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Risk assessment does not mean examining the latest Newspoll and doing surveys in marginal electorates

Whilst there has been a great deal of discussion about individual measures announced in the budget, there has been less analysis of what it is trying to achieve in the long run.

I can’t keep up with the slogans but as far as I am aware, everyone still thinks it is a good idea to try to get people working but, aside from big promises about infrastructure and defence spending which will likely be a long time in the planning, there seems little coherent strategy about our changing employment or, more broadly, about the risks facing us both domestically and globally.

Last year, the Department of Employment released a report on Employment projections for the five years to November 2020.

  • Employment is projected to increase in 16 of the 19 broad industries over the five years to November 2020, with declines in employment projected for Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing, Mining and Manufacturing.
  • The long term structural shift in employment towards services industries is projected to continue over the coming five years. Health Care and Social Assistance is projected to make the largest contribution to employment growth (increasing by 250,200), followed by Professional, Scientific and Technical Services (151,200), Education and Training (121,700) and Retail Trade (106,000). Together, these four industries are projected to provide more than half of total employment growth over the five years to November 2020.

Considering this advice from their own department, policy decisions are even more inexplicable.

We lost billions of dollars by repealing the carbon and mining taxes and cutting tariffs (far more quickly than our trading partners).  We are going to spend further billions on emission reduction payments to polluters (or paying farmers not to carry stock or clear land), fossil fuel subsidies, inland rail, a possible railway to the Galilee Basin, assistance for farmers and grants for mining exploration.

We are propping up industries that, by their own admission, will be decreasing jobs even as our population increases.

Health Care and Social Assistance has been the primary provider of new jobs in the Australian labour market since the 1990s.  With the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, Australia’s ageing population, and increasing demand for childcare and home based care services, this trend will only continue with employment growth likely to favour part-time and female workers.

But the Coalition government has cut wages and funding in several of these crucial growth areas and hospital funding remains an ongoing battleground.

Growth in employment in Professional, Scientific and Technical Services and in Education and Training reflects ongoing strength in demand for the services of qualified and highly educated workers throughout the economy.

But the government is cutting university funding, reducing promised school funding by $22 billion, cutting research funding, and persisting with a bastardised NBN which has resulted in us not even making the top 50 for internet speed.

Historically low interest rates and an improvement in domestic tourism as a result of the lower Australian dollar are expected to underpin solid employment growth in Retail Trade and Accommodation and Food Services.

But the government cut penalty rates for workers in these industries and seem totally unconcerned about destroying our natural environment which is the draw card for tourism.  Business confidence may ride high on the wave of promised tax cuts but consumer spending is nose-diving.  Without customers with disposable income, these industries suffer.

Construction industry employment is projected to grow by 87,000 (or 8.3 per cent) despite a decline in construction associated with the resources sector.

But the government has done everything in its power to destroy the union that protects these workers against widespread exploitation.

The 2017 Global Risks Report produced by the World Economic Forum examines “globally interconnected risks, risks which must be factored into modern life.”

“The most pressing of these risks relates to our environment. Even though the risk will play out over the long term, actions have to be immediate and long-lasting to have any hope of reversing the trajectory of climate change.”

Extreme weather events, large natural disasters and failure of mitigation and adaptation to climate change are the most prominent global risks in terms of both impact and likelihood.

But the budget axed funding for the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF), an agency that provides information to decision-makers on how best to manage the risks of climate change and sea level rise.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in its most recent major assessment report, pointed out that Australia can benefit significantly from taking adaptation action in highly vulnerable sectors.

These areas of vulnerability include: the risk of more frequent and intense floods; water shortages in southern regions; deaths and infrastructure damage caused by heatwaves; bushfires; and impacts on low-lying coastal communities.

But Scott Morrison says not one word.

The WEF also highlighted socio-economic considerations exacerbating global risk, including rising income inequality and the polarization of our society along ethnic, religious and cultural lines.

