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The Cost of Unemployment

If you believe the present government regards unemployment and its younger brother, underemployment, as less important than a balanced budget, you are probably right. Certainly their approach to both would suggest as much.

These two forms of an under-utilised workforce are the single most critical contributor to an unhealthy and potentially lawless community. They represent an abrogation of a government’s responsibility both economically and morally.

Unemployment carries a huge cost to a nation’s revenue and its spending. It also carries a huge cost for the individuals and their immediate families. There are few areas of an economy that are not effected by unemployment: health, recreation, manufacturing, production, distribution, retail and agriculture all feel the effects one way or another.

The single most important thing a government can do is to ensure its workforce is fully engaged. Yet, this government is happy to use unemployment as a tool to achieve its neo liberal economic policies that, when implemented, are counter-productive to full employment.

Worse still, the government seems to be on a mission to demonise the unemployed. With a compliant media they are happy to depict them as lazy, as dole bludgers, as people who refuse to develop work skills, who lack appropriate qualifications, who are unwilling to travel to find work.

mdiaA compliant media (knowingly or unknowingly) are enjoined to use a type of language that demeans an unemployed person, that blames the victim rather than addressing the reasons behind retrenchments. The government’s approach to the unemployed in the May budget underscores their contempt for those who cannot find a job. They blame the individual rather than address systemic failures.

Comments from politicians and their obsequious media stooges such as, ‘there are plenty of jobs out there for those willing to look’, only serve to validate a contempt that masks something far worse: a deliberate plan to maintain a level of unemployment consistent with their plan to stifle wage increases and improve the profits of those their policies are designed to favour.

The proof of this is easy to see. 1) There are approximately 770, 000 persons unemployed and only about 150,000 vacancies advertised. 2) There has been a massive increase of 457 visa’s that bring in overseas workers to fill positions that the unemployed could satisfy. 3) There are currently no direct local job creation programs in play. 4) The combined underutilisation of the workforce is 15% which represents billions of dollars in lost gross domestic product. The government is doing nothing to address this travesty.

This is a betrayal of our country’s human resources and the media are co-conspirators.

slackersDemonising the unemployed is easy. It fits nicely into the currency and immediacy of media reporting. Demonising the government for failing to create jobs is not so newsworthy and might conflict with other more pressing issues.

Providing incentives for companies to employ certain classes or age groups is not job creation. It is tokenism of the unworkable kind that does no more than put unearned money in the pockets of small and medium size businesses. It is wasteful in the extreme. It panders to supply side economics; the side doomed to fail.

A public sector job guarantee scheme designed to foster improvements in social welfare in areas including environmental services, community and social services, health and education would better serve local communities, spike retail demand, reduce welfare payments, improve tax revenues and create a buffer stock of trained human resources ready to meet future demand by the private sector.

Hospitals, schools, local councils, NGOs, sporting bodies and community groups all have needs they cannot meet for lack of resources and budget restraints while highly trained and skilled people on unemployment benefits sit at home, idle and unproductive.

The economic benefits of a job guarantee scheme particularly in the area of lower deficits are obvious. The health and social benefits would lead to lower crime rates, fewer chronic health issues, happier home life and a plethora of well-being activities arising from a society contributing to a higher national living standard and greater equality of opportunity.

mitchellAt the University of Newcastle, economics professor and Director of the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), Bill Mitchell, has done the hard work mapping out such a program. Much of the detail has been completed. The macro plans are there for everyone to see.

But don’t expect right wing conservative parties, who pander to the will of corporate interests that fund them, to ask him to kick-start an ailing economy. Their answer is to cut spending, to make life difficult for the working class, the very people who, if given the opportunity, would respond to a call to restore our nation’s wealth.

Their answer is to consolidate the existing wealth into the hands of the elite, the super-rich, the powerful and the influential. Only left wing parties who work for the benefit of the average Joe will likely want to implement a full employment program.

But oh, how the media would crucify them in the attempt. Oh, how they would poison the minds of the public with cries of impending doom and destruction.

The super-rich, who are the only ones who would lose out should full employment become a reality, will use their influence to thwart it at every opportunity.

And it is the super-rich who control the media.


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  1. Peter Ball

    oh yes, my son 20 years of age , Two Diplomas to his name can’t get work , he walks the streets here in Brisbane handing out resumes , he ether gets told he has no experience or he is too qualified, he gets offered free trials for up to 3 months – WORK FOR FREE that is , or we have had one employer say he will have a pay a bond of $1000.00 to work – that was me the parent paying that amount of money – complained to Fair Work – what a useless mob they are . This rotten Liberal Government are the pits – I just don’t understand how the Media is so compliant with this lying Government – it seems to be a sport or a badge of honor to see who can tell the most lies

  2. Terry2

    In Queensland it is interesting how we are seeing Campbell Newman trumpeting his achievements since coming to office yet failing to acknowledge that unemployment has gone from 5.5% to 6.9% since he was elected ; indeed, in regional areas unemployment and particularly youth unemployment is much higher.

    When Newman is pinned down – a rare event as most utterances are stage managed – he points to the Indian coalmining venture in the Galilee basin as being the major jobs provider for Queenslanders for the foreseeable future.

    Our conservative administrations seem to overlook the fact that as they sack public servants in both federal and state purges the knock-on effect impacts on local government and private employment where the belt tightening is seen, rightly or wrongly as a necessary corollary of government action. Many employers are also pointing to the government’s 1.5% wage increase ceiling as the norm.

    It seems that the working people of Australia are a barrier to increasing growth and profits and the sooner industry can mechanise and get rid of these pesky people the better.

    The debate over the car industry highlighted these differences in perspective : on the one hand the car manufacturers were saying that they would bring technology, training, apprenticeships and employment in return for government co-investment whilst this government said it was all about handouts and they could all piss off – which they did.

  3. mars08

    It’s mind boggling that the government (and media) can demonise those who are umemplyed…. when there simply aren’t enough job vacancies to go around.

    Did anyone hear what Bill Shorten said about that last week. Uh…. well neither did I…

  4. jagman48

    I wonder if Newman understands the knock on effect that unemployment he caused wil have on his winning the next election. Not just the people sacked, but their families, friends, neighbors etc.

    I guess he will soon find out, and hopefully he will just go away and leave somebody to try to clean up what the mess he caused.

  5. jagman48

    And Mars8 if he did say something it would not have been reported by the MSM.

  6. Michael Taylor

    Peter, it’s starting to sound like we’re following the American system. Over there people are known to pay the employer to employ them, especially for jobs that rely on tips only as the income.

  7. Michael Taylor

    mars08, Bill Shorten has gone missing. Anyone would think that he’s gone to . . Mars.

  8. miriamenglish

    Actually the mega-wealthy are harming themselves in the aid of an outdated and misguided notion.

    For some time billionaire Nick Hanauer has been pleading with his peers among the mega wealthy to embrace higher taxes for themselves and an easing up on the pressures on the middle and working classes. He correctly sees them as the real job and wealth creators of a country. See his article The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats and his TED talk about how it is in the best interests of the wealthy to stop being so greedy. Here is another article by him on the same topic.

    Abbott and crew are astoundingly, blindingly, unbelievably stupid. They still cling to long disproved beliefs as a religious bigot clings to silly fairytales.

  9. mars08

    @Michael Taylor… he would NOT be welcome….

  10. edward eastwood

    An excellent article John and right on the money! (no pun intended). Slightly off topic but a sign that the tide is turning is this article ( a slight re-work of Smith’s earlier article in The Conversation three weeks ago). A year ago, it would be unusual to see a piece like this even in The Guardian and then in all likelihood it would have been howled down by the Friedmanites, and even though the Neo-lib trolls are still there, this time its them on the receiving end.
    A sign of the times.

  11. stephentardrew

    John as usual a first class article. How OH How to get Bill Mitchell into the mainstream.

    Please someone tell me how to pull the right of Labor away from supply side economics. Sometimes I think the left are just floundering without clear purpose or objectives. The last time I went to Trades Hall event in Qld they were still bashing on about Marx. Though I am a fan of much of Marx it is now the twenty first century and we need twenty first century solutions which Modern Monetary Theory provides.

    A backward referring left are as problematic as a fossilized right.

    What to do?

    The left, if it were inclined, could embrace Peter Singer, our most distinguished contemporary Moral Philosopher, who could provide a sound ethical basis for Modern Monetary Theory and clear philosophical reason for equitable redistribution of wealth.

    One just wants to tear ones hair out. Well what’s left anyway.

  12. mars08

    Yesterday upon the stair, I saw a man who was not there, He was not there again today, Oh I wish he’d go away.

  13. Kaye Lee

    “Public sector redundancy payouts cost the Australian taxpayer $580 million in 2013-2014, according to the year’s Final Budget Outcome.

    The figure represents a blow-out of more than 100 per cent on the $273 million estimated in May’s budget and dwarfs the previous all-time high of $261 million paid out, mostly to departing public servants, in 2012-2013.

    But in a clear sign that public service cuts are starting to tell on the nation’s bottom line, the public sector wage bill has fallen by more than $700 million compared with the government’s estimates just four months ago.”

    “Private recruiting firms reaped a bonanza of more than $100 million in Commonwealth contracts in 2014, cashing in on the Abbott government’s public service hiring freeze.

    Spending by government departments on the big five recruiters soared by nearly 50 per cent last year to $97 million as public service bosses looked to temps and contractors to plug the growing gaps in their workforces caused by years of redundancies and the hiring freeze.

    Spending by the Prime Minister’s own department on workers supplied by the big five soared by more than 400 per cent, from $607,000 in 2013 to at least $2.6 million in 2014.

    “The government talks a lot about making savings through smaller government.

    “In reality, it seems public servants are walking out the door one day as permanent staff and walking back in the next as temporary contractors.”

    Dr Leigh said the temporary workers hired under the contracts missed out on job security, long-service leave, holidays and sick leave in the process.

    “This is the Liberal Party’s industrial relations dream: to make every job a precarious one and gut workplace entitlements in the process,” he said.

  14. stephentardrew

    I saw him Mars8 but alas he did not see me.

  15. mikestasse

    Unemployment is a double edged sword…. on the one hand, it’s good because people with no money can’t consume, and therefore generate much fewer greenhouse emissions than those who work….

    It’s bad because it makes those who are unemployed feel worthless, but only because of the propaganda coming from all sides about ‘jobs jobs jobs’, and ‘growth growth growth’…….

    We need a totally new economic system. We need to work less, abandon affluence, abandon the growthist monetary system, become self sufficient, and live more simply so we may simply live.

    Won’t happen until Capitalism collapses though…….. coming soon in a town near you. Then there will be chaos until we bring order back to society and make it sustainable. If we don’t, we are all rooted….

    On the phenomenon of bullshit jobs – David Graeber

  16. mikestasse

    BTW…. unemployment is NOT a cost to the economy. ALL money is Monopoly money….. printed out of thin air. There’s heaps more where the cash in your wallet came from…. stop fretting.

  17. stephentardrew

    Kaye your facts are indisputable.

    Their exposure held down by fearful minds scared that the truth will disclose the empty vessel of deceitful lies.

  18. O'Bleak

    Notice Newman’s “Strong Smell” ads claiming the Qld economy is going to be the fastest growing in the country later this year. From where does this talent for prediction suddenly appear. He’s demonstrated no such ability thus far so I guess it must be something you only acquire with a second term in office. Also bragging about creating 1,100 jobs a month. Well that’s impressive. Only take 2 more years to get back where he started. Astounds me that anyone would stick with these bullshit peddlers. But the rent seekers always seem to have the deepest pockets and the dumbest adherents. Wake up Queensland! This bastard will work hand in glove with Abbott to screw you utterly.

  19. lawrencewinder

    Basic IPA inspired economic insanity and a prelude to some very nasty social mayhem.

  20. Harquebus

    Unemployment would be the cheapest option if our nation decided to reduce our population. The single unemployed can only pollute to the tune of $12,500pa. Every dollar spent causes pollution and earning those dollars also causes pollution. The unemployed are doing their bit for the environment.

  21. Brad Adams

    I saw report last week that said the ‘underemployed’ work force, IE those that have been forced onto casual or part time contracts now working less than 38 hrs a week, is around 32% or about 5 million people. Add them to the 770,000 looking for full time work and now the problem is real!

  22. Terry2

    Don’t forget that it was Newman who said prior to the last election in Queensland:

    ” no public servant has anything to fear from a Newman government ”

    He then got into office and ordered mass sackings of 14,000 public servants.

