As stated in the previous ACTU submission to this inquiry, if the transition to the economy of the future is not managed correctly, the insecure work crisis we are currently experiencing will be only the beginning of a more significant trend of rising inequality in Australia. Those hardest hit will be Australians already experiencing insecure work and those for whom inequality is already a daily fact of life. Perhaps the largest group of Australians to which this definition can be applied is those who live in regional or rural Australia. For several decades now, as Australia’s economy has grown, rural and regional Australians have been further and further shut out from prosperity. Australia has developed a two-speed economy, with vastly different economies developing in metropolitan and regional Australia. Regional Australians are already experiencing significantly higher levels of insecurity and inequality when compared to people living in metropolitan areas. This issue will only worsen in the future if future of work transitions are not managed adequately. This supplementary submission will explore the magnitude of the problem of regional inequality in Australia as well as providing a number of solutions drawing on the ACTU’s recent Jobs You Can Count On policy paper (which is also attached in full) that itself contains 108 recommendations on how to create secure, full time jobs and grow the national economy.
Jobs You Can Count On sets out a comprehensive, consistent strategy to improve both the quantity and quality of work: creating new jobs, lifting pay, enhancing the security and conditions of employment, and ensuring access to decent work for all Australians.Independent expert analysis1 of the report by Dr Jim Stanford, one of the world’s leading economists, concluded that if the recommendations within were acted upon, with five years, it would be reasonable to expect:
• The unemployment rate to fall to 4 percent or lower.
• The share of full-time work in employment to rebound back toward 75 percent (since employers will be pressured by falling unemployment to create full-time jobs).
• The underemployment rate to fall to 5 percent or lower.
• The incidence of casual work to decline below 20 percent.
• Labour force participation to rise by at least 2 percentage points, especially among young workers.
• Nominal wage growth to rebound to traditional rates of 4 percent per year.
We commend that report and its contents to the Inquiry in full.