- Banking & Finance
- Employment & Unemployment
- Future of Work
- Gender at Work
- Gig Economy
- Industry & Sector Policies
- Infrastructure & Construction
- Insecure & Precarious Work
- Labour Standards & Workers' Rights
- Population & Migration
- Public Sector, Procurement & Privatisation
- Science & Technology
- Social Security & Welfare
- Tax, Spending & the Budget
- Unions & Collective Bargaining
- Wages & Entitlements
- Young Workers
- Climate & Energy
- Democracy & Accountability
- International & Security Affairs
- Law, Society & Culture
At the Crossroads
If the federal government lifts annual higher education spending to 1% of GDP, it could repair the destruction inflicted by the COVID pandemic and make universities more accessible and affordable for all Australians, according to new research from the Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute.
The Economic Benefits of High-Quality Universal Early Child Education
Expanded ECEC services would provide a badly-needed boost to Australia’s economic recovery from COVID-19.
Budget Analysis 2022-23
The Commonwealth Government has tabled its budget for the 2022-23 financial year. As the nation emerges from two years of lockdowns and border closures, with less than two months until a federal election, this budget is focused on getting the government re-elected – rather than addressing the challenges of public health, stagnant wages, and sustainability facing Australia.
Fragmentation & Photo-Ops
Strong vocational education and training (VET) systems are vital to the success of dynamic, innovative economies and inclusive labour markets. Australia’s VET system once provided well-established and dependable education-to-jobs pathways, but a combination of policy vandalism and fiscal mismanagement plunged the VET system into a lasting and multidimensional crisis.
Sustainable Industrial Jobs in the Hunter
New research from the Centre for Future Work shows that the rapid transformation of Australia’s aluminium facilities to sustainable sources of electricity would spark substantial economic benefits: for the aluminium industry, its supply chain, and for the burgeoning renewable energy sector (which would achieve greater critical mass from major new power supply contracts).
Rebuilding Vehicle Manufacturing in Australia
Global automotive manufacturing is rapidly transitioning to the production of Electric Vehicles (EVs) in line with technological advancements and the global community’s commitment to addressing climate change. This transition presents an enormous opportunity for Australia to rebuild its vehicle manufacturing industry, taking advantage of our competitive strengths in renewable energy, extractive industries, manufacturing capabilities, and
New International Research Exposes Australia’s Missed Wage-boosting Opportunities
New research on international collective bargaining systems, released today in a special issue of the peer-reviewed journal, Labour and Industry, finds that Australia’s industrial relations system is rapidly losing its ability to support wages in the face of numerous challenges (now including the Omicron outbreak).
On the heels of new data showing further erosion of Australia’s collective bargaining system, researchers and practitioners from five countries have identified best practices from other countries that could strengthen collective bargaining and lift wages.
Putting a Cap on Community
The Victorian Government’s policy of capping of local government rates revenue in Victoria is a regressive move on economic, social and democratic grounds. By arbitrarily tying the growth in total rates revenue in each local government area to price indexes, the state government restricts the ability of local governments to respond to the COVID-19 crisis
International COVID-19 Income Supports: An Update
The COVID-19 pandemic severely disrupted global labour markets, and exposed long-standing gaps in social protection systems. Governments around the industrialised world injected hundreds of billions of dollars into a range of unprecedented crisis measures: to support individuals who lost work, to subsidise employers to retain workers despite the fall-off in business, and to facilitate workers to stay away from work when required for health reasons. More recently, as the pandemic progressed and vaccination became widespread, governments have begun considering how to transition toward a post-COVID policy stance.
Working From Home, or Living at Work?
2021 marks the thirteenth annual Go Home on Time Day (GHOTD), an initiative of the Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute that shines a spotlight on overwork among Australians, including excessive overtime that is often unpaid. Last year’s report emphasised that 2020 had been extraordinary and difficult, and 2021 has brought little reprieve.