  23. Kerri

    Clearly Newman is a s big a liar as Abbott. For those posting in Queensland? Get on to the youth and get them enrolled. For their own good! If they want work they have to kick out Newman. What he is saying will all turn to dust by February 1. If they cannot enrol they need to see a good community law firm like Slater and Gordon or Shine Lawyers and challenge little Hitler on his denying them ample time to enrol.
    I am in Victoria with 2 unemployed daughters 20 & 22. One has tried for 3 years the other for 2. And when I meet school mums with kids of similar age the story is the same.
    Unless they have a friend or family member to employ them and that is part of the grand plan. Let the poor support the poor while the rich get richer.
    Incidentally anyone read George Orwell’s “Down and Out in Paris and London”? There are some excellent tips there for wait staff serving politicians and greedy billionairres.

  24. Wayne Turner

    Great article.Sadly oh so true.This stood out,among other parts:-

    “And it is the super-rich who control the media.” – Hence why the Main Stream Media (MSM) are the BIGGEST threat to our democracy.They take sides,they brainwash the masses,they make and break governments.Sadly it would NOT matter if the public wasn’t so gullible,ignorant and stupid.The MSM promoted these Libs to get in….

    These hypocritical lying Libs love to blame the individual,but the catch: But ONLY when it suits them,and they themselves NEVER take blame for their own actions.With these Libs it’s excuse,after excuse….

    The unemployment rate,will continue to get worse under these Libs,the job destroyers.These Libs spend more time,cutting jobs (eg: Stop funding of charity groups.Including my mum who is now out of a job), and demonizing the unemployed,then helping to create jobs.Just so they can lower wages and working conditions of workers for Work Choices 2 aka these Libs are “Cheap labour conservatives:-

  25. silkworm

    It’s not just crime rates that increase with levels of unemployment. The risk of terrorism also increases. The link was made this morning in relation to the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

  26. iggy648

    If Bill Mitchell is right, and un- and under- employment are costing $147 million a day, (or $4.4 billion per month) it makes Joe’s interest bill of $1 billion per month seem even more underwhelming

  27. John Fraser


    Queensland Election 2015.

    Here in Queensland the newman (Abbott) LNP hasn't mentioned unemployment yet … let alone its younger brother underemployment.

    All the talk has been about assets sales …. although they are keeping quiet about the $445 million in assistance they are giving Adani.

    While the Labor Opposition has been talking about jobs , help for students and 400 more nurses.

    No sign of Abbott.

  28. diannaart

    Glad I do not bother much with the MSM, and did not see this ‘headline’ until reading John’s article.

    Slackers and Slouch-hats….. NSW Disability Support pensioners outnumber Australia’s war-wounded…

    How many of the “war-wounded” are now reduced to living on a pension?

    How does war effect long-term secure employment for returned soldiers?

    My father was a war vet and I am on a DSP could not our news journalists consider the link between war-vets and dysfunctional families?

    However my thoughts are simply that – thinking. Not much of that done by our government or MSM.

  29. halsaul

    Hope Q’landers realise if they do not comprehensibly vote out Newman Government when they have the chance, it will be “game over”. He will do whatever he ever wanted to – DESPITE what he says before the election. Like Abbott, tells lies without hesitation, not that bright & capable of doing huge damage to the economy & the environment…….before he walks away counting his money & Super/perks for life. Please do not be sucked in.

  30. nettythe1st

    I note Newman is following Abbott’s lead, spouting the (gross) number of jobs created – without mentioning jobs lost. I’m constantly amazed that people are sucked in by this.

  31. mars08

    Helping the rich will create more jobs for the rest of us? Really??

  32. Kaye Lee

    And where is the government in helping the people in slouch hats?

    “With a high prevalence of suicide and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among serving and former soldiers, the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) are trying to promote the message that it is OK to ask for help.

    But many personnel have lost patience and faith in these organisations and it is falling to veteran support groups to fill the gap.

    Soldiers say the ADF has support structures, but putting your hand up to access them can mean career suicide. Making a claim with the DVA can be equally difficult with long processes and tedious treatment plans.

    Surviving on a handful of staff, community donations and corporate support, ‘Soldier On’ has become a crisis line.

    “We were never set up to meet those demands of people in crisis. We will offer services around that in the future, but really for us, it’s about helping so many other people, making sure they don’t get to that crisis stage,” Mr Bale said.

    “Hopefully through Soldier On and other organisations we can really get people to what someone recently described as ‘prehab’ and hopefully identify that they have certain symptoms.”

  33. diannaart

    Exactly Kaye Lee.

  34. Florence nee Fedup

    Kerri it is a fact they say, most of the taxes that support the poor, come from low income earners. We pay our own way,

  35. John Kelly

    Mars08, thanks for the Warren clip. She pretty much says it all.

  36. Tom Foster

    John Kelly, do the ABS unemployment figures take into account those people who are unemployed and wish to work, but have chosen not to be registered (as they have sufficient financial resources, or access to financial resources) or are not eligible for benefits as the amount of financial resources they have makes them ineligible (e.g. from memory a single person no kids had to be down to their last $5k before they could register for Newstart benefits, i.e. the dole). If not then the number of actually unemployed is considerably higher.

    Using the number of advertised job vacancies as an indicator for demand can be problematic as most jobs are filled through what a modern recruitment advisers refer to as the ‘hidden job market’ where people are hired based on their own contacts and networks. I have heard people banding about figures such as ‘90% of jobs are in the hidden job market compared to the 10% that actually get advertised’. Another potential distortion is, if they are using job ads to count the number of job vacancies, that the same job can be advertised multiple times, i.e. either a recruiter or employer places the ad on different job boards, or the employer places the requirement with more than one recruiter who each then advertise the same job. In poor job markets recruiters may also place ‘false’ job ads out in the market in order to fill their databases with more candidate resumes…

  37. mars08

    John Kelly:

    ….thanks for the Warren clip. She pretty much says it all.

    And yet we still have both major political parties mindlessly sticking to a failed experiment….

  38. willys keeble

    Fabulous comments mostly from Queenslanders it seems. We Victorians kicked out the Lying Sick Liberals last month, and are SO HAPPY! At last we have the real adults back in charge in Vic. Not to create havoc and job losses but just try and get Victoria refloated.
    Nasty Neo con policies are staring to be demolished here and state building policies reinstated. Next step for the 3 year Vic Labor Govt will see new investment in wind and solar in Vic. and re- start of the wind turbine manufacturing industry. F*ck Tony Abbott and his neanderthal BIG COAL mates.

    Next step for Victoria (and funny places like Qld) is to start up big time manufacturing of BATTERIES to store solar electricity. C’mon guys and gals. Get this happening. Make batteries in oZ not China.

    Is that too simple? Not at all. But needs Labor to make it happen ‘cos the Neo Con right wing Liberal/ National idiots won’t do it. They are tied in to bribe money from FOREIGN OWNED BIG COAL and BIG OIL, fracking the shit out of our beautiful food growing areas .


  39. mikestasse

    I hate to tell you aLICE….. but you can’t make batteries without coal and oil. Nor solar panels.

  40. Kaye Lee

    mikestasse you are like a broken record. We will NEVER be able to have zero emissions unless you can come up with a way to make us all stop breathing and cows to stop farting and volcanoes to stop erupting. I should not have to explain to you that our goal HAS to be to reduce emissions and renewable energy will get us started on that. Your suggestion that we all become subsistence farmers will just never work – we don’t have enough land for starters. For a practical man you seem to have an aversion to practical achievable goals and would rather bang on about your damn matrix endlessly.

  41. corvus boreus

    Practical suggestion for small legislatory step.

    An independent (science and engineering qualified) advisory/oversight body commissioned to audit the design and manufacture of renewable energy systems, considering current applied standards regarding factors of durability, efficiency(sustained energy generation vs manufacturing costs), longevity of output etc.
    Starting point would be the elimination of any elements of designed obsolescence, then recommendations for improvements.
    Such a body should have some small degree of regulatory power(punintentional).

  42. Kaye Lee

    I think we should also look at patenting laws. Some patents have been bought by big companies and buried purely because designed obsolescence is more profitable for them. Patents that would benefit mankind should be released.

  43. John Kelly

    Tom Foster, I am not across the finer detail of how the ABS collates its unemployment stats, but to answer some of your queries:
    You must be registered for employment to be included in the count. If you are unemployed and not registered you are not counted.
    Most jobs are filled without being advertised, (around 70%) but probably not from the ranks of the unemployed. It is more a case of people transferring from one job to another.
    I don’t know how the ABS sources the advertised job vacancies. I doubt they would count them but rather receive the information from employment agencies and professional personnel consultants on a monthly basis, thus eliminating a double or triple count. However, there could be some minor duplication.
    But to summarise, yes, the actual number of people unemployed is always greater than the official figures suggest. The ABS has certain parameters it uses and makes seasonal adjustments to allow for phantom spikes that distort certain months of the year. Hope this helps.

  44. Tony Rabbit

    As long as the energy being captured, and stored, by solar panels and batteries is greater than the energy cost to manufacture them, then we’re on a winner.

  45. Mary Davidson

    So the cost of under-employment and unemployment to the economy is $4.4billion? – per month.

    Ok, get rid of Dsp, vet pensions, age pension , student payments, etc. etc. and pay everyone over the age of 18 years or anyone who qualifies for any of these payments…


    By the time you take the savings made from administration costs in Centrelink etc – you are ahead of the game!
    ( no worry about job losses in various depts., the revitalised economy would take care of these – hopefully in a resurgent solar energy sector)

    P.S. Would also rid us of horrible demonisation of all who now receive such payments.

  46. Louis

    The only realistic direction is a complete change from policies advocated by all major parties. Have a look at Social Credit… it is the only way any country is going to break out of the debt and unemployment cycle leading to war and destruction. When labour saving devices and automation are so commonplace then unemployment MUST happen along with its attendant misery. There must be another more humane way to operate a society. The individual voter must start by changing how they vote… if you keep voting the same way you will only get more of the same… try something different with your life!

  47. miriamenglish

    Mike, I think you got your wires crossed. It certainly is possible make solar panels without coal. Any energy source will do. As for batteries, if using metal plates (lead, nickel, cadmium, mercury, zinc, or whatever) no need for coal there. If encasing them in steel then we would currently use coke in the furnaces, but that’s wasteful and I’m sure we’ll develop better ways to alloy iron with carbon. As for making plastics out of coal, I’ve always felt that what we should be doing with it. It makes me cringe that we waste these complex organics by burning them.

  48. corvus boreus

    We do currently make a lot of plastics out of coal and other fossil fuels. The dominant policy seems to be to let gravity, wind and water deposit the plastics(micro and macro) into the worlds waterways and oceans for storage/disposal. This may be causing some problems.

  49. miriamenglish

    Mary, an emphatic yes! from me. The living wage idea is being promoted more and more often these days (Bob Hawke wanted to bring it in). I think it will eventually have to be implemented. It will be the only sane way to manage the large scale introduction of artificial intelligence. We already have robotic cars that drive more safely than humans. Just think what happens to the transport industries when they become widely introduced. Transport is, I think, the biggest single employer. Suddenly all those people are out of a job. Next are shelf-stacking, customer service, mechanical repairs, and so on. All this is a very good thing, but it won’t feel like it at first. The social dislocation will be terrible. The only way to avoid tearing society apart will be a living wage for everybody in the country. I actually prefer to call it a “share in Australia” because it has much better connotations and is easier to understand the rationale behind everybody receiving it. Every citizen in the country is paid a share weekly or fortnightly just for being a citizen.

    I’ve heard people say that was a terrible idea because people wouldn’t know what to do with it — that they’d lead wasted, pointless lives without work — but tellingly their tune changes completely when they’re asked what they would do with a livable income for the rest of their lives, no strings attached. Suddenly they have no problem thinking of things — making renovations to their house, or fixing their car, being able to finally spend some quality time with their kids or their parents, or starting up a business, or a second business, or writing that novel they always wanted to, or going on a second honeymoon cruise to rekindle their relationship, or… you get the idea. They wouldn’t be an aimless couch-potato, oh not them.

