costs apprentices incur while training during their apprenticeship.

“apprentices have misused a fund, meant to help them buy tools, to pay for tattoos and fancy wheels for their cars”

Ian Macfarlane, Australian Financial Review, 17 May 2014

Many apprentices have huge costs for tools and equipment and the Minister’s accusation that they are misusing these funds is offensive to the majority of apprentices who have used these much-needed funds to do the right thing and buy the equipment they need to help them on their career path.

The Minister needs to explain how the Trade Support Loans will work rather than just bagging our young apprentices. Apprentices need to know what the requirements for the new Loans scheme will be as they will now be left with a huge debt under the Abbott Government’s program rather than being provided with funds to help purchase tools. 

Will there be an approved list of what apprentices can and cannot purchase? 

If there is an approved list of equipment, and will this differ across industries?

Who will the Minister consult with about the administration of the Loans scheme and issues like approved equipment?

Will apprentices need to provide receipts for these items?

What will the turnaround time be for reimbursement for apprentices?

Before the election, Tony Abbott promised Australia’s 400,000 apprentices more financial assistance to help learn their trade and find a good job. 

Now, he is ripping away over $1 billion of support and breaking his promise to apprentices.  Today, he has slammed them as dishonest.

Rather than hurling offensive allegations at our apprentices, the Minister needs to start releasing some details on how his apprentice debt scheme will work.