Independent Rob Oakeshott raised a laugh with a mischievous reference to the Cowper MP at a seminar.
Independent Rob Oakeshott raised a laugh with a mischievous reference to the Cowper MP at a seminar. Trevor Veale

Oakeshott takes a pot shot at MP

ROB Oakeshott could not resist a reference to Cowper MP Luke Hartsuyker's carbon pricing debate skirmishes when he took the podium at the Regional Tertiary Education Conference in Coffs Harbour.

“I can't let this moment pass without asking, ‘where's Luke',” said the Independent Federal MP for Lyne, drawing chuckles in his academic audience.

“He is more than welcome to have half an hour debating the price of carbon in front of all of you.”

Mr Hartsuyker wanted a series of debates with Mr Oakeshott over carbon pricing, but declined an invitation to make a debate part of a community forum in Lyne.

Yesterday the Independent politician had said that Mr Hartsuyker had picked a fight, then walked away and now wanted a bigger fight, but the discussion was “all sounding a bit silly”.

He ended by suggesting Mr Hartsuyker might like to debate with the Coffs Coast Advocate columnist Greg White, who has expressed strong views on the carbon tax.

More seriously Mr Oakeshott said education, not carbon pricing was the moral and economic challenge of our time, especially in a nation where the Australian Industry Group chief executive, Heather Ridout, could say that 40% of people in the workforce could not read a workshop manual.

“It's disgraceful and a public policy failure," Mr Oakeshott said.

He said with both educational reform on the government agenda and beginning to address regional barriers, it was time for communities and local organisations like councils, catchment management authorities and local land councils to turn the ‘education revolution' into something practical on the ground and engage people outside the educational community.



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