    It’s interesting that many people think people on the dole are lazy and listless. In my experience they are extremely active and less bored than people who work. They often spend their days helping others. In fact, it is extremely difficult to do nothing, unless you’re chronically depressed or drugged into oblivion. A living wage, or a share in Australia (my preferred description) would inject funds into the economy exactly where it would do the most good and free up people to achieve more with their lives, while dismantling the huge bureaucracy that administers dole, pensions, and sickness benefits, removing the stigma of those benefits, and future-proofing society against the inevitable and necessary automation of work for an aging population. And it would finally usher in the leisure society that people have wanted since the dawn of time.

    Of course a lot of crazy puritans would hate that. (Definition of puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.)

  50. Tom Foster

    Thanks John. I’ve been involved in private recruitment agencies in the past and never heard of anyone providing information to the govt, attempting to sort out the actual number of jobs from jobs ads would be an impossibility. The only way to tell would be for employers to report, this may occur in larger public companies and government employers but I’ve new heard of small or medium businesses reporting, for them it would seen as quite an overhead. And to you report on a job that wasn’t advertised, and what about jobs offered as contract? So it would be interesting to learn how the ABS compiles this number.

    The ANZ Bank about a decade or so back started a jobs ads count from jobs boards and main stream media as a guide to the volume of jobs trending at any time, the idea being the more jobs ads trending therefore more jobs being advertised. Here’s the link

    A couple of other factors of the advertised jobs market that affect the unemployed:
    – Firstly, most jobs that are advertised are from Company A wanting to hire a person for job X and what they seeking is someone already performing job X in a recognised company, Company B, to apply. In a world of low demand and reduced appetite for risk, employers prefer candidates to be already working in the job at hand, there’s little appetite to give someone a go who doesn’t quite fit the role profile or is unemployed, they need to be doing the job now. Further, because we live in a world of low wages growth, for most employees changing jobs may be the only way to see a pay rise, so subscriptions to job ads tend to be high, an employer will always receive a good quota of candidates for each position. The outcome for an unemployed person is they simply won’t receive an interview.
    – The second factor is that the vast majority of jobs ads are for roles where the employer is seeking work experience of up to 15 to 20 years, in other words jobs ads primarily cover young people rather than middle aged or older. Beyond about the age of 40, and definitely beyond the age of 45, a professional recruitment advisor’s advice will be that your job offers will come from your network through the hidden job market. The advertised job space is pretty much a dead channel for people in their 40’s or over, the exception being if you held a high management or executive role which still tend to be advertised, but then you are competing against the first factor.

    This is the 21st century job searching reality, the old 1970’s job hunting attributes of enthusiasm, effort, quantity of applications and preparedness to do any job just don’t cut it anymore, you need to ‘network’ and keep yourself in social and professional circulation. This seems to be rarely discussed in these unemployment forums and in the official government response which still seems to be residing back in the 70’s. By example, for someone to network and keep themselves in circulation there are costs involved, however anyone who ends up of Newstart allowance will not be able to afford networking activity thus cruelling, in many cases, that individuals chances of being offered work.

  51. eli nes

    I am not an intelligent man but it seems basic that if 1 billion white people got rich on coal and oil and needs those to maintain ‘richness’ then 6 billion people have to get rich on something else. The potential for profit is enormous.
    ps you can bet the 457 workers weren’t forced to do 12 years at school! For the vast majority of kids, the last two years were/are marching on a spot.

  52. miriamenglish

    Mike, I understand plenty. I’m afraid you don’t understand that we do have other options and we absolutely need to explore more of them. We have stupidly (though understandably) allowed fossil fuels to become pervasive. They don’t need to be though.

    Solar furnaces can achieve higher temperatures than a coal furnace without adding to greenhouse gasses. And before you decry this as something that works only in the daylight hours, look to the molten salt heat storage systems used in existing solar furnaces that run 24 hours a day. However I tend to think we may eventually change a lot of our industrial practices with the move to such things as solar furnaces so that systems might partially or completely shut down at night. Unlike a coal-fed furnace, waste is fundamentally different; a coal-fed furnace wastes a lot of fuel bringing it up to temperature. The only thing wasted in bringing a solar furnace up to temperature is time, and if over-capacity is sensibly designed into the system then that time matters little and could be cheaper and more practical than heat storage that continues to operate all night.

    And of course there are purely electrical methods of reaching high temperatures, using plasmas, for instance, or lasers. Arc welding and cutting and laser cutting already widely in use. Even with wind electricity generation cheaper than fossil fuel electricity generation, in their current forms they’re probably impractical for large scale metallurgical processes, but this is why we need to develop other techniques and other options.

    We also have various heat concentrating techniques (for example, heat pumps and peltier devices), though they generally only work for low grade heat at the moment, and it is difficult to see how they might be turned to higher temperatures, this is something that inventive young minds might improve on.

    And then again there is the realisation that we have been building our civilisation upon incredibly wasteful processes. The abalone builds a composite ceramic whose hardness rivals some of our most advanced ceramics, and it does this with calcium carbonate (chalk) and protein at room temperature, assembling it from seawater. The garden snail makes another ceramic much more quickly on land at ambient temperature. Deep sea sponges manufacture glass fibres of an optical purity matching our best products, and they also do it without furnaces, in the cold waters of the ocean. Many land plants make silica structures much faster than sponges do and could conceivably be engineered to make a lot of things for us in forms that nature would never bother with. We already use bacteria and yeasts to manufacture complex chemicals more cheaply, and with less energy input than our old slow, expensive methods. Our own bones are extremely strong composite structures, and the enamel of our teeth is even stronger. Spider silk is only just now being explored as a product to replace various materials such as steel, carbon fibre, nylon, etc.

    Simply saying that our current problem is a problem is circular, self-defeating, and achieves little or nothing. The solutions are there, and looking for more will let us find them. The catch is that we have to see them, not simply close our eyes, throw up our hands and cry out that it’s impossible.

  53. Kaye Lee

    I so agree with your last paragraph particularly Miriam. I see my job as working in whatever way I can within practical constraints to keep this planet going while brilliant people continue to discover amazing things. Who would have thought that a mouldy petri dish would save so many lives?

    Yes we have a problem. We also have incredible minds working on a myriad of ways to tackle it. Renewable energy as it is today will not be what it is in 50 years time.

  54. Anomander

    Listening to ABC radio this morning, they were interviewing voters in Newman’s electorate and one bloke summarised all that is wrong with our country. To paraphrase this genius voter: “My daughter is in Little Athletics and because of Newman we have a new sporting hall where the kids can meet-up. I think he’s doing a good job for the electorate”.

    I’m sure the many thousands of unemployed people are a worthwhile trade-off for new sporting facilities. FFS!

  55. Terry2

    In the Science Show on ABC RN they discussed our preference for burning ‘buried sunshine’ rather than utilising real-time sunshine for energy generation.

    Quite an interesting analogy to reflect on, as inevitably mining, drilling and fracking buried sunshine will ultimately prove far more costly to our planet than harnessing the power of the sun available to us on a daily basis.

    In a hundred years – when incidentally, Queensland’s leased electricity infrastructure is scheduled by Campbell Newman to be returned to the public* – we will look back on today’s neanderthals in disbelief.

    *How ridiculous is that as a policy concept : buy that and and I have a nice statue in New York harbour that I can let you have cheap.

  56. Terry2

    Anomander that hall was probably built under the Rudd ‘School Halls’ programme…………enough said !

  57. Anomander

    So true Kaye. Renewables today is akin to the IT industry in the early 1970’s. At that time all we had were a handful of massive mainframes that are now well surpassed by the average handheld calculator, nobody could ever have envisioned what IT would look 40 years into the future, revolutionary developments, the explosion of information, the massive number of jobs generated by one industry.

    The same is true of the renewable energy sector today – and given impetus, innovation and encouragement, our energy supply will be a radically different place in the future, and we could be standing at the forefront of that development.

  58. Möbius Ecko

    And Anomander that very same voter would have lambasted the Rudd government over the stimulus package that built thousands of school halls and school facilities.

  59. Anomander

    @ME, I know what you mean.

    Whenever Labor builds infrastructure it’s wasteful extravagance, yet when the Libs build, they make valuable assets.

    Although, I can’t recall anything the Libs have actually built…. besides roads. Their job is to tear apart and sell-off our assets.

  60. oldfart

    @ Kaye Lee, I would have to take issue with your statement re public service redundancies.

    The latest ploy is that anyone who is made redundant are told “We are not allowed to sack you or give you an involuntary redundancy and there are no voluntary redundancies” So the poor folk just sit there with nothing to do until sheer boredom gets the better of them and they resign. Currently redundancies cost nothing apart from all that knowledge walking out the door.

  61. mikestasse

    Yeah right….. we’re going to replace steel and aluminium and concrete with spiders silk etc….

    What people like you don’t understand is that we have built EVERYTHING around us, one brick at a time, as and when it was needed with the best fuels that have ever existed at least as far as energy density and portability is concerned. Now you want to replace the whole lot, in no time flat (because we are FAST running out of time, and in my opinion should end all CO2 emissions NOW!) using weak alternatives that don’t even produce sufficient SURPLUS ENERGY the way high ERoEI fossil fuels do…..

    Watch this… especially from the 16 minute mark if you don’t have time to watch the whole thing…

  62. miriamenglish

    Mike, your sarcastic dismissal is not a good look. I don’t suggest we replace all those things with spider silk, though it does have applications in some areas. This is why such efforts are going into attempting to genetically engineer ways to make it. Given that it exceeds steel in tensile strength, yet is very light, it has great potential uses. But that’s only one technology. There are many new materials in the rapidly growing field of composite materials and the strange characteristics of surfaces. Aluminium doesn’t require fossil fuels. Some of the newer ceramics don’t require fossil fuels. Plastics don’t require the burning of fossil fuels. In electronics whole unexpected areas are opening up as we understand more about how shapes on a microscopic level can let us design totally new properties.

    As I said in my previous post, “Simply saying that our current problem is a problem is circular, self-defeating, and achieves little or nothing. The solutions are there, and looking for more will let us find them. The catch is that we have to see them, not simply close our eyes, throw up our hands and cry out that it’s impossible.”

    When I was young a floor of the skyscraper my Dad worked in was occupied almost entirely with computing equipment that consumed many kilowatts of power. A few weeks ago I bought a tablet computer for $58 which is vastly more powerful than that floor of equipment ever was, yet it uses such a tiny trickle of energy that it can run on its internal battery for 8 hours (72 hours on standby). The big Australian electricity companies have overspent on “gold-plating” our electrical distribution system with unnecessary poles and wires. This appears to be because they are so out of touch with their customers that they projected continued growth in electricity demand. In fact electricity use dropped sharply as people enthusiastically took up energy saving lights and appliances, and many people bought solar heating systems and solar photovoltaic systems for their homes. Energy demand is plummeting not only in homes, but in business as companies wake up to the fact that they can save great amounts of money using efficiency. Buildings are the most profligate users of energy in our society. Solar panels are being taken up faster than mobile phones were. Wind power is now cheaper than coal, and the recent manufacture of archimedes screw wind turbines lets us double the efficiency compared to the more common propeller-bladed design.

    What you don’t understand, Mike (because I don’t think you read my post fully) is that I’m fully aware of how far we’ve gone out on this limb with fossil fuels, but instead of shouting that we should just saw it off, it is much more sensible to look for another way to support ourselves. Using fossil fuels seemed like it was a good idea at the time, but now that the problems have become apparent people are rapidly re-thinking better solutions. Unlike you, they are not simply throwing up their hands to run in circles shouting “Panic!” They’re actually doing something constructive about it.

    Look at the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). They have been working with lots of influential groups to tackle energy use and how to save money while reducing and even eliminating fossil fuel dependence. They helped retrofit the Empire State Building recently, saving the owners potentially millions in operating costs. They’re working with the US Department of Defense to eliminate as much as possible their dependence upon fossil fuels and the vulnerability it represents. (Many in the US DoD are sick of seeing their soldiers sacrificed for the sake of oil.) RMI works with a lot of manufacturers to reduce their costs by redesigning systems to increase efficiency and decrease fossil fuel use. They have designed a light, very strong, electric car that uses composite materials instead of metal in the body. It is already in production, I believe. They have also been invited to consult for the Chinese government to help them remove their dependence on fossil fuels. RMI has published an achievable plan to wean USA entirely off coal and oil in the near future and off almost all fossil fuels in the medium term future, while reducing costs and increasing efficiency and wealth with minimal impact upon quality of life. I expect there will always be a few industries that will be difficult to run without fossil fuels, but I think they will end up being fewer than you believe and even those might eventually go.

