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Homelessness and the house of lies Don Dunstan Foundation's Homelessness Conference, Adelaide, 07 August 2019 Dr John Falzon Senior Fellow, Inequality and Social Justice I remember learning an important lesson From a young woman experiencing homelessness in Melbourne. Everyone was walking past her, refusing to meet her eyes. She wasn’t asking for somewhere to live. She wasn’t even asking for something to live on. All she was asking for was just enough to buy some breakfast. But everyone just kept walking past and the angrier she got the wider the berth they gave her and the faster they moved past her.   I’ve been here since five this morning, she said. I just want some coffee and something to eat. And then she said: I didn’t choose this life, you know.   In this simple utterance, She summed up so much of what is wrong With the way homelessness is defined In the guts of the neoliberal nightmare.   I didn’t choose this life, you know.   Neoliberalism is presented by its purveyors As the...

Our deepest thanks to all the young people who entered the Per Capita Young Writers' Prize 2019. We had more entries this year than ever before, from young people aged 16-24 in school, university, and work. It's time to announce the winners! First Prize - $1500 First prize was awarded to Alexander North, aged 24, who proposed a federal job guarantee. The judges gave Alexander the following feedback: "The judges agreed that your essay is a superb paper on how to achieve full employment by implementing a federal job guarantee. They found your argument coherent and well researched, with the copious footnotes showing the wide array of sources on which you draw. Your argument for a policy of full employment based on government being an employer of last resort, automatically increasing and decreasing ‘buffer stock’ jobs according to the cyclical rhythms of the private sector capitalist economy, was clearly and effectively presented. The judges...

Speech to the COTA Australia National Policy Forum National Press Club, Canberra, 13 June 2019 Emma Dawson, Executive Director, Per Capita I begin by acknowledging that we meet today on the land of the Ngunnawal people, and pay respects to their elders past, present and emerging. This is, and always will be, Aboriginal land, land which was never ceded. Thank you to COTA and the Benevolent Society for inviting me to speak to you today about the economic impacts of ageism. Per Capita has long standing and valued relationships with both of you, of course, and we, like all Australians, greatly value the work you do to advocate for older people and improve the lives of all our citizens. It’s a particular privilege for me to be a member of the steering committee for the “Every Age Counts” campaign, which is doing such important work combatting ageism in Australia. As has often been noted, Ageism...

MEDIA RELEASE: Per Capita calls on Opposition and Senate cross bench to #StopStage3 Having won the election, the Coalition government will be pushing hard to legislate its tax plan when Parliament sits again in July. That tax plan comprises three stages: Stage 1 increases the low and middle income tax offset (LMITO) from $530 to $1080 and will come into effect immediately; Stage 2 raises the top threshold of the 19% tax rate from $41,000 to $45,000 and will come into effect in 2022-23; and Stage 3 lowers the 32.5% tax rate to a flat 30% for people earning $45,000 to $200,000 and will come into effect in 2024-5. Per Capita’s position is that Stages 1 and 2 are necessary to stimulate our stagnant economy and should be passed with immediate effect. However, Stage 3 is a measure that will massively exacerbate inequality and insecurity in this country. It will give billions in tax...

[caption id="attachment_2134" align="alignright" width="514"] Photo: AAP[/caption] Warwick Smith is our Senior Economist. On twitter he’s @RecoEco. At the 2019 federal election Australians were offered a starker choice than usual. The differences between the policies and rhetoric of the major parties was greater than it has been for decades. One way to characterise the two major parties is that the Coalition want to make Australia more like the United States, and Labor want to make us more like the social democracies of northern Europe. The United States is the most prominent exemplar of Liberal Party values of personal freedom, social conservatism, small government and the primacy of the market. The argument goes that governments are inefficient and the drivers of economic success are entrepreneurs and businesses. Therefore, we should minimise government by cutting services and giving tax cuts to businesses and rich people. This will create the right incentives for businesses to thrive, unemployment to...

Dr John Falzon is our Senior Fellow, Inequality and Social Justice. He was national CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society from 2012 to 2018. [caption id="attachment_2124" align="alignright" width="550"] Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images[/caption] Those who breed insecurity are quick to prey on the insecure. We saw this writ large in the Australian federal election of 2019. As political economist William Davies explains: "Neoliberalism treats competition as the crucial and most valuable feature of capitalism… Through the process of competition, it becomes possible to discern who and what is valuable. Competition separates the winner from the loser, the striver from the skiver." We are afraid of losing value, afraid of losing jobs, or hours of work, or pay, afraid of losing pride, afraid of being losers. The neoliberal message, which Prime Minister Morrison communicated ably, was that things are actually pretty good. It’s just a matter of joining in to get a taste of...

The right to hope May Day Dinner Speech, Adelaide, 01 May 2019 Dr John Falzon Senior Fellow, Inequality and Social Justice   I would like to begin by acknowledging that we are reflecting on inequality and social justice On land that always was, and always will be, Aboriginal land. I pay tribute to the First Nations Peoples’ spirit of collective dreaming, collective resistance and collective hope.   We are here because we share a radical belief, a radical idea, an idea for which we are demonised and calumniated, An idea that is called radical, But is actually just common sense. Our radical idea is that everyone, everyone, deserves a fair crack at happiness.   For holding this belief, We are called all sorts of names, But in the words of the chant often used by the MUA, They don’t like us. We don’t care. Let me add that if they did like us, we should care, we should worry very much, Because all that they stand for is opposed to the rights of working...

I acknowledge the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation and pay respect to their elders. My thanks to Per Capita, particularly Executive Director Emma Dawson, for the chance to speak with you today. Last month, journalist David Speers asked senior Liberal Party frontbencher Linda Reynolds a reasonable question: ‘Do you agree that flexibility in wages and keeping wages at modest levels is a deliberate feature of our economic architecture?’. ‘No, absolutely not’, replied Reynolds. ‘For Bill Shorten to even suggest that…’ ‘I’m quoting Mathias Cormann’, Speers pointed out. It was a telling moment for the Coalition. Their economic message was so out of touch with reality that it had become a caricature of itself. Even one of their senior figures couldn’t tell the difference between actual Coalition policy, and what she thought was an absurd exaggeration. It didn’t need a scare campaign – the policy was a horror show all of its own. When it...

Federal Budget 2019: A Missed Opportunity to Address Inequality in Australia by Emma Dawson, Executive Director Treasurer Josh Frydenberg's first budget fails to grapple with the big challenges facing our nation. The centrepiece of the Government's pre-election budget is personal income tax cuts aimed at middle-income earners, but real measures to address the growing inequality in our society are absent. For someone earning $50,000 per year, the tax cuts announced tonight are worth only around 57% of the extra money that would be in their pay packets if wages were growing at the long term average of 3.5%. Yet the budget includes no measures to address sluggish wage growth, and for those earning under $40,000 per year there is nothing at all.  Most disappointingly, and for the 25th year in a row, the Government has ignored calls to increase the rate of Newstart. Excluded even from the meagre energy supplement awarded to other recipients of...