October 2022

Job Opening: Carmichael Distinguished Research Fellow

by Jim Stanford

The Carmichael Centre at the Centre for Future Work invites applications for the Laurie Carmichael Distinguished Research Fellow position. It’s a three-year posting, with awesome potential to explore a range of progressive issues related to unions, collective bargaining, industrial policy, and workers’ education.

June 2022

Profits push up prices too, so why is the RBA governor only talking about wages?

by Jim Stanford in The Conversation

Reserve Bank of Australia governor Phillip Lowe has invoked memories of the 1970s, warning wage growth must be restrained to contain Australia’s surging inflation. In the 1970s, Lowe said last week, “we got into trouble because wages growth responded mechanically to the higher inflation rate”. Now, with inflation above 5%, and tipped to reach 7% by the

May 2022

April 2022

We (still) need to talk about insecure work

by Jim Stanford and Mark Dean in The New Daily

Business groups and conservative media are happy to discuss insecure work as if it is nothing new – stable and part of a healthy economy that provides workers with independence. But this is not the case, with insecure forms of work – casual, gigs, temporary work and short-term contracts – taking up a growing share of jobs in Australia.

February 2022

January 2022

Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory: Labour Market Implications of Australia’s Failed COVID Strategy

by Jim Stanford

As COVID and recession gripped the world, through 2020 and most of 2021 Australia recorded one of the best outcomes: lower infection, fewer deaths, and a faster, stronger economic recovery. That seeming victory has been squandered, however by the appalling and infuriating events of recent weeks. Purportedly in the name of ‘protecting the economy’, key political leaders (led by the Commonwealth and NSW governments) threw the doors open to the virus at exactly the wrong time: just as the super-infectious Omicron variant was taking hold.

June 2021

Video: Myth & Reality About Technology, Skills & Jobs

by Jim Stanford

We are constantly told that the world of work is being turned upside down by ‘technology’: some faceless, anonymous, uncontrollable force that is somehow beyond human control. There’s no point resisting this exogenous, omnipresent force. The best thing to do is get with the program… and learn how to program! Acquiring the right skills (usually assumed to be STEM or computer skills) is the best way to protect yourself in this brave new high-tech future.

January 2021

Yes, lockdowns mean lost jobs. But data shows that not locking down causes much more economic damage

by Jim Stanford in Toronto Star

With new stay-at-home orders covering many parts of the province, Ontarians are settling in for a month (at least) of daunting isolation. Restrictions are also being tightened in other provinces to slow the spread of COVID-19, until vaccines can turn the tide of the pandemic. Despite accelerating infection and overflowing hospitals, many oppose the new restrictions on

December 2020

Profile: Combining Economics and Social Justice

by Jim Stanford

The Centre for Future Work’s Director Dr. Jim Stanford was recently profiled in a feature article published in In The Black, the journal of CPA Australia (the professional body for certified accountants in Australia). The profile, by journalist Johanna Leggatt, discusses the history of the Centre for Future Work, and Stanford’s philosophy of using popular economic knowledge to strengthen movements for social change and workers’ rights.

Porter IR Bill a Wish List for Business

by Jim Stanford in The Conversation

Industrial Relations Minister Christian Porter tabled an omnibus bill on 9 December containing multiple amendments to Australia’s labour laws, including the Fair Work Act. In theory, the bill is the outcome of a series of IR reform discussions the government launched during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time it heralded a new spirt of cooperation between business, unions, and the government — but that spirit didn’t last long. The bill accepts numerous business demands that will further liberalise casual work, undermine genuine collective bargaining, and generally suppress wages even more than they already are.

October 2020

Budget’s Illusory Hope for Business-Led Recovery

by Jim Stanford

The Commonwealth government tabled its 2020-21 budget on 6 October, six months later than the usual timing because of the dramatic events associated with the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting recession. There is no doubt it is a budget unlike any other in Australia’s postwar history. While the budget certainly unleashes unprecedented fiscal power, its underlying logic and specific policy design are unsatisfactory in many ways. We present here analysis and commentary on several aspects of the budget, drawing on input from all of the Centre’s research staff: Economist and Director Dr. Jim Stanford, Senior Economist Alison Pennington, and Economist Dan Nahum.

April 2020

March 2020

Responding to the Economic Emergency

by Jim Stanford in New Matilda

The scale and scope of the economic downturn caused by COVID-19 will be unprecedented in our lifetimes. Mainstream economists have belatedly realised the pandemic will cause an economic downturn, but they are not yet appreciating the size of that downturn, nor the unconventional responses that will be required. Simply calling for government “stimulus” is sadly inadequate, given the complete shut-down of work and production that is occurring in many sectors of the economy. The task is no longer supporting markets with incremental “pump-priming.” What’s needed is a war-like effort, led by government, to mobilise every possible resource to protect Australians’ health and livelihoods. Money is not an object – and this epic effort should not be held back by normal acquiescence to private-sector priorities and decisions.

February 2020

November 2019

October 2019

August 2019

Stuck-in-the-Mud’ Workers Not to Blame for Wage Stagnation

by Jim Stanford

The Commonwealth Treasury raised eyebrows recently with a new research report that seemed to pin the blame for record-weak wage increases on workers’ reluctance to quit their jobs in search of better-paying alternatives. The report was presented to the recent conference of the Economic Society of Australia, and elicited gleeful headlines in conservative newspapers blaming “stubborn” workers for their own poor wage results.

May 2019

Where To Now for Union Campaign? Workplace Express

The unexpected results of the 2019 Commonwealth election have sparked many commentaries regarding what happened, and why. This article, reprinted with permission from Workplace Express, considers the role of the major #ChangeTheRules campaign mobilised by Australian unions in the lead-up to the election – and ponders the movement’s next steps in the continuing debate over labour market policies and industrial relations. It cites both our Economist Alison Pennington, and our Director Jim Stanford, as well as our previous research on the erosion of collective bargaining in Australia.

Denying Wages Crisis Won’t Make It Go Away

by Jim Stanford

As the great novelist Isaac Asimov wrote, “The easiest way to solve a problem is to deny it exists.” Business leaders and sympathetic commentators have adopted that advice with gusto, during current public debates over the unprecedented weakness of Australian wages.

April 2019

Economics 101 for the ABCC

by Jim Stanford

The Australian Building and Construction Commission’s decision to press charges against 54 steelworkers for attending a political rally, with potential fines of up to $42,000 per person, is abhorrent on any level. No worker should face this kind of intimidation for participating in peaceful protest.

Budget 2019-20: Ooops, They Did It Again!

by Jim Stanford

You would think that after 5 consecutive years of wage forecasts that wildly overestimated actual experience, the government might have learned from its past errors – and published a wage forecast more in line with reality. But not this government. They are still trying to convince Australian workers, who haven’t seen real average wages rise in over 5 years, that better times are just around the corner. And rosy wage forecasts are helpful in justifying their equally optimistic revenue forecasts: since if Australians are earning more money, they will be paying more taxes!

Jobs and a Living Wage

by Jim Stanford in Arena

Australians tend to bring a fair bit of swagger to international comparisons of economic performance. After all, Australia has experienced twenty-eight consecutive years of economic growth without a recession—a record for industrial countries. We are the ‘lucky country’, with one of the highest material living standards in the world, a wealth of natural resources, and a ‘no worries’ ability to withstand global economic shocks.

General Enquiries

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mail@australiainstitute.org.au

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0413 208 134

jake@australiainstitute.org.au

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