  63. Kaye Lee

    Thank you Miriam. This is the argument I have been having with mikestasse ever since we met here though I lack your knowledge, expertise and eloquence.

  64. John Armour

    Thanks from me too Miriam. I really enjoyed your 2 comments above. You certainly have a wide field of interests!

    The archimedes wind generator however I’m pretty sure is a scam.

    In concept it’s little different from old fashioned high-solidity high-drag agricultural windmills, despite it’s quirky shape. I don’t think it’ll be long before an independent lab does some field tests and confirms it’s a dud.

  65. Sir Ossis

    A perfect summary of our nation’s illness by you Mr. John Kelly.
    Now, how to make fair the media?

  66. John Armour

    “there are plenty of jobs out there for those willing to look”

    That’s just another way of saying there’s no such thing as involuntary employment, a core postulate of nineteenth century classical economics.

    It seems to have now jumped the entire Keynesian period and come back as a core postulate of neo-liberal economics.

    There’s no unemployment in a barter society. Looks like we might’ve got dudded when we signed up for this monetary economy thing.

    Great post John.

  67. Bacchus

    Just correcting your statement John – “You must be registered for employment to be included in the count. If you are unemployed and not registered you are not counted.

    This is not quite correct – the ABS uses a survey to guesstimate the employment figures – it has nothing to do with being registered, in fact being registered with Centrelink ceased to be one of the criteria that could be considered as “actively looking for work” in July 2014.

    To be classified as unemployed a person needs to meet the following three criteria:
    – not working more than one hour in the reference week;
    – actively looking for work in previous four weeks; and
    – be available to start work in the reference week.

    Details can be found here:

  68. Bacchus

    I’ve learnt something new here too – the ABS also uses a survey to guesstimate job vacancies. It makes sense if that’s also how they measure unemployment…

    The Job Vacancies Survey (JVS) produces quarterly estimates of job vacancies based on information obtained from a sample of employers. A job vacancy is a job available for immediate filling on the survey reference date and for which recruitment action has been taken. Job vacancies data are used as a leading indicator of employment growth, in monitoring of the Australian economy, and for formulating economic policy.

  69. John Kelly

    Bacchus, I’ll have to ring them and get that explained!

  70. Möbius Ecko

    Although, I can’t recall anything the Libs have actually built….

    Howard built lots of flagpoles.

  71. Neil of Sydney

    The ABS classifies a person as employed if, when surveyed, a person worked for one hour or more during the reference week for pay, profit, commission or payment in kind, or even if a person worked for one hour or more without pay in a family business or on a farm.”

    So the ABS classifies you as employed if you work for one hour with or without pay

  72. Michael Taylor

    Neil, do some research on who brought that rule in.

  73. Bacchus

    Nah, don’t bother Michael – we had this discussion with NoS 6 years ago, 5½ years ago, 5 years ago, 4½ years ago… you get the idea. Neil doesn’t know the meaning of the word “research”.

    psssst Neil – you know those offices and labs you clean at the university? The Russian scientists who work there are doing RESEARCH 😉

  74. Neil of Sydney


    We have been over this a million times since 2008 way back on Dunlops blog. By the way i invented a new e-mail address because you banned me.

    The way the unemployment rate is determined is the same in all OECD countries so we can compare unemployment rates between countries and it has not changed for a long time.

    Strangely the unemployment rate is determined by a telephone poll conducted by the ABS.

  75. miriamenglish

    John Armour, regarding the archimedes screw windmill, I hope you’re wrong, but thanks for prompting me to look into it more closely. I’ll see what further info I can find out.

  76. Kaye Lee

    Since Fairwork Australia upheld the “minimum callout” law for a minimum three hour shift I am not sure why we keep talking about people working one hour a week.

  77. Kaye Lee

    This article has a good discussion about the Archimedes screw windmill. It’s main criticism is comparative price for what you get.

    Hot air around a wind turbine

  78. Neil of Sydney

    “Although, I can’t recall anything the Libs have actually built

    The Marine Park network is a Howard govt creation.

    Costello started APRA which may have saved us from the GFC. Hawke/Keating deregulated the banking industry leading to several bank collapses during the 1980’s. Costello re-regulated the banking industry which most probably stopped the banks giving sub prime loans and leading us to where the Americans went.

    “The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) is the prudential regulator of the Australian financial services industry. It oversees banks, credit unions, building societies, general insurance and reinsurance companies, life insurance, friendly societies, and most of the superannuation industry. APRA is funded largely by the industries that it supervises. It was established on 1 July 1998.”

  79. Rossleigh

    But surely, Neil, regulation of the banks is just of lot of petty red tape!

  80. Kaye Lee


    ” By the way i invented a new e-mail address because you banned me.”

    You don’t really understand how the internetty thingy works do you Neil. Your “new” email address appears with every comment you make so you are hardly tricking Michael. Instead he is tolerating you currently but that situation can be changed at any time.

    How do you “build” a marine park? How many people were employed in its construction? Were materials locally sourced?

    So far we only have flag poles.

  81. Harquebus

    It must be distressing for our service men and women to sacrifice for our liberties and freedoms only for the government to take them away anyway.

  82. miriamenglish

    Thank you Kaye. Really interesting article. It is sad, but the archimedes spiral windmill does look to be over-hyped. It does still have one thing in its favor though: it is silent. I’ve stood at the base of one of those giant windfarm windmills in New Zealand and they do make noise, though certainly not enough for people to be complaining about, in my opinion.

    The author of the piece mentions that urban windmills are of dubious use, but I’ve noticed that on the rare occasions I venture into the city the winds there are terrible. Ive read of an effect where winds from high up are funnelled into cities by the skyscrapers so that even on relatively mild days the winds can be awful. It strikes me that all this energy is just ripe for picking. But it is gusty, as he mentions, which makes most windmills useless. Another kind of windmill, the savonius rotor turns on a vertical axis though and works well in gusty conditions. It does have lower efficiency than ordinary windmills, but is extremely cheap to build. Perhaps we’ll see more of them in cities of the future.

  83. Michael Taylor

    You’re right, Bacchus, I shouldn’t bother. I told Neil many years ago about the criteria changes to unemployment numbers and he called me a liar. I worked in the pertinent area under Howard when the changes were applied, so I have a fairly good understanding of what happened. But because the truth made Howard look bad, Neil said I was a liar.

    I was going to answer Neil on another issue, but I prefer talking to you. Neil isn’t banned. He has had his comments placed in moderation. If Neil cares to look back over the posts he will see that a number of his comments were approved. Those that were just an attempt to derail the threads were not approved.

    Unfortunately for Neil, I’m having issues when I try to clear spam in that the site crashes for about ten minutes. I tried telling him that too, but again he called me a liar. If he bothered, he could do a bit of googling and find out that this is a known problem.

  84. John Armour

    “It does still have one thing in its favor though: it is silent.”

    So’s a fence post (just teasing!).

    You mentioned a Savonius rotor Miriam and that was the first thing that came to my mind when I saw a photo of the Archimedes, a high-drag device with an efficiency less than 20%. Back in the 70s you’d see them on the fringes of hippy communes, serving the same purpose as crucifixes on church steeples.

  85. Neil of Sydney


    Did you read what Bacchus posted at 7.06PM?

    To be classified as unemployed a person needs to meet the following three criteria:
    – not working more than one hour in the reference week;
    – actively looking for work in previous four weeks; and
    – be available to start work in the reference week.”

    If what you say is true Howard would have had to change how the unemployment rate is determined worldwide since the ABS uses what everybody in the OECD uses to determine unemployment. Furthermore unemployment is determined using a telephone poll.

    How come only you know about this dastardly deed done by Howard? There would have been a whistleblower somewhere. What did the ALP in Opposition say about what you claim? Your statement makes no sense.

  86. DanDark

    “Your statement makes no sense.” Said Neil of sydney
    I must say keep the good work up Neil you and the trolls deter me from coming to read AIMN now
    which is sad but true, I am over being attacked just for making a general comment to no one
    in particular just on the article, you are working hard for the lying Komotones and his feral ministers
    Keep up the good work Neil….ciao….ps you deserve a pay rise from Tones,,,, 🙂

  87. Neil of Sydney

    Well i found this

    As a side note, the one-hour-a-week figure is an international standard, so that Australia’s headline unemployment rate can be directly compared with other countries. The ABS mounts a convincing argument for using this figure in its ‘Understanding the Australian Labour Force Using ABS Statistics’ document.”

    If its an international standard it must be used by other countries.

  88. Möbius Ecko

    Neil have you read the international employment statistics where they state “harmonised” or do you deliberately ignore that?

  89. Neil of Sydney

    No I havn’t read that. I saw a statement that OECD countries use the same method for determining unemployment in a reference i can no longer find.

    But the important point is that it would be almost impossible for a govt to influence the unemployment rate by changing the unemployment criteria which is what Michael was saying Howard did since the criteria is an international standard.

    Now it may be possible to change the number of people on the DSP by changing the DSP criteria but it is not possible for a govt to change the criteria for measuring unemployment.

  90. Michael Taylor

    Neil, guess who used to provide Australia’s data to the OECD. I did. So it’s no use arguing with me.

  91. John Armour

    …the one-hour-a-week figure is an international standard

    It’s not. It’s a lot less precise than that and varies between different countries, from one hour in the reference week, to some work, and any work.

    The real issue is that it’s a pretty useless measure of labour utilisation and disguises the real situation, which of course is the purpose.

  92. miriamenglish

    One hour a week is an utterly useless measure of employment, which was generally felt to be the reason Howard adopted it. I remember how outraged I and many others were when he did. At a stroke of the pen he “solved” Australia’s unemployment problem without doing anything genuine at all.

    I have now found, via web searches, that this loony definition has spread to other parts of the world. Goodness knows what the real unemployment statistics are with politicians fiddling the numbers dishonestly like this.

  93. Neil of Sydney

    “One hour a week is an utterly useless measure of employment, which was generally felt to be the reason Howard adopted it. I remember how outraged I and many others were when he did. At a stroke of the pen he “solved” Australia’s unemployment problem without doing anything genuine at all.”

    I rest my case.

    Can you give me a link where Howard adopted this new criteria or are you just spreading an urban myth?

    “I have now found, via web searches, that this loony definition has spread to other parts of the world

    WOW. The power and influence John Howard has. Alternatively you could be making stuff up.

  94. Michael Taylor

    Can you give me a link where Howard adopted this new criteria or are you just spreading an urban myth?

    Yes. Me. I worked on the new policy.

    You must remember, Neil, that not all policy changes are legislated.

  95. Neil of Sydney

    Bacchus are you around??

    You know something about this. When did one working hour per week become the criteria for determining whether you were employed or not?

    I think it was a long time ago.

  96. Kaye Lee

    I find myself in agreement with Neil here.

    In the old days, we measured unemployment simply as the number of people getting the dole. Since Malcolm Fraser’s day, however, it’s been measured by the Bureau of Statistics conducting a monthly sample survey of about 29,000 households.

    A lot of people confuse two separate things: who’s on the dole and who counts as unemployed. They’re quite different. You can be unemployed and not eligible for the dole (say, because your spouse has a job) or on the dole and not counted as unemployed (because you do a bit of casual work).

    The one hour employment thing is a statistical convention set by the International Labour Organisation in Geneva and hasn’t changed in four decades. Anyone working very few hours (we have laws of a minimum three hour shift) would be represented in the underemployment figure which should be looked at in conjunction with the unemployment figure.

    One change Howard did make was that the employment agencies participating in the Job Network could be paid a success fee for getting someone into a job of as little as 15 hours a week.

  97. Neil of Sydney

    “The one hour employment thing is a statistical convention set by the International Labour Organisation in Geneva and hasn’t changed in four decades.”


    The truth comes out. The dastardly John Howard was not responsible as miriamenglish proclaimed.

    I also have to say that the definition makes no sense to most people. WE also have to assume that the people who invented the rule that working one hour/week makes you employed also had this opinion. We also have to assume that the people who invented this rule were intelligent.

    But it makes no sense to me.

  98. Michael Taylor

    Neil, the reason the rules were changed was so that it looked on paper that there were less people looking for work.

    Do you remember about ten years ago I said that in 30 years time I’ll sit you down and tell you some confidential stuff about the Howard Government? Well we only have 20 years to go.

  99. Neil of Sydney


    Can you read English??

