Our Work

Per Capita undertakes research and develops policy recommendations in a number of focus areas. Our overarching focus is fighting inequality in Australia. Once our ideas are developed, they are subjected to rigorous peer review, and then communicated widely, both in the public domain and through our own extensive network of senior decision makers in government, industry, and the public service.
Our track record in developing new policy approaches that have been subsequently adopted by government demonstrates our influence.
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  • Ageing

The Evidence Based Policy project highlights how policy design frequently fails to incorporate the best available evidence, or policy development practices.

Per Capita has considered the Bill and is supportive of its aims. Our submission focusses on supported bargaining, single interest employer authorisations and cooperative workplaces. It also addresses some recent criticisms of the Bill.

Per Capita has considered the EPEW Bill and finds its scope woefully inadequate to address the problem it seeks to tackle: to ‘stop the exploitation and limit the use of labour hire contracts by removing the incentive for employers to do so, which is lower wages’.

The political, ecological and economic challenge of decarbonising Australia’s energy and industrial base is crying out for leadership. The next five to ten years are crucial to ensure that the worst outcomes of the climate crisis are mitigated, and we have a unique opportunity to reframe our economy in the interests of the people who work within it.

This submission supports the proposed Bill as crucial and necessary legislative reforms that build towards a Full Employment economy, and highlights the challenges of skills mismatch and underutilisation, and the importance of funding for vocational education and training.

This report explores the path to parliament taken by our current representative members of federal parliament, and considers a wide variety of identity, vocational and experiential factors, building on the previous Per Capita report looking at the 45th Federal Parliament, and published in 2019.

Owning one’s own home has long been understood as the Great Australian Dream. The truth is, secure housing in Australia is increasingly out of reach for a growing proportion of the population – arguably more so than in any comparable country.

This report is part of the Evidence Based Policy Analysis Project, now in its fourth year. Per Capita was commissioned, alongside the Institute of Public Affairs, to provide analysis of a number of Australian policies introduced at a state and federal level over the last year.

Now in its 11th iteration, the 2021 Survey comes after perhaps the most extraordinary year in living memory, during which every aspect of life was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting recession.

This report examines the allocation and distribution of federal funds from 1 January 2020 to 31 December 2020, following the bushfire crisis of 2019-2020. While large pledges were made to support families and businesses, much of the funding appears to be unspent, or seems to have been allocated based on political motivation rather than need.

The provisions of this Bill would not only fail to solve the problems it claims to address, but would actively entrench job insecurity and low wage growth for millions of working Australians.

This report is the project’s third annual instalment. In 2020, in light of the extraordinary policy-making times we find ourselves in, the project’s Steering Committee consulted with Professor Kenneth Wiltshire to revisit the methodology.

The $4 billion JobMaker Hiring Credit Scheme (the Scheme) is an example of the lack of vision and ambition for Australia’s future that characterized the budget as a whole. While apparently focused on the laudable goal of restoring employment to young workers who have been particularly hard hit by job and income losses in 2020, its design means that it almost certainly will not encourage the necessary corrections to the labour market that are needed to reverse the decline in job security and living standards that have plagued young Australians for more than a decade, and is in fact likely to entrench and exacerbate them.

This paper argues for a significant government investment in the care economy, to create jobs for women, to improve the pay and conditions of essential care workers already in the system, and to improve the quality, affordability and accessibility of care for all Australians.

This is the third paper in Per Capita’s series examining the operation and effectiveness of Australia’s employment services system, known as jobactive, in the context of the profound labour market disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tenth annual Per Capita Tax Survey provides an unparalleled insight into the views held by Australians of all ages, from across the country, about the role of tax and public services in our national life. For the first time, we have conducted two surveys in 2020 – one in February, immediately before the effects of COVID-19 were widely felt, and a second six months later, in August, when the impact of the pandemic on our society and economy was beginning to be understood.

