Blog

A Zoom webinar analysis of the first Albanese Government budget from the heads of four progressive think tanks, with Daniel Mulino, MP, Chair of the House Economics Committee. Panellists: Daniel Mulino, MP, Chair of the House Economics Committee Michael Buckland, CEO, The McKell Institute Emma Dawson, Executive Director, Per Capita David Epstein, Executive Director, Chifley Research Centre Nick Dyrenfurth, Executive Director, John Curtin Research Centre Webinar was recorded on 28 October, 2022. ...

Local councils aren’t often at the forefront of thinking when we talk about a progressive economic agenda in Australia. While there is a lot of talk about what councils can do on climate change or how they can lead on social issues, economic discussion tends to default to rates, red tape and redevelopment. That’s why I’m really excited that community wealth building is on the agenda of the Inner West Council in Sydney. You might be asking, what exactly is community wealth building? Community wealth building is a place-based approach to economic development that aims to build a fairer and more sustainable local economy. It seeks to change the way local economies function, creating and retaining more local opportunities and wealth, rather than relying on speculative development or having it extracted for the benefit of distant shareholders. It has five key pillars that focus on procurement policies, fair employment and just labour markets, socially...

As Australia emerges from the long tail of the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated economic crisis, the fault lines in our economy resulting from a decade of mismanagement and neglect have been exposed. However, long after the lockdown ended and the economy ‘snapped back’ to life, the enduring scarring effects of the labour market contraction are being intensely felt, particularly by young workers, recently arrived migrants and other recent entrants to the labour market. In particular, the complications of a labour market with generations of slack in the system have been exacerbated by a crisis that pushed our economy to breaking point. These cracks in the foundation have been driven in large part by a long-underdiagnosed skills deficit that has come to the fore in the aftermath of the pandemic. This deficit has been driven by two main opposing pressures, as too many recent entrants to the labour market are locked into...

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...