    Kaye said this

    “The one hour employment thing is a statistical convention set by the International Labour Organisation in Geneva and hasn’t changed in four decades.”

    Any other conspiracy theories you want to spread?

    Four decades takes us back a long time ago.

  100. Michael Taylor

    Gosh, Neil, sorry I mentioned it. It was only an aside.

    But if you want people to answer questions or statements properly then I expect you will do the same.

    So let’s try it: who are you exactly?

  101. stephentardrew

    Father Christmas.

  102. Neil of Sydney


    I see you have taken what all lefties do- the leftoid diversion.

    Kaye said this

    “The one hour employment thing is a statistical convention set by the International Labour Organisation in Geneva and hasn’t changed in four decades

    Fourty years ago is a long time ago.

    Any other urban myths you want to make against John Howard??

  103. Michael Taylor

    Neil, all the information on this site is obviously too much for you to grasp.

  104. stephentardrew

    Um, er, ah! I know Shleple the troll. So ugly he had to carry a door around so people could not see him.

  105. Neil of Sydney


    Are you around???

  106. John Armour

    From the official ILO Website…–en/index.htm

    The classification criteria of this labour force framework [adopted by the 13th International Conference of Labour Statisticians in 1982] used to determine whether a person is employed, unemployed or economically inactive are three:

    (a) to work or to have a job,

    (b) to be willing to work, and

    (c) to be available for work.

    Unemployment, for example, includes persons who during the reference week did not work nor had a job but who were willing to work (they prove this by looking actively for work) and were available to work.

    There’s no mention of “one hour’s work in the reference week”

    The tighter definition was the prerogative of the various signatories.

    I recall Howard adopting the tighter and more “convenient” definition, possibly aping the USA, early in his term.

    No doubt Michael knows all this, chapter and verse, but is under certain constraints.

    So take a cold shower Neil.

  107. stephentardrew

    Bacchus all points alert. Ring the sirens, call out the army, bring in the Feds we have doubts about Michale’s veracity even though he clearly cannot tell due to statute of limitations or whatever the damn thing is called. Are you deaf as well as dumb Neil.

    Oh dear maybe blind anyway you get the point.

  108. Neil of Sydney

    “I recall Howard adopting the tighter and more “convenient” definition, possibly aping the USA, early in his term. “

    I recall?? A nice why to remove responsibility.

    But Kaye Lee said this

    “The one hour employment thing is a statistical convention set by the International Labour Organisation in Geneva and hasn’t changed in four decades.

    So when did working one hour/week become the definition of unemployment?

    Kaye said it happened 40 years ago.

  109. John Armour

    But it makes no sense to me

    Neil, there’s hope for you yet!

    It really only makes sense to right-wing insiders. It’s just part of the the long term agenda to create a buffer-stock of unemployed to fight inflation, break the back of unionism, drive down wages, increase profits, and generally up the anxiety levels of the workforce and keep them tractable.

    That would’ve been a hard sell if people realised what the actual levels of unemployment were.

    Inflation never was the problem but the rest of the plan has been spectacularly successful.

  110. John Armour

    I think it’s called The Crimes Act, Stephen.

    It’s how they keep all those lefty bastards in Canberra in line.

  111. Neil of Sydney

    “It really only makes sense to right-wing insiders.

    Do you really believe that crap??

    Fourty years ago some right- wingers changed the rules??

    Well at least that is different. It used to be that 10 years ago John Howard changed the rules.

    I think we have to (assume/ give the benefit of the doubt/ hope that they know what they are doing) to the people who made up this rule that they are smarter than us.

  112. Kaye Lee

    Howard certainly meddled….

    The ABS introduced telephone interviewing into the Labour Force Survey in August 1996. Implementation was phased in for each new sample group from August 1996 to February 1997. During the period of implementation, the new method produced different estimates than would have been obtained under the old methodology.

    From April 2001 the Labour Force Survey was conducted using a redesigned questionnaire containing additional data items and some minor definitional changes. The definition of unemployed persons was changed to include all persons who were waiting to start work and were available to start in the reference week. This change was introduced in February 2004, when historical unit record data were revised from April 2001 to January 2004. This revision created a small trend break at April 2001 in unemployed persons and unemployment rate series.

    But the one hour thing wasn’t his doing.


    3.3 According to the international guidelines, employed persons comprise those above the age specified for measuring the economically active population, in paid employment or self-employment, during a specified reference period. Paid employment includes persons who performed some work for wages or salary, in cash or in kind, and persons temporarily absent from a paid employment job but who retained a formal attachment to that job. Self-employment includes persons who performed some work for profit or family gain, in cash or in kind, and those with an enterprise but temporarily not at work during the specified reference period for some specific reason.

    3.4 The notion of ‘some work’ is interpreted as work for at least one hour. This approach ensures consistency between measures of employment and measures of production of goods and services, as all work (however little) contributing to national production is included in measures of employment.

  113. Neil of Sydney

    “Howard certainly meddled”

    Really? Any evidence for that? I am sure the ABS is tweaking things all the time. Most probably lots of tweaking during Rudd/Gillard

    But the one hour thing wasn’t his doing

    Well hallelujah!!! Lefties since 2007 have been saying it was Howards doing

    So lefties have been lying to me. What a surprise.

  114. Kaye Lee

    Geeze Louise Neil. You would do far better doing some research and presenting it to back up your assertions than constant repetition and blaming. You make me want to delete my comments. I can see that in any way agreeing with you is like giving jelly crystals and red cordial to a toddler. It’s impossible to have a sensible discussion. Settle down and behave.

  115. Ricky Pann

    Nil is a time wasting repetitive troll who will not disclose that he worked for the fiberals and is employed by a university.

    He is a coward and devoid of fact, and when discredited ( like shooting fish in a barrel really as he is barely wets the heel of my shoe intellectually) he resorts to personal attacks.

    The thing that defines Nill (or Sqweal as I like to call him) best is he is not interested in discourse and is consistently repetitive like a flee in the ear, he has only ever mad a few points in his droll life that he regurgitates infinitum..

    He never talks about current politics as its too hard to he just cannot find enough courage to support Abbott and his doll would consider it cheating on John Howard.

    His usual thing is to derail a thread by pulling it off topic with repetitive inane dirge… despite me repetitively castigating him for calling me a leftie after mind numbingly repeating I am centrist… he still uses that term infinitum…

    anyone who deviates from his cut and paste dross is a leftie

    Nill has a blow up John Howard that he sleeps with… he loves that doll and worships the former Prime Miniature…

    In short he is an intellectually challenged political pygmy…

    So C’mon Nill who are you? ELGORDO? EGG?

  116. Roswell

    Neil works for a university! Wouldn’t he need some level of intellect for that?

    He doesn’t strike me as the right man for the job.

  117. Neil of Sydney

    “You would do far better doing some research

    I have. But this definition of unemployment/employment of working one hour/week is a strange definition and for some reason lefties want to blame John Howard for it even though there is no evidence that Howard was involved. It is an urban myth that does not want to die. Just look at the crap that miriamenglish posted at 3.05PM. But you are right Kaye

    The International Labour Organization (ILO) defines unemployed people as those who are: not working one hour or more; and actively seeking work; and currently available for work. The ABS adheres to the international standards”

    So it is an ILO definition not a Howard definition. And i think it has been in use for fourty years

  118. miriamenglish

    I have to admit it does look like I was wrong, which baffles me, as I have a clear memory of being outraged at unemployment statistics changing to represent the unrealistic number of working one hour per week to qualify as employed. I’ve been quiet because I’ve been researching the topic, trying to find out why I, and a lot of other people, were suddenly upset about it at the time. It was during Howard’s reign.

    Neil, you might want to look at your attitude. I bet you don’t get many people changing their minds around you. Your manner inspires a desire to oppose whatever you say. This is exactly why I quit the debating team at school. People were in it to “beat” the other person, not for any desire to arrive at the truth. I bet you consider my admission of error as a win for you and a loss for me. In actual fact it is a win for me because it is a mistake I can stop making.

  119. John Armour

    “So it is an ILO definition not a Howard definition. And i think it has been in use for fourty (sic) years”

    It’s not. Read the actual reference I quoted from the ILO website I posted earlier. The ILO doesn’t use a definition of hours paid for because of the wide international differences over conditions of employment.

    The ILO definition is open to wide interpretation and if you don’t think the bureaucracy can be bent to the will of politicians you are very naive.

    Kaye Lee has quoted from the ABS website in good faith but on this point of “hours worked” it can be clearly seen to be local interpretation, despite calling it the “ILO standard definition”. I wonder why they’d do that?

    Although difficult (and too time consuming) to nail down precisely, it was probably inserted into the Labour Force Survey “reforms” of May 2001 as I haven’t seen any reference to the “hours worked” definition before then.

    The important question though is why we have this useless definition of “employment”. You Neil naively believe that those who’ve come up with this definition are “smarter than us” and know what they’re doing.

    Having some knowledge of the ebb and flow of political and economic ideologies, especially since the end of the Keynesian “golden age” in the early 70s, makes for a useful context against which to consider these things.

  120. miriamenglish

    Hmmm… just a small thing, but a bit odd.
    The page Neil pointed to appears to say that someone who works an hour a week is both employed and unemployed.
    “defines unemployed people […] not working one hour or more”
    “counts everyone who works for at least one hour in the reference week as employed”
    Unusual for statisticians to be sloppy like that.

  121. Möbius Ecko

    John Armour @January 13, 2015 5:22 pm and January 14, 2015 9:02 am

    It’s why when you see global unemployment statistics comparing nations I’ve seen the term “harmonise” used. Each nation doesn’t precisely use the same definitions or methodology as posited by the ILO, so to compare apples with apples international unemployment/underemployment data is “harmonised” using the terminology I came across, but I guess “adjusted” would be a more apt term. So to state that Australia exactly uses the international standard is incorrect but to say it bases its calculation on the international standard would be closer to the mark.

  122. Neil of Sydney

    “It’s not. Read the actual reference I quoted from the ILO website I posted earlier.”

    OK but you have to trust somebody sometime. The ABS says this

    ““The International Labour Organization (ILO) defines unemployed people as those who are: not working one hour or more; and actively seeking work; and currently available for work. The ABS adheres to the international standards

    So the ABS is wrong??

    On another point it is interesting to see people say unemployment is determined by numbers registered for the dole. It is not. It is determined by a telephone poll.

    “ABS measures unemployment by collecting data from a monthly survey of about 26,000 dwellings as well as a selection of hotels, hospitals, boarding schools, colleges, prisons and indigenous communities throughout Australia. Overall, data are collected from about 52,000 people
    , “

  123. John Armour

    So the ABS is wrong??

    And it wouldn’t be the first time.

    You must have a short memory.

  124. John Armour

    So to state that Australia exactly uses the international standard is incorrect but to say it bases its calculation on the international standard would be closer to the mark

    I’d add “bases its calculation on an interpretation of the international standard” ME.

  125. Neil of Sydney

    “You must have a short memory.”

    No. I have never seen a reference to where the ABS is wrong. But i have seen lots of references to where Labor supporters are wrong.

    I must have seen more than 100 times where lefties on blogs said John Howard introduced a new rule where you have to work only one hour/week to be considered employed. And then Howard was abused for introducing this new rule.

    Just look at what miriamenglish said at 3.05PM

    But the ABS says this

    ““The International Labour Organization (ILO) defines unemployed people as those who are: not working one hour or more; and actively seeking work; and currently available for work. The ABS adheres to the international standards”

    I will go with what the ABS says until proven otherwise. Your link to the ILO does not prove the ABS wrong (I think). It may be that the one hour thing is buried in the link you gave.

  126. John Armour

    I will go with what the ABS says until proven otherwise“.

    Wise move Neil.

    With a name like the “International Labour Organisation” they’re obviously a commie front. You wouldn’t believe a word they said.

    Your link to the ILO does not prove the ABS wrong (I think). It may be that the one hour thing is buried in the link you gave

    If it was, you could “prove” me wrong Neil.

  127. Neil of Sydney


    Interesting link. It also says this

    “Employment is defined as follows in the Resolution concerning statistics of the economically active population, employment, unemployment and underemployment, adopted by the Thirteenth International Conference of Labour Statisticians (Geneva, 1982):”

    So the one hour thingy dates from 1982. And maybe even earlier if it was codified in 1982.

