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John Passant

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December 2014



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My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole

Sick kids and paying upfront


Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)



Unemployment is rising rapidly in Australia

The most revealing figure in the Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook is the predicted 6.5%  unemployment for this financial year and next.  This is up from the Budget prediction in May of 6.25% and the current 6.3%. Growth at 2.5% won’t be enough to change this (you need at least 3%) and in fact the unemployment figure may be an underestimate.

Mark David cartoons

The Abbott government has no plan or even idea how to address this rapidly rising unemployment. Well, that is not quite true. Evidently a $5 GP co-payment, increased and de-regulated higher education fees, with student debt doubling according to MYEFO to $52 billion by 2018, and cutting a further almost $4 bn from the foreign aid Budget on top of a $7 bn cut in May will lead us to capitalist Nirvana. It would be laughable if it weren’t so serious.

This is a government which abandoned car manufacturing in Australia as part of their dirty dealing for fair trade agreements with China, Japan and South Korea.  It is the government which refused to support SPC cannery at Shepparton. It is the government which is destroying many jobs at the Australian Submarine Corporation.

This is also the government which has got rid of up to 20000 public servants and with the proposed abolition or merger of 175 government agencies will get rid of thousands more. Key departments like the Australian Tax Office are only part way through their government sanctioned jobs massacre. Three thousand tax officers are gone already with another 2000 by 2017.

Government action to increase unemployment looks like a deliberate strategy from the Abbott government. Rising unemployment puts downward pressure on real wages. Both Labor and Liberal governments, in conjunction with the trade union leadership, have been cutting real wages in recent times. In 2013/14 wages rose 2.6% while inflation was 3%. For workers in the private sector, the real wage cuts were even greater, with wage increases of only 2.4%.

Lower wages supposedly mean more profit for the bosses. Shifting wealth from labour to capital has been the strategy of neoliberal governments both Labor and Liberal since 1983 and cutting real wages in a time of economic decline (in part because of the fall in growth in the Chinese economy) is one logic of neoliberal capitalism.

However slashing real wages has impacts on consumption and retail capitalism.

Despite urgings from the out of touch Treasurer Joe Hockey to spend up big for Christmas, without the money in our pockets and with the threat of being sacked hanging over our heads, we won’t be spending up big over Christmas. Retailers will cut staff or even close their doors.

Many resource and other commodity prices have fallen markedly  (although sales volumes are up).  Marginal mining operations are already closing down.  The mining maggots, the same people who threw 15% of their workforce on to the scrap heap during the GFC, are sacking thousands and thousands.  Retail and mining sackings, on top of public service and manufacturing job losses, will spread through the economy. The 6.5% unemployment prediction for this year and next could be an under-estimate.

Indeed, the latest hit to company tax collections is part of a more long term decline in company tax payments. This hints at deeper problems in Australian capitalism than just the end of the mining boom.

We live in an irrational world. We could use the car and other manufacturing plants to produce green energy outputs like solar panels, wind farms, trains, buses and trams. Profit stands in the way of us doing so. Profit prevents us from acting rationally.

Is there an alternative to rising unemployment? Workers could take over the factories they are being sacked from and begin to produce socially useful products.  In the current climate that isn’t going to happen.

We could address the Budget ‘crisis’ by taking back the $9 billion Hockey gave to the Reserve Bank, getting rid of negative gearing ($5n) on investment housing, scrapping the $15 bn in superannuation tax concessions going to the top ten percent of income earners, and imposing an annual wealth tax of one percent on the top ten percent of wealth holders (for starters). That of itself won’t address rising unemployment.  The revenue could be used to provide green and useful infrastructure jobs (rather than roads and ports for Gina Rinehart).

However because unemployment is built into the capitalist system, we will have to fight the bosses and government to stop it. That means using our industrial muscle to stop the bosses sacking us and paying us more than pittance wages.



Comment from Chris Warren
Time December 16, 2014 at 11:28 pm

So where is this 40 billion deficit in the MYEFO papers? The figure is mentioned at page 19 but there are no figures to back it up.

Table 3.9 (page 42-3) has total FY 15/16 receipts at:

410,427 mill.

Table 3.22 (page 76-7) has FY 14/15 expenditure at

431,118 mill.

A gap (deficit) of $20 billion.

The profits from 5 large companies (BHP, CommBank, WestPac, NAB, ANZ) total around 42 Billion and there are other companies with billion dollar profits eg Wesfarmers ($2.7 billion).

Company tax for all Australia is just 75.4 billion (Table 3.9).

An increase in company tax seems in order.

Comment from Chris Warren
Time December 17, 2014 at 8:50 am

Table 3.22 expenditure figure is for FY 15/16

Comment from Lorikeet
Time December 18, 2014 at 10:45 am

The latest published figures on combined unemployment and underemployment showed 20.2% for Queensland, and slightly lower levels in the southern states.

Workers need to form new unions that aren’t affiliated with the ACTU, which sends a delegate to a UN global flattening body.

It is also clear that the government (Labor/Greens and Coalition) responds to the dictates of the IMF where wages, the welfare system etc are concerned. This becomes apparent if you watch the ABC in the early hours of the morning and compare what you hear with government policies. I think the main reason the government wants to wind back and eventually get rid of the ABC is so that people cannot pick up on these things by watching the international news.

The main cause of downward pressure on wages, hours of work, and working conditions is globalisation.

I agree with most of what you have said John, but when a pro-Australian Senator tried to organise workers to take over a factory abandoned by a large multi-national organisation, thugs came in the night and destroyed all of the plant/factory machinery.

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