Showing posts with label #AbbottGovernmentFAIL. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #AbbottGovernmentFAIL. Show all posts

Monday, 31 July 2017

Why doesn't the Turnbull Government do more to address domestic tax avoidance?


So why is it that the Turnbull Coalition Government, home to more than one millionaire, continues to allow a set of taxation rules which favour those with both wealth and high incomes over those with only average to low incomes and little to no wealth?


According to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) – now underfunded, undermanned and demoralised – there is an issue with trusts being used for tax avoidance:

We focus on differences between distributable income of a trust and its net [taxable] income which provides opportunities for those receiving the economic benefit of trust distributions to avoid paying tax on them.

In other words; discretionary trusts are used by high-income earners to distribute investment income to beneficiaries on lower marginal tax rates, in the process reducing the overall amount of tax paid and current rules allow income to be diverted to other family members, such as stay-at-home mothers or fathers, or to dependents over the age of 18, such as children at university, college or Tafe.

Australian Finance Minister and Liberal Senator for Western Australia Mathias Cormann characterises proposals to alter taxation rates on trusts to minimise their use as tax avoidance vehicles as a “tax grab”. Well he would wouldn’t he, with so many political mates to defend.

As for collecting existing tax liabilities……

The ability to enforce payment obligations and pursue avoidance schemes has diminished since 2014 when first the Abbott Coalition Government and then later the Turnbull Coalition Government cut ATO staffing numbers.

The Community and Public Sector Union clearly told the Treasurer in 2017 that:

While the public is supportive of tackling corporate tax avoidance to raise revenue for public services, there are limits to what the ATO is able to do due to significant under resourcing. Despite a growing population and increased expectations from the community, ATO ongoing staffing levels have declined. Between 2013-14 and 2015-16, Average Staffing Levels at the ATO fell by over 4,000 or by nearly a quarter. The audit team, responsible for enforcing the tax compliance of individuals and multinational companies, was hit particularly hard by these job cuts. While there was an increase in the 2016-17 Budget, it has not reversed the significant cuts experienced over the last few years.

Given the need for more, not less revenue, these previous cuts seem illogical. According to information provided to Senate Estimates by senior ATO staff, the return on investment over the last decade would be between 1:1 and 6:1, or simply put every dollar invested in ATO staff generates between $1 and $6 in revenue.[1] Some had previously estimated that the cuts could lead to a loss of nearly $1 billion in revenue.[2]

This disconnect between public expectations that tax avoidance should be tackled and what the ATO can actually do must be addressed by the Government. It should commit to an increase in base funding and staffing for the ATO if it is serious about tackling corporate tax avoidance and increasing revenue.

It seems that while the Turnbull Government talks about an ideal egalitarian society where inequality no longer exists, behind the scenes it is nobbling one of the mechanism’s available to government to ensure that there is a level playing field for all those with only earned incomes as well as those with earned incomes plus accumulated wealth.                                      
So when Turnbull & Co announced in May this year that it intends introducing a strong Diverted Profits Tax and establishing a Tax Avoidance Taskforce in the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) one has to wonder if current staffing levels allow full investigation of multinationals operating in Australia or whether the taskforce (which has in fact existed since 2016) will be adequately resourced to look into multinational tax avoidance and the black economy as mooted.

One also has to wonder why in the face of widespread use of negative gearing of investment properties and capital gains tax arrangements to avoid paying an appropriate tax rate, the Turnbull Government also fails to reform the taxation system in these areas.

Oh, I forgot……………



NOTE

1. Table 1: 45th Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia party representation

Source: Australian Electoral Commission (AEC), ‘2016 Federal Election Tally Room’

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

So you think it's OK to keep voting for your local Liberal or Nationals MP ?


So you think it’s OK to keep voting for your local Liberal or Nationals MP and return them to the federal parliament next year?

That all people on Centrelink income support need to do is pull up their socks and get on with it because many of those Coalition MPs have told their electorates that ‘the best welfare is a job’?

