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We should be nurturing our workforce rather than global corporations

Many of the worst decisions are based on the notion that we must remain competitive – whatever it takes.

Sportspeople are willing to take banned substances, risking their health, reputation and livelihood, to be competitive.

Teachers and students are willing to cheat to obtain undeserved exam results to be competitive.

Countries around the world have wasted trillions of dollars in arms races to be competitive.

Politicians have chosen to ignore the science on climate change and continue to use fossil fuels to be competitive.

And when a billionaire property developer decides he wants to cut his taxes to 15% (not that he pays any anyway), our business lobby and politicians say we must do the same….to be competitive.

So who sets the bar and how low will we go?

Do we keep making bad decisions to remain competitive?

Is it even the role of government to be competitive?

In theory, free markets could work, as could communism, but that would require people, politicians and businesses to behave ethically. Sadly, any trust that they will do that has been completely smashed.

People around the world are recognising that they have been duped and they are angry and the blame for that lies squarely with corporate greed and the government corruption that facilitates it. They pushed their obscene obsession with wealth accumulation too far and forgot that they have nothing if they don’t have a workforce and consumers with disposable income.

So let’s change the thinking and be competitive in nurturing that workforce and those consumers and their living conditions. We have had decades of trickle-down and it has led to huge and widening inequality, rampant environmental destruction, and social unrest.

It’s time governments set the rules in the interest of the people and insist that businesses comply – not the other way round.

Put people first.


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  1. Miriam English

    Well said, Kaye.

  2. Matt

    Summarises the problems very well.

  3. Anti-establishment

    Firstly, your article has a very strong and annoying sense of gross ‘data massaging’ i.e. fitting unrelated things into the concept of ‘being competitive’. Current Australian political manoeuvrings have nothing at all to do with being competitive and everything to do with pure evil and greed. Pure evil and greed has nothing at all to do with nurturing.

  4. Terry2

    Thanks Kaye

    Talking to the Business Council of Australia last week about his policy to reduce company tax rates – to make us more competitive – Malcolm Turnbull said that :

    “Australians will have to accept policies that create short-term “winners and losers” in the interests of strengthening the economy for all.”

    We need to be worried about that statement because we know that corporations will be ‘winners’ so who will the ‘losers’ be : here’s a tip, have a look in the mirror.

  5. Kaye Lee

    My thoughts do tend to jump around.

    This train of thought actually started from a conversation with a school principal who is very concerned about the direction education is taking. Standardised testing for children in Year 1? Naplan results on obesity? Paying teachers based on students’ academic results? Direct instruction?

    She feels we are moving away from the very skills we should be fostering – creativity, intitiative, lateral thinking, communication, teamwork.

    Is competition between students the best way to go or should they be aiming for collaboration and personal bests? Should we be teaching them what to learn or how to learn? Should we destroy their curiosity with red crosses?

    The conversation moved on to Trump and our pollies’ humiliating grovelling.

    Then I sat on the verandah looking at the ocean, thinking competition has a lot to answer for.

    So sorry about the scatter gun thoughts but it IS Sunday morning 🙂

  6. Harquebus

    A good summary Kaye Lee.
    I think that a lot of the major party diehards will have to suffer some more before they will be willing to elect change.

  7. Miriam English

    Competition has its place, but it’s crazy when politicians try to hammer every shape into that square hole. Cooperation is what lets an orchestra work — where everybody wins. That’s opposed to a race, where there’s one winner and everybody else loses. Unfortunately the politicians want to make society into a race instead of an orchestra.

    What they don’t realise is that they, and all the wealthy ones who think they’re going to be winners, need us. If we go down so do they. What do they think a society is? Who will cook their meals, deliver their groceries, clean their homes, write the books and magazines they like to read, make the videos they like to watch, build the roads they want to drive on, design and make the cars they want to drive, design and make the clothes they like to wear?

    A nice bit of graffiti I saw recently:
    The French aristocracy never saw it coming either.

  8. Greg on Future - What Future?

    So the future of the World will be resolved if we nurture our workforce instead of global corporations?….

    No, its not that simplistic. You said it further into your words when you list a whole range of shortcuts that society (at all levels) is prepared to take in the name of competition/greed.

    I have long dreaded the increasingly apparent accuracy of George Millers prescription for our collective futures in his Mad Max film series….

  9. Kaye Lee

    That was my “save the world in under 300 words” version Greg. The comprehensive plan may take me a tad longer. In the meantime, we could have a conversation, swapping ideas, discussing alternatives about places to start and things we can improve

  10. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Count me in on any initiative to advocate to put people and the environment first, second, third and corporations at the bottom of the pyramid.

    I also want serious action taken so that the legal status of corporations is reversed and they no longer have the protection of ‘person’ status.

