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Dob in a bludger

By John Haly

Morrison announcement ofpermanently increasing the rate of working-age payments by $50 a fortnight from 1 April 2021” received a lacklustre response. The Australian reporting about the lead-up to this said, “The base rate of JobSeeker is currently $570.80 a fortnight. But pressure has been mounting on the government to raise the rate with the $150 coronavirus supplement for welfare recipients ending in late March.”

Small bickies

The Australian Council of Social Service’s disappointed response reported that they would have preferred $25 extra a day rather than a week. The cheapest coffee I can buy around in my suburb is $4, an extra $3.57 a day is hardly enough. It has, although, lifted our unemployment allowance from 37.5% to 41.2% of the national minimum wage. That means we will no longer have the lowest level of unemployment benefits as a percentage of the average salary in the OECD. Fifty dollars lifts us above Greece to second-last place. Mind you, the original Covid Jobseeker supplement incrementally lifted the unemployed for the first time, above the Henderson Poverty Line.

Paying such low levels “under the false pretence of encouraging more unemployed Australians to look for jobs” has no evidentiary basis. The international market demonstrates it has the opposite effect. Higher unemployment payments internationally are more often correlated with lower unemployment rates. More money flowing into Jobseeker generates spending in the economy, and drives demand. The multiplier effect of which, our country in recession has shown it desperately needs to boost the economy.

 

Australian Welfare no longer in last place.

Training?

Despite the Coalition undercutting higher education, Michaelia Cash supported the idea that after six months on Job Seeker, recipients undergo training to help them get a job. Department of Employment figures show the smallest job market in January were the unskilled labourers (8.1%), Sales Workers (7.7%), Machinery Operators and Drivers (5.9%). This collection of low skilled jobs (37,975) are in rare supply in the Australian economy. Therefore, any Jobseeker training to elevate them to the skill level needed to widen their prospects would require extensive TAFE/University level education; well beyond “approved intensive short courses.

 

Job vacancy classification breakdown

Dob ’em in

These were not the only changes Morrison implemented to job welfare. That Australian article also reported, “Under a raft of welfare reforms, Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said employers would be able to dob in unemployed Aussies who don’t take up jobs they are offered.” A move even Business groups denounced, let alone the welfare groups and unions. Social media references to “Dob a bludger!” accompanied curiosity as to the probability of emerging hotlines for “Dob in a wage thief” for businesses that were “accidentally underpaying workers“. Further suggestions provided ideas to establish hotlines for dob in a rorter, silencer of whistleblowers, white supremacist and sexual predators. It is tantamount to licensing abuse and employee exploitation which already occurs in industries like farming, retail and service.

 

 

Get off the couch!

The prevalent attitude towards the unemployed by politicians suggests that the unemployed are dominantly lazy, and distracted by Netflix as Nationals leader Michael McCormack claimed, or on drugs as our currently on leave, Attorney-General Christian Porter claimed when Social Services Minister. Several Federal ministers like David Littleproud MP, Senator Michaelia Cash, Senator Gerard Rennick, and Colin Boyce MP attacked the unemployed demanding they “get off the couch“, and get farmhand jobs that Australians discovered were not available. Others would suggest this patronising attack on people who, because of a recession and the pandemic, are without work, is merely targeting “low hanging fruit“. These Federal Ministers all would have us believe jobs are plentiful.

They are not alone in spouting propaganda that jobs are readily available. Minister for Families and Social Services Anne Ruston, in a Triple J Hack interview with Avani Dias on the 23rd of February, repeated the fallacious claim. That there are “plenty of jobs” in her region. This was demonstrably wrong. Based in Renmark, her territory in the Murray had 8,364 people on Jobsearch in Jan 2021 but only 626 job vacancies (13 times less than the people looking for work). That ratio is better than the national average (approx 18x), so perhaps she might have had something to boast about if she had only bothered to tell the truth.

 

Job Vacancies in Murray District, SA

 

Unemployed in Murray District, SA

 

 

What jobs?

