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Bill shortens budget 2016 reply speech mocked over beaconsfield mine reference

HE may have offered $71 billion in Budget savings in his speech last night, but it’s a comment harking back to his role in a mining disaster that raised eyebrows.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has been mocked on social media after invoking the Beaconsfield mining disaster during his Budget reply speech.

Mr Shorten, who was the then-national secretary of the Australian Workers Union, last night spoke about Australia being a nation of courage, community and compassion.

But it was what he said next which raised some eyebrows on Twitter.

This is the Australia I witnessed at Beaconsfield, a decade ago, the Opposition leader said.

At Black Saturday, and through the Brisbane floods. It is the Australia Ive had the privilege of representing my entire working life standing up for people, every day.

An Australia enlarged by all who call it home. Striving for the best, but caring for each other. An Australia of common effort and shared reward.

Mr Shorten was regarded as the human face of the 2006 mining disaster and was soon propelled into the national spotlight.

He soon became the spokesman for the recovery effort and was widely praised at the time for his passionate performance.

While Mr Shortens Budget speech earned a round of applause by those in Parliament, others were questioning why Mr Shorten chose to reference Beaconsfield in it.

Bill Shorten references Beaconsfield mining disaster. "Where's the helicopter" heckles liberal mp

Did Shorten really mention Beaconsfield?

Just audible jeers as Shorten mentions Beaconsfield #BudgetReply

Shorten plays the Beaconsfield card...#budgetr

However, others applauded the reference, and saw no issue with Mr Shortens Beaconsfield mention, given the recent 10-year anniversary of the disaster.

My dad hasn't paid attention to Shorten as OL but he remembers him as "that guy from the Beaconsfield collapse"

Channel 7 had more people at Beaconsfield than the Howard Govt did, and yet the Libs booed Shorten during #BudgetReply

Smart of Shorten to nod back to Beaconsfield: the last time he looked like a leader. #BudgetReply

Others pointed out at least he was there at all when the Liberal Howard Government wasnt.

#LNP mocked Shorten for bringing up Beaconsfield- but not one Howard Gov. Minister lent a hand #BudgetReply #auspol

Libs booing Shorten mentioning Beaconsfield, wow you guys are cold #BudgetReply

The Beaconsfield mining disaster made global headlines and propelled rescued miners Brant Webb and Todd Russell into the national psyche.

While the disaster wasnt the worst on our nations record, Beaconsfield is best remembered for its tale of survival, determination, and Aussie spirit, which captivated people across the nation and overseas.

When a 2.2-magnitude earth tremor shook the ground on April 25, 2006, 17 miners were down the shaft.

Fourteen men escaped immediately, but Larry Knight, 44, who was at the controls of a cherry picker-like machine was killed in the rock fall.

Webb and Russell were in a basket at the end of a telescopic arm, attaching wire mesh to tunnel walls about 1km underground, trapped by 800 tonnes of rock, while no one had a clue if they were alive.

Excavations first found Mr Knights body and then, five days after the rock fall, workers heard the cries of the survivors.

The two men were finally rescued on May 9 in a painstaking process which took two weeks.

Mr Shorten was one of the many people who flocked to the mine site awaiting progress of the rescue effort.

Speaking about the disaster last week, Mr Shorten told AAP: This disaster gave Australians a glimpse of the nation that people dont think exists anymore.

I got to see brave people, determined people, everyday people never give up, and I was privileged to play a small role on this remarkable story.

Workforce is the most skilled ever

ALMOST two-thirds of Australians now have gone on to some kind of study after high school than have not, making the workforce the most skilled it has ever been.

This year, for the first time, the proportion of workers who hold a vocational qualification the largest cohort of skilled workers is equal to that who stopped at high school, which used to be most workers.

contenttype="text" Employment Department data finds 32 per cent of workers this year have a certificate III, IV, diploma or advanced diploma qualification, up from 30 per cent last year.

Meanwhile the proportion who do not have a post-school qualification fell from 34 per cent in 2015 to 32 per cent this year the lowest it has ever been.

A further 31 per cent of workers have a bachelor or postgraduate degree, bringing the total percentage of workers who have a post-school skill to 63 per cent, up from 59 per cent the previous year and 56 per cent in 2011.

contenttype="text" SkillsOne chief executive Brian Wexham said Australians increasingly recognised the importance of having a skill.

The idea of people needing to have a qualification has always been important, he said.

A skilled labour force increases productivity and improves the whole economic outlook for Australia.

Wexham said the positive statistics reflected an uptake in training not only among school leavers but also older workers changing industry or formalising their experience.

In order to work in childcare (for example) you now need a certificate III or diploma, he said.

Previously there were a lot of workers who had neither of those so they had to go and get trained.

contenttype="text" Graduate Careers Australia policy adviser Bruce Guthrie said the number of people studying a tertiary degree had increased during the past 20 years, with school leavers leading the charge to get qualified in order to get a job.

Its not like 30-odd years ago theres not a lot of employment options for people who just have Year 12, theres an expectation that people have some sort of post-school study and qualifications in order to improve their employment prospects, he said.

I think in the world today, I think theres a tendency among the population to believe that a university degree is superior to a trade qualification I dont agree with that.

Its horses for courses. Some people who are studying for degrees would probably be happier to do an apprenticeship.

I think people should be looking at a wider range of options post-school in terms of training.

He said it was taking university graduates longer to get work now than historically, and the jobs they find may not be what they had hoped for or sometimes trained for.

But they did get jobs and the unemployment rate for graduates was half that of those who did not have post-school qualifications, he said.

The Employment Department data also finds the professional, scientific and technical services sector in which four out of five workers have a post-school qualification now has a workforce of more than a million people for the first time.

It is set to overtake the number of people employed in construction by the end of the year to become the third-largest employing sector nationally.



33 per cent bachelor degree

31 per cent certificate III/IV/diploma/advanced diploma

31 per cent no post-school qualification


34 per cent bachelor degree

30 per cent certificate III/IV/diploma/advanced diploma

31 per cent no post-school qualification


25 per cent bachelor degree

34 per cent certificate III/IV/diploma/advanced diploma

36 per cent no post-school qualification


27 per cent bachelor degree

32 per cent certificate III/IV/diploma/advanced diploma

33 per cent no post-school qualification


28 per cent bachelor degree

33 per cent certificate III/IV/diploma/advanced diploma

33 per cent no post-school qualification


22 per cent bachelor degree

36 per cent certificate III/IV/diploma/advanced diploma

36 per cent no post-school qualification


26 per cent bachelor degree

35 per cent certificate III/IV/diploma/advanced diploma

35 per cent no post-school qualification


43 per cent bachelor degree

27 per cent certificate III/IV/diploma/advanced diploma

25 per cent no post-school qualification

(note the totals dont add up to 100% because the remainder have done a certificate I or II which is only partway/used as credit to a certificate III)