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While racial discrimination in Australian election processes is mercifully nothing like that in the USA, Australian voters from ethnically diverse backgrounds are nevertheless significantly more likely to have their votes discarded on election night. Take Fowler, as an example. In the 2022 federal election more than one in 10 votes were ruled invalid and scrutineers reported that in some booths it was closer to 20%. Fowler, in Sydney's south-west, has one of the highest non-English speaking populations, many of whom have come to Australia as refugees from countries with different political systems. In the neighbouring seat of Blaxland, centred on the multicultural suburb of Bankstown, the “informal vote”, that is, ballots which were deemed invalid, was 10.70%: the highest in the country. This raises important questions about whether enough is being done to explain Australia’s preferential voting system. Figure 1: A comparison of the rate of informal votes in Blaxland and Australia Source: AEC Tally...

By Shirley Jackson As someone who spent many years working in warehouses across Melbourne, I was truly baffled to see the Prime Minister’s announcement that he was attempting to address labour shortages across the logistics industry by encouraging the states to allow under 18s to drive forklifts. This was baffling for a number of reasons. Firstly, and most obviously, the fact that forklifts are difficult and dangerous machines to operate. They are notoriously easy to topple, are bad at navigating uneven ground, have unusual turning circles with rear wheel steering and stopping quickly isn’t an option. We don’t let people below a certain age operate them because they require a level of skill and concentration that isn’t appropriate developmentally before you turn 18. Much like cars, motorbikes, trucks and cranes, the consequences of allowing people to operate vehicles without adequate training, experience and supervision can be deadly. Just a few days before the...

We live in uncertain times. Our economy is slowing, our planet is warming, and our trust in our political system is at an all time low. Political trust is a difficult thing to pin down, but at its core, there is a belief that in uncertain times political institutions will provide certainty. It’s no accident that when we face external crises or conflict, the population expects that the government will provide support, security, and solutions. Yet since the 1980s, industry policy has gotten a bad name. For generations, our political imagination has been hamstrung by a fallacious belief that the only benefit of government spending comes from the value it returns to shareholders, whether they are public or private. Having a public industrial agenda was seen as a protectionist approach to economic development that supposedly picked winners and propped up unsustainable companies. However, modern industrial policy is a process of working...

A quick letter from the team In many ways, 2020 is the year most of us would rather not look back upon, but for once it’s not hyperbole to say that this has been one for the history books. Great disruptions of the kind wrought by the COVID-19 virus occur infrequently, but when they do they tend to mark the end of eras and open the way for genuine social and political reform. This year our small team at Per Capita has shown that we can be drivers of that kind of reform and that our supporters can be sure the impact of every dollar donated to us is maximised. If you'd like to support our work, sign up to become a monthly supporter here: We’ve worked hard this year to push against the “snap back” to what came before, and to argue for a better future on the other side of...

It's December and the sun is out even in Melbourne (or at least, it was yesterday). With the promise of a few weeks of respite from a hellish year just around the corner, the time has come again for us to share our top 10 progressive reads released over the year. And, for the third year in a row, you have a chance to win them all! To go into the draw to win all 10 books just donate $10 to our summer fundraiser here. Want extra entries? Every $10 donated will get you an extra entry - and make your donation a monthly gift to double your entries.   Now, without further ado...

We'd very much like to extend our thanks to everyone who attended our Jobs for Australia online symposium on Friday 29th May. The event marked the 75th anniversary of the Curtin White Paper on Full Employment and the launch of our own project on full employment: Jobs for Australia. Taking inspiration from the postwar Labor Governments of John Curtin and Ben Chifley, our Jobs for Australia project is rooted in the explicit purpose of reducing inequality and constructing an economically and ecologically sustainable world. Please find the recordings and slides from the day linked below, and don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on Facebook and Twitter to be kept up to date with the project. If you are one of those fortunate enough to still be in secure work, and have the capacity to contribute to this important project, please consider making a tax deductible donation to Per Capita’s research...

The extraordinary public health measures taken to address the COVID-19 pandemic have resulted in the biggest economic shock Australia has ever experienced. Unemployment is expected to rise to levels not seen for more than a generation, and the government has rightly taken on significant public debt to support jobs and incomes while a large proportion of the nation’s economic activity has been temporarily shut down. As we emerge from the immediate crisis, attention is beginning to turn to how we will rebuild our economy, restore jobs and livelihoods, and pay down that debt, which has been described as a massive burden on future generations. It is important to recognise that it is not the debt itself that poses a risk to our future: it is how we choose to respond to it. What comes next is critical. The decisions taken in the aftermath of this crisis will have a material impact on the...

To the followers of Per Capita and the readers of our work, This letter is being written at my dining room table, as I and the rest of the Per Capita team are in our second week of working from home to avoid spreading the terrible virus that has upended our world. The devastation to lives and livelihoods has been swift and widespread, and our primary focus, like everyone’s, is getting our families and communities through the immediate crisis. All we can be sure of right now is that our society, and our economy, will never be the same again – although that need not be a bad thing, in the long run. Of course, in the immediate future, the outlook for many people is ruinous. The COVID-19 pandemic will result in a world-wide economic downturn unseen since the Great Depression almost a century ago. Global recession is inevitable; a depression (a recession...