Gillard wooing blue-collar workers PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 18 February 2013 08:37

Prime Minister Julia Gillard will continue her jobs and industry pitch to blue-collar voters on Monday, addressing a key union conference on Queensland's Gold Coast.

Ms Gillard on Sunday launched a $1 billion plan to invest in innovation, provide venture capital funding for small business and give Australian manufacturers a fairer shot at major contracts.

On Monday night, she will tell the Australian Workers Union national conference her Plan for Australian Jobs would be sustainable for at least three years from 2014 through structural savings in the federal budget.

"We've been cutting bad priorities and inefficient spending from the budget to make room for investments in Australia's future - now we're taking the same approach to funding our jobs plan," the prime minister will say.

She'll argue that it is unnecessary to give some of the largest and more profitable companies in the nation $1 billion to innovate when they have the resources and the market incentives to do so already.

Some of Australia's biggest companies will also be in the sights of the AWU, when it launches a new advertisement featuring actor Jack Thompson at the conference on Monday morning.

In the ad, Thompson recites part of Henry Lawson's classic poem, Freedom on the Wallaby, and observes - in a dig at mining billionaire Gina Rinehart - that "some of the richest people in the world are complaining about how hard they're doing".

"We used to be a country that could be proud of what it made," he says, urging union members to "forge a new future".

Marginal outer metropolitan seats with large populations of blue-collar voters will be key to the September 14 federal election, just as they were to US President Barack Obama's victory in 2012.

A key US union boss Bob King, from the United Auto Workers, will share his insights with the conference on Monday.

Delegates will also hear from South Australian premier Jay Weatherill, who last week met with the prime minister in Canberra for economic talks ahead of Ms Gillard bringing federal community cabinet to his state on Wednesday.


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