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Byron Shire
November 28, 2022

Thus Spake Mungo: jobs, jobs and more jobs

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In 1983, with an economic downturn – not even a proper recession – in play, the new Prime Minister, Bob Hawke, convened his economic summit to implement his election agenda of recovery, reconciliation and reconstruction.

The straight talking New South Wales Premier, Neville Wran, set the scene in one terse sentence. ‘Delegates,’ he rasped, ‘this summit is about three things: jobs, jobs and jobs.’

Fast forward to the 2020 budget, and the message is the same. Labor leader Anthony Albanese stole from it in so many words. Even our normally voluble Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, succumbed to the succinct slogan last weekend. And he confirmed that after a generation of the holy crusade for the sacred surplus, he too is going back to embracing good old-fashioned economic orthodoxy.

Debt and deficit emergency? What debt, what deficit? The rhetoric of 2019 has been shamelessly abandoned, and replaced with a single-minded determination to deliver an unemployment statistic that can be credible at the next election.

Massive tax cuts will be brought forward in the hope that the punters will unleash a spending wave to kickstart the moribund economy

So the revenue base is to be trashed – massive tax cuts will be brought forward in the hope that the punters will unleash a spending wave to kickstart the moribund economy. Some of it will probably help, much of it certainly will not – we have repeatedly watched the failure of trickle down policies in which the rich trouser their loot and the moguls slip it into buyouts, dividends and bonuses.

In spite of the pandemic (or perhaps because of it) the profit share is still outstripping meagre wage increases. For many bosses, the mantra of ‘we’re all in this together’ translates to ‘what’s in it for me? Stuff you Jack, I’m all right.’

But Scott Morrison’s Damascene conversion is not just the tax cuts he must offer to make his package palatable to the party room. He is offering a veritable cornucopia of cash before, during and after this week’s budget – a torrent of public spending whose extravagance would make John Maynard Keynes blush with envy.

Last week’s handout of $1.5 billion for our back-to-the-future manufacturing industry was, as he boasted, just a foretaste. The promise to wind back JobSeeker, JobKeeper, JobSleeper and the rest of them will be kept, but other direct stimulus measures will swamp any hint of parsimony.

We are facing a situation where our population will, for the first time in living memory, actually decline

And there are other ideas which will not put too much stress on the bankrupt treasury. Immigration, arguably the most reliable and efficient engine of growth, has fallen to perilous levels – we are facing a situation where our population will, for the first time in living memory, actually decline. Reversing that trend should be an urgent priority, and the Peter Costello approach of more bonking is too long term.

Then bribes can be tried … not of filthy lucre, but of future favours. In the agricultural sector, desperate for pickers of produce, the idea of offering temporary visa holders, both tourists and refugees, a fast-track to permanent residency is a no-brainer.

Locals have made it clear that the wages are insufficient to attract them, and employers are unwilling to accept the market solution: pay more. And the long history of abuse – underpayment, squalid conditions and even sexual molestation, is hardly an incentive to taking the jobs.

There is also a scheme to entice workers from the Pacific Islands – uncomfortably reminiscent of the blackbirding of Kanakas in colonial times

There is also a scheme to entice workers from the Pacific Islands – uncomfortably reminiscent of the blackbirding of Kanakas in colonial times, but if it can be policed, it may be worth a try.

But these are on the fringes. For a realistic dividend, both economic and political, Morrison is relying on his cash splash. And at the very least it should supply a boost to confidence, desperately needed as the foundation on which recovery can be built.

But as always, the implementation – the actual nuts and bolts – underpinning the Morrison plan are far from clear. It is all very well to spruik the need for jobs, and to point to areas where there is both a shortage and a quick return. But the middle bit – the workers – needs a lot more thought.

With the cutting of some $3 billion from TAFE in the last few years, it will be hard to find enough teachers for all the applicants required

Obviously we need more apprentices. But with the cutting of some $3 billion from TAFE in the last few years, it will be hard to find enough teachers for all the applicants required. And more importantly, much of their curriculum is in danger of becoming obsolete and irrelevant.