  128. Kaye Lee


    It also says

    “National definitions of employment may in a number of cases differ from the recommended international standard definition “

  129. Neil of Sydney

    “If it was, you could “prove” me wrong Neil.–en/index.htm

    From the first PDF file “II. Labour force, employment, unemployment and underemployment ” page 41

    145. In order to account fully for underemployment and casual wage labourers, the term “some work” in the definition should be interpreted as including all persons who worked at least one hour during the reference period.

  130. Bacchus

    Sorry Neil – on two counts.

    * I had better things to do over the last couple of days than talking $#!t with you – washing my hair, cutting my toenails, watching the grass grow… 😆
    * I tired of “discussing” this topic with you some years back, so have no desire to go over the same ground again and again and again and again…

  131. Neil of Sydney

    Have a bad day hey Bacchus??

    By the way you turned up too late to make an intelligent contribution. And anyway you were not needed.

    Looks like working one hour per week as a definition of unemployment was codified by the ILO in 1982. It would have been used for a while before codification.

    Looks like lots of lefties owe John Howard an apology.

  132. John Armour

    “If it was, you could “prove” me wrong Neil.”

    And indeed you have!

    Congratulations on digging it out the truth.

    Truth is something I’m not frightened of.

    Now I’m curious about just how that myth started.

  133. Neil of Sydney

    “Now I’m curious about just how that myth started.”

    Not just how it started but why did it continue for so long. I saw lots of times lefties say unemployment went from 8% to 4% under Howard because he changed the definition of unemployment.

    It made no sense to me because Labor in Opposition would have said something. I saw no Labor politician say Howard changed the definition of unemployment. I only saw that statement on Labor supporting blogs.

  134. Michael Taylor

    Neil, have a good look at Bacchus’s 6:03 PM comment (above). It is one of the most outstanding comments ever made on this site. Nay, it would be the most outstanding comment ever made on the internet.

  135. Michael Taylor

    I saw no Labor politician say Howard changed the definition of unemployment. I only saw that statement on Labor supporting blogs.

    Are you that dense? How many times have I told you that it was changed (to one hour a week being classed as employed) so that Howard could brag that he’d reduced the number of people looking for work.

    I will say it once again: I worked on the policy so I should fkn know!

  136. Michael Taylor

    That’s true, Kaye, but local policies can be massaged to suit political purposes. Howard was the master at it. Abbott also. Look at some of his new policies that he’s trying to rush through to the DSP (without changing the legislation).

  137. John Fraser

    “I will say it once again: I worked on the policy so I should fkn know!”

    I’m now waiting for “Neil of stupidsville” to dispute that !

  138. Michael Taylor

    John, he will dispute it. He always disputes it. I’m sick of arguing with him.

  139. Bacchus

    Don’t worry Michael – I’m sure Neil will still be spouting the same cr@p in 20 years’ time when you are no longer constrained by the Crimes Act. The only problem is the number of times he will bring it up in the meantime. 😉

  140. Michael Taylor

    12,500,000. Give or take a few. And that’s just on this site!

  141. Neil of Sydney

    Of course i will dispute it.

    If unemployment went from 8% to 4% because Howard change the unemployment definition, where is the mention of this in the media? Why did not the Labor Opposition raise it in Parliament?

    And even if true, Labor got the advantage of this dastardly deed when they got into power.

    Fact is it never happened

  142. Michael Taylor

    Neil, are you calling me a liar?

  143. rossleighbrisbane

    Clearly Neil Is either a paid troll or working less than one hour a week – else how old he have so much time on his hands!

  144. Michael Taylor

    I don’t want to think about what he might have on his hands, rossleigh.

  145. stephentardrew

    But Michael your just a big nasty fibber.
    Justs because you were there and proxy to the facts is irrelevant when compared to the brilliance of his masters voice.
    Dulcet tones of ignorance.

  146. Neil of Sydney

    There are some things that can be hidden.

    But if Howard did what Michael claimed it would be in the media somewhere or mentioned in Parliament.

    Have any of you people been reading any of the above posts??

    Working one hour/week as a definition of unemployment was codified by the ILO in 1982. Most probably in use from 1966 as a measurement of unemployment. And lots of countries use it. It is used in OECD countries. Howard is not that powerful.

  147. Michael Taylor

    Neil, I’ll ask again; are you calling me a liar?

    If you’re not, then you’ll be admitting that everything you’ve said has been nothing more than attempt to do your standard trick of derailing posts.

    So, are you calling me a liar? Please answer.

  148. Roswell

    I too spent many years working for the government. Not everything the government does makes it to the papers. Only what they want you to hear, is what you’ll hear.

  149. paul walter

    Neil of Sydney, for God’s sake what parallel universe have you been living in for forty years. Michael Taylor, good try but you must learn not to expect replies from brick walls or commonsense from the criminally afflicted.

  150. miriamenglish

    “Derailed” is exactly what has happened. When we come down to it, the one hour per week definition is plain silly. And whether Howard did or didn’t have a machiavellian part to play in its introduction in Australia almost doesn’t matter. What does matter is what John Kelly wrote about in the article.

    As Mary mentioned above, I also think we should be pushing more for a universal living wage, but that’s not going to happen with right-wing ideologues in office. I doubt Labour would have the sense and guts to institute it either. A pity. It would solve so many problems both current and future.

  151. Neil of Sydney

    “Neil, I’ll ask again; are you calling me a liar?”

    Perhaps liar is too strong a word but definitely mistaken. What you said could not possibly be true. If it occurred it would eventually come out.

    A PM of a country altering the way the unemployment rate is measured so his govt looks better and nobody knows about it except some posters on a Labor supporting blog?

    I don’t think so.

  152. Michael Taylor

    OK, I made it all up. It never happened. Howard didn’t want to produce rubbery numbers before the 2007 election so he could brag that his failed Welfare to Work program was a success. He and his minister (Hockey) were too honest to do that. And I never worked for the public service and my name isn’t Michael Taylor.

  153. stephentardrew

    Miriam: I am with yo all the way.

    Michael: Once Again Neil has gone totally of his rocker and is making us his right wing play thing. The years go by, nothing changes, while a vast number of people on this planets suffer because of greed and inequality. Poverty and inequality are engineering problems not problems of ideology or opinion. Science logic, and compassion are the tools of material betterment while opinion is the subjective domain in which anything goes. From a moral standpoint the fact that people are suffering unduly, while others have absurd wealth, is ethically intolerable. As Bill Mitchell has pointed out a living wages is an absolute necessity if we are to build in failsafe mechanisms against poverty and inequality.

    Evolution is about adaptation and mutual support. We must dampen our primal urge to judgment, blame and retribution and find manageable mechanisms to build a sustainable world. When failure is obvious it is time to build new structures and mechanisms to reduce suffering and sustain environmental equilibrium. More of the same is for those who are fearful traditionalists bound by worn out ideas that have done nothing to lead to solution based strategies. Add ideology and supply side endless greed and here we are today.

    The ossified ideas of the right are leading us to tragedy. We are not going to sway the likes of Neil. What is required is a paradigm shift that is incommensurable with traditional right left dichotomies simply because the old strategies are a complete failure. One has to be a fool not to see this. Rubber bands are being put on capitalism to give the appearance of change while the profit mongers are leadings us over the precipice once again. Winding back Dod/Frank and then using depositors funds and pensions to save the financial sector is a recipe for disaster yet this is exactly what is happening in the US and Britain.

    From an ethical perspective the only real choice is the choice to goodness and understanding the casual contributors that leads each child from primal innocence to a universe of duality judgment, blame retribution and cynicism. We must do much better than that.

    Though we need to understand the likes of Neill give them too much oxygen and they will just vacillate and obfuscate wasting time and energy.

    Your decision but I have just about had enough. In fact long ago I had enough.

  154. The AIM Network

    I think we’ve all had enough of Neil, Stephen. In future his comments that are designed purely to derail an article will be deleted without question.

  155. Neil of Sydney

    “Are you that dense? How many times have I told you that it was changed (to one hour a week being classed as employed) so that Howard could brag that he’d reduced the number of people looking for work.

    Well if what you say is true there must have been a sudden drop in unemployment when this new rule was introduced somewhere between 1996-2007.

    When did this happen??

    By the way working one hour/week as a measure of employment is used in all OECD countries as was codifed by the International Labor Organisation in 1982. Most probably in use many years before that. Most probably in use from 1966

  156. Michael Taylor

    I’m not going to bother responding to you, Neil. Think of something else to talk about. The topic, maybe.

    If your next comment is just a repeat of your last, then the best place for it would be the trash bin. I’m serious.

  157. rossleighbrisbane

    Perhaps Neil would like to respond to this:

    Although Neil’s responses are easily predictable:
    1. This is Labor’s fault for spending too much
    2. The Government isn’t responsible for creating jobs ( unless Labor is in power)
    3. Let me talk about a completely different topic.

    No need to reply in full, Neil, boost your productivity in future by just writing 1, 2 or 3!

  158. Erotic Moustache

    I think we’ve all had enough of Neil, Stephen. In future his comments that are designed purely to derail an article will be deleted without question.

    By what criterion is that going to be assessed? Clairvoyance? I call administrative bullshit on this. Let the man post as he sees fit. You lot are at fault for replying to him at the same time as ranting about how no-one should, but I dare say you won’t acknowledge that and blame and punish him instead. Sheesh.

  159. Neil of Sydney

    “Perhaps Neil would like to respond to this:

    I would like to respond but when i click on the link i cannot get access.

  160. Roswell

    You don’t know Neil too well do you EM. You haven’t had to put up with his rubbish for the last seven years like a lot of us here have.

    Now get off your high horse and stop telling people how to run this site.

    I’m sick of seeing your comments complaining endlessly how this site is run or operates. Go start your own site.

    I like it here and think it’s run fairly well. If the people who run the site find it no longer tolerable that someone like Neil should day after day come here and try to derail topics then good on them.

    Who are you to say it’s bullshit?

  161. Roswell

    By the way, I’m one of the admins and I know I’d have no problem in deleting Neil’s comments. I’d have no problem in deleting yours either.

  162. Rossleigh

    Oh, that’s what happens when you link to the Australian.
    Oh well, I’ll just put it down as 2 anyway, Neil, saves you the trouble of reading it.

  163. Erotic Moustache

    By the way, I’m one of the admins and I know I’d have no problem in deleting Neil’s comments. I’d have no problem in deleting yours either.

    Says it all, doesn’t it. By all means shit all over your own claims about AIMN. Change the name of this place to “Michael Chats with Friends” or behave seriously and professionally. Make up your friggin’ minds.

    I don’t a give a shit how long Neil has been posting. He does not “derail” threads as you have suggested. That is a blatant lie. You lot derail them with your obsession with being right and righteous. Neil is repetitive, apparently. What a disgusting crime! God knows no-one else here, authors or commentators, write the same schlock day in day out.

    The fact is you cannot tolerate opposition or difference of opinion. You cannot. The evidence for that is completely and utterly overwhelming.

    Who am I to say it’s bullshit? A person with a right to express an opinion on a site that supposedly – supposedly – proffers and solicits diversity of opinion. More bullshit.

    Go start your own site.

    Good Idea, because this one is so bereft of moral and intellectual integrity that it sickens me more often than it inspires me.

  164. Roswell

    I guess that’s the last we’ll see if you then. I don’t think you’ll be missed.

  165. Rossleigh

    Thanks, EM, I’ll put that down as a 3.

  166. Rossleigh

    But seriously, Erotic Moustache, why is it that people whose sole point is that “You’re all a pack of idiots, and I’m right and you should listen because nothing you say is going to change my mind and I have a right to my opinion” get very precious and complain about free speech when all someone has done has used their own right to free speech and said is, “Why don’t you just piss off?”
    Now, if you’ve got a point about the topic of unemployment then make it here. If you’ve got a point about free speech, you’d be better off making it on one of the posts on this site about free speech.
    But if you just want to defend Neil’s right to be a troll, feel free.
    Just don’t whinge when someone speaks back to you in the same tone that you keep using.

  167. Roswell

    Rossleigh, not only are you a wit, but you’re also a sage.

    Sorry to be off topic.

  168. Neil of Sydney

    “Oh, that’s what happens when you link to the Australian.”

    I would still like to respond to your link. But why post a link that does not work?? What did it say?

    Sort of on topic i find it amusing Labor supporters commenting on jobs.