  11. Jaquix

    One practical thing I’d like to ser, is a mechanism such as requiring a corporatii0on to have an insurance policy/bond against the payment of its wages/entitlements bill, so we dont have a repeat of Clive Palmers Qld Nickel disgraceful leaving of the workers owed thousands of dollars, while he/they have already spent millions of the company money, including making huge “donations” to political oarties. .Bob Day is another leech businessman with no compunction at thievery. Legalised corporate thievery. NB Clive Palmer has just put on the market 2 multi million-dollar golf course/resort type properties here on the Gokd Coast, originally purchased in name of Qld Nickel, but mysteriously “sold” to Clive himself 4 years ago.

  12. wam

    thanks, kaye. All those negatives have been around since the some bright spark thought of the interest of the share holder’ first. This great sounding thrust was used for excusing all ‘what ever it takes’ massaging of and disguising blatant stealing like, the ravaging of the funds of ‘dick smith’ investors who were conned, legitimately, by the name to be ‘shareholders in nothing’.
    My online research skills are not up to finding confirmation of memory.
    When I started school there was a Qualifying Certificate for year 7(it became the Progress Certificate by the time I got to the end of 7 years primary school). At some stage the wage of a grade 7 teacher depended on results of the QC students..

  13. Harquebus

    These are a few of the “fat chance” things that I would like to see.

    Transfer the ownership of vital private infrastructure back to the public sector.
    Nationalize and then properly manage and conserve our finite resources.
    Remove all patents.

  14. Divergent Aussie

    It’s interesting that much of the debate regarding corporations revolves around competitiveness in taxation. The myth perpetrated by the coalition is that lowering the company tax rate will be good for small business. I have been advised by a successful small businessman that no small business that is successful pays any company tax. This is because such companies don’t have shareholders, in the main, and that all profits are paid out as salaries to the owners. The only reason a company would pay company tax is in order for the company to pay dividends to shareholders. On insiders this morning Michael Stutchbury was asked by Mark Kenny how many companies actually pay company tax and he studiously avoided answering the question. Both Mark Kenny and Katharine Murphy seemed a bit confused about how businesses actually operate. So for small businesses company tax is irrelevant because the owners pay themselves a salary, which is taxed, but they don’t pay company tax because they don’t pay dividends. Only corporations have to pay company tax so they are the largest beneficiaries in lowering the rate. This doesn’t seem to be of much benefit to the broader community. Michael Stutchbury put in a big stretch calling this a tax on capital. But this isn’t so because there isn’t any tax on capital just a tax on profits derived from investing the capital. If corporations don’t believe there is a buck to be made in investing in Australia then they won’t no matter how great or small the company tax rate is. Paying tax is just part of doing business. If multinationals want to retreat to Trump’s North America then that is their choice. They leave the field open for others to make the profits.

  15. Kronomex

    Ordinary people can’t compete with the obscene amounts of money and lobbyists that grease the wheels of political parties (not going to mention the LNP…darn, I did mention the LNP…damn, did it again). Until such time, meaning never, that political donations are banned then nothing will change.

  16. Kaye Lee


    It depends how you set up your small business. For sole traders and partnerships, profit is treated the same as income from wages and taxed according to the progressive brackets. But you can set your business up as a company instead and the company pays tax on profits at 30% (supposedly) or 28.5% if you’re a small business with an annual aggregate turnover of less than $2 million (with no tax free threshold).

    Michael Stutchbury is a charlatan. How he holds his position is beyond me.

    As Stiglirz said, no profitable business is made unproitable by taxation – it’s just a matter of how that profit is shared.

  17. Terry2

    Sorry to go of topic but I just heard Peter Dutton saying that he did no intend to discuss publicly the negotiations on refugee resettlement in Malaysia.

    It seems that Malcolm is engaged in discussions with Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to revive the Malaysia asylum seeker dumping proposal. This is the same Najib Razak who is undergoing investigation internationally (including the FBI) for the more than $1 billion that mysteriously entered his personal bank accounts, much of it from state investment fund 1MDB. The scandal has caused a political crisis in Malaysia with calls for Razak’s arrest.

    Remember Hun Sen who seized power in a bloody coupe in Cambodia . Since then, Hun Sen has ruled as an autocrat, showing scant regard for rights of free expression and association and resorting to violent repression whenever he has deemed it necessary to preserve his and his party’s position.
    This has been accompanied by staggering levels of corruption, with Cambodia ranked 160th out of 175 countries by Transparency International. There are stories that 20 or more of Hun Sen’s closest associates have each amassed more than $1 billion through misappropriation of state assets, illegal economic activity, and favouritism in state procurement and contracting.

    It was Hun Sen that the Abbott government befriended as a potential asylum-seeker dump in Cambodia and actually gave Peter Dutton some $50 million to bribe the Cambodian regime to eventually accept half a dozen refugees.

