PAUL MURRAY: We need to make it sexier to be a tradie
THERE are just over a quarter of a million apprentices in Australia right now.
That's down on last year and way down on a few years ago. We can't sit by and let this happen.
With almost 25 million people and all sides of politics committed to a bigger Australia, we need people qualified to actually build it.
For a generation we have put too much emphasis on school kids going to university. But we've now hit the point where too many students go to university.
Our universities are flooded with students not because they are smart enough to do the courses, but because the universities keep lowering the bar until they fill the class.
Institutions don't care if the students qualify or if there are jobs at the end of the rainbow; they want full classes because the taxpayer pays for their courses up front and the student pays it off, eventually.
So the universities have no incentive to change the current system.
Meanwhile, regional towns and cities need to bring people in from overseas to fill the jobs they can't get locals to do.
The challenge isn't just for government, it's for industry too.
Where are the ads showing kids playing with building blocks and the adults who go on to build houses and towers as a job?
Where are the campaigns to celebrate the people who didn't go to university but have made buckets more money with their hands than thousands of people with an arts degree will ever make?
Put simply, we need to make trades sexy again.
If we don't, then the current cost of getting someone to build something for you will go through the roof and we will need to keep going overseas to fill the jobs Australian kids should be proud to have.
It's going to get worse for Dastyari in 2018.
LAST week I wrote here about the clear case for Sam Dastyari to leave the parliament. A week on my view hasn't changed and a little moment most missed on Thursday gives me hope it might happen sooner than we think.
As the lower house was passing Same Sex Marriage, the Attorney General told the Senate HE will send Dastyari off to an investigation when parliament gets back next year.
This week we learned Dastyari asked some 115 questions to security officials that were very pro-China and followed the similar line he gave when he went against national security police during the election campaign.
Dastyari has to go, because he can keep asking his questions from the backbench during senate estimates where Senators get to ask ministers and public servants anything they want.
The Dastyari story isn't over. Some of the most dogged reporters at News and Fairfax are chasing this; the government won't give up; and with parliament not sitting there's nowhere to hide when the next big story breaks.
Every day Bill Shorten fails to boot him out of the Labor party, he too is tainted by this scandal.
So will he move or will Dastyari finally put party and country first and leave before parliament returns?
*Joining Paul on the program this Monday are Graham Richardson, Ross Cameron and Janine Perrett.