It isn’t easy to be finding a job in our economy, as reflected by any measure or methodology:

– jobs claimed by ABS (254,400 jobs), Dept of Employment (175,100 jobs), Seek (182793 jobs);

verses

– the unemployed registered by Jobseeker (1.236M people), ABS (877,600 people) or Roy Morgan (1.68M people). [All Stats currently published as of the end of Feb 2021 for January 2021]

These measures demonstrate that irrespective of what stats you accept, there are far more unemployed than available jobs. Beyond understanding the basics of how unemployment is measured, it is crucial to understand what some methodologies do not appraise.

The difference between ABS and Roy Morgan’s stats are considerable, and while the government and Main-Stream Media lean heavily on the ABS measure, we should appreciate what it represents. I have for a long time explained the ABS’s shortcomings from it’s

 

Statistical variations of Unemployment reported.

Subsets

These exclusions mean that what the ABS measures is not our internal domestic unemployment, but a subset of the numbers of unemployed for reasons of international comparison. A long time economic analyser of ABS statistics, Alan Austin, expressed similar conclusions, to that of my recent article on this subject.

To be clear, ABS measures a subset of our internal unemployment, as are JobSeeker numbers. The disparity between them illustrated in the variations graph depicts the entire period over which Job Seeker has existed. ABS’s subset, guided by the ILO methodology, facilitates international comparison, but does not measure any country’s national unemployment numbers. These stand in stark contrast to Murdoch and Nine Media’s claims that unemployment is a single whole digit percentage rate. Roy Morgan reveals unemployment hasn’t been under 10% since February 2020, and neither has under and unemployment been under 20%.

 

Under and Unemployment vs Job Vacancies

 

So ABS’s claimed 877,600 unemployment numbers are a subset of the domestic reality. Similarly ABS claimed a 2.08 million subset of under and unemployed. Alan Austin and I are in enthusiastic agreement that “It might be time for the unemployment rate published by Australia’s Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to be put out to pasture.” Alan continued affirming “the steam engine that is Roy Morgan’s real unemployment rate”. Roy Morgan shows in January 2021, unemployment is 1.68 million people, and adding underemployment reaches 3.118 million souls looking for a decent job. The Department of Employment’s IVI job vacancy report for January reveals that over three million people in Australia are competing for 175,100 jobs. Nearly 18 people for every job advertised, and we are not even beginning to deal with the logistic issues of job searching.

Location, location, location

Beyond Australia’s 19 cities, over 100K population, there are 1700 towns with populations between that and a thousand people. Spreading 175,100 jobs across a continent representing 5% of the earth’s landmass, when the towns are dominantly coastal, represents the first challenge to job seekers. An “off the back of an envelope” averaging for any given town/city would tell you that more than 100 jobs in a given population centre mean you are probably living in a city. Which might mean less than ten jobs advertised in that region will be for unskilled labour (8.1%). That’s not a nuanced presumption, as industry and commercial activity vary considerably from place to place, and I’ve given no consideration to rural areas. Still, one might understand that job locality has to be one of the most considerable obstacles for the unemployed.

The government’s expectation announced on the 23rd of February is “job seekers will be required to search for a minimum of 15 jobs a month from early April, increasing to 20 jobs per month from the 1st of July“. Purely considering the subset of the unemployed on Jobseeker (1.236M people) generating 15 applications per month creates 18 million letters and has the potential to cover every advertised job in Australia 105 times until July, when it will be 141 times. Given the likelihood of the number of jobs existing in your city or town as aforementioned, just how long will it take any given unemployed person to run out local employers?

Limitations to employment are locality and factors such as job requirements for education and/or skills, competition for work, financial limitations/burdens, physical/mental impediments, security clearances, pay awards not commensurate with needs and employment discrimination and/or exploitation.

Nobody in the coalition government is prepared to concede they are failing the unemployed. The party of “Jobs and Growth” has in reality been expanding “Unemployment and Recession” for years and no policy the government has implemented in Morrison’s $9B Social Security Safety Net seems capable of changing that path.

