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ACTU proactively reveals jobs plan, even if government won’t

Days after the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) hit out at the Morrison government for not having a vision to reinvigorate the nation’s economy through a jobs-creation strategy, they unveiled one of their own on Monday.

Previously, Michele O’Neil, the ACTU’s national president, had attacked the government on its shortcomings over the JobTrainer scheme while citing its inactivity towards expanding the JobKeeper and JobSeeker programs, and two weeks after vowing themselves to provide the leadership on a jobs revival blueprint that the government has appeared lacking in its efforts to do, O’Neil and the ACTU have provided a thorough National Economic Reconstruction Plan (NERP) to attack the nation’s current unemployment crisis.

With unemployment figures for the month of June revealed by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) last week at 7.4 per cent, O’Neil – in encouraging the Morrison government to pick up the ideals of the plan and run with it – sees her organization’s five-pronged NERP as one which is realistic as opposed to being aspirational.

“We need Government to put in place an ambitious and comprehensive National Economic Reconstruction plan to get the country back to work. Government must help build ongoing local jobs, more training and education opportunities to get people into jobs and provide support for people who are making things here in Australia,” O’Neil said in unveiling details of the NERP.

The ACTU’s five points defining the goals of the NERP – which aims to create or support jobs for one million people – include:

  • Early Childhood Education, which would:
  • promote free childcare permanently
  • the construction of new not-for-profit facilities via capital investments
  • funding of universal access to 15 hours of preschool for three- and four-year-olds
  • and the ongoing maintenance of the JobKeeper subsidy for early childhood educators who are currently employed within the system;
  • Training for Reconstruction, which would:
  • rebuild the TAFE system to the extent of 150,000 places in the system nationwide
  • return control of the system to state and Commonwealth governments, and make the system free to all students again
  • advocating the extension of JobKeeper subsidies to the university system – which currently is not covered by the scheme – until the end of the 2020 academic year;
  • Rediscover Australia, aimed at the tourism, hospitality, arts, travel and regional services for the next 12 months. This area would entail:
  • supporting 350,000 jobs in those sectors
  • Commonwealth sponsorship of those sectors’ events, productions and exhibitions in all states
  • additional grant support for the Australia Council, and the expansion of the JobKeeper subsidy to include the arts and entertainment sector;
  • National Reconstruction Investment Plan, which focuses on infrastructure and nation-building projects.
  • $30 billion per year would be committed to boost investment in public capital projects, including funding for transportation, community and public housing, cultural and public service facilities, forest and fire management investments to better prepare for future fire seasons, and renewable energy assets and efficiency upgrades
  • 75,000 jobs in the construction industry and over 100,000 additional indirect jobs in supply and consumer industries would be created
  • benchmarks and KPI’s for Australian-made content to be measured;
  • and a Sustainable Marketing Strategy:
  • based around government rules to ensure Australian-made products were produced for all new infrastructure and public service projects
  • zero interest loans to encourage new renewable energy developments possessing direct links to the manufacturing sector
  • expanded Commonwealth investments in rapid decarbonization of the energy sector
  • technology grants to support commercialised research and development
  • five new Sustainable Manufacturing Clusters in key areas including: lithium battery and value-added manufacturing; renewable hydrogen production; green primary metal manufacturing; electric vehicle manufacturing and servicing; and renewable energy machinery
  • a Superpower Investment Fund to undertake co-investments (including public equity shares) in new sustainable manufacturing activities.

The terms of the NERP’s programs may be heavy on the details, but O’Neil sees the comprehensive nature of them as something which the Morrison government can invest in, to add to its advocacy.

“We need big and bold Government investment and action in order for Australia to return to health – both socially and economically,” she said.

“We are calling on Scott Morrison and his Government to think big by investing public money for public good, in creating jobs that support people and communities now and into the future,” O’Neil said.

Moreover, from its lobbyist’s position, while O’Neil and the ACTU are putting NERP’s details forward for a good reason – in O’Neil’s words, “currently the Government has no plan to rebuild our economy and steer the country through the next stages of this crisis” – their objective is clear.

And the NERP’s objectives promise to possess a wide-ranging impact, with the ball now in the court of the Morrison government.

“Our initiatives will support and create jobs for women and men, for cities and towns, and for young people as well as older workers,” said O’Neil.

“This is a plan for a jobs-led economic reconstruction,” she added.

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15 comments

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  1. Dave G.

    Will”JOBS & GROWTH” work for them next time around? I doubt it. Next time they might have to actually come up with an employment plan that returns a fair wage to it’s participants instead of further enriching their backers.The next twelve months will reveal the myth of their ability to restore the economy.

  2. New England Cocky

    I am relieved to discover that at least somebody is thinking about building a future for Australian voters rather than just mouthing platitudes and pocketing Parliamentary allowances without attending Parliament.

    Which political party is the best economic managers? Certainly the COALition, despite the much vaunted political myth, has proven to be the least competent with their inept COVID-19 response pouring taxpayer dollars into the bottom line of local and multinational corporations while Australian voters are left to starve on the goodwill of charities.