For all the talk of innovation, science and engineering, few tradies are numerate in robotics and computing, increasingly essential in what was quite recently seen as blue-collar manual work. There is little point in training up a class of blacksmiths, however attractively nostalgic the notion may seem.

At one level Morrison knows that – hence his heavy handed approach to forcing universities to force students into vocations that he hopes will give him a quick economic dividend. But as so often happens, he has not thought it through. If he really wants to shove the manufacturers into action, he has to provide the skilled workforce they need.

And it would also help if he set some specific targets. Struggling to get a few words in between ScoMo’s filibuster, in the manner of Joe Biden trying to be heard over Donald Trump, Anthony Albanese has nominated social housing as an obvious one – a huge need, and relatively easy to move on.

And of course, there is always renewable energy. Morrison has not mentioned it specifically, but there have been hints that he has not entirely ruled it out. And if nothing else appeals, there are any number of roads, railways and bridges to repair and upgrade.

Right now there are officially 4.8 unemployed for each single advertised vacancy – that’s the government spin

These will be derided by some as picking winners, make-work, dead end jobs. And indeed they are not everyone’s idea of a lifetime career. But you’ve come to the bottom line. Right now there are officially 4.8 unemployed for each single advertised vacancy – that’s the government spin. But in reality the ratio of those not working to those who want to work is about 17, not counting widespread underemployment. 

And another sheaf of announcements to be left in the out tray, waiting for the shredder, will not hack it. What is required is a hefty kick in the arse. Morrison is not reluctant to put in the boot, but he has to be sure of his aim, his run in, and his execution. He needs to kick at least one of the three goals nominated earlier. Actually just one will do – jobs.

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  1. Jobs it is, Mungo – social housing so damn long overdue. Renewable energy;
    exactly….. as I sit here listening to the council’s renewable truck collecting the
    city’s garbage. Here’s to what needs doing – ScoMo – kick the goal. Employ-
    ment of any kind will help the country. Forget the gas & coal.

  2. Scamo from Marketing has it all wrong, they should be raising taxes on the insatiably greedy uncle scrooges of Australia, not giving them more money to monopolise and pile up untaxed off shore.
    Morrison will soon be handing out a set of free steak knives with every new promotion he “Announces”?
    Here is an example of what FDR’s new deal and tax increases to save the economy from the great depression. And the disaster of Reagan and Thatcher that cut the taxes and delivered the trashed economies of today.
    Whom our incompetent failed economic ideological and rhetoric constrained treasurer Friedandburnt admires so much to our detriment!
    Australia cannot have an economic recovery while the LNP are in office continually obstructing any real answers.
    The LNP are the problem, everything else is just a by product of that problem..

  3. Astute Economics teachers were lamenting the consequences of deskilling Australia as nations embraced globalisation in the 1980s and 1990s. They were damned and indeed efforts were made to censor them.. The underbelly of what they were arguing about with globalisation is exposed albeit has been worsened over time. Now, with the rise of nationalism, accentuated by the impact of COVID-19, the reactionary position is to shore up supply chains by building up a ‘manufacturing base’.etc. etc. It’s a move that resonates with the electorate because of our current experiences with those chains. It’s also politically ‘acceptable’ because it isn’t saying the nation is moving away from globalisation. Instead, it is preparing for ‘security’ of supply chains. Personally, my position is that unless there is a bi-partisan VISION for Australia for the next 10, 20 and 30+ years, all the electorate will get is weasel-words from the politicians whose primary ambition will continue to be to hold onto power at each election cycle….that’s not the quality/direction of leadership we need. Furthermore, and again, it is merely my position, is that whilst Australians have been enjoying being the consumers of imports as a result of globalisation, the economies of the mini-dragons of Asia and recently China have soared ahead in both manufacturing and technology. Are Australians big enough to look to these countries and learn from our neighbours? And don’t forget India….it’s a rising economy to watch. And as Mungo so aptly states….where’s the skill base here in Australia to start with and where are we going to get the teachers skilled in whatever direction we are suppose to head in whatever fields we are suppose to go?.

