JUDITH IRELAND June 11, 2012
Queensland premier Campbell Newman (left) in Canberra in April last month for his first Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has urged Liberal premiers to support her economic forum, telling Queensland Premier Campbell Newman it's not too late to attend the two-day event which starts in Brisbane tomorrow.
One hundred and thirty business and industry leaders will meet to discuss Australia's ''patchwork'' economy and the high Australian dollar, with Victoria's Ted Baillieu the only only major state premier scheduled to participate.
"We'd still urge Premier Newman to be attending an important economic forum within his own state," Ms Gillard told reporters in Canberra.
"There's a spot there for Premier Newman if he'd like it."
Ms Gillard said she'd also like to see Western Australian Premier Colin Barnett at the Brisbane forum, given that the meeting will be dealing with issues around the patchwork economy.
"Premier Barnett for example, presides over a state where you can see and feel that patchwork nature very quickly," she said.
"I think it would be great if the Western Australian premier were at the forum."
But the Prime Minister excused NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell, acknowledging his government was handing down a state budget this week.
Other topics to be discussed at the forum include innovations to boost productivity, infrastructure, workforce skills and education and deregulation reform.
ACTU secretary Dave Oliver is also set to push for government intervention, similar to the co-investment model for Holden, in other sectors.
Today, Ms Gillard appeared lukewarm about the idea.
''I do want to come out of this period of economic change with a strong and diverse economy and that means we have some work to do,'' she said.
''[But it's] not about government assistance endlessly flowing to industries that ultimately won't be able to compete.''
This morning, Finance Minister Penny Wong also cast doubt on the union plan.
Senator Wong said that while there was a case for government support for industries like the automotive industry, it couldn't apply to all.
''We also have to recognise it's not viable for taxpayers, for example, to effectively ensure industry for exchange rate risk,'' she told Sky News.
''There's a judgment to be had here about what is the best use of taxpayer's money.
''This is about about making industry more productive in the decades, not just protecting them if their business models need to change.''
With Mark Metherell, AAP