    Go early, go hard, go families ….. worked for Kevin Rudd & Ken Henry with the 2009 GFC economic crash organised by US banks and in NZ for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern with COVID_19 response.

    But in Australia, Scummo Sacked from Marketing went late, went soft went corporations in case somebody recognised that he was following a successful Labor economic response ….. and held him politically accountable.

  3. Brad Black

    To expect the LNP, that won an election without any policies, to get its collective thickness around anything with more than 2 sentences is whistling in the wind, especially if it’s designed to move the country forward!

  4. ajogrady

    Business needs a healthy educated work force as well as efficient transport and communications facilities.The simple fact of why Australia is becoming less competitive is that big business and in particular multi national corporations will not pay the taxes that facilitate these fundamental things for a competitive and vibrant business sector. DUMB!!!

  5. Matters Not

    Brad Black re:

    .. the LNP, that won an election without any policies

    Not sure about that. My understanding (at a high level of generality) is that the LNP won the election mainly because Labor lost what seemed like an un-loseable election. Conservatives the world over tend to be rather conservative when it comes to market intervention – hence their moniker. In the last election, Bill Shorten presented a suite of policy proposals that metaphorically frightened the horses – so much so that even some long-time Labor supporters broke a habit of a life-time and voted otherwise.

    It was an electoral outcome that was predictable and predicted – on this site and elsewhere. Note that Albo has distanced himself from many of those policies and will probably enter the next election contest with a minimum of ‘reform’ proposals and instead rely on Morrison losing this time around. Small ‘target’ and all that.

    If Labor can’t win this time around – then all is lost as far as membership is concerned.

  6. Phil

    The coalition won government by Gerrymander, not for the first in our history’

    The Labor party and Greens got 450.000 more votes than the coalition.

    The Greens got nearly 1.5 million votes and 1 seat. A scandal? Umm more than a scandal.

    The Nationals got .5 million votes and got thirteen seats.

    The poster child for Wingnuttery Joh Bjelke Peterson’s biggest percentage of the vote was 26 % And sadly the irony of this was’ this gerrymander was established by the Labor Party.

    A democracy we aint.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/elections/federal/2019/results/party-totals

  7. andy56

    two chances folks. the liberals believe in the magic market to fix everything. No room for great ideas, especially ideas they didnt come up with.
    Would have been better to aspire to the complete opposite and then they would have changed tack

    Ajogrady, you are looking through the prism of 1960. Its 2020, things dont work as they did in the past. Manufacturing wont return in a hurry, jobs wont return in a hurry. ( i will probably never work again. I used to do airport bus transfers) Its not the multinationals’ faulty although it does help. We are taking $120b in super out of the economy every year. We are paying $250b a year in mortgage payments. Thats all money coming out of the economy. Thats is the reality of our economy, we keep taking money out and its accelerating. The short “stimulus” that scott has delivered shows it clearly, there isnt enough money circulating.

    Clearly the policies over the last 20yrs have had unintended consequences. I dont believe the Libs did it deliberately but their blind servitude to ideology certainly hasnt helped. Super is a drain on the economy, excess asset values are a drain on the economy and they are coming home to roost.

  8. Ill fares the land

    A sensible and reasonable plan from the ACTU. Of course it is driven by ideology, but an ideology that aims to assist those in society that are, for the most part, disempowered by the conservative juggernaut, comprising as it presently does, a rather malignant Federal Government and the self-interest of the rich and powerful. The aim is not to crush big business or strip away the wealth of the rich and powerful, but to try and lift those at the lower echelons of society out of their present demonised, often financially impoverished and undignified existence.

    The LNP, by contrast, also has an ideologically-driven position, but it is about protecting and enhancing the interests of the rich and powerful AND further disenfranchising those at the other end of society. Conservatives have typically always taken this stance, but I query if the rise in the influence of Pentecostals in the LNP (from Ministers down to local branches) is steadily solidifying this ideological position.

    The self-canonised Saint Morrison (he thinks his performance since Covid-19 is a series of miracles that only he could have delivered to his minions), is obsessed with the notion that anyone who is impoverished either isn’t a Hillsong member or just plain deserves their plight. It is largely overlooked by many that whilst global growth post-GFC has been anaemic at best (despite the best attempts by exponents of austerity) and groups such as workers have either lost jobs, or been forced into the utterly egregious and soul-destring “gig economy”, the wealthy have actually accumulated even more wealth.

    At the beginning of this decade, nearly 400 of the worlds most wealthy owned more than the bottom 50% of the world’s population. At the end of the decade, the wealth of the top 88 people equalled the combined wealth of the bottom 50%. That tells me that low global growth was not an issue for the super rich – and, ipso facto, that rise in their wealth had to be matched by a growing exploitation of the world’s subordinate groups including and especially workers.

  9. Dufa Wira

    Thanks William Olson. It’s a good plan, so far as it goes. Good to see a union focus on ‘building back better’. Lots of questions arising though. I’m retired and no longer a union member, so I’ll ask here.
    Where is remediation of ecosystem degradation and the environment, on which our future wealth depends?
    If public childcare, why not public elder care? Our aged care system is rotten. Without nurses from Kerala it would fail.
    Where is remediation of ‘workforce casualisation’? No more junk jobs!
    Where is worker corporate representation and worker co-ops?
    Where is support for Aboriginal self determination and real Aboriginal jobs?
    Where is support for womens’ workforce self determination and real womens’ jobs?
    Where is suppot for the massive expansion of civic education and public sector business we need for a healthy nation?

