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Malcolm’s empty slogan

The Turnbull government would have us believe that they have been successful in job creation – it’s their mantra – but a closer look at the figures suggests otherwise.

Comparing August 2013 and August 2016, there are 8,600 more people unemployed now. That’s thousands more struggling families.

Certainly the number of employed people has also risen, as has the aggregate monthly hours worked, but those figures also tell a story.

Over the past year, the labour force, which includes both employed and unemployed persons, increased by 148,800 persons which means, over three years (assuming a similar annual increase), we would have to be creating about 450,000 jobs just to keep up.

There are 316,800 more people employed now than in August 2013, far short of keeping pace with natural labour force increase.

Even more telling, those extra 316,800 employed people only added an average of 30 hours a month each to the aggregate monthly hours worked.

Overall, the almost 12 million people employed in August 2016 all worked an average of almost three hours less a month than their counterparts in 2013. We have effectively lost 35 million work hours a month.

Needless to say, trend underemployment is at a series high of 8.6 per cent.

Full-time employment has fallen by 21,500 persons since December 2015. Part-time employment has increased by around 105,300 persons over this same period but, as we are two thirds of the way through the year, there would be an increase in the labour force of approximately 100,000 so, all up, we continue to go backwards.

Even if percentages remain stable, more individuals are un- and underemployed. More people are living in poverty.

The government says that it is business, not them, who create jobs but the aim of business is to make a profit – loyalty to employees is a rare commodity nowadays and altruistic behaviour basically unheard of. If businesses can do it cheaper with machines or outsourcing, they will.

Turnbull points to our defence industry as an area of job creation and then promptly, post-election of course, gives China the contract to make our military dress uniforms, because they could do it cheaper. Of course they can. Bangladesh could probably do it cheaper still.

The Textiles, Clothing and Footwear industry employed 36,364 people in 2014-15 but they are under great pressure from internet sales and cheap imports facilitated by free trade agreements.

Why would we spend reportedly an extra 30% on our subs so a couple of thousand people might get some work in about ten years’ time and then choose to not support our local clothing industry?

I guess it’s the same reason we couldn’t afford to subsidise our car industry, which employed tens of thousands of people, but we can afford to subsidise the fossil fuel industry who are sacking people hand over fist. Why did Abbott, at a crucial juncture, buy a fleet of government cars from BMW instead of a local manufacturer?

Hell, we even shipped in 20 million sheets of paper from overseas to use for ballots in the Federal election despite the domestic paper and packaging industry being under enormous competition due to the free trade agreements.

The AEC spokesman said “We have to follow the Commonwealth Procurement Rules. Every government agency has to follow these rules for any procurement of goods. Under these rules the agency has to assess the value for money of the goods and weigh up the services against the cost.” (It’s a pity they don’t apply the same rigour to politicians’ expense claims.)

Do they ever include the social cost of unemployment in these assessments?

Entry level and low skilled jobs are disappearing due, not only to automation, but also due to both business and government choosing to outsource. They ask us to support local producers, but go for cheaper offshore suppliers of goods and services themselves.

Despite overly emotional speeches about “cold-blooded lies”, the government has already begun privatising Medicare with a $220 million contract to Telstra to manage the national cancer screening register. Will it too be sent to the Philippines to administer?

The Productivity Commission has called for the private sector to be given a greater role in providing key government services in health, housing and Indigenous affairs. They released a draft report saying that services in six priority areas — including social housing, some public hospital services, palliative care, Indigenous affairs and dental care — could be improved if they are opened to market competition. Because that has worked so well for us in the past – just look at airport parking.

The government seems to be actively pursuing policies that contribute to unemployment with many jobs going to 457 visa workers and backpackers, and free trade agreements destroying local industries and allowing foreign companies to bring in their own workers.

The Consolidated Sponsored Occupations List is extensive and includes many occupations that Australians could readily fill. I find it hard to believe we need to import driving instructors, flight attendants, funeral directors, youth workers, wool buyers and real estate agents. If we really do have skill gaps then surely we should be targeting and incentivising training to fill them.