  4. may be worth pointing out that the $1.5 billion for manufacturing is over 4 years i.e. $375 million per year. how far will that go?
    The other ludicrous one is $100 billion for Infrastructure…… over 10 years!! $10 billion a year won’t be anything of a strain on the budget either.
    all the above being followed by more: Unis cut, ABC cut, TAFE cut
    Sickening spin the whole package. A classic neoliberal budget designed for the 1% and corporate shareholders.

    Very good article Mungo, thank you.

    • Bruce, it is ScottyfromMarketing par excellence. He makes a big headlining announcement and everyone goes away with puffed out chest. The next day the drilldown into affairs exposes the high farce of it all which is swept away by the latest and greatest ProMO ScoNO big headline announcement and so the circle / cycle continues on.

  5. Mungo, have you not caught up with the game that the Liberals play. In response to The GFC, the ALP fiscal support is a “Debt and Deficit Disaster”. But in response to a Global Health Emergency, the Liberals fiscal support is …..”Superior economic management” …..and the hypocrisy from Josh Frydenberg in last night’s interview with Leigh Sales on ABC 7.30 was breathtaking. Just more confirmation of what the Liberals think about Morrison’s Mushrooms ( aka Quiet Australians ), keep feeding them any bullshit, with a fistful of Liberal’s $’s, to keep them snoozing away in their collective coma.

  6. We saw them in all their glory last night, their yes ‘ministers’. That’s hypocrisy
    at its best. Labor’s no better. We are on a Carousel Of Time [thank Buffty
    Sainte-Marie, Cree Indian] for that. Song title “The Circle Game.”

    • Stefanie, maybe try also the Patti Smith song, ‘People Have The Power’,,,,one line says it all…”To wrestle the earth from fools”.

  7. So keith Duncan suggested a few weeks back that
    Victoria’s covid 19 disaster was all of the doing
    Of the Ruby Princess, mind you this was on top of the fact that the inquiry in Victoria came to the conclusion that 99% of all cases likely came
    From the hotel quarantine debacle .. silent have been the Greens, the libertarians , Me- to movement
    The ABC , all advocate equality, kindness, fairness
    Diversity , tolerance etc .. but yet have been very
    Quiet on the human rights violations especially
    Against WOMEN in Victoria nothing to see here !!
    The Health Minister absorbed the hit for the Appalling
    Labor party in Victoria why ? Mr Andrews
    Misogynist? of course not … and then to top it of
    Had to laugh” Anthony Albanese ” has said that the
    Country “Cant Afford” another Ruby Princess connected to( 28 covid 19 deaths ) no mention of weather we can afford his comrade Dan , who presided over 806 deaths in Victoria.. as previously stated the Qld Premier will be first , Andrews will
    Follow .. both of them shameful!!

  8. Both lots are ‘cross wired’ & the people deserve better. Our Treasurer
    can’t get his numbers right & Labor’s leaning towards the LNP. ScoMo
    is in la la land if he thinks all that’s happened, & will continue to happen,
    will be okay in a few months – it won’t because it can’t. The country is
    not some ‘funky’ garage-sale for those with a buck to buy an all-day
    sucker. The lot need to be sent back to school. I do wish Gogh
    Whitlam would rise again from the here-after.

  9. Discussion with those in my street re; Budget. Beliefs are “Scrooges get a gold
    pass” – ” the public [women mostly] get a back-hand.” Hi ho, Tweed.