This report looks at the history of superannuation for Australian women, marks its progress towards equity, and identifies what more could to be done to improve the system in order to mitigate women’s vulnerability to poverty in retirement.

This discussion paper makes the case for the creation of a public bank in Australia by providing Australia Post with an Authorised Deposit-taking Institution (ADI) licence, and moving in time to establishing PostBank as a full national savings and loan bank.

Australia Post is a treasured national institution, essential to Australia’s prosperity and security. Its future must be safeguarded and strengthened in the interests of all Australians.

In this discussion paper we argue that we cannot return to the system of mutual obligation that was in place before the lockdown. The current mutual obligation framework is inflexible and ineffective: a return to this system would impose strict job search requirements that are unreasonable in a labour market where competition for jobs will be fierce.

In this, our third policy brief, we turn our attention to Australia’s social housing sector. In the context of declining home ownership and growing housing insecurity among older Australians, we ask whether social housing can provide the three critical functions of home as we age.

This discussion paper recommends that the government undertake a consultation to gather views on the options to adapt employment services to meet the needs of the post COVID-19 unemployment scenario.

It is critical that the decisions taken in the months ahead are based on facts. What follows are some facts about debt that address the myths that have been circulated, for far too long, about the nature of our economy and its capacity to support a high standard of living for every Australian.

Gendered data matters. Regular, transparent reports on performance against an agreed set of indicators are critical if we are to achieve the goal of gender equality. Without accountability, closing the gender gap in Australia and across the globe will remain merely an aspirational goal, rather than an achievable target. This report is intended to provide the foundation for a long-term project to produce a national, comprehensive longitudinal study of the progress towards gender equality in Australia.

This policy brief is intended to restore the idea of home as both a psychological and social asset to our discourse on housing, rather than just a financial asset. It is specifically concerned with the role of the home as we age, positing that successful ageing is dependent on a person’s access to a home that provides security, community, safety and autonomy.

This report, and the accompanying calculator, allows individual workers to assess what the impact of the delay in increasing the SG rate to 12% has been, on both their wages and their super savings, over the last five years and, therefore, is likely to be over the next five.

The submission will address three key concerns we have with the existing policy framework: the fundamental lack of affordable housing, the inadequate income support available to people experiencing financial difficulty, and the weak regime of tenants’ rights that leaves too many Victorians vulnerable to eviction into homelessness.

This report is an analysis of the industrial profiles of Mackay, Central Queensland and the Hunter Valley by economist Shirley Jackson. It reveals that forcing workers in the coal mining sector out of their jobs, without ensuring alternative employment with similar wages and benefits, would have devastating consequences for those local economies. If coal mining were shut down now in these three regions without managing industrial change effectively, over $66million in weekly wages would be taken out of three communities in regional Australia. This equates to an economic loss of almost $3.45billion annually.

This report is part of the Evidence Based Policy Analysis Project, administered by the newDemocracy Foundation, and now in its second year. Per Capita was commissioned, alongside the Institute of Public Affairs, to provide analysis of a number of Australian policies introduced at a state and federal level over the two years from July 2017 to June 2019.

The competing tax policies of the Coalition and Labor Parties at the 2019 federal election present voters with the starkest choice on offer for decades. For the first time in a long time, the decision the Australian people make on 18 May will result in markedly different economic outcomes for the country in the decade ahead.

This paper outlines the context within which the flexible ongoing proposal arose, the WorkPac vs. Skene decision. It examines the nature of casual work in Australia and provides an analysis of how the proposed flexible ongoing category would affect workers in Australia.

Every year, progressive think tank Per Capita releases its fantasy budget: a set of budget priorities that, if implemented, would progress Australia towards a more equal society. Here are our budget priorities this year.

Since we published Working It Out: Employment Services in Australia last year, both the Government and the Opposition have announced packages of reforms to Jobactive. In this follow-up report, we compare the platforms to each other and analyse them against the recommendations we made in Working It Out.