  10. Matters Not

    Phil, re:

    won government by Gerrymander,

    Perhaps not technically nor historically the better way to describe the electoral arrangements in Australia. The concept of ‘gerrymander’ derives from Elbridge Gerry and his behavior when he finally became Governor of Massachusetts after several attempts.

    In 1812, Gerry signed a bill that redistricted Massachusetts to benefit his Democratic-Republican Party. When mapped, one of the contorted districts in the Boston area was said to resemble the shape of a mythological salamander. … Gerrymander is a portmanteau of the governor’s last name and the word salamander.

    So gerrymandering became and:

    is the practice of redrawing electoral districts to gain an electoral advantage for a political party

    Given the electoral boundaries in Australia are drawn by the AEC (not political parties) and subject to appeal, no political party claims the result flowed from a gerrymander. A closely related (but separate notion) is the concept of malapportionment.

    is any system where one group has significantly more influence than another, such as when voting districts are unevenly spread out across a population

    So in referring to the electoral arrangements in Australia, it’s probably more accurate to reference ‘malapportionment’ rather than ‘gerrymandering’. But as always – one can choose whatever word one wants.

  11. Matters Not

    lll fares the land re:

    Of course it is driven by ideology

    Indeed! But is it possible to be non-ideological – particularly when discussing the exercise of power? Suppose it depends on a definition so here’s mine

    a system of ideas and ideals, especially one which forms the basis of economic or political theory and policy.

    If anyone has a different definition – then please provide. Seems to me that ideology is too often used as a smear.

  12. Matters Not

    Isn’t this a plan designed for a world that is rapidly disappearing? Or at least, a world that is being rapidly changed?

    Seems to me that it’s very easy to create jobs by limiting (or even banning) the use of technology, broadly defined. After all, the utilization of technology is/was designed to displace labour power. Replace bulldozers with people carrying buckets? Smash computers and substitute clerks wielding sharpened pencils? Jobs would appear overnight. But probably not.

    Technology is here to stay and with the arrival of more and better AI, the displacement of ‘labour power’ will only accelerate. That reality needs to be faced and can’t see how this plan addresses that. Probably too painful to face? And it’s not limited to Australia.

  13. Phil

    ” Perhaps not technically nor historically the better way to describe the electoral arrangements in Australia. The concept of ‘gerrymander’ derives from Elbridge Gerry and his behavior when he finally became Governor of Massachusetts after several attempts.”

    I am well aware of where the word came from.

    Call it what you like, more people support the Labor party and the Greens than the coalition.

    All of your pedantry and obfuscation and dancing around the English language, just can’t change that salient fact.

    I could care less who draws up the boundary’s they’re drawn up to favour the Wingnuts. The fact the Labor party doesn’t appeal these boundaries is just one more reason I don’t support them anymore .I could go on. True it has taken me a long time to work out the Labor Party and the coalition are just different cheeks of the same arse. (Thanks To George Galloway)

    In South Australia before Don Dunstan country seats were loaded up in some electoral boundaries 8 to 1.. Repeat 8 to 1. What was they said. Oh that’s right because of the tyranny of distance with a load of other old horse shit that escapes me now. The country folk needed more representation. How could I forget.

    Ah look honest Phil. The Wingnuts miss out. https://www.crikey.com.au/2014/03/17/an-sa-gerrymander-libs-short-of-government-test-the-boundaries/

    Brain food here. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-11-14/firth-gerrymandering-has-no-place-in-australia/5891592

    But wait there’s more. https://www.gevans.org/speeches/Speech706.html

    And heavens to Murgatroyed one of the more honest pollies in SA who helped get rid of the Gerrymander. There’s that word again. Repeat after uncle Phil. GERRYMANDER. Good.

    https://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/former-sa-judge-robin-millhouse-dies/news-story/c603ac0a34a7131c4c555d96001cc59c

    How the right turned against old Robin. I had an audience with him in another life.

  14. Matters Not

    Re:

    The fact the Labor party doesn’t appeal these boundaries

    Actually, they (all political parties) do appeal from time to time. Rather surprised you didn’t know that. (Not really.)

  15. Phil

    ” Actually, they (all political parties) do appeal from time to time. Rather surprised you didn’t know that. (Not really.) ”

    Those links I gave you just mysteriously appeared on the page.

    Are you taking the piss ?. I’m talking about 2020 not back in the mists of time.

    I bet it kills you the left gets more of the vote than the Wingnuts. Still it could be worse, we could have the Pommy voting system where millions get no representation at all. You would love that wouldn’t you. Cmon fess up, I’ve got your number Sunbeam.

    Even with your rapier wit and knowledge about all things political, you can’t defend the Gerrymander can you? (I’m just kidding right)

    So remember It’s GERRYMANDER got it? Good boy. Now roll over and I’ll pat your belly.

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