Australia is one of the wealthiest countries on earth. Conventional economic theories tell us that, after a world-record breaking run of uninterrupted economic growth and with company profits growing strongly, Australian citizens should be enjoying ever-higher standards of living and feeling confident and secure in their working lives.
Unfortunately, for a significant number of us, theory isn’t being borne out in reality. Growing numbers of people find themselves in insecure or unreliable jobs, under pressure to manage cost of living increases and struggling to provide a good life for themselves and their families.
The reasons are manifold.
Decades of attacks on unions and collective bargaining have weakened the power of workers to fight for their fair share of prosperity.
Economic policies over decades have focussed on balancing budgets rather than creating full employment.
Business managers have become obsessed with maximising company profits and returns to shareholders at the expense of investment and wage rises for their employees.
Techology and industrial disruption are destroying many traditional, permanent jobs and replacing them with piece work disguised as digital innovation.
And our industrial relations laws are failing to keep pace with the increasing precarity of work and the ever-growing avarice of capital in the globalised economy.
Yet free market advocates grow ever louder in their calls for government to deregulate the economy and let the market rip. It’s a recipe for misery for the average Australia citizen.
In this new Research Report, by Emma Dawson and David Hetherington, with contributions from Stephen Koukoulas and Tim Lyons, Per Capita argues that the time for a reckoning is here. The government must intervene to secure the hard-fought-for right of Australian workers to receive a living wage in return for their labour.