Per Capita is proud to release its 2019 Tax Survey, now in its ninth year. We all pay tax, but this is the only comprehensive, regular survey of Australians’ attitudes to taxation and public spending. It provides information about how we’re thinking now, and how our attitudes to tax and public spending are changing and evolving.

This research paper asks whether there is an established ‘way in’ to Parliament, whether MPs overwhelmingly come from the same demographic backgrounds, schools, and career paths, and whether this might have implications for policy. It also tracks how these trends have developed over the last thirty years, and asks whether Parliament has become more representative in response to advocacy for quotas and other redistributions of power and influence.

This report addresses the problem that policymaking in Australia is falling short of best practice. Policies are often built “on the run” as quick reactions to the political issue of the day, designed to capture the interest of the 24-hour news cycle or motivated by short-term political advantage. This can result in failed policy implementation and poor results for citizens, politicians, and society at large, especially when it undermines public confidence in policymaking.

The purpose of this report is to critically examine the current mainstream employment services system, jobactive, and assess the experience of unemployed workers with the system against its stated objectives and promised services. A key aim of the research is to bring the voices of unemployed workers in Australia into the public conversation about employment services and about unemployment more broadly.

Per Capita is proud to release its 2018 Tax Survey, now in its eighth year. We all pay tax, but this is the only comprehensive, regular survey of Australians’ attitudes to taxation and public spending. It provides information about how we’re thinking now, and how our attitudes to tax and public spending are changing and evolving. A majority of Australians want to see more government spending on social security. They believe that the wealthy and big business are not paying their fair share, and support for the government’s tax cut for big business is weak.

On Tuesday 13 March, Per Capita's Executive Director, Emma Dawson, and Research Fellow, Tim Lyons, testified before the Senate Select Committee inquiring into the future of work and workers in Melbourne.

In a landmark report released on Monday 26 March, undertaken by Per Capita for Anglicare Australia, we revealed that the wealthiest Australians cost the rest of us a staggering $68 billion a year.

In a new discussion paper, Per Capita Research Fellow Tim Lyons seeks to address how unionism might undergo the sort of transformative change necessary not just to survive but to build the new organisations we need for workers to win.

A new discussion paper by Per Capita Research Fellow Tim Lyons, prepared for last year's Per Capita Progressive Economics Roundtable, argues that the regulations and institutions governing work in Australia are in urgent need of repair.

In June 2017, Per Capita joined representatives from resident advocacy groups, universities, industry, ombudsman schemes, government agencies and regulators met at an Experts' Forum in Melbourne to discuss the future of retirement housing regulation in Victoria.

Australia, along with the other developed economies, is grappling with the implications of an ageing population. Concerns about increasing welfare costs and shortfalls of labour supply have brought with them calls to prolong working lives. However, current public policy is inadequate if the nation wishes to make the best use of its ageing workforce.

Australian children’s screen content is facing an existential threat as a result of several distinct, but interrelated factors. This paper outlines these challenges and proposes a way forward for the ongoing support of original Australian children’s screen content in the digital age.

Maintaining full employment in Australia was once considered a top priority of state and federal governments. Keeping unemployment low was seen as a collective responsibility. In this report, Warwick Smith looks at the shifts in unemployment policy in Australia in the 20th and 21st centuries.

We believe that a combined and integrated focus on productivity, inequality and sustainability is essential to ensure sustained high quality of life for the Australian population. Per Capita endorses the broad scope of this review, in particular the inclusion of non-market areas, domestic productivity and inequality.

Our services are under threat. Hospitals, schools, TAFE, Medicare, disability care - they are our public services but they can be privatised by politicians and run by companies to make a profit. Communities should have a say over how our services are run, and for whose benefit.

These findings offer a clear expression of the Australian public's preferred fiscal policy. They'd like taxes raised to fund more spending on services, rather than see spending cut to reflect falling revenues. They'd like to see taxes increased and concessions reduced in ways that increase the overall fairness of the tax system, and they think that corporate tax avoidance in particular is the place to start.