Ideas Into Motion
Our research at the Centre for Future Work is motivated by a deep commitment to improving the jobs, working conditions, and living standards of working people in Australia and around the world. We combine our knowledge of economics, our quantitative and qualitative research, and our connections with trade unionists and social movements to develop arguments and evidence that supports campaigns for decent work, stronger communities, and sustainability.
The Future of Work in Journalism
Information industries have lost some 60,000 jobs in Australia in the last 15 years, almost half during the COVID-19 pandemic. And a new research report highlights the need for active policy supports to stabilise the media industry, and protect the public good function of quality journalism.
Shock Troops of the Pandemic
New research confirms that workers in casual and insecure jobs have borne the lion’s share of job losses during the COVID-19 pandemic – both the first lockdowns in 2020, and the more recent second wave of closures. Since May, workers in casual and part-time jobs have suffered over 70% of job losses from renewed lockdowns and
Submission to the Senate Economics References Committee Inquiry on the Australian Manufacturing Industry
The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic disruptions, both within Australia and globally, have highlighted the strategic importance of a vibrant manufacturing sector to national economic performance and resilience. The Economic References Committee of the Senate of Australia recently conducted an inquiry into the future of Australia’s manufacturing industry, and the policy measures that are essential to ensuring its presence and success.
Post-COVID-19 policy responses to climate change: beyond capitalism?
A sustainable social, political and environmental response to the “twin crises” of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change will require policymaking beyond capitalism. Only by achieving a post-growth response to these crises can we meaningfully shape a future of jobs in renewable-powered industries shaped by organised labour, democratic values and public institutions. Anything less will merely create more markets and more technocratic fixes that reinforce the growing social and environmental inequalities that our current political system cannot overcome.
An Avoidable Catastrophe
Australia’s universities were uniquely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and recession — including the closure of borders to most international students, the implementation of new COVID-safe instruction practices, and effective exclusion from Commonwealth support programs like JobKeeper.
Family & Domestic Violence Leave Review (AM2021/55)
As one of its first legislative acts, the new Commonwealth government is proposing to provide 10 days of paid leave for victims of family and domestic violence, as a right enshrined in Australia’s National Employment Standards. This will provide victims of FDV with important economic security as they work to address or escape their situations. Access to such leave has been shown to be effective in reducing the subsequent incidence of violence, and assisting victims and their families in rebuilding their lives.
Creativity in Crisis: Rebooting Australia’s Arts and Entertainment Sector After COVID
Culture is an inescapable part of what it means to be human. We can no more imagine a life without the arts than we can imagine a life without language, custom, or ritual. Australia is home to the oldest continuing cultural traditions on the planet, and some of the world’s most renowned actors, musicians and
Funding High-Quality Aged Care Services: A Summary
The Centre for Future Work has prepared a 4-page summary of our recent detailed report on funding needed improvements in aged care services in Australia, in the wake of recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.
Industrial Policy-Making After COVID-19: Manufacturing, Innovation and Sustainability
As Treasurer during the 1980s, Paul Keating lamented that Australian governments had for decades been allowing the country’s sophisticated industrial base to fall apart as unsophisticated raw materials came to dominate the nation’s exports and as a result, its economy slipped into developing-world status. Keating’s famous warning of Australia’s looming ‘banana republic’ status spurred the Hawke and subsequent Keating Labor governments into action on economic restructuring, which included considering a range of industry policy intervention options to put Australia on a track to advanced, industrial status, as had been the aim of post-war nation-building that helped to institute an advanced manufacturing industrial base in Australia.
Investing in Better Mental Health in Australian Workplaces
Australian society is experiencing an epidemic of mental illness that imposes enormous costs on individuals with poor mental health, their families, and the broader economy. There is no doubt that the stress, isolation and disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has made this crisis even worse.
Budget Analysis 2021-22: Heroic Assumptions and Half Measures
The Commonwealth government has tabled its budget for the 2021-22 financial year. The government is counting on a vigorous and sustained burst of consumer spending by Australian households to drive the post-COVID recovery. Yet the budget itself concedes that the main sources of income to finance expanded consumer spending (namely, wages and income supports) will remain weak or even contract. As shown in the Centre for Future Work’s analysis of the budget, these two dimensions of the budget are fundamentally incompatible.
Funding High-Quality Aged Care Services
Implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety will require additional Commonwealth funding of at least $10 billion per year, and there are several revenue tools which the government could use to raise those funds. While the Royal Commission’s 148 recommendations were not explicitly costed, the Centre’s report shows that
Missing a Stitch in Time:
Australia’s electricity industry constitutes a large and critical component of our national economic infrastructure. The industry produces $25 billion per year in value- added. It employs around 50,000 Australians, paying out $6 billion per year in wages and salaries. It makes $45 billion in annual purchases from a diverse and far-reaching supply chain, that provides the sector with inputs ranging from resources to equipment to construction to services.
Submission to the Senate Select Committee on Job Security
The Senate Select Committee on Job Security was appointed 10 December 2020, to inquire into and report on the impact of insecure or precarious employment on the economy, wages, social cohesion and workplace rights and conditions. This includes the extent of insecure and precarious employment in Australia, the impacts of COVID-19 with respect to job precarity and insecurity, the digitally-mediated ‘gig’ economy, and other matters. The Centre for Future Work has made a submission to the Select Committee.
Briefing Paper: Women’s Casual Job Surge Widens Gender Pay Gap
This briefing note presents data on the gendered composition of the employment recovery since May. It shows women’s jobs returned on a more part-time and casualised basis than for men, and that the influx of women’s lower-earning jobs widened the gender pay gap between May and November 2020. While women were more likely to lose
Submission to Senate Inquiry into the Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Bill 2020
In December 2020, the Senate of Australia launched an important inquiry into the federal government’s proposed Fair Work Amendment Bill.
Core features of the legislation include clarifying and expanding employer power to hire workers on a casual basis, obtain greater flexibility in the use of permanent part-time workers (adjusting hours up or down without penalty, much like casual workers), and exercise greater unilateral wage-fixing influence in enterprise agreement (EA)-making.
How Non-Union Agreements Suppress Wage Growth – And Why the Omnibus Bill Will Lead to More of Them
The federal government’s omnibus Industrial Relations bill proposes sweeping changes to labour laws which will generally enhance the power of employers to hire workers on a just-in-time basis, and will put further downward pressure on Australian wages (already growing at a record-low rate). One outcome of the bill will be an acceleration of enterprise agreements (EAs) written unilaterally by employers, without negotiation with any union. These non-union EAs will be favoured for several reasons if the omnibus bill is passed: EAs will be exempted from the current Better Off Overall Test, employer-designed EAs will be subject to less scrutiny at the Fair Work Commission, and employers will have less stringent tests to ensure their proposed EAs are genuinely approved by affected workers. All of these changes will lead to a significant increase in employer-designed EAs that reduce compensation and conditions, rather than improving them – signalling a return to the WorkChoices pattern of EA-making.
2020 Year-End Labour Market Review: Insecure Work and the Covid-19 Pandemic
Australia’s labour market experienced unprecedented volatility during 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and resulting recession. In the first part of the year, employment declined faster and more deeply than in any previous economic downturn, as workplaces were closed to control the spread of infection. Then, after May, employment rebounded strongly. The subsequent recovery has replaced over 80% of the jobs lost in the initial downturn. While considerable ground remains to be covered to complete the employment recovery, the turn-around in the quantity of work has been encouraging.
Employment Aspects of the Transition from Fossil Fuels in Australia
New research by the Centre for Future Work, commissioned by health care industry super fund HESTA, finds that a planned transition of Australia’s labour market away from fossil fuel jobs could occur without involuntary layoffs or severe disruption to communities—if governments focus on a planned and fair transition. That transition needs to include: a clear, long-term timeline, measures to facilitate inter-industry mobility and voluntary severance as fossil fuels are phased-out, and generous retraining and diversification policies.