This article was originally published on Australia Awaken – Ignite your Torches.

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13 comments

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  1. New England Cocky

    Perhaps the optimal solution is to hold the 2021 Federal elections as early as possible so that Nazional$ politicians can experience firsthand the difficulties in finding employment in urban regional and remote Australia.

  2. Graham

    I may be wildly out of touch and ignorant here – not having been unemployed and on social security for decades – but if I was and was required to apply for X number of jobs each month in order to continue receiving benefits, what is to stop me generating an application for any advertised job, regardless of whether or not I am qualified for it or even want it. A standard form application and cv. If it is just the number of jobs you have applied for that determines your eligibility then anyone can scam the system.

  3. Vikingduk

    This current crime syndicate has neither the will nor the incentive to lower the unemployment figures, it would be completely against their “principles”. An unemployment figure of between 2 & 3 percent would quite likely put pressure on the necessity of wage rises — less people looking for work would likely incentivise employees to pay more to keep their staff.

    As far as dob in a bludger, yo scotty looking at you you rancid bucket of prawns and all your partners in crime, you fuckers are toast. When was the last time any of you did an honest day’s work? Ever? Unlimited sickies, monstrous living away from home allowance, private jets, com cars, no necessity to take responsibility, bully to your heart’s content, denigrate anyone that is not you, unlimited cruelty. All headed by the biggest liar, the biggest con artist, the biggest slime bag, no care/no responsibility fucknuckle Australia has ever known. The sanctimonious smirking jerk, scotty the magnificent, mr. smirk & mirrors, the liar from the shire.

  4. Lurline O'Brien

    Graham,

    Nothing to stop you doing that, except that the government does ring employers and check if they think you are applying for suitable jobs, so though they force you to apply for unsuitable jobs they will punish you for doing so.

    Also we need to have consideration for the poor employers, especially small business in a region of small population dealing with hundreds or thousands of unsuitable applications, often from people with no intention of moving to their region, while trying to fill a genuine vacancy.

    Assuming there are 18 genuine applicants for each vacancy, but each unemployed person is expected to send out 20 or more applications each month, I would say 95% of applicants for any job would be regarded by employers as time wasters. I can see employers stopping advertising jobs at all under those pressures, and then jobs would only be filled by those they already know. Leaving those of us with few business contacts completely out of the loop. And the few that do continue to advertise will then be even more overwhelmed by unsuitable applicants as everyone scrambles to fill their quota to avoid being cut off of the meagre allowance they receive.

  5. king1394

    Graham misses the point. It is a requirement that you do not be a “job snob” but apply for any possible vacancy. This includes cold calling at the door or by phone. Pretty harsh to say the unemployed person is scamming by doing exactly as he is supposed to do.

  6. Graham

    #King1394

    I was not suggesting the unemployed who are genuinely looking for work should not try for anything they are capable of doing and want to do, but if all you have to do is apply for 15 or 20 jobs a month – and that is the only criteria to qualify for the benefit – that is what they should do. They don’t need to stress about having to make the 20 applications.

  7. Henry Rodrigues

    Talking about lurks and perks. The unchristian Porter and the offensive minister for defense, are now on ‘leave’, either to escape scrutiny, or to recuperate in luxurious surrounding of their comfortable pads, on full pay . No wonder they are dead set on not resigning. What and give up all the wonderful taxpayer gravy they’re are so used to ?

  8. Harry Williams

    Henry, how so very true. But to counter the attack on the unemployed via “dob a job”. It might be better to mount a campaign by activists to swamp the dobbing lines with calls about Federal MP’s who do not turn up for work. This would achieve two goals. One is to draw attention to the parliamentary bludgers. Two is to crash the phone lines because of the amount of calls.

