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A PLAN to help up to 124,000 retrenched workers has united the states but drawn criticism in Canberra.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd signed a deal with the states and territories to give intensive help to unemployed people aged over 25.

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) conference in Darwin agreed to give the jobless access to government-subsidised vocational training.

Labor says the “compact with retrenched workers” will help up to 124,000 people.

“Workers who have been retrenched as a consequence of this global recession have lost their jobs through no fault of their own,” Mr Rudd said.

“Acting to support young Australians who are finding it hard to enter the labour market … represents an important intervention by government.”

Under the agreement, the Federal Government’s new employment agency Job Services Australia matches retrenched workers, aged over 25, with a path to a qualification.

The state and territories would set aside training places.

The training is for people who have been out of work since January 2009 and who are registered with a Job Services Australia provider.

The entitlement is available from now until the end of 2011.

It follows an “earn or learn” COAG agreement reached in April to make youths aged 15 to 19 undertake training and guarantee places for 20-24 year-olds in skills development.

The Rudd Government says it has invested $300 million in programs to help retrenched workers, but it did not provide a cost for the latest one.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said COAG’s new scheme would prepare Australia for economic recovery.

“We know only too well how quickly this country can find itself in a situation of serious skills shortage.”

But Opposition employment participation spokesman Andrew Southcott said training programs for the unemployed had failed when Labor last took that approach in the mid-1990s.

“Training for training’s sake, without a job at the end of it, is cruel to the unemployed,” Mr Southcott said.

“The experience around the world is that a skills-first approach for the unemployed tends to be very expensive and you have poor outcomes.”

Source  :  www.news.com.au

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  • GreatWhiteA great white shark has been sighted circling a whale carcass near a popular Perth beach. 

Floating about six nautical miles west of Scarborough Beach, the carcass is believed to have attracted the shark, which was spotted on Sunday.

WA Department of Fisheries spokesman Tony Cappelluti said he was concerned the dead whale would float closer to the shoreline.

“While the carcass is a long way off any Perth beaches, it is important that boat users or divers are aware of the potential increased shark activity near the carcass,” Mr Cappelluti said.

“There has also been another shark sighting this morning at Strickland Bay on Rottnest Island, where warning signs were erected several days ago after sightings made during the week.”

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Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was in Perth yesterday to formally announce the federal  government committing $236 million for the Northbridge Link project.  kevin-rudd

The underground construction is estimated to cost about $470 million, with the sitework set to start later this year.

The  construction will be commencing in approximately a years time.

The transformation of the the city precinct will include commercial, residential and entertainment opportunities, which would transform the city.

Added will be a waterfront development which will be the greatest transformation of the city of Perth.

This will connect the city with Northbridge and will result in a better integration of rail and bus services.  

Mr Rudd said the project would create about 350 job opportunities for the construction and business sectors and attract an additional 600 passengers on the public transport network each day.

Tendering will be concluded  later this year and construction due to commence next year.

This is an important contribution to employment as well.

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