Perhaps it is time to pause and think about the possible relationship between states with low employment opportunities as well as high unemployment levels and states with high working-age suicide rates – and then consider the effect of those punitive welfare policies that first the Abbott and then the Turnbull governments have created or expanded.

Starting with this policy debacle......

ABC News, 15 July 2017:

Fines imposed on welfare recipients in a controversial work-for-the-dole scheme have soared to 300,000 in under two years, prompting renewed claims of poverty and hunger in Aboriginal communities.

Jobless people in remote Australia must work up to three times longer than other unemployed people to receive benefits.

The overwhelming majority of participants in the Community Development Programme (CDP) are Aboriginal.

The latest figures reveal about 54,000 financial penalties were slapped on participants in January, February and March alone for missing activities or being late.

"It's extraordinary," Australian National University researcher Lisa Fowkes said.

"Those 35,000 people have incurred more penalties than all of the 750,000 other Australians in the social security system.

"There is something really seriously wrong with the program, and that's showing up in these figures."

Unemployed people under the CDP must work 25 hours a week to receive welfare payments.


NSW - est. 4 job seekers for every job vacancy
Victoria - est.7 job seekers for every job vacancy
Queensland - est. 8 job seekers for every job vacancy
South Australia – est. 16 job seekers for every job vacancy
Western Australia – est. 10 job seekers for every job vacancy
Tasmania – est. 14 job seekers for every job vacancy
Northern Territory – est. 4 job seekers for every job vacancy
Australian Capital Territory – est. 3 job seekers for every job vacancy

The Australian Bureau of Statistics recorded a total of 2,540 people of workforce age took their own lives in 2015.

The all ages state suicide rates in that year were:

NSW 10.6
Vic     10.8
Qld     15.7
SA      13.4
WA     15.0
Tas     16.3
NT      21.0
ACT    11.6

In 2016 the Australian Youth Development Index reported the state 15-29 year-old suicide rates for 2015 were:

NSW 10.3
Vic     9.7
Qld    12.4
SA     11.6
Tas    13.4
NT     11.2
ACT   9.7

Australian Bureau of Statistics, Causes of Death, Australia, 2015: 

Intentional Self-Harm In Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander People
This section focuses on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide deaths for which the usual residence of the deceased was in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia or the Northern Territory. .....

In 2015, 152 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons died as a result of suicide. The standardised death rate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons was 25.5 deaths per 100,000 persons, compared to 12.5 deaths per 100,000 for non-Indigenous persons. Suicide deaths also accounted for a greater proportion of all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander deaths (5.2%) compared with deaths of non-Indigenous Australians (1.8%). 

In the five years from 2011 to 2015, intentional self-harm was the leading cause of death for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons between 15 and 34 years of age, and was the second leading cause for those 35-44 years of age. The median age at death for suicide in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander persons over this period was 28.4 years, compared with 45.1 years in the non-Indigenous population. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander females had a lower median age at death than males (26.9 years for females compared with 29.0 years for males). 

Australia's population pyramid is not so balanced that it can afford to lose its teenagers and young adults to an early death from despair.

So why are we tolerating a federal govenment which does its best to grind down some of the most vulnerable amongst them - those who cannot easily find paid employment.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Is the Turnbull Government trying to hide ramifications of the Abbott Government's clean energy blunder?


On 20 March 2014 the Abbott Liberal-Nationals Coalition Government’s Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Act 2014 was passed by both houses of the Australian Parliament amid scenes of ministerial jubilation in the House of Representatives and became law on 17 July 2014.


Since then it appears that this ideologically driven move away from squarely facing the fact of climate change has seen Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions begin to rise once more, along with sharply rising energy costs to consumers.

The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 December 2016

Until it now seems the Turnbull Liberal-Nationals Coalition Government may be actively attempting to hide the increasingly bad news from the national electorate on whose behalf it purports to govern.


The federal government has been keeping almost a year's worth of pollution data secret, despite it being scheduled for release in May, documents obtained under freedom of information laws reveal.