  9. Ill fares the land

    President Morrison will be able to get what I am saying – although he might not if he needs “Jen” to again remind him he is a father of daughters. Of course, Jen reminded him he is a father when the victim and complainant was Brittany Higgins, but apparently Jen forgot to remind him that Porter’s alleged victim was also the daughter of a father who lost his daughter to suicide. No need for fake empathy there – way too busy defending Porter. What underpins both of these situations? Simple – politics and President Morrison’s capacity for fake empathy – which doesn’t fool all of us, but does fool enough of the people enough of the time for him to remain “preferred” PM. FFS Australia – wake up.

    Consider – your attractive 20 year-old daughter goes to a job interview. A good job and she wants it – but the boss, who is doing the interview, is an abject sleazebag and spends the entire interview looking at your daughter’s breasts. She says no to the job and gets dobbed in by the power-crazed boss who thinks all women should want to sleep with him and be his plaything unless there is something wrong with them. Who is going to be believed by Centrelink? WIll your daughter be entitled to any presumption of innocence? Where will be the “rule of law” designed to help the weaker party achieve justice? I am confident we all know the answers to those rhetorical questions.

  10. Andrew J. Smith

    Interesting, while the government caters to retirees on social services, tax breaks on retirement income etc. those of working age on any state benefit but described as ‘welfare’, are demonised and denigrated (very eugenics).

    Good point re. Roy Morgan vs ABS with the former being more representative of reality but maybe half way?

    Good example of the confusion that reigns through the use of the ‘nebulous’ NOM Net Overseas Migration formula developed up by the UNPD and the 12/16 rule introduced in 2006 went unnoticed by media (only used by island nations UK, NZ and Oz?). the ABS analysis based on ‘exclusions of foreign workers through 12/16 rule’; to be followed by the emergence of Sustainable Population Australia and nativist policies based upon population data or more the NOM.

    The latter is pure numbers of ppl, no relationship with citizenship, residency nor visa status but it’s application is often both invalid and
    hence, unreliable, according to statistics 101; many non citizen/PR people swept up in the NOM are students on restricted work rights, backpackers ditto, various long term temporary residents (without work rights) and some working visas.

    Headline numbers are meaningless for analysis while the NOM, CoreLogic and the ABS have been scrutinised by a statistically literate person who claims much of the data and.or analysis is flawed, but used religiously in media to promote ‘population growth’ (as the existential and environmental crisis of our time), CoreLogic (dodgy clearance rates, subjective ‘hedonic’ index and nominal median prices always go up, but real median value, who knows?) and the ABS population, visa and immigration data has many integrity issues.

    Interest read is the now inactive blog The Quixotic Quant’ (inspired by media headlines round population data) on the NOM (plus similar disdain for ABS and CoreLogic) with post titled ‘The Missing Million: Is Australia’s migration rate actually high?’ (4 Sep 2017):

    ‘sometime in the mid-2000s the Australian Bureau of Statistics changed the definition of an official statistic called “Net Overseas Migration”. The arbitrary definition they had at the time was malfunctioning, and the next arbitrary one they changed to has been malfunctioning even worse (NB: this was the UNPD’s 2006, hence, the ABS’ unannounced change that conflated temps with permanent and spiked population through misrepresentation and/or data illiteracy). A blithely ignorant press didn’t even notice the change, let alone query the disfunction that inspired it, so the entire country has been putting their faith soaring population figure that has the integrity of custard. The harder alternative figure shows that our migration rate is actually flat. The confusion probably explains even more weird things, like low nominal GDP growth, low tax revenues, not to mention wage growth and per-capita everything….’

    https://www.quixoticquant.com/post/the-missing-million/

    When data literacy has become so important along with digital and critical literacies too, Australians are unable to access valid and reliable data, with skills of analysis, to assess or evaluate public statements and media headlines, let alone political policies.

  11. John Haly

    Hi folks, my summary appraisal of comments herein.

    New England Cocky: If I had any faith in the greater Australian community to vote them out because of their overly apparent failings, I would wish for such an election. According to the Essentials poll, Morrison’s popularity has dropped in the polls, but he is still ahead. Australians are still politically disengaged.

