The forum at Campbelltown was aimed at tapping the ideas of local people in a region badly hit by the economic downturn.

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About 6,000 people had lost jobs in the past 12 months in the Macarthur region centred on Campbelltown, Mr Rudd told his audience.

“How do you make a difference in terms of jobs and training now, and how do you build for jobs of tomorrow?” he asked about 100 representatives from educational and training institutions, local chambers of commerce, local government organisations and local

employers.

Sandy Tsoutsas, the owner of a food ingredients company, asked Mr Rudd to be supportive of the manufacturing sector.

She told AAP afterwards she was disappointed with his response.

“Every word he used was temporary,” she said.

“There was nothing that was long-term sustainable.

“He said (he) was supporting car manufacturing by giving $6.1 billion (to manufacturing industry).

“So we are focusing on big industry. Unfortunately, the inevitability of this is car manufacturing will still close down and go offshore.”

Ms Tsoutsas also criticised the government\’s cash handouts to the public in recent stimulus packages.

“It is not creating wealth for this country,” she said.

Bob Thompson, a Campbelltown City councillor, told AAP he attended the forum because he wanted to ask the prime minister to consider funding skill-share programs of the type he was involved with in the late 1980s.

Back then, with federal government funding, he had helped about 200 people find work after they received training in areas including office skills, catering and mechanical repairs.

But time ran out before Mr Thompson was able to put his suggestion to Mr Rudd.

Councillor Julie Bourke suggested Mr Rudd should support jobs in renewable energy projects.

“He was clear about the steps that could be taken, but my dilemma is $900 million has been invested in clean coal research and half a million is available for renewable energy projects,” she

told AAP.

“It\’s a bit of a gap.

“Clean coal is unlikely to produce any results this half of the century. When it does, it will be expensive technology to use,” she said.