Last week the Albanese Government released its White Paper on Employment, announcing that it is “placing Full Employment at the heart of our institutions and policy frameworks.”
After years of advocacy, Per Capita welcomes the Albanese Government’s new definition of ‘Full Employment’ and celebrates the commitment to an economic policy that can now be understood by all Australian citizens.
‘Full Employment ’now means everyone who wants a job should be able to find one without searching for too long, including jobs that are secure and fairly paid. This is especially welcome news for those most at risk of unemployment or under-employment; a growing problem for increasing numbers of Australian workers who can’t get enough hours to make ends meet.
Per Capita has championed full employment as an achievable goal for a nation as prosperous as ours since 2018. Our research and policy analysis has shown repeatedly that neo-liberal, trickle-down economics has had a significantly negative impact on Australian workers, despite Australia being one of the richest nations on Earth.
In our 2018 report, The Future of the Fair Go: Securing Shared Prosperity for Australian Workers, we argued that “too much importance [had] been placed … on balancing the federal budget at the expense of full employment”, and that “economic growth should be viewed primarily through its role in achieving full employment… with wages rising in line with the national income”.
This sentiment was reiterated in our address to the 2018 ACTU Congress, where we stressed that:
Australia’s egalitarian society was based on the concept of a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.
In 2020, we marked the 75th anniversary of the Curtin White Paper on Full Employment with an online summit. There, we called for the ALP to share our vision in creating a Full Employment economy for Australia’s low-carbon future.
In 2022 our submission to the consultation on the Employment White Paper, Full Employment in 21st Century Australia: A lode star policy in and age of uncertainty, set out the need for a Full Employment policy to frame the national narrative and social mission to target the issues caused by past and future economic disruptions: the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and the processes of automation and AI impacting various industries.
The Albanese Government’s commitment to embracing Full Employment as an explicit monetary policy goal represents a major shift in Australia’s macro-economic policy, particularly during the current cost-of-living and housing crisis.
However, there is still some way to go.
Now that the Australian government has committed to “placing Full Employment at the heart of our institutions and policy frameworks”, Per Capita will continue to advise government on ways it can realise social policy and public service design to achieve its Full Employment goal.
Starting with employment services, Per Capita has made an extensive submission to the Committee of Inquiry into Workforce Australia employment services about the practical and achievable reforms that can realise more inclusive employment, and more decent jobs for those who most need them.
And we continue to pursue detailed, data driven research to inform upcoming policy recommendations around employment.
We are optimistic that the government is listening and ready to realise its Full Employment commitment in practice.