    Graham: I recall decades ago generating 200 letters straight out of college, via a computer program I wrote (well before mail merge facilities existed) to seek work at a time when jobs were plentiful. Not one worked. I got my first full-time job via a recommendation from a friend of my father. Nowadays, that is so much simpler to do, but the results are not dissimilar. If it works, then go for it, but when you look at my graph on the breakup of job vacancy classifications, there are too few jobs for the market.

    Vikingduk: I like your description of “current crime syndicate”, as it seems so appropriate these days. I would go further than 2 or 3% (keeping in mind Australia had such percentages after the War) and suggest that wages will continue to stagnate until we implement a Federal Job Guarantee program.

    As for the rest of the comment, I may privately agree, but I won’t be writing such a description for public journalism.

    Lurline O’Brien: That is a fair comment in defense of small employers, but the only reason they get these applications is because of inappropriate government welfare conditions. We need to target our anger not at the desperate but at the government’s failure to address the issue appropriately for all parties.

    Which is what “king1394” points out.

    Which “Lurline” conceded in his reply.

    Henry Rodrigues and Harry Williams: While not wanting to divert too much over into the “unchristian Porter”, you might find it interesting to note that once I mention Christian, all the alternate dob in lines I suggested have embedded links, all of which reference Mr Christian Porter. That was, of course, deliberate on my part. A hidden “Easter egg” if you like for those that inquire more into the embedded links.

    Ill fares the land: There is an embedded link in the article to a tweet of mine on the likelihood of abuse by unscrupulous employers of Michaelia Cash’s “Dob a bludger!” hotline. It is linked to the sentence that begins, “It is tantamount to licensing abuse and employee exploitation which…” I think you will find it concurs with your expressed sentiment.

    That is all folks, thank you for engaging with my article in writing.
    Regards,
    John.

  12. John Haly

    I didn’t mean to neglect you, Andrew J. Smith, but I took my reference points from a previously cached version of my article, and your comment did not appear until I posted my last comment.

    I have written on the ABS vs Roy Morgan statistics for years now, several links embedded in the article above. SO no, I disagree with the comment of “but maybe half way?” The reasons why are listed in more detail in these. I have covered the 12/16 rule previously, too, and migratory labour stats as well. There is a piece I submitted to IA before the 2016 election. Still, because of many other articles submitted at that time and as I’d already published there the week or so before, they didn’t publish it. I then went to France and so never followed it up. By the time I returned, the election was over, and we all moved on. Perhaps it might be relevant to your migration/population concerns.

    http://auswakeup.info/growth-rate-indicators/

    Although the data is now out of date, I haven’t written anything else specifically in that realm for a while.
    I have certainly discussed the seasonal fluctuating nature of migration patterns in AIMN in an article titled “Turnbull’s reinvention of the 457 visa scheme does little to aid Australia” to which your link seems to refer. I need to spend more time reading your article, but my wife has literally knocked on my office door to ask me out for lunch. So I may come back to this.

  13. Gideon

    where are the 24 million applications a month meant to be sent? Will the system consider that when you apply online to Woolworths, its covers BWS, Dan Murphys, BigW, Woolworths, Woolworths servo, and hotels. That combination within 10km of here includes 10 BWS, 3 BIG W, 12 Woolworths, 6 Dan murphys, 10 servos, at least 2 hotels/pubs, that I know of therefore that means one application is submitted to 40 plus potential employers. You can only do that application once every 6 months when you add in the Coles network you end up with the ridiculous situation that 2 applications have been sent but 70% of the retail employers have been eliminated. Add in another 4 or 5 applications and you’ve applied to 90%+ of all retail outlets. Thats less than the required amount in one day, yeah sure there other options but to meet the requirements that small section of the business community will bare the burden of the 20million applications every month yet have next to no employee turnover, its also the most insecure of employers in the retail network with independent retails only last 2-5 years depending on their leases.

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