    Now, I understand fully why Dutton doesn’t want the negotiations with Malaysia made public but please, please, don’t give him a bag of money to bribe the Malaysian PM.

    I don’t believe that our economy can afford Dutton’s largesse with Asian leaders who, incidentally, will soon be forming a queue at Dutton’s door. 🙂

  18. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Hear, hear Kronomex.


    this is where my Micro Finance Grants (MFGs) and MIcro Credit Loans (MCLs) for low and no income people comes to the rescue.

    While corporations have plundered the economy, sent their profits off-shore, sent 000’s of Aussie jobs off-shore, they have not been held to account.

    So instead of them getting the luxuriant tax cuts that Stutchbury was sycophantly supporting like any weird neoliberal does, I state that proactive microfinance incentives should be provided to people struggling and stifling on Newstart, who have energy, innovative ideas and the skills to make them work.

    These MFGs and MCLs will be government-backed NOT bank-backed and accessible to low and no income people, so that instead of having growing numbers of unemployed going into oblivion, there will be growing numbers of energetic, homegrown micro-businesses and industries emerge.

    I am very interested in all such possibilities including the resurgence of traditional trade and craft industries that sole practioners can grow and as time goes on, provide employment prospects for other grassroot Aussies floundering on the job queues.

    The MFGs and MCLs will be Over and Above Newstart for a reasonable period time so that the micro-businesses have reasonable and realistic opportunity to be born, develop and be sustainable to support the sole practitioner for their basic living requirements and business operations.

    I advocate MFGs will be $10-15k, non-repayable and MCLs will be $20-30k with reasonable low interest and repayment terms.

  19. Kaye Lee


    You can add the money that has been paid to the Nauruan government to that as well. They are also under investigation for corruption. And we handed over warships to the previous Sri Lankan government. Not to mention the wheat board and securency scandals.

    And we have been broadly criticised for our failure to investigate and prosecute foreign bribery cases.

    Corruption is no impediment.

  20. Jack Straw

    Michael Stutchbury now feels safe to come out and be his true self a sycophantic follower of Neo Liberalism Trickle down effect grovelling to big business and his mates in the Liberal Party. Just another little suck is he.

  21. E White

    Terry 2,Turnbull, interviewed re potential third country resettlement for refugees, proudly claimed existing successes by the coalition, and the very first country he cited was Cambodia. One refugee at a cost of about $45 milion! How can this man be taken seriously?

  22. Kaye Lee

    What is also interesting is that it was Morrison who organised the Cambodia deal and it was Turnbull who organised the America deal and it is Turnbull who is speaking to Malaysia…..apparently P Duddy couldn’t strike a deal with anyone. Wonder why?

  23. Terry2

    Had the camera moved down you would have found Dutton was tightly gripping a certain part of his anatomy !

  24. Harquebus

    It appears that the definition of “workforce” might be about to change.

    “The U.N. now claims two-thirds of the human labor force in developing nations will be replaced by automation.”

  25. Kaye Lee

    What sort of President will Trump be? Once again, the privileged white male cast as a victim..

    Mike Pence was elected vice president by a coalition of mostly white voters nostalgic for what they thought of as the good old days in America and galvanized by promises to deport millions of undocumented immigrants.

    On Friday night, Pence came face-to-face with a symbol of the new America: A hit musical called “Hamilton” that celebrates the principles of the nation’s founding, but reimagines the revolutionary period with multiracial actors playing the statesmen and the contributions of immigrants central to the story.

    As he took his seat in New York’s Richard Rogers Theater, Pence heard a smattering of boos. He sat through a performance celebrating the country’s multiculturalism. And when the show was over and he headed for the exits, the cast was not quite finished.

    “We, sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir,” said Brandon Victor Dixon, the actor who played Aaron Burr, reading a statement the cast members had drafted together.

    “But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us. All of us,” he continued.

    By Saturday morning, Trump decided to respond. He could have chosen to offer assurances that he would be a president for all Americans — that he would respect everybody regardless of race or gender or creed.

    But Trump being Trump, the president-elect punched back.

    “The Theater must always be a safe and special place,” Trump tweeted. “The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize!”

  26. Terry2

    President Elect Trump should be reminded of :

    First Amendment. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petitition the Government for a redress of grievances.

  27. Kaye Lee

    They should shut down his twitter account

  28. Michael Taylor

    He certainly takes to Twitter when he feels like a good whinge. But I guess his followers lap it up. However, as Jaquix says, it could come undone for him.

  29. Marilyn

    Well said, Kaye! This is exactly what we need to see happen here! I have had enough of global corporations ripping us off!

  30. win jeavons

    I believe that humans do better when they co-operate, rather than compete . If we want to compete let us compete with ourselves, then no one gets hurt. Who NEEDS newer , faster phones, cars, computers. These are childish wants, that assist us in destroying our environment, with minimal real gain to the economy.

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