Consolidation via absorptions and amalgamations has been a common response to situations of crisis for unions across the developed world.

November 2015: In this report, Emily Millane finds that our current benchmarks for measuring retirement income are inadequate as they exclude housing costs.

June 2015: Per Capita's annual survey into Australians' attitudes towards taxation and public spending, by David Hetherington.

April 2015: In this report, David Hetherington analyses wage data back to the start of the 2000s to find what is driving the fall in wages growth. The report finds that previous high wage growth can be explained by strong labour productivity, but that these two factors have become increasingly disconnected due to the erosion of the bargaining power of workers.

Housed within Per Capita, CAPPA creates a permanent research capacity on longevity and ageing, to identify emerging issues for older Australians now, as well as anticipating the opportunities challenges for future generations of Australians.

January 2015: This report shows how we can make our homes places which improve health and quality of life as Australia ages. By Emily Millane.

Australia’s retirement income system is becoming unsustainable. This is not because too much money is spent on the age pension. Australia spends an average of 3.5 per cent of its GDP on age-related spending against an OECD average of 7.8 per cent. Per Capita’s detailed analysis shows that unsustainability and inequality are the two emergent trends in Australia’s retirement income system. The changes being proposed by the federal government will make both of these problems worse because they ignore the role of private wealth in shaping people’s chances later in life.

In 2014, Per Capita launched the Blueprint for an Ageing Australia. It sets out the steps that must be taken to ensure that ageing is an asset, not a liability. Longer lives present Australia with an enormous opportunity: longevity is a gift, but only good if you can live well. We could be doing more to ensure longevity isn’t just enjoyed by the well-educated, the well-healed, and the well-housed. We have to remake our social structures to make the most of the great gift of longer lives.

The Blueprint is the report of the Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing. The Advisory Panel was constituted in 2011 with a three-year mandate to produce a comprehensive policy review on the opportunities and challenges associated with an ageing Australia. In November 2013, the funding of the Panel was discontinued, and Per Capita entered into a partnership with four members of the Panel to re-establish the Panel and complete the Blueprint. The Blueprint was published in 2013 and outlines seventeen practical and important policy recommendations across seven policy areas that can make ageing a positive experience for all. The Blueprint is built around the idea that living longer is a good thing, that the rising average age of our population is a vindication of advances in science and health policy, and that the best way to approach it is to look for ways that older Australians can participate more effectively in our society and our economy to the best of their abilities.

There has been a marked turnaround in Australians' attitudes to public spending and tax over the last 18 months. By David Hetherington.

Public Attitudes towards Taxation and Government Expenditure. Australians' attitudes towards tax and public spending are getting tougher...

Australians continue to desire a more progressive tax system which sees higher income earners and big business making a greater contribution.

This paper investigates the cost of living in Australia, an issue that has dominated recent political debate. It evaluates whether cost of living complaints are justified in light of economic reality and household consumption patterns. By Tim Soutphommasane.

A look at the data and analysis about the impact of fiscal stimulus during 2008/09 to examine why Australia was virtually alone among IMF economies in not experiencing a recession during this period. By Chris Barrett.

This report examines state of Australia's quality of life, and finds that, despite concerns, Australians have very little reason to feel a sense of crisis. The paper argues that it is important to understand quality of life as something related to a broader conception of wellbeing. By Tim Soutphommasane.

This report presents the results of a Survey undertaken by Per Capita on public attitudes towards taxation in Australia.

October 2009: This paper argues that we need to reposition tax as a public good. It demonstrates how taxation provides valuable economic and social returns, which can empower both the individual and wider society. By Katherine Gregory.

This paper makes two arguments; first, that progressive parties cannot afford to be neutral about the role of organised labour and second, that a determined effort must be made to improve workplace employment relations, by encouraging effective employer-union co-operation. By David Coats.