About 20,000 public servants have been sacked by the government and funding cuts have led to many more dismissals in NGOs and NFPs.

The government’s proposed internship program sounds good if you trust employers to not exploit it by replacing entry level jobs with free labour. Considering the many cases of abuse we have already witnessed, that trust would be misplaced, as would any hope that the government would act to address cases of exploitation that are brought to their notice.

This government mouths platitudes as it pretends concern about youth unemployment at the same time as arguing to cut benefits and increase the wait time. They abandon needs based funding for education, give vocational training over to shonky private colleges, make university education unaffordable, demonise the unemployed as bludgers, undermine unions, and import temporary foreign workers. All of this only exacerbates the unemployment problem.

We are continually barraged with the marketing pitch that everything the government does is about “jobs, jobs jobs”. Their actions prove it to be yet another empty slogan.

The central character in the 2008 Man Booker winning novel The White Tiger suggests “this will be the century of the yellow and brown people”. He is not talking about political influence or military might but the fortune to be made from outsourced call centres.

He may well be right.



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  1. auntyuta

    You say: “If we really do have skill gaps then surely we should be targeting and incentivising training to fill them.” I couldn’t agree more.

  2. bobrafto

    I have to stop reading, it’s depressing to see the LNP consistently destroying our once great country, the fair go might have had some meaning a few decades back but now it’s just a myth.

    I’m going back to reread RossLeigh to get a laff.

  3. Kaye Lee

    My husband had the same reaction when I asked him to proof read bobrafto. Plus the football was on 🙂

    Sorry to be so depressing all the time. I wish I could find something positive to say about this government but I can’t. They tell great big fat lies. At least I didn’t quote Michaelia Cash again. She talks such rubbish with such unfounded overanimated certainty (and very tight face and neck muscles), I find her exhausting.

  4. Matters Not

    Why would we spend reportedly an extra 30% on our subs so a couple of thousand people

    Really? The evidence suggests a much more pessimistic assessment:

    The Turnbull government proposes to acquire twelve submarines of French design (DCNS), to be constructed in Adelaide at a cost of $56 billion. At $4.6 billion per boat, this is an eye-watering price for a conventional submarine. By comparison, India is acquiring six French submarines, admittedly of a smaller size, for a total of around $4 billion. A Virginia class nuclear submarine, twice the size and far more capable, currently costs $3.6 billion in the US

    We have been duded big time. We are buying submarines that are overpriced and they are ‘deficient’ – to be kind.

    Car manufacturing, the imminent loss of which may cost an estimated 200,000 jobs, has an effective rate of assistance (ERA) of less than eight per cent. The proposed submarine acquisition will require an ERA in excess of 300 per cent

    Where is the MSM when it comes to this scandal? Why is it an ‘expert’ like Jon Stanford can reveal this nonsense but the MSM can’t?

    But no, there’s even more. Some of the upgrades to Aegis that the Navy requires will be difficult or impossible to integrate on the relatively small platform that Defence selected for the AWDs. Looking at the last two ships under construction, ASPI suggests that the most economical solution could be to cut our losses. “For $5 billion, the RAN could buy two larger, more capable Arleigh Burke class destroyers with the latest Aegis configuration. In so doing, it would save money and possibly even receive the vessels before the upgrades to the AWDs are expected to be completed.”

    Want to read more? Here’s the link. Talk about ‘policy’ failure of monumental proportions. And don’t forget the $55 million we spent in Cambodia for refugee resettlement.

    JON STANFORD. Business welfare under the Coalition: two case studies (2)

  5. Kaye Lee

    The French company awarded the right to build Australia’s $50 billion submarine fleet is embroiled in a multi-million dollar bribery scandal over a submarine contract in Malaysia.

