Monday, December 10, 2007

"The time has come now to roll our sleeves up and get to work"

Bloody hell!!!

Kevin Rudd has called on a full Council of Australian Governments meeting for December 20, just days before Christmas!

Announcement follows:

"I have asked the Premiers, Chief Ministers and the Australian Local Government Association to attend a Council of Australian Governments meeting in Melbourne on 20 December 2007.

The Government has a plan to move Australia forward by boosting long-term productivity growth for the future.

The Government has a plan to tackle Australia's future challenges and I want to begin implementing that plan as soon as possible...

I want to use this COAG meeting to set a new framework for co-operative Commonwealth-State relations and take practical steps to end the blame game.

The time for buck-passing must come to an end. The time for real work to deal with real problems facing the nation must begin.

Discussions at the Melbourne COAG will include:

1. The future of Health and Hospitals in Australia, including:

. Tackling elective surgery waiting lists
. Investing in aged care, especially in transition care
. Investing in public dental programs
. Preventative healthcare

2. Education, Skills and Training – The Productivity Agenda, including:

. Lifting the Year 12 retention target
. Investing in Early Childhood
. Promoting the study of Asian languages in our schools
. Establishing Trades Training Centres in Secondary Schools
. Implementing the Government’s National Secondary School Computer Fund
. Developing a National Curriculum

3. Climate Change and Water, including:

. Establishing a National Emissions Trading system
. Establishing a single national renewable energy target

4. Infrastructure:

Establishment of Infrastructure Australia to audit Australia’s infrastructure bottlenecks.

5. Business deregulation, including:

· Cutting red tape for Australian business

6. Housing, including:

· More streamlined development approval processes and measures to reduce infrastructure charges and developer costs

. Addressing rental affordability

· Homelessness

7. Other National Reform Initiatives

The purpose of the 20 December meeting is to agree on a comprehensive program of work for COAG for 2008 with agreed objectives and reporting timelines.

In a departure from past meetings, I have invited Treasurers to also attend this meeting in Melbourne.

I do not under-estimate the degree of difficulty involved in this ambitious agenda.

But the time has come now to roll our sleeves up and get to work. "