“Underfunded state social systems, the rise in “non-traditional” employment models from gig economies to zero-hour contracts, prolonged periods of low interest rates that increases the burden of saving for retirement, and demographic pressures like ageing populations and mass migration all place great strain on social protection systems.

We need social protection options that are flexible enough to adapt to new realities in 2017 and beyond. The best social protection solutions will be highly interconnected. Collaboration among state, business and the individual will be crucial. Fail to act and we risk threatening government finances and increasing social unrest.”

Despite the overwhelming evidence of the economic and social benefit, our government does nothing to address inequality.  Quite the reverse.  They cut taxes for the wealthy and increase them for the poor.  They cut wages for the lowest income earners and regulations and taxes for big business.  They destroy workers’ capacity to collectively bargain for workplace entitlements.  They pursue welfare recipients mercilessly whilst refusing to rein in concessions for the rich.

Until the government understands that the well-being of our poorest citizens, the health of our Indigenous people, the safety of our most vulnerable, the future for refugees fleeing war and oppression, the quality of life for our aged, the education of every child, and the protection of our environment, are all inextricably linked to the prosperity and cohesion of the nation, we face a bleak future.

Risk assessment does not mean examining the latest Newspoll and doing surveys in marginal electorates.

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18 comments

  1. Paolo Soprani

    The federal government hates we, the people. We are a hindrance to them. A nuisance. They do not govern in the interests of the majority. And ‘The Federal Budget’ is a cock and bull document in totality as we are a ‘fiat economy’ where the government issues its own currency. It CANNOT go broke. It cannot be in debt in Australian Dollars because it issues them. Why does absolutely NO-ONE in the media EVER talk about this? A dollar spent by the government is a dollar created by the government. Taxation is a dollar taken out of the system by the government to avoid inflation. It’s a mystery why no-one talks about this.

  2. Freethinker

    Kaye, this government do not care less about polls, risks or what we think, this is another proof that I am correct with my views:
    Peter Dutton’s department given go-ahead for $250m office upgrade.
    Quote:
    Despite concerns about the value of the $256 million office fit-out – believed to be the most expensive in federal government history – the Public Works Committee is poised to approve it next week. End of quote

  3. Kaye Lee

    People who run for Parliament are not required to have any specific qualifications, skills, experience or aptitude. Most are elected purely because of their party affiliation.

    The fact that Peter Dutton holds such a significant position is testament to the obvious conclusion that it is not about ability.

    This collection of completely unqualified people is then given all our assets to manage on our behalf, even the right to sell them if they please, and the right to make laws as they see fit, quite often when they are “pissed as farts” according to Scott Ludlum.

    As I watch how other national leaders speak (excluding the nutters), I am embarrassed by the self-serving theatrics that our leaders indulge in. You wouldn’t let this lot run the P&C meeting let alone a country.

  4. king1394

    Pity any social security beneficiaries who try to get ahead by taking casual work. You are only allowed to earn $62 per fortnight before your benefit starts to reduce at .50 cents in the dollar. If your work does not pay enough reliably to take you off benefits, you still have to conform to all the Job Search requirements as well. Getting a job can be disastrous for people in this situation. The Robodebt crisis only compounds the problems.

  5. jim

    Handicap, from 1600s. meaning a beggar with Cap in hand, begging. After being shown the door of the church that says they could no longer afford to feed them beggars anymore.

    The Liberal Government has done all it can to silence the voices of people with disability.

    First, they cut the funding for a full-time Disability Discrimination Commissioner.

    Then, just before Christmas last year, they cut funding from peak disability advocacy organisations, throwing the sector into uncertainty.

    Organisations like Blind Citizens Australia, Friends of the Blind, Deaf Australia, Down Syndrome Australia and the National Council on Intellectual Disability had their resources recently slashed by this LNP government.

    More recently, the Liberals have launched an attack on the Board of the NDIS, attempting to sideline people with disability in favour of their friends from big business.