  10. Barrow my man, there’s a lot to unpack in your little rant old son. Your Ruby Princess imported the Covid into Sydney and then it got exported around Australia and to overseas destinations as well. Has anyone researched into overseas deaths connected with Ruby Princess? Not to my knowledge so the Ruby Princess 28 may in fact be more than, 28. The findings into the Victoria Covid Inquiry are still to be delivered, so you jumping the gun my man. Just get it into your head, once and for all time, Aged Care is your ProMO ScoNO’s responsibility and irrespective of where the Covid originated from, The Royal Commission found that your ProMO ScoNO had NO COVID INFECTION CONTROL PLAN in place prior to Covid getting into aged care establishments, this despite the prior heads up of Covid overseas and then the Covid striking into Dorothy Henderson Lodge and Newmarch House in NSW, in April. Barrow old son, you can cry all you like about Premier Dan and Covid but your ProMO ScoNO has the responsibility to protect ALL aged care residents. But I know, it wasn’t ProMO ScoNO’s fault, it was his incompetent Minister Richard Colbeck that dunnit….just watched on and counted the climbing death toll of Dorothy Henderson Lodge, Newmarch House, St Basils and the others. Did you pay close attention to the words spoken in your ProMO ScoNO’s apology for the deaths on his watch in aged care establishments? NO responsibility directly taken by your ProMO ScoNO / Federal Government, he outsourced the blame to, The System….The System, Barrow, The System that what dunnit, yeah.

  11. Joachim’s on the ball. I’ll pick up the bat… Everyone in the country knows
    The Ruby imported the Covid to Sydney… end of that story. Richard Colbeck
    & ScoMo are responsible for Age Care & that’s a fact. Death tolls are horrid
    happenings to deal with. Ah, Yes Joachim – Patti Smith’s People power fits
    in well with Buffy. For many years Buffy’s songs were banned in the USA.
    How dare she upset The White House! I met her in the early 1970’s – her
    first tour to Australia. Later, my book ‘Symphony for Heart and Stone’ held
    many of her quotes once she’d read the poetry manuscript. Amazing woman!
    A brief extract from Buffy reads; ‘Who brought the bomb wrapped up in
    business cards & stained with steak?/Who hires a maid to wash his money?/
    Who keeps politicians on the take?/Money junkies all over the world trample
    us on their way to the bank./ They run in every race. Windigo!/.

    • Yep , the Buffy, she a goodun. The Patti and her People power song, I’ve been on the Youtube and playing all those beauttful different versions / clips that are available. My favourite is Choir! Choir! Choir! with Patti and her friends belting it out in New York City – now that is People Power to be sure!. If ever there was a world anthem to be played at this time of Agent Orange in USA, Joke Jair in Brazil, Alexander the not Great in Belarus,Tooti Puti in Russia, Bumbling Boris in UK and of course our very own ScamMO, then it Patti and her Power for mine.

  12. Albo has my vote…. His own life mirrors the lives of so many on this
    Island home. The ‘working man/woman-ship’ is as clear as a bell.
    If anyone can really relate to those capable of rebuilding the place
    it’s the leader who understands people. Supports free universities
    & Tafe. Children & child care. Age Care reorganizing. Manufacturing.
    Home ownership as opposed to those who ‘collect property’ – the
    land-lords who sur-charge the public: ie. screw them. There’s a lot
    more to be done & it’s not just the NBN. Real pride never goes
    amiss. Maybe Gogh Whitlam appeared in a dream. Whatever! It’s
    about Time – again. I will settle for that. Just get rid of gas & coal.

    • Stefanie, on your plea re Albo with the coal and gas. Please see your piece and my add-on to Keith Duncan’s letter today, 9/10.

  13. Albo’s budget reply is the one he should have given at the 2019 election embedding Labor’s economic credentials,its success in avoiding the GFC recession and the tripling of debt by the Liberals after Labor’s 2013 defeat.

  14. Ray were you watching the same budget
    Response ?? Albos promises were no different to the Coalition except spend more !! The labor party are all about tax & spend …and they have the hypocritical hide to suggest its the Coalitions
    Recession !! Laughable really in part its infact
    Labors recession just look at whats happening in Victoria, Qld , WA all have the worst unemployment
    Figures in Australia.. lockem up .. f you i wont lose
    Any of my pay packet .. all of them on the taxpayers dime .. ..disgraceful..

