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      2. Tax Cuts Invisible in Slowing Economy

        The latest economic statistics have confirmed that Australia's economy is barely limping along - with quarterly GDP growth of just 0.4%. One of the weakest spots in the report was consumer spending, which recorded its weakest performance since December 2008 (amidst the worst days of the Global Financial Crisis). This was despite the supposed benefit of recent Commonwealth government tax cuts in boosting disposable income and stimulating more spending.

        Analysis from Dr. Jim Stanford shows that the tax cut is in fact completely invisible in the macroeconomic data.

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        Reports from the Front Lines of the NDIS

        The national roll-out of the NDIS holds the prospect of a significant enhancement in both the resources allocated to disability services in Australia, and the autonomy and flexibility of service delivery for people with disability. But it also constitutes an enormous logistical and organisational challenge. And the market-based service delivery model built into the NDIS is exacerbating those challenges, by unleashing a widespread fragmentation and casualisation of work in disability services.

        In this new report, researchers document the experience of front-line disability service workers under the NDIS based on first-hand qualitative interviews.

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        Go Home on Time Day: Wednesday 20 November, 2019

        Wednesday 20 November is the 11th annual "Go Home on Time Day," sponsored by the Centre for Future Work and the Australia Institute.

        It's a light-hearted effort, once per year, to remind Australians of the value of leisure time – and to push back against the increasingly common expectation that workers should put in extra hours for their employers, without pay.

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        Abandoning Super Increases Won't Boost Wages

        New research from the Centre for Future Work shows that scheduled increases in employers’ minimum statutory superannuation contributions would have no negative effects on future wage growth, and that Australia’s economy can afford both higher wages and higher employer contributions to superannuation.

        The research refutes claims made by some commentators and lobbyists that higher superannuation contributions would automatically lead to lower wages, and hence would be self-defeating. The new research finds no statistical evidence for that claim in Australian empirical data.

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        Deliberate Policy to Maintain Unemployment Exacts a Huge Toll

        For the last generation macroeconomic policy in Australia has been based on the assumption that unemployment must be maintained at a certain minimum level in order to restrain wages and prevent an outbreak of accelerating inflation. Now, after six years of record-low wage growth?– which weakened even further in the latest ABS wage statistics – it is time for that policy to be abandoned.

        In a comprehensive critique of unemployment and monetary policy in Australia, Senior Research Fellow David Richardson shows there is no stable statistical basis for the assumption that inflation will accelerate without end if unemployment falls below its so-called "natural" or "non-accelerating inflation rate" (NAIRU, commonly thought to be around 5%). And the economic and social costs of deliberately maintaining high unemployment are very large.

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        Vital Signs: Indicators of Gender Inequality in Australia

        The Centre for Future Work has partnered with HESTA, the industry super fund for workers in health care and community services, to prepare a comprehensive report on the economic and social status of women in Australia today. The report shows that while progress has been made in some key areas, women continue to confront systematic barriers to their full participation in paid work, fair pay, retirement security, safety, and recognition.

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        Young Workers are "Shock Troops" of Precarious Labour Market

        Dr. Jim Stanford, Director of the Centre for Future Work, appeared before the National Youth Commission on 31 October in Sydney to discuss the challenges facing young workers in Australia's labour market.

        The National Youth Commission into Youth Employment and Transitions has been holding an inquiry in communities across Australia to document the situation of young workers, who are experiencing much lower rates of employment and income than other workers.

        Stanford's submission argued that young workers are like the "shock troops" of the precarious labour market: the ones sent in first to confront an especially dangerous situation. The rise of precarious work in all its forms - part-time work, casual jobs, labour hire, temporary positions, marginal self-employment, and digitally mediated 'gigs' - now dominates youth employment patterns. And that situation will not automatically disappear as young workers get older and gain experience. Rather, evidence suggests that without policy measures to stabilise and improve jobs, this will be a permanent shift that gradually affects most workers. Already, less than half of employed Australians are working in a 'traditional' full-time permanent wages jobs with normal entitlements (like paid holidays, sick leave, and superannuation). For young workers, that ratio is less than one in five.

        Stanford argued for targeted measures to stimulate more youth hiring into stable positions, an ambitious effort to rebuild vocational education in Australia and strengthen pipelines to post-education jobs, and a broader commitment to full-employment macroeconomic policy.

        Please see the full Centre for Future Work submission.

        Employer Proposals Would Take the "Bargaining" out of Collective Bargaining

        Coalition leaders hardly mentioned industrial relations topics during the recent federal election campaign, but now that the party is back in power, an aggressive and wide-ranging agenda for changing Australia's labour laws has been quickly assembled—with the enthusiastic backing of business lobbyists.

        In a new report, Centre for Future Work Senior Economist Alison Pennington has compiled the various proposals advanced by employers, and shows that together they would constitute a thorough reorientation of Australia's collective bargaining system. The end result would be a situation (very similar to the Work Choices regime of the late 2000s) whereby employers have unilateral power to determine terms and conditions, wages can be locked in for very long periods of time (contrary to employer's calls for greater "flexibility"), and the scope for true workplace negotiations is compressed.

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        The Future of Work for Australian Graduates

        The Centre for Future Work has released a major new report documenting the new challenges faced by Australian university graduates in finding jobs that are stable, rewarding, and uitilise their newly-developed skills. The report was prepared in conjunction with Graduate Careers Australia.

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        Needless Wage Cap Will Undermine Victoria's Success

        The Centre for Future Work has released new research estimating the negative impacts on wages and spending power of the Victoria government’s proposed 2% cap on wage increases for the state’s large public sector workforce.

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