    Under Labor, people with a disability will be at the heart of every decision and debate that affects their lives. If Labors Medicare and Labors Free Hospitals for all, etc, etc ,doesn’t prove this, than you really belong to the terrible LNP people.

  6. Terry2

    Judging by Q&A last night, the younger generation are getting the message that a Liberal government is not in any way interested in them.

    the removal of penalty rates with no offset disproportionately impacts on young people : remember when Turnbull said this and then immediately walked away :

    “The Prime Minister indicated the Government would push the commission to phase in the penalty rate cuts over two to five years in bid to ensure workers were not worse off.

    Mr Turnbull said an element of modern awards was that any changes would not reduce the take-home pay of workers.

    One option was to have the commission make a take-home pay order that whittles back penalty rates at the same time as annual minimum wage increases are awarded.

    “The employee’s overall pay packet increases and offsets the phased-in reduction in penalty rates,” Mr Turnbull said. ”

    Then you have the refusal by this government to tackle the unfair incentives given to property investors through concessional capital gains tax and negative gearing in the housing market, effectively loading the dice against first home buyers, most of whom are young and who cannot compete in the housing market casino.

    Then they hit university fees and and HECS repayments while at the same time draining TAFE of funding.

    The drug testing of job seekers on New Start is just another slap in the face for the younger generation.

    Virtually every policy of the coalition is aimed at hobbling young people and preventing them from getting ahead instead of providing the incentives that are so necessary when you are starting out in life. I just hope that Labor capitalizes on this situation and structures its policies for real fairness.

  7. Don A Kelly

    You are absolutely correct Paolo. Including, according to the Treasurer the Government will deliver $75 billion in infrastructure and financing over the next 10 years. This includes roads, rail lines, airports, etc. As stated by Prof. Bill Mitchell, the devil is in the time horizon – 10 years – a measly $7.5 billion per year. And much of that was already committed by the previous Labor Government. In relation to Labor’s prior commitments, it represents a cut in infrastructure outlays.
    The fiscal startegy outlined by Morrison implies that households will once again be accumulating debt as we progressively spend more than we earn – heading towards pre – GFC.

  8. jim

    ACA ch9 16/5/17, Mark latham is cited as “labor Leader” However On 18 January 2005, citing life-threatening illness and family concerns, Latham announced his resignation from the Labor Party leadership and from Parliament……….In May 2017, Latham announced via his Facebook page that he would be joining the Liberal Democrats party. The Labor Party responded by placing a life ban on Latham from ever re-joining the party, after a motion was passed by the New South Wales branch of the Labor Party. but the RWNJ Media won’t follow the facts .

    Latham also strongly criticised the media for invading his family’s privacy during his illness. Latham had been federal Labor leader for 13 months, the shortest tenure since Billy Hughes was expelled from the party in 1916. Latham was only the second federal Labor leader, after Matthew Charlton in 1928, to leave politics without ever having held ministerial office..
    However today 16/05/17 on ACA ch9 Latham was cited as “Labor leader” ie not a former labor leader or a former labor person just as “labor leader” well what else would you expect from the Murdoch media.oh thats right “Australia needs Tony Abbott’.
    So with the LNP having been in power nearly 25 years longer than labor to me it’s clearly the media that gets the LNP over the line every time, “kick this mob out” ditch the witch” “Labor’s asylum seekers winfall” all front page right wing “news” if the masses still fall for the right wing media in this country we can expect more of the same and it won’t be pretty at all.

  9. Keitha Granville

    this government plans policy according to popularity, and I am afraid the Labor party will too.
    We need fixed terms of parliament so that they have to do something constructive in their term to be re-elected instead of knee jerk reactions to what Joe public thinks

  10. guest

    There has been a great deal of soul-searching by those on the Right trying to ascertain just what their values are and whether Turnbull exemplifies those values and principles.