    French prosecutors now allege that DCNS engaged in “active bribery of foreign public officials” to win a $US2 billion contract in 2002 to build two Scorpene-class submarines for Malaysia.

    The scandal has also entangled Thales, another defence industry giant with deep ties to the Australian military.

    Thales owns a 35 per cent stake in DCNS’

    ​Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced in October that Thales would build a $1.3 billion fleet of armoured four-wheel-drives in Victoria, in addition to the Australian army’s “Bushmaster” vehicles.

    Another suspicious element of the Australian tender is that DCNS employed former Liberal staffer Sean Costello as its CEO for the bid. Mr Costello was chief-of-staff for former Defence Minister David Johnston who was sacked from his position in 2014.

    According to Wikipedia, the DCN / DCNS plays a major role in “one of France’s biggest political and financial scandals of the last generation [that left] a trail of eight unexplained deaths, nearly half a billion dollars in missing cash and troubling allegations of government complicity” connected to a sale of warships to Taiwan in the 1990s.

    But hey, I am sure they were the best value for money to design and build our subs (cough). No wonder the OECD keeps expressing concern about our failure to investigate, let alone prosecute, foreign bribery allegations.

  6. Kaye Lee


    The Australian Senate have been investigating financial fraud and corruption at Airservices Australia since 2014 which also involves Thales and its Australian CEO Chris Jenkins. The inquiry has heard evidence of widespread fraud, nepotism and blatant corruption.

    Airservices Australia hired a consulting organisation called International Centre for Complex Project Management (ICCPM) to negotiate a $1.5 billion contract with Thales to upgrade Australia’s air traffic control program. The former chairman and still a director of ICCPM is Thales CEO Chris Jenkins.

    So the net effect is that you have an organisation overseen by Chris Jenkins in his role as chairman/director (ICCPM) negotiating with Chris Jenkins in his role as CEO (Thales) to get the best deal for Airservices Australia.

    Australian Senate corruption inquiry investigating $50 Billion Submarine contract winner

  7. Kaye Lee

    And this….

    “hundreds of thousands of temporary foreign workers illegally exploited and underpaid in what has become a widespread “black economy” for jobs…….workers across the economy, in food courts, cafes, factories, building sites, farms, hairdressers and retail – being exploited on low wages and believing they have no power to ask for their rights.”

  8. bobrafto

    Matters Not

    Talk about ‘policy’ failure of monumental proportions.

    The money was doing all the talking. Very sweet deals for some.

  9. Joan Day

    When is it going to sink in that our Government is not serving the Australian people, but the International Monetary Fund, World / Central Banks, CFR, United Nations and NATO ? These people run the world! Dictates the policies and call the shots and Governments must obey. Got it??

  10. Kaye Lee

    I think global corporations exert far more influence than those bodies Joan.

  11. Kaye Lee

    The National Parliamentary inquiry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal between Australia, the US and 10 other Pacific Rim countries will be in Sydney on September 26.

    The Inquiry is holding public hearings and will report before Parliament votes on the TPP implementing legislation later this year.

    The government does not have a majority in the Senate and the TPP can be blocked if Labor, the Greens and the Nick Xenophon team vote against it.

    No other government has yet passed the legislation, and even the U.S. Congress is unlikely to do so.

    There is strong Australian community opposition to the TPP, with over 15,000 critical submissions and messages to the inquiry, and petitions signed by 300,000 people.

    The TPP:

    gives pharmaceutical companies more rights to charge higher prices for medicines
    allows foreign investors to bypass national courts and sue our governments in unfair international tribunals if they object to our laws on health, the environment and even workers’ rights.
    allows more temporary migrant workers who are vulnerable to exploitation, without testing if local workers are available.

    Time: 12.30pm – 1.30pm, Monday September 26

    Place: Outside the Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices at 1 Bligh St, Sydney

    Bring: TPP signs and placards

  12. John Lord

    Sobering truth Kaye.