    Labor does not have a good record on jobs. Gough doubled unemployment in short time. Hawke/Keating was handed unemployment at 8% in 1983 and left it at 8% in 1996 with almost three years of double digit unemployment in between. When Keating won govt in 1993 unemployment was at 11%. And most people who post here voted for Keating when unemployment was at levels not seen since the Great Depression.

    Rudd was handed unemployment at 4.3% in 2007 and trending down and left it at 5.8% in 2013 and trending up.

    Labor does not know how to create a job.

  169. Rossleigh

    Um, there was a little thing called the Global Financial Crisis in there, Neil.

    I’ll put that down as a 1.

    See you could save yourself a lot of writing.
    Productivity, why don’t Liberals understand what it really means.

  170. Michael Taylor

    Yes and no, Neil. But I think you’re being selective when you look at the past. You mention Whitlam and Hawke, but fail to mention what it was like under Fraser. You also forgot to mention that according to the OECD – an organisation you like to quote – Rudd saved 230,000 jobs thanks to his stimulus package.

    We must also give Gillard credit for bringing the unemployment under 5%. At the same time we should all be critical of Abbott for taking it over 6.

    And btw, I appreciate your ‘on topic’ comment.

  171. Neil of Sydney

    “We must also give Gillard credit for bringing the unemployment under 5%”


    Unemployment was at 4.3% in 2007 under Howard. It was already under 5%. You have to go back to the 1970’s to find an unemployment rate with a 4 in front of it.

    Unemployment at 6.2% would have been a wonderful result for Hawke/Keating. It was above 6% for 13 years from 1983-1996 and above 10% for almost 3 years under Keating.

    Labor does not know how to create a job.

  172. Michael Taylor

    Neil, I don’t think you’re giving any consideration to the economic conditions of the day. Howard presided over a mining boom. Gillard presided over the tail end of a GFC.

    Let’s see how Abbott handles the next one.

  173. rossleighbrisbane

    But in fairness, Neil go has a point, since coming to office look at all the jobs that Tony has created.
    There was the one for Sophie, then the ones for Amanda, Maurice, Dick, Nick just to name a few!

  174. Carol Taylor

    I like this description..

    The ABS uses the internationally sanctioned definition of unemployment, which is similar to Tom Waits’ definition of being drunk: you have to be really, really out of it to qualify. Not only must you not be in employment, but you can’t have done even one hour of paid or unpaid in the four weeks prior to the survey. Nor can you be discouraged by the absence of available jobs either — you must have applied for something in the previous four weeks — and you must be available to start immediately.

    Hands up all those who think they could survive on one hour’s paid work every four weeks?

    However, Australia’s biggest problem and one that certainly isn’t going to be addressed by this current government is job insecurity, with Australia having one of the most casualised workforces in the world. In fact this government would make things even more ‘flexible’, flexible for the workers? Hardly…

  175. stephentardrew

    I have a bone in my throat and no one will remove it.

  176. Möbius Ecko

    During the entire Rudd/Gillard tenure, even during a GFC, unemployment never exceeded 5.9%. During the entire Abbott tenure it has mostly exceeded it and never bettered it.

  177. Neil of Sydney


    I find your post funny, wonderful and entertaining except for your last bit


    Your hatred of the Libs/Howard knows no bounds.

    The ALP does not know how to create a job.

  178. John Fraser


    Todays unemployment figures defy belief.

    I can understand casual or part time jobs but they are saying they are full time jobs.


  179. stephentardrew

    Carol I got this equation from Tony.

    Work Flexibility = Work Choices

  180. Carol Taylor

    Mobius, doubtless Abbott is scratching his head wondering why if he sacks thousands and causes the sacking of more thousands why this isn’t creating jobs – I mean..if Tony wants it to happen, then it should *just happen*.

    As a side issue, Abbott says ‘jobs creation’ by building roads. Isn’t he missing something? How many jobs for WOMEN will be created that way? Ah well, I guess women could always hold the Go Slow signs or be the lunch peggy. Funny how ‘jobs creation’ for Abbott is always jobs creation for men.

    Stephen, clearly if people are prepared to work more ‘flexibly’ then bosses will naturally hire more people, because they’ll able to hire less permanents/pay people less. Gosh, next time we go to the supermarket the staff will be crawling all over us eager to provide service instead of the 2 over-worked, overwraught check out people trying to do 67 things simultaneously. It’s all because they don’t work flexible hours..oh wait a minute, they already do.

  181. Kaye Lee


    The government is making people redundant and then hiring them back on contract because they then have no entitlements like sick leave or holidays or long service leave. My son was in this position. A woman who had worked in his government department for ten years (and who my son said was an outstanding worker) had to care for her mother for a few weeks when she got out of hospital. The department sacked her. As I have mentioned, my son has had surgery. He had to quit. They are trying to strip away entitlements that have been negotiated over many years usually with concessions given to earn them.

    I have a suggestion. Why don’t we stop leave loading?

  182. Carol Taylor

    Likewise Neil, you have always caused a great deal of amusement for me. 😉

  183. Roswell

    Careful, everyone. You’re not allowed to pick on Neil. I tried it once but never got away with it.

  184. Carol Taylor

    Kaye Lee, absolutely spot on. What is happening is that due to instructions from above, senior staff are having to fulfill the requirements to sack X number of people. Then because it is not possible to perform the tasks required, they’re being hired back again, but on short term contracts. As you say, no sick leave or holidays etc thereby cutting costs..on paper at least.

  185. Neil of Sydney

    “Mobius, doubtless Abbott is scratching his head wondering why if he sacks thousands and causes the sacking of more thousands why this isn’t creating jobs – I mean.”

    Howard did that in 1996 and unemployment went from 8% to 4%.

    Google parliament house riot 1996

  186. Michael Taylor

    Neil, I don’t think anyone cares now what Howard did in 1996 re sackings/jobs. They care about what Abbott is doing now.

    It is 2015. Abbott is the prime minister. Do try and keep up.

  187. rossleighbrisbane

    Wow, Neil, 1 & 3, but you keep missing the chance to make productivity gains.
    Not only that you keep confusing cause and effect, but hey, you’re just here for the company, aren’t you?

  188. Neil of Sydney


  189. Michael Taylor

    Neil, that was one of your more intelligent comments. Actually, it was your most intelligent comment. Ever.

  190. stephentardrew

    Keep em like that and I might read them.

  191. Roswell

    “Might” being the key word.

  192. Kaye Lee

    “The fact is you cannot tolerate opposition or difference of opinion. You cannot. The evidence for that is completely and utterly overwhelming.”

    Could I suggest that the way an opinion or information or views are expressed has a lot to do with how they are received.

  193. LOVO

    *waves* to NoS….. p*wned agin I see NoS………… same-same NoS, ay………… oh, oh, oh, oh and Howard was……. unelected…… ahh, it still so-o-o ‘gives’….umm, NoS…, dot, dot….etc, cobba. *GRINS*….massively….just sayin’ 🙂 …agin…still… :mrgreen:
    I, (meaning me)…… in all humbleness-er-ism ask you NoS, “What are your thoughts on Howard..umm, ..lately… he an defender….. or (like Rudd).. an white-antererismist ….. wot say ewe, Neil/NoS/Nil/WTF/CvNT….and other ad hominem-wit-er-ism’s.)
    …..( I do so love how Howard has avoided “doin'” an “Fraser”.. which begs the question NoS (ewe being an Howard dick-sucker-ism-ist )….. and here’s the “THING”, umm, NoS… ” Is “it” an ‘dry’ argument or/or is it an ‘wet’ argument’ …. and ultimately ” where to now for the DLP” …oops 😳 … I mean the LNP *supergrinsmiley*
    “yajustgottalaugh* @ Neil ( and “we” do)…. no, really.. 😛

  194. miriamenglish

    Neil, you were saying that there was no sudden drop in unemployment that might be explained by Howard massaging the figures, and yet here you are, crowing about exactly such improbable figures. That’s to say, improbable as in unlikely to be genuine.

  195. Neil of Sydney

    There was a slow gradual decline in the unemployment rate from 8% to 4% from 1996-2007.

    There was no sudden drop as would have occurred if there was a major change in the unemployment definition during this period.

  196. Kaye Lee

    The ABS is introducing the new estimation method with the release of the May 2007 labour force statistics on 7 June 2007. At the same time, the ABS will release revised historical LFS statistics based on the new estimation method, back to April 2001. It was decided to revise back no further than April 2001 because there is already a small discontinuity in the unemployment series between March 2001 and April 2001. At that time, the ABS introduced a new questionnaire and changed the definition of unemployed to include those people waiting to start a new job in the next four weeks and who could have started in the reference week if the job had been available then.

    The new estimator produces estimates of employment and unemployment which are slightly lower on average than those produced by the current estimator. This effect applies for original, seasonally adjusted and trend series.

    Analysis of labour force data for the period April 2001 to January 2007 shows that, for seasonally adjusted series at the Australia level, employment estimates were 0.07% lower on average under the new estimator than under the current estimator. Unemployment estimates were 0.15% to 3.20% lower on average under the new estimator, with New South Wales and the Northern Territory showing the largest difference at 2.07% lower and 3.20% lower respectively.$File/62920_2007.pdf

  197. diannaart

    ABS statistics should be considered a guide only. Seriously.

    I was required to participate in a Labour Force Survey – yes , required, it was compulsory.

    The questions were all about job seeking, I explained I was registered with the CRS (Commonwealth Rehabilitation Service) and was unfit for work , along with medical evidence of such. Nevertheless, I was required to answer questions solely concerned with jobs and jobs seeking, once a month for 6 months. I found it very depressing to answer every month that I had not looked for work nor done any work. My actual situation was not relevant and therefore any information on being incapacitated and unemployed was not considered (apparently there ARE surveys for obtaining such information but this was not one of them).

    Shouldn’t compulsory surveys be relevant to people being surveyed? Apparently not.

    I am quite sure that politicians of all political stripes use ABS figures selectively when it suits their agenda.

    Just sayin’.

  198. John Fraser


    I'm more interested in the here and now.

    "According to China’s Customs Bureau figures released on Tuesday, trade between Australia and China grew by just 0.3 per cent in 2014, compared to 11.5 per cent in 2013, a dramatic and ominous drop."

    Where have all the new jobs come from ?

    Playing “Neils” stupid game is a waste of time and a short ride into alzheimers territory.

  199. Neil of Sydney

    No stupid game.

    ALP supporters try and make out the wonderful drop in unemployment from 8% where it was for 13 years under Hawke/Keating, to 4% under Howard was due to an administrative change to the unemployment definition.

    Apparently late one night John Howard snuck in the the ABS, deleted the old way of determining unemployment, then added a new way for measuring unemployment to make his govt look better.

    Apparently Howard did this dastardly deed without anybody knowing except for some ALP supporters on ALP blogs.

  200. Bacchus

    Are you STILL here banging on about this Neil? Haven’t you got a lab to clean up after a Russian scientist or something? 😆

  201. Neil of Sydney


    That hurts. You have no idea how close to the truth you are.

  202. Bacchus


    What really hurts is seeing you going over and over and over the same ground for six years (or is it seven now?)

    Move on and discover there are things happening in politics today – for a start, we have a worse PM than John Howard at the moment 😉

  203. Bacchus

    Oh and sorry for your hurt Neil – that wasn’t my intention. I’ve tried pointing you in directions that might enlighten you over the years, but you refuse to open your mind to ideas. Strange for someone who works (in whatever capacity) at a university…

  204. Roswell

    Leave him alone, Michael. You should know by now he lacks integrity.

  205. Kaye Lee

    I have pursued this for my own interest. I trust what Michael says so have been looking for verification.

    Neil, it is unfair of you to pick and choose which information I have quoted and ignore other bits. My post at 8:43 am from the ABS clearly states that they changed their methodology which led to unemployment being 3.2% lower in the NT and 2.07% lower in NSW. That’s a hell of a discrepancy just by changing your method.

  206. Michael Taylor

    Thanks Kaye.

    Leading up to the 2007 election Howard made a few subtle changes to methodology so it looked as though his Welfare to Work program was a huge success. He had to change the way numbers were reported because the truth was it wasn’t working at all.

    For example, the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations was told to take $750M from Newstart and DSP. The department only found $500M. The next day Hockey gave a press release saying that the programs came under budget by $500M, which proved their policies were a success. The election was called two weeks later.

    We also had Hockey lying to the press about DSP numbers. Only one paper – the Canberra Times – smelled a rat. Their enquiries to the department were deflected, of course. We were told not to answer them.

