Queensland refuses $245m in federal skills funding

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The Palaszczuk Government has rejected $245 million in federal funds intended to create up to 50,000 training places for apprentices in areas suffering shortages.

In a report by The Courier Mail, Queensland was one of just two states and territories to knock back the money for training places being offered by the Commonwealth.

Under the Skilling Australians Fund, a four-year deal, the State Government would have had to match dollar for dollar the $245 million intended to create training programs through TAFE.

After a year of “challenging” negotiations, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk wrote to the Commonwealth to say Queensland would not be signing up. The deadline was Sunday.

State Employment Minister Shannon Fentiman said there was not enough cash on the table, it had not been guaranteed, and it had too many strings attached.

Senator Cash said she was “genuinely surprised” the offer was rejected, saying: “I’m absolutely astounded that after 12 months of working with them, they’ve decided to put politics above good policy.

“What we want to do with the Skilling Australians Fund is deliver the skills that industry needs, but on top of that, ensuring skills spending is targeted to where we have jobs in demand.

Ms Fentiman said the money was declined because the program was funded by levies on overseas worker visas, and only $39 million had been guaranteed for its first year of operation.

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