Believe it or not, the reading of the Morrison government’s federal budget lies just six weeks away. As Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, and members of the cabinet sweat out the details going into the October 6 unveiling date, the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) have continued to plead to have their jobs-based plan to be included.
The Commonwealth government’s delay of five months remains completely understandable this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in that interval, a once-in-a-generation economic recession has also complicated matters for the government to devise a budget that would engineer a post-pandemic recovery.
The ACTU remains adamant that they have a jobs-based plan which should exist as the foundation of any recovery scheme, and that the government would be foolhardy not to even consider including it.
As details go, there is nothing new nor earth-shattering about the ACTU’s jobs-based plan drawn up to inspire the national economy out of the recession. It’s just that at this point in time, they are pushing the advocacy of it into a state of overdrive with Budget Night approaching sooner than one may think.
The body which governs the nation’s unions and the union movement actually released this blueprint in late July, as a five-pronged recovery scheme geared towards the creation and salvation of jobs, the protection and growth of existing industries, the support of private and public sector jobs, an emphasis in skills training, and a means to strengthen the country’s infrastructure.
The only difference which exists now consists of the ACTU, under the leadership of its president Michele O’Neil and its national secretary Sally McManus, to take their plan to the next level and submit it to the government – whether they are willing to listen to its details or not – towards consideration and acceptance into the upcoming budget.
And up to this point, O’Neil remains perplexed as to any reasons why, within the last four weeks, the Morrison government has not adopted any of the points on its blueprint.
Insofar as the upcoming budget is concerned, O’Neil and the ACTU also point out that when compared to nine other countries – including New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong within the Australasian region alone – Australia possesses a smaller proportion of GDP.
Which puts a need for the government to adopt the ACTU’s National Economic Reconstruction Plan (NERP) into a special perspective, according to O’Neil.
“Throughout this pandemic the Morrison Government has been consistently slow to act and has put forward a smaller fiscal response than many other developed economies,” O’Neil said on Friday.
“The crisis has been made worse by persistent uncertainty about the economy and the lack of a national economic reconstruction plan from the Morrison Government,” she added.
Add in two other common obstacles to any plans of economic recovery, the current 7.5 per cent rate of unemployment per the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and the 13-to-1 ratio of unemployed to available jobs, regardless of qualification, and one can notice and observe that the Morrison government runs the risk of falling under the weight of the hefty challenge before them.
And the ACTU, on multiple occasions, are just trying to help, and offering assistance with this jobs-based plan.
Naturally, they possess a vested interest – to get jobs for members within their affiliated organisations, and for the working classes in general. But they also fight for greater rights and welfare for all working people, which would be deemed essential for kick-starting the economy.
But O’Neil and the ACTU identify a greater need – without a “society over economy” approach, there won’t be people around to take advantage of an economy, a bustling one or otherwise.
“We need a comprehensive jobs plan which will put working people first and ensure that we have better, stronger rights as we recover from this crisis than we did going into it,” said O’Neil.
And as the application of the ACTU’s NERP scheme would achieve a means to inspire and grow the Australian economy out of the doldrums of the current recession, O’Neil is also advocating for the Morrison government to do more to consider its blueprint at budget time for its risk-versus-reward element.
The risk being for the LNP government to adopt plans outside of the comfort zone of its own values and beliefs.
And the reward, the carrot at the end of the stick, as advocated by O’Neil and the ACTU, being people returning to work and spending their salaries in a way which stimulates economic growth.
“Our plan calls for the government to use its power to create secure jobs for the millions of Australians without a job, or reliant on government support to stay in work,” O’Neil said.
All O’Neil and the ACTU have been doing is standing by with a high level of commitment and great patience with a blueprint at the ready, hoping for a bipartisan spirit not much unlike what was displayed at the start of the pandemic, and what brought McManus and Attorney-General Christian Porter together to hammer out the JobSeeker and JobKeeper schemes at that time – and what may be possible now, as hope springs eternal.
“We stand ready, as we have for months, to work with government to create jobs and support Australian industries,” she said.
Also by William Olson:
Like what we do at The AIMN?
You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.
Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!