Independent estimates suggest Australia's greenhouse gas emissions have risen sharply since the government last released its quarterly data in December – a trend that would make the nation's commitment to cutting emissions more disruptive and expensive.

Quarterly updates by the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, described as "up-to-date information on emissions trends for business, policymakers and the public", have been released 28 times since 2009, but not since last year.

Documents obtained under FOI by the Australian Conservation Foundation reveal that while the government possesses data on greenhouse pollution for the two quarters leading up to the end of last year, it has failed to release them……


According to estimates by consultant NDEVR Environmental, Australia's overall emissions increased by 1.15 per cent in the first quarter of this year, while electricity sector emissions increased by 11 per cent.

The overall emissions increase is equivalent to an extra 2,308,846 cars on the road.

According to NDEVR Environmental, the increase is almost entirely attributable to electricity emissions, while other sectors such as transport emissions decreased over the quarter……




UPDATE


“For the December quarter 2016, national emissions levels, excluding the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector, have increased 0.4 per cent relative to the previous quarter on a seasonally adjusted and weather normalised basis. For the year to December 2016, emissions increased 1.4 per cent on the previous year.”

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Malcolm Bligh Turnbull's agile & innovative NBN accused of screwing the poor. Why am I not surprised?


“Examining the rollout of NBN technologies as of December 2016, our preliminary analyses suggest areas of greatest socio-economic disadvantage overlap with regions typically receiving NBN infrastructure of poorer quality.”  [The Conversation, 22 June 2017]

c|net, 23 June 2017:

The richer you are, the better the NBN getting rolled out in your area.

That's according to a new study that maps Australia's disadvantaged communities against the NBN technology they're receiving. The findings show that when it comes to accessing the technology of the future, the poorest in our community are being left behind.

Conducted by the Centre for Research Excellence in the Social Determinants of Health Equity at Flinders University, the study ranked Australia's richest and poorest communities according to ABS data. The team used the ABS's 2011 socio-economic indexes for area (SEIFA) and index of relative socio-economic advantage and disadvantage.

Matching these metrics against NBN technology, the researchers found "areas of greatest socio-economic disadvantage [shown on the left of the graph below] overlap with regions typically receiving NBN infrastructure of poorer quality."  

There is massive difference in the NBN technology rolled out to the least advantaged parts of our society (on the left-hand side) and the most advantaged. The wealthier you are, the more likely you are to be using fibre (shown in blue). 
Centre for Research Excellence in the Social Determinants of Health Equity

The Conversation, 22 June 2016:

This result tells a similar story to an early analysis by Sydney University’s Tooran Alizadeh of 60 NBN release sites that were announced in 2011. She found some of the most disadvantaged areas of Australia were not gaining equal access to the new infrastructure.

If we look only at major cities in Australia – where the level of fibre technology is higher overall – areas with the greatest disadvantage, while exceeding similarly disadvantaged areas nationally, still received significantly less FTTP and FTTN: 65% of areas with a SEIFA decile of one had FTTP and FTTN, compared with 94% of areas with a SEIFA decile of 10…. 

NBN services in outer regional areas

Composition of currently available* NBN service technologies in outer regional areas by Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas deciles (SEIFA). SEIFA decile 1 denotes the most disadvantaged areas, and SEIFA decile 10 denotes the least disadvantaged areas. 
Note: Decile 10 has been excluded from this chart because only one suburb falls into this category, whereas other deciles have between 129 (Decile 8) and 341 (Decile 4) suburbs.
Notes: 
(i) A suburb can have multiple NBN service types. The data is for services that are currently available*. (Services that are planned or where build has commenced is not included).  
(ii) Fibre denotes both Greenfields and Brownfields fibre, and includes Fibre to the Premises (FTTP), Fibre to the Building (FTTB) and Fibre to the Node (FTTN). 
(iii) HFC is Hybrid-Fibre Coaxial service. 

*Technology available at December 2016

Another perspective on the issue……..