  13. Kaye Lee

    The union movement, through Public Services International, is conducting a “people’s inquiry into privatisation”, chaired by the executive director of the progressive thinktank Per Capita, David Hetherington, to “start a national conversation about the impacts of privatisation, and talk directly with communities about the services they need”. Its other members are the former Western Australian Labor politician Yvonne Henderson and Archie Law, executive director of ActionAid.

    If it is really after better, smarter services, rather than just saving money, the Turnbull government should take a few steps back from its PC brief and get into this discussion.

    Because however much the treasurer tries to skew the question, when this debate gets down to specifics, the electorate is not going to buy any “user choice” or “contestability” or “competition” in human services unless they are convinced the government is not only thinking about cheaper services but also about the humans who need them and the society they hold together.

  14. Max Gross

    And yet where is the political party – or politician – demanding full employment?

  15. Matters Not

    The TPP is all about aiding and abetting multinational corporations to do business with less restrictions from signatory, sovereign nations. It’s these very same multinational corporations who refuse to pay taxes while they make extensive use of the physical, legal, educational, political infrastructure and the like.

    There’s virtually nothing in the TPP for the average citizen. Plenty in it for the big end of town but zilch for the voter. Perhaps we should have a referendum? Or do we reserve same to decide significant questions like who can legally hold hands or not? Talk about being mugs.

    Quick! Look over there!

  16. stephengb2014

    Kaye – I am constantly amased at your ability to articulate the facts about the nonsense expressed by both the Left and Right politicians.

    I am horrified by the fact that we elected this current Right extremist government, voted in power both in 2013 and then in 2016. I understood the 2013 result was a combination of the back lash to the pathetic in fighting of the left and right factions in the then Rudd/Gillard/Rudd government, and the terrible and irresponsible propaganda coming out of the mouth of Abbott and his Abbott friendly MSM. But when we managed to re-elect these same destructive Right wing extremists, I have started to despair that we will not ever be a decent country again.

    I believe that the current situation of ever changing governments and leaders started with the Labor party whenaul Keating started the garbage about balancing the budget. Since then successive governments have used this nonsense to justify their poor handling of the economy.

    As a matter of absolute necessity the public must be made aware of how a floating fiat monetory system actually works. It is he only way that the politicians the elites can be stopped because they rely entirely on the ignorance about economic realism to continue to rape the economy for their own benefit.

    Once the public understand economic reality they would not be taken in and the bovernment would be unable to pusue policies that destroy, curtail, and demonise, nor policies that benefit elites.

  17. guest

    Kaye, you have provided enough facts here for Labor and any independents to fill Question Time for several years.

    But how many sitting days remain for this year? Not many. And whatever remain will be clogged with Dorothy Dixers.

    Meanwhile we have Turnbull lecturing an almost empty UN conference on world migration by recommending the inhumane Oz solution, viz Manus and Nauru and the use of navy boats. It was an amazing spectacle. I felt sick. What a bare-faced twit he looked. This after Abbott’s clown act in Europe saying much the same.

    Talking politics and economics in Oz has become a game played like hide and seek. One never knows where to look and how much we are distracted. Look at the distractions of freedom of speech, identity politics, SSM, extreme Islam, and now LINOs (Liberal – or Labor – in Name Only) and correcting perceptions of the past (Howard on Menzies).

    So we have Kelly in The Australian telling us the GFC is still with us (despite so much written in the past about there being no GFC in Oz – hence Labor’s ‘reckless’ spending.) And now Kelly telling us that there is still only too much spending and it will take discipline to achieve budget balance. Illustrating this article is a drawing of Parliament House about to topple from a cliff into the ocean.Sensational. No mention of lack of revenue or unpaid taxes.

    Then there is praise for Turnbull from Chris Kenny: “Promising signs of good governance”, despite the admission that: ‘The Turnbull administration has lacked discipline, policy substances and advocacy skills, and these endemic weaknesses have every potential to undercut its own success at any moment.’ The change has come, apparently, because Turnbull has embraced Abbott policy and has survived whereas Dastyari has not. LOL.

