Full employment is the most urgent task for social democrats

June 27, 2019

“For decades we have been told that if government stays out of the way, the market will create work for everyone who needs it, and do so in the most efficient way. Yet it is now painfully obvious that the market cannot deliver full employment that can support people to live a good life and ensure the fair distribution of our shared prosperity.

The case for government intervention in the market’s failure to provide full employment is clear. Social democrats must radically reframe the accepted boundaries of the economic role of government and engage urgently with the task of creating real, sustainable, reliable jobs for people.

Beyond making vague promises of skills training and redeployment packages, governments must actively invest in new industries, and put in place the necessary framework to equip people to make the shift out of their old jobs into secure work in a post-carbon economy.

This is not beyond our ken. Australian governments have delivered full employment before, most notably in the three decades after the second world war. But such a project necessitates a shift away from market solutions and towards direct government involvement in job creation and industry support.

Making new, government-supported jobs in infrastructure, advanced manufacturing, renewable energy and other new and emerging industries will entail all levels of government and industry cooperating across multiple policy settings, and working with local communities to understand the challenges and identify appropriate regional opportunities.”

Emma Dawson in The Guardian