  15. Barrow, Barrow, Barrow, there is a saying, when in a hole, stop the digging, yes. We know that numbers, facts are not your strong suit but you really shouldn’t give us more ammo than you already given us, yeah. Lets just pick a couple of examples to settle you down…WA – just announce a $1.2Billions SURPLUS Budget but you not applauding? Say it Barrow old son…’How Good is WA!’. It has been the last 13 years that your Lieberals have been brainwashing the punters that surplus budgets is proof of superior economic management, yeah. Oh but wait, your Lieberals, NO budget surplus in what 7 years at the helm so far and as A BONUS they taken national debt from $150millions and will turn it into, drum roll please, $1.7trillions national debt. Now Barrow, I know it hard for you but how’s that Lieberal spend-o-meter looking old son. I’d say that ALP are quite responsible by comparison. As far as The Morrison Recession is concerned Albanese explained it quite clearly last night in interview on ABC 7.30 show. You can get yourself onto that left wing, paycut rejecting ABC Iview and check it out. Needless to say all those that have been left behind by your Morrison, and sadly there plenty, will never forget “The Morrison Recession”.

  16. Ray, & the rest of of those I’ve spoken with & read, all say the same thing.
    The Gove’s power-grab & leaving everyday people in the lurch is coming
    to an end. Albo is no bum steer. Time itself will tell the real story. Greed
    does not pay nor should it.

  17. Joachim least i admit when the Coalition
    Have f up .. and they have a numerous occasions .
    But you well your just a little different human being
    Aren’t you . So indoctrinated by not only yourself
    But also those greens have you in a spell !!
    Be lucky you even reside here !! With your sarcastic
    Oh how good is Australia !! Well F move, never in all my time have i come accross someone so negative about this current government or counrty than you … seriously its obviously such a concern for you Australia and the Coalition.. relocate
    Millions of people would chop of a arm to live here
    And all you do is f whinge.. can’t believe it !!

    • Barrow old son, no, it not whingeling or being indoctrinated, it is calling out the terrible 7 years of Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison administration. An administration that divides the country, “lifters not leaners” or “have a go to get a go” – whatever they are meant to inspire within us. An administration that punishes those that most need our collective assistance and at the same time is always at the ready to give it ‘mates’ an advantage – it Coalition DNA and they measure their success by how many can be left behind. Australia, one of the richest countries in the world where the rich just keep getting richer and the rest celebrate with the occasional tax cut which of course all comes at the cost of reduced services. Yes Barrow, ‘How Good is Australia’.

  18. According to my album’s liner notes, Ladies of the Canyon, the song The Circle Game is written by Joni Mitchell.
    And we have hundreds of solar and wind farms which apparently make no difference. So would some environmentalist like to say how many thousands, or tens of thousands, we actually need. And all arable land. No, the truths are to disseminated in time, bit bt bit, as we are more comfortable. Like Paris with car restrictions. Like recycling bins burned into our consciousness. More than 50 years of awareness raising now. We’re dogs to be trained. Yo ho Pavlov.

  19. Robot… you are correct – Buffy recorded Joni on that occasion. ‘Universal
    Soldier’ was written by Buffy & sung by Buffy & banned by the White House
    along with just about everything she wrote & recorded.

  20. Well, Stefanie, I had to look her up. Buffy recorded Joni before she was Joni, and even Cohen. A fascinating bio. I will have to look for some of her albums, whatever I can find. I still think protest has had its day. You look at it in the 60s, as did Updike, and you see a lot of privileged teenagers losing themselves, everyone’s getting fat ‘cept Momma Cass. My gen too a decade later, but like the Hooks said, I know I lied.

  21. But really, to get back to the argument, if it isn’t a protest, the west lost the war on economics when it decided the fringes were more important, let’s be sure about who we support, without saying otherwise, doldrums, and who might be waiting, in the corners … if there is one thing about aboriginality I would have supported it wld be eldership, the notion that age acquires experience … we’re getting to the Toffler scenario where the progress of tech is even outstripping our youngest minds, so next? Well only AI can supply that answer, we answer to a machine. That would be worth protesting but it will happen before we can click on the button. Delete?


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