    The numbers of people seeking work were also fiddled with. The government wanted to brag that they’d reduced the numbers, so they changed their reporting methods. A person working just one hour a week was no longer considered to be a person seeking work – for reporting purposes. Like I said, they wanted to go into the election with the message that their Welfare to Work program was successful.

    None of this, of course, is in any legislation. Legislation and policies can be two different things, though they are usually a reflection of each other in a perfect world.

    Howard’s world wasn’t perfect. He just wanted people to think it was.

  207. stephentardrew

    While the world goes to hell in hand-basket all we can do is focus on the minutia of unemployment statistics.
    The complex dynamics of an evolving political system, which has been commandeered by the doyens of fossilization and conservative backward referral, as if the old failures will solve long term problems while the dynamic context of science, philosophy, engineering, computer technology etc. accelerate exponentially we should just opt for minutia and failure.

    Evolution is about new and bold revisionary adaptive strategies that challenge the ossified conception of self-justifying greed. It can be clearly demonstrated that we have the resources to build more equitable societies and eliminate much poverty and hardship. It can also be clearly, and empirically, that increased wealth and inequality are leading to increasing poverty and hardship. Yet manufactured unemployment stats are really going to add to solving these dilemmas.

    We do not have to go much further than the Earth Institute at Cambridge University where some of our most gifted academics are dealing with these complex dynamics in a practical way however they are not naive enough to produce backward referring politically captured sound-bites from a dystopian past (try 20008) driven to a intolerable future of environmental catastrophe and increasing poverty. Include all the other universities and academic institutions desperately trying to work towards environmental equilibrium and your employment stats pale into insignificance.

    If you work at a university Neil then maybe you are the janitor because your depth of knowledge is narrow and self-defeating.

    We need contemporary meta-theories mapped onto the relevant fields of science that must be unified under an umbrella of social justice, equity and utilitarian distribution of the wealth of nations.

    You add nothing to the complex dynamics of a world in which our children may suffer intolerably because of people like you and your ignorance.

  208. Kaye Lee


    Please respond to the quote from the ABS about how their change in methodology reduced the unemployment figures by several per cent. Or are you just going to ignore it?

  209. Neil of Sydney

    Yes i will respond if i am allowed to. One of my posts has disappeared so i do not know if this will make it.

    The ABS tweaks.

    The ABS tweaked in the 1960’s, it tweaked in the 1970’s, it tweaked in the 1980’s, it tweaked in the 1990’s and it tweaked this century.

    My understanding is that there have been no major changes in the way unemployment has been measured since 1966.

  210. Michael Taylor

    Kaye, here’s how things work:

    At the end of each month the departments that administer Centrelink programs produce a report on the population and population characteristics of those on particular income support/pension types. The numbers are embargoed until the Minister has approved their release. These figures eventually find their way to the OECD and anybody else who is interested.

    But here’s a situation that I am familiar with:

    With an election in the wind the Minister wants to know how many people who work ten hours a week or less are looking for a full-time job. The number comes back at, say, 400 000. Too many. The Minister then wants to know how many people who work one hour a week or less are looking for a full-time job. The number comes back at, say, 350 000. Yes, that’s better! The Minister brags to the media that the number of people looking for work is only 350 000. “See, our policies are working”.

    Nobody in the media cares to check those figures against the ones that are released to the OECD. But in case it was ever thought that they might snoop around, we were advised to give them an “I know nuthin” response.

    That’s how it worked.

  211. silkworm

    Congratulations to the lying trolls for successfully deflecting from the real topic of this thread. I want to hear more about New Monetary Theory and how it can provide full employment.

  212. Kaye Lee

    Well Neil your understanding is incorrect according to the ABS themselves as I just showed you where a change in their methodology all of a sudden made unemployment 3.2% less. This is from their own website.

  213. Neil of Sydney

    No you don’t. You want to here about how new Monetary Theory can tell you how you can conduct reckless spending and not worry about the consequences.

    It is the perfect concept for leftoids. Spend as much as you want and there will be no consequences according to MMT.

  214. Michael Taylor

    Silky, that’s Neil’s style. I am at fault for responding.

    I answered through Kaye Lee, but it was a response just the same. Kaye is far better to talk to than Neil.

  215. Michael Taylor

    BTW, my knowledge of New Monetory Theory is zero. I can’t add anything – I can only learn from the post and subsequent comments.

  216. Neil of Sydney

    Well Neil your understanding is incorrect according to the ABS themselves as I just showed you where a change in their methodology all of a sudden made unemployment 3.2% less.

    Wow 3.2% change!!!!!

    You obviously cannot read English

    The ABS is always tweaking with the concepts. They have to.

    My understanding is that there have been no major changes to the ABS formula since 1966.

    I will continue to believe this until proven otherwise.

  217. Michael Taylor

    Now he’s getting even more ridiculous.

  218. Kaye Lee

    Ok, I give up. I showed you the proof from the ABS website. You didn’t have to believe Michael, you didn’t have to believe me, you just had to read what the actual body itself said in 2007. You keep saying Howard reduced unemployment by 4%. I show you where even they said 3.2% came from a change in methodology and you say wow? I know talking to you is pointless but I had thought, since you grabbed onto the other information I gave you, that you may be interested in the truth. Sadly, you retreated to “fingers in ears”.

  219. Neil of Sydney


    Unemployment fell by 50% under Howard not 4%.

    Going from 8% to 4% unemployment is a FIFTY percent reduction!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    If unemployment is at 6% a 3.2% reduction would take it to 5.8%.

    A MINOR change

    There have been MINOR changes to the way the ABS measure unemployment since 1966.

    But no MAJOR changes.

    A 3.2% change is a MINOR, MINOR, MINOR, MINOR, MINOR change.

    But you do not understand.

    Or maybe i have misunderstood.

  220. John Armour

    Please respond to the quote from the ABS about how their change in methodology reduced the unemployment figures by several per cent. Or are you just going to ignore it?

    Ignoring inconvenient facts is not just one of Neil’s annoying habits Kaye Lee.

    You and John Kelly have both ignored recent comments from me where I have sought to point out some pretty glaring mistakes in things you’ve written.

  221. Neil of Sydney

    John Armour

    I responded.

    Kaye Lee just shows how deluded she can be.

    If unemployment is at 8% she thinks a 3.2% reduction takes it to 8-3.2= 4.8%

    Mate if unemployment was at 8% one month and at 4.8% the next month there would be a ROYAL COMMISSION into the ABS methodology.

    If unemployment was at 8% a 3.2% reduction means it would be 7.7%. A minor reduction.

    Do you people have any common sense??

  222. Neil of Sydney

    “Ok, I give up. I showed you the proof from the ABS website”

    No you didn’t. You misunderstood your own post.

    A three percent reduction in unemployment does not mean unemployment goes from say 6% to 3%.

    A three percent reduction means unemployment goes from 6% to 5.82%.

    The ABS is always tweaking its unemployment calculation but there have been no major changes since 1966.

    Also government numbers have nothing to do with the ABS. Michael is mistaken.

    Unemployment is determined by a telephone poll conducted by the ABS. So it would be difficult for a govt minister to manipulate that.

  223. The AIM Network

    Unemployment is determined by a telephone poll conducted by the ABS. So it would be difficult for a govt minister to manipulate that.

    Ministers don’t use those numbers in official releases.

  224. Kaye Lee

    John Armour,

    “You and John Kelly have both ignored recent comments from me where I have sought to point out some pretty glaring mistakes in things you’ve written.”

    I don’t agree. You have a focus on MMT and your expertise and understanding far outstrips mine so whilst I may not respond, that does not equate to ignoring. I don’t believe you have pointed out “glaring mistakes”. Not all discussions are couched in terms of MMT though I do think it has much to offer. I appreciate what you add to the conversation whilst recognising economics is only a part of the things we need to discuss.

  225. Neil of Sydney

    “Ministers don’t use those numbers in official releases.

    And the Australian people are just hanging out waiting for the minister to release numbers?? But i think you are mistaken anyway.

    The only numbers i see released on a regular basis is the unemployment numbers released by the ABS. And govt ministers are not involved in that calculation.

  226. Michael Taylor

    I, along with everybody else here, Neil, really have had a gut full with you. We’re sick of the way you continuously attempt to derail threads and label other commenters liars even after they’ve provided you with contrary evidence.

    Here’s some other evidence about where Ministers get their data from. Have a look at it – data is provided by Centrelink. These are the reports that are provided to the minister.

    And for the last time – yes, the last time I’m telling you – I should know because I used to help put those reports together.

  227. Matters Not

    Michael Taylor, Neil is begging to be banned. He wants a story, like a banning, to ‘dine out on’.

    I, for one, would deny him his wish.

    In many ways, he wins when well meaning people rise to his ‘baits’.

    Some discipline is required. Don’t feed the trolls.

  228. Kaye Lee

    I WAS ignoring Neil until I read “The women interpreted stuff she posted “.

    Trying very hard to be tolerant here. I will try to explain this very simply for you. When they compared the estimates of unemployed persons using the old system and the new system state unemployment estimates were 0.15% to 3.20% percentage points lower on average under the new estimator. Not 3.2% of 8% or whatever you are implying. I would refer you to table 2 in the link I provided.

    What that means is using the old system they might come up with an estimate of 6.07% for unemployed persons in NSW. Under the new method they came up with 4% unemployed persons in NSW.

  229. silkworm

    Matters Not,

    Lying, inflammatory trolls cannot be ignored. Lies cannot be left to fester. They are a matter for moderation and must be banned.

  230. stephentardrew

    I Squeak therefore I am.

  231. Möbius Ecko

    So the other Neil of Sydney is online here.

  232. Kaye Lee

    Neil, unemployment estimates and unemployment rates are two different things.

  233. Michael Taylor

    Neil’s work here is done. I’ve now sent him out to pasture.

  234. stephentardrew


  235. John Armour

    Kaye Lee,

    It’s your right to dismiss my criticism with “I don’t agree” but if you’d read those links to articles by Bill Mitchell on the Intergenerational Report and persisted in your belief it would be as if you were denying Australia had a fiat money system.

    To uncritically promote the IGR to this audience of readers is what I would call a “glaring mistake” because the IGR is neo-liberal tosh, a Costello device to reinforce the debt/deficit message.

    Similarly for John Kelly’s belief that deficits are paid off by future generations.

    These are not trivial matters. These neo-liberal “self-evident truths” (that is, “lies”) played a big part in delivering Tony Abbott the prime ministership.

    The last place I want to see them given an uncritical airing is on a blog that I regard as being progressive.

    MMT is not the issue here, it’s just the road map. These are not insights peculiar to MMT but simply describe the monetary system we actually operate under.

  236. Kaye Lee

    Persisted in what belief John? To suggest that I “uncritically promote” anything at all is just not true. I do remember quoting from the IGR at one stage but cannot remember the discussion. I did read Bill’s criticism of the IGR. Can you remind me what we were discussing?

  237. John Armour

    Kaye Lee,

    If you really did read Bill Mitchell’s scathing criticism of the IGR and cannot see how it conflicts with your presenting it, presumably as something worthy of serious consideration, that is, uncritically, then there’s not much more I can say.

  238. Kaye Lee

    So you can’t remember what we were discussing either? John your dismissive tone is NOT conducive to people learning. And YES I read the article at the time but since I can’t remember which article from here we were discussing it’s awfully hard for me to comment unless you can refresh my memory. I understand you and Bill think the IGR was a load of crap and he made a good argument for that but I know I wasn’t writing about that…I quoted something from it…what, I can’t remember.

  239. John Armour

    We weren’t discussing anything Kay Lee. You were commenting (I think) on some point “revolutionarycitizen” had raised (in John Kelly’s “Plutocrats and Pitchforks” article) and I presume you thought your reference to the IGR was relevant.

    If you read Bill Mitchell’s articles on the IGR I assume it was via those links I provided a couple of comments below yours.

    I would’ve thought that would’ve sent alarm bells ringing in your head and you would’ve quickly written something to correct the record. Coming from you, the author of the original comment, that would’ve been a better way of promoting learning than some pedagogical rant from me.

    What you write Kaye Lee carries a lot of lot of authority on AIMN, and similarly for John Kelly, and deservedly so. That makes it especially important that when it is pointed out that what you have written is factually incorrect it’s important to correct the record.

    If I had been the now retired resident troll saying you were wrong I would’ve been buried under an avalanche of rebuttals.

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