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PM continues crusade on education
Wayde Brown gives Julia Gillard bricklaying tips at Kwinana Jobs and Skills Expo. Picture: John Mokrzycki, The West Australian

Education and jobs were the key themes of Julia Gillard's second day in Perth as her Cabinet fanned out across the suburbs to push the Government's policies.

Continuing her quest yesterday for education reform in Perth, Ms Gillard opened a $35 million biosciences research precinct at Curtin University that was partly funded by the Federal Government and attended a jobs expo in Kwinana.

She also found time to take aim at mining magnate Gina Rinehart's comments comparing Australian labour market productivity with that of Africa, where workers could be paid "$2 a day".

The Prime Minister had to take a back way into the university to bypass a vocal group of about 50 students demonstrating for marriage equality.

They chanted: "Racist, sexist, anti-queer - Gillard you aren't welcome here."

Later, speaking to hundreds of job seekers at Kwinana Jobs and Skills Expo, Ms Gillard said the Government was committed to creating jobs for people in Perth who did not feel they were benefiting from the mining boom.

She announced a $1.1 million partnership with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA to employ mentors who would support young people to help them finish their apprenticeship.

The Prime Minister hit out at billionaire Ms Rinehart's suggestion last week that the minimum wage should be cut and doing business in Australia was becoming too expensive because of the mining and carbon taxes, red tape and high wages.

"It's not the Australian way to toss people two dollars - to toss them a $2 gold coin and ask them to work for a day," Ms Gillard said.

"We support proper Australian wages and decent working conditions for Australian people."

She was equally dismissive of what Ms Rinehart called a "bold and imaginative plan" to revitalise the minerals-rich but people-poor northern Australia with a big economic zone of lower taxation and fewer regulations.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott also dismissed the idea.

"I think that Gina Rinehart has a perfect entitlement to put forward ideas, but it's not something that the coalition has considered and it's not something that the coalition is planning for," Mr Abbott said.

Greens leader Christine Milne said: "Look what you're getting - a wealthy woman who tells other people that they should drink less, smoke less, work harder and get paid less.

"It is as if she thinks the whole country is there to be dug up, smashed and shipped away at slave labour rates."

Last night, Mrs Rinehart announced she would sponsor an annual $50,000 award to miners, prospectors or politicians who "stick up for the industry".