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Australian PM introduces economic, educational plans for election year


12:54, January 30, 2013

CANBERRA, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- The Australian Labor Government should lay the groundwork for an election year battle focused on the economy, arguing that a strong economy is necessary to ensure fairness in education and disability services, Prime Minister Julia Gillard said in a speech to the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday.

"This is the central work of government - leveraging our strengths, addressing risks, implementing our plans, shaping our future, delivering security and certainty," she said.

In the coming weeks, she will release an industry and innovation statement which will lay out the government's plan to protect and create jobs.

This plan will back "Australian firms to win work at home, win business abroad, and create new jobs and growth, above all through co-operative innovation, through firms and employees, researchers and governments all working smarter together."

She said Australians can and must focus on increasing skills, building a national culture of innovation, rolling out the national broadband network, investing in infrastructure, improving regulation and leveraging our proximity to and knowledge of a rising Asia into a competitive advantage.

"These are the five pillars this government has identified as key to increasing jobs, prosperity and productivity," she noted.

In addition, she said the government will promote the looming industry and innovation statement to protect jobs, while conceding the economic pressures on industry such as a high dollar might not decline "even though economic orthodoxy would predict their lessening."

According to the speech, she will introduce substantial structural savings in the federal budget to pay for key Labor priorities such as the national disability insurance scheme and the Gonski education reforms in a declaration that will put big business and high-income earners on notice for further cuts to entitlements.

"This year we will make the tough, necessary decisions to ensure our medium-term fiscal strategy is delivered, and our centrepiece plans for Australian children and Australians with a disability are funded, in this new low-revenue environment," she said, pledging Labor will launch the NDIS on July 1.

While promoting the industry and innovation statement expected next month, Gillard also delivered a warn that the government cannot control factors that have kept the dollar strong such as the weakness in the global economy, close-to-zero interest rates of many nations and "the increasing view that Australia is something of a safe haven."

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