    So we have talk of lower taxes, small government, less spending, less red/green tape, less welfare…

    And some sections of the community are accused of asking for more. One is reminded of Oliver Twist asking for more gruel – watered down oatmeal.

    So we get more gruel: think reduced wages, reduced welfare,reduced subsidies and the loss of the car industry, watered down NBN…

    In the novel “Oliver Twist” Dickens summarises the philosophy: “Everybody knows the story of another experimental philosopher who had a great theory about a horse being able to live without eating, and who demonstrated it so well, that he got his own horse down to straw a day, and would unquestionably have rendered him a very spirited and rampacious animal on nothing at all, if he had not died, four-and-twenty hours before before he was to have had his first comfortable bait of air.”

  11. Frank Smith

    Thank you Kaye Lee for a very comprehensive summary. I fully agree with your analysis and conclusions. I am presently enjoying a few days on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast. What is very noticeable here is the number of small tourism related businesses that have closed down over the past year. The locals tell me that, in this family oriented tourist region, families no longer have the cash to enjoy the great vacation experiences the area has to offer. With wages having flat-lined, the shift from full-time to part-time work and the general lack of job security it is easy to see why the tourism industry here is feeling the pinch.

    On another topic you raised, I watched our waffling Prime Minister dispense the LNP spin about Defence Expediture jobs whilst standing under a Naval gun in South Australia yesterday. I was wondering at the time just when these great surges of jobs were going to become a reality, given that the timelines on these Defence projects is way off in the future (and certainly after the next election). How is all this going to assist the SA car industry workers who are being laid off over the next few months?

  12. havanaliedown

    Paolo Soprani, your economic ideas are well suited to those nations that wish to emulate Zimbabwe, Venezuela and The Weimar Republic.

  13. Cynthia

    Kaye, thankyou for this article; your “persisting with a bastardised NBN” really made me smile – I’ve been trying to connect to the internet since 8am this morning (hopeless).

  14. Don A Kelly

    havanaliedeown….you may well think that Paolo’s comments about the economy are ideas when they are actually fact. Zimbabwe is a prime example of a monetary sovereign being capable of creating as much money as they like, whenever they like. This doesn’t mean that they should spend it. The government should spend enough to ensure that we don’t have idle resources, that is people looking for work who can’t find it or raw materials and equipment gathering rust and dust instead of producing the goods and services that we need. The government should spend enough money to accommodate the productive capacity of the economy. This hasn’t happened since the Menzies era, when the deficit was 8 times greater than the supposed ‘debt and deficit disaster’ of the Rudd / Gillard period, and nobody noticed because we had full employment.

  15. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Well said, Paolo @12.05pm yesterday.

  16. Freethinker

    Yes Paolo, monetary sovereign is something that we have to value and use in an effective manner. Some people do not understand this.

  17. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Freethinker @12.10pm yesterday,

    what benefits could there be to any of the greedy LNP parasites to get expensive office fitouts? I would understand it if their offices were on their own private properties but no, they’re in parliament or in their electorate offices.

    So I then consider the expensive equipment that might be involved but I’m not sure if equipment which is generally not fixed, can qualify for a fitout.

    I therefore, come to the conclusion that Dutton is getting a $256mill fitout to suit his rich mates’ builder networks who incidentally donate to the Liberal Party and even maybe the National Party.

    I also conclude that if it’s Dutton’s electoral office we’re talking about, he has already made an agreement with the property owner that he will have first option to buy the building once he no longer wants to intimidate the Public in his political office and is free to buy properties at will.

    He will then do a Sussan Ley and buy the same building for chicken feed knowing that the expensive upgrade has increased its longevity for quite sometime and its value very nicely.

  18. Freethinker

    Jennifer, will be interesting to see the tender procedures for this project.
    I wonder if they will say that it is part of the “jobs and growth”
    Well they are saying, quote: “We hope to see this office upgrade open up thousands of jobs for military personnel, maintenance droids and independent contractors.”

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