RBA: Today’s the day to Advance Australia Fair

RBA: Today’s the day to Advance Australia Fair

Today Glenn Stevens, Phillip Lowe, Martin Parkinson and their business colleagues at the Reserve Bank of Australia will decide how many people will be forced into poverty in order to neglect the second and third terms of reference of the RBA (see below).

At the very least we should ask RBA board members Jillian Broadbent AO,  Heather Ridout and Catherine Tanner to advocate for the 100,000 sole parents that will be forced into poverty on January 1 by being dumped on the dole.

We could possibly hope Roger Corbett AO, as a director of the world’s largest discount retailer (Walmart), and his colleagues from the various university business schools, will consider the growing disparity between the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ numbers of people who are stuck on the dole, and the figures produced by Roy Morgan research, which are twice as high.

This week we have seen the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and the leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott, declaring that we need to introduce a National Disability Insurance Scheme but neither offers a commitment to fund this desirable objective.

State premiers are heading into COAG (the Council of Australian Governments) to find ways to continue procrastinating on education, mental health, and national work and disability safety nets. See here

Today also presents us with the unique situation of a joint statement from the Business Council of Australia (BCA), the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU). The three organisations will co-operate to tackle entrenched disadvantage through collaborative action. Download the joint statement: Opportunity for All [PDF].

“Our organisations share a belief that well-managed economic growth shared amongst all Australians is the key to enduring prosperity and is the best way to tackle entrenched disadvantage,” said Australian Council of Social Service chief executive, Cassandra Goldie, on behalf of the collaboration.

Their vision for shared prosperity is based on the following key principles:

> a strong economy with competitive businesses and enterprises

robust public institutions that engender confidence

healthy, safe, productive and fair workplaces

greater access to employment for those currently missing out

access to lifelong education and training opportunities

a social safety net that provides adequate income support without impeding transition to work

effective and efficient support services targeted to those in most need.

“Everyone wins if we can bring people currently excluded from the labour market into regular decent work that is productive and delivers a fair income in conditions of freedom, equity and security in line with human dignity. This is one of the best ways to ensure that prosperity is shared by people who are currently missing out,” Ms Goldie said.

This statement builds on the unprecedented industry and community coalition of major business, labour movement, education and community welfare organisations  a dozen years ago taking proposals for a comprehensive national strategy to tackle long-term unemployment.

Their joint statement, ‘Pathways to work: preventing and reducing long-term unemployment’ is a collaborative effort, which began with discussions held in June this year, hosted by the Business Council of Australia.

A pathways statement that was released back in December 2000 included  letters to the prime minister, leader of the Opposition and every member of Parliament seeking their support. That coalition consisted of the Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS); the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU); the Boston Consulting Group (BCG); the Business Council of Australia (BCA); the Committee for the Economic Development of Australia (CEDA); the Dusseldorp Skills Forum (DSF); Jobs Australia (JA Ltd); and the Youth Research Centre, University of Melbourne.

Their pathways statement argued that economic growth of itself has not and will not deliver the conditions necessary for tackling long-term unemployment.

The statement identified the need for action in three key areas, including:

1. Ensuring a successful transition from education to employment. All young people should have access to education, training and employment opportunities, delivering year 12 completion, or its equivalent, as a minimum expectation for making a successful transition from school.

2. Ensuring a successful transition from retrenchment to re-employment. Employers, unions, government, and employment assistance and training providers should work together at the local and regional level to assist workers facing retrenchment who are at high risk of long-term unemployment.

3. Reducing long-term unemployment. To achieve this the government should, as part of its response to the McClure Report on welfare reform, substantially boost its investment in employment and training assistance so that all long-term unemployed people are offered substantial help (such as paid employment experience and relevant education and training) to overcome barriers to employment, through Intensive Employment Assistance within the job network.

The Reserve Bank Board’s duty stated in the act, within its outlined boundaries, is to ensure that the bank’s monetary and banking policy is used to help the Australian population. This should be accomplished through consultation with the government and so in the Reserve Bank Board’s opinion that its powers are used to help with:

a) the stability of the currency of Australia

(b) the maintenance of full employment in Australia; and
(c) the economic prosperity and welfare of the people of Australia

In practice, these illustrious business leaders have concentrated on the first objective, that is, to control inflation through monetary policy. They appear to have turned a blind eye to the other terms of reference or assumed that they are covered by the first.

Their current objective is a policy of inflation targeting aimed at maintaining the annual inflation rate at between “2-3%, on average, over the cycle”.

Using arcane business curves – Beveridge, Okun Nairu and Phillips – they will lock at least 5% of the population into poverty in their battle with treasury officials and the unions.

So, today is the day for the RBA board members to begin to make Australia fair.


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