    So also Greg Sheridan: “Malcolm hits his stride with refugee barriers” and Dennis Shanahan: “Look who has rediscovered his mojo in words of unabashed conservatism”.

    And then Judith Sloan with a warning about statistics: “Misleading macro figures can’t rescue the economy – Government policy frequently is guided by statistics that ultimate mean very little”.

    .Not much to be gained about the truth in reading Murdoch propaganda. Read Kaye Lee instead.

  18. Harquebus

    Growth has reached its limits, progress still has a long way to go.

  19. Anon E Mouse

    Where is Shorten in all of this. After a reasonable showing at the election – things have gone quiet.
    Labor should be howling about privatisation, smothering the discussion with examples that it doesn’t work and is excessively expensive, as in job networks etc.
    Labor should be taking the fight up to the Libs about outsourcing and job cuts especially in places like the electoral commission, ato and census. There are many more examples.
    If the Murdochracy won’t cover it – use social media etc.

    Job cuts and 457 visa holders being used to cut wages are another issue – but Shorten cannot touch it apparently because Gillard and her acolytes okayed it for the likes of Gina Reinhardt (Fergeson was minister and when he left politics he went to work for the dark side – big miners).

    I am despairing. I had hoped that Shorten had picked up his game but he seems to have dropped the ball again.

  20. Kaye Lee

    A must read article…..

    The Productivity Commission advises that 90 per cent of investor visa recipients – and indeed 70 per cent of those migrating to Australia on business visas overall – come from the People’s Republic of China.

    The commission warns that the relatively lax criteria in the investor classes mean Australia is effectively handing out residency, with inadequate compliance rules, to those who can pay.

    “The perception that visas are being ‘sold’ to wealthy foreigners could reduce community acceptance of the overall migration program,” the commission warns. “…In fact, visas are being given to foreigners so long as they hold their personal assets in a particular form, with no direct revenue flow to the Australian government.”

    Within its 713 pages is a warning that two visa classes in particular – the significant investor visa and the premium investor visa – are vulnerable to money laundering.

    “There is a risk that SIV and PIV might be used as a pathway for investing ‘dirty money’ in Australia,” the commission says.

    It consulted organisations, including law enforcement agencies, which had “raised concerns about the potential for money laundering and other nefarious activities”.

    The commission recommends scrapping both visas

    We won’t accept refugees who pay money to people smugglers but we will accept rich criminals who pay bribes to governments. I’m looking at you Andrew Robb

  21. Frank Sartore

    Malcolm has simply been misunderstood and taken out of context. He is creating jobs for liberals and former members (Sophie Mirabela, etc.) and growth in politicians’ pay and conditions. It’s perfectly true when you consider the whole message.

  22. JeffJL

    Bloody hell Kaye. Every time you write an article we need to read through all the comments to get further facts supporting your writing. I pity your computer with all the facts it contains from all your research.

    Keep up the excellent research and articles.

  23. Terry2

    The power of the Right is again being made apparent in today’s announcement/leak that the formula for GST distribution will not change for “some years”.

    Just last month, at the West Australian state Liberal conference, Mr Turnbull flagged changes to the GST, proposing a floor, a minimum amount each state and territory would receive from the GST distribution. This follows a strident campaign by WA with less than 30 cents in every GST dollar collected in WA returned to the State Government.

    Turnbull has now let it be known that it was mere speculation and he has now confirmed that there will be no change to the GST carve-up for “some years” and no ‘floor’ is anticipated.

    This apparent policy flip-flop may be in recognition of the GST distribution to WA rising organically as the diminishing returns from mining revenue are factored into the calculations formula : I don’t know and Malcolm hasn’t elaborated.

    Anybody know what is going on or is Malcolm in a muddle ?

  24. townsvilleblog

    C’mon Kaye, all the election slogan needed was a prefix of “No”

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