How the early NBN roll out was originally determined.

Telecommunications Policy, Volume 41, Issue 4, Tooran Alizadeh,  and Reza Farid, Political economy of telecommunication infrastructure: An investigation of the National Broadband Network early rollout and pork barrel politics in Australia, May 2017:

Abstract

It has been argued that infrastructure unevenness rigidifies into more lasting structures of socio-economic and political privilege and advantage. This paper focuses on telecommunication infrastructure as the backbone of the fast-growing digital economy, and raises important questions about the early National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout in Australia. The paper asks whether there was any case of pork barrelling in the selection of early release sites that enjoyed a regional competitive advantage against other localities that had to wait several years to receive the infrastructure. The answer to this question then leads to a second question about the degree to which voting in the early NBN release sites has swung following the infrastructure rollout. In order to answer these questions the paper examines the voting patterns in the earlier NBN release sites versus all electorates in the Federal elections in 2007–2013 using the data available via Australian Electoral Commission. Findings show trends of politically targeted funding, followed by vote swing in the very next election.


An analysis of the voting behaviours within the suburbs that were selected by governing Australian Labor Party, for the early NBN release, reveals that those suburbs that voted for the opposition Liberal/National Coalition and where the Coalition-held marginal seats were the key beneficiaries. This pattern occurred in all three states, as highlighted in Figure 3. In New South Wales and Queensland, electorates where either party held marginal seats had the most likely chance of receiving the NBN, followed by those were the Australian Labor Party-held safe seats. Chances of receiving the NBN in Victoria differed to the northern states, with electorates where the Australian Labor Party-held safe seats almost as likely as suburbs where marginal seats were held by the Liberal/National Coalition to receiving the NBN in the early rollout. Moreover, across the three states, the opposing Liberal/National Coalition-held safe seats were least likely to receive the NBN. With this said, fairly safe-held seats by either party also lucked out, although those held by the Australian Labor Party overall had slightly higher chances. Thus, in terms of receiving the NBN early rollout, the overall winners were those seats held marginally by the opposing Liberal/National Coalition. At the same time, the biggest loosers where the safe seats held by the opposing Coalition.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

As utility bills get harder and harder to manage for those on low incomes, this comes as a slap in the face


In roughly five to six weeks time electricity prices are expected to rise for many people in Queensland, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, South Australia and Tasmania.

Households are expected to pay up to $300-$400 more a year, with the rise in wholesale electricity prices making up est. 45 per cent of a domestic supply bill.

As low-income renters, pensioners and the unemployed struggle this winter with the choice of trying to stay warm without heating or face an impossibly large electricity bill, they might like to remember that all this was very avoidable.

First Prime Minister Abbott and then Prime Minister Turnbull (along with all their MPs and senators) had the chance to keep energy costs lower - but blinded by ideology they refused to do so.

This was The Sydney Morning Herald reporting the Turnbull Government's failure on 8 December 2016:

The Turnbull government has been sitting on advice that an emissions intensity scheme - the carbon policy it put on the table only to rule out just 36 hours later - would save households and businesses up to $15 billion in electricity bills over a decade.

While Malcolm Turnbull has rejected this sort of scheme by claiming it would push up prices, analysis in an Australian Electricity Market Commission report handed to the government months ago finds it would actually cost consumers far less than other approaches, including doing nothing.

It finds that would still be the case even if the government boosted its climate target to a 50 per cent cut in emissions by 2030.

Depending on the level of electricity use and the target adopted, modelling by Danny Price of Frontier Economics found costs would be between $3.4 billion and $15 billion lower over the decade to 2030.  Costs would be $11.2 billion lower over this time assuming average electricity use and the existing climate target.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Australian lawyers commitment to pro bono work cannot plug the gaps in legal assistance sector caused by federal government budget cuts


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 Medianet Release




23 Mar 2017 11:44 AM AEST - Australia's legal assistance sector facing Federal Budget disaster, and pro bono cannot plug the