- 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
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
New research has confirmed that climate change is contributing to the growing problem of heat stress in a wide range of Australian workplaces.
2020 marks the twelfth annual Go Home on Time Day, 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.
A new report from the Centre for Future Work highlights the continuing economic importance of Alcan’s aluminium smelter in Portland, VIC, and discusses the potential of new renewable energy technologies to underpin the facility’s rejuvenation and long-term viability.
New research by the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work analyses the economic effects of COVID-19 on Tasmania, and suggests how Tasmania can ‘build back better’ out of the COVID-19 crisis, making key recommendations to help Tasmania avoid the mistakes made at the Federal level. Ahead of Tasmania’s State Budget, set to be delivered on 12 November 2020, in this new report the Centre for Future Work has explored what the shape of Tasmania’s economy could look like, and how it can recover and reconstruct after this pandemic.
In times of crisis, governments have a responsibility to their citizens to maintain and expand their role in the economy – for both economic and social reasons. This responsibility has never been clearer than during the current COVID-19 pandemic, and its associated economic downturn. Australians are counting on their governments to protect them from the pandemic, support them through the resulting recession, and play a leading role in rebuilding a stronger, healthy society in the aftermath of this unprecedented catastrophe.
The failure of the Commonwealth to confirm that it will maintain funding for community service organisations could threaten up to 12,000 jobs in that sector, at a moment when those services are critical to Australia’s pandemic-damaged economy. That’s the conclusion of new research on the economic importance of Commonwealth pay equity funding, conducted by the
Workers in most industries and occupations worry about the effects of accelerating technological change on their employment security and prospects. New digital technologies are being applied to an increasingly diverse and complex array of tasks and jobs – including artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies which can exercise judgment and decision-making powers. Some studies suggest that as many as half of all jobs may be highly vulnerable to automation and computerisation in coming decades. The NSW Legislative Council has established a Select Committee to examine the impact of technological and other change on the future of work in NSW. The Centre for Future Work has lodged a submission.
Startling new research from the Centre for Future Work has shown that Australia’s economy is now regressing in its use of new technology, with negative implications for productivity, incomes, and job quality.
The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in an era of unprecedented disruption and transition. Increased public investment in the skills and earning capabilities of Australians will be critical to our post-pandemic recovery.
New research from the Centre for Future Work reveals that Australia ranks last among all OECD countries for manufacturing self-sufficiency. The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded Australians of the importance of being able to manufacture a full range of essential equipment and supplies; and the COVID recession has created a large economic void that a revitalised manufacturing sector could help to fill in coming years.
The provision of free childcare provides the rarest of economic policy opportunities – it’s both an effective form of fiscal stimulus in the short term and has the capacity to boost the long-term participation rate and, in turn, the long run rate of economic growth.
With disruptions in international supply chains for essential products (like medical equipment and supplies) disrupted in the current COVID pandemic, Australians have a new appreciation for the importance of retaining a flexible, high-quality, domestic manufacturing capacity. And the ongoing transformation of Australia’s energy industry, with rapid expansion of renewable energy sources, would add momentum to the renaissance of Australian manufacturing.
COVID-19 containment measures have suspended large sections of the economy. Governments have committed over $220 billion in income supports to workers and firms. The $130 billion JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme is the most extensive “shock absorber” (with worrying exclusions of many casual and migrant workers). With the scheme now in place, assessment of the government’s COVID-19 measures is now shifting to implementation. This includes effects on the laws and regulations governing wages and how businesses and employees (and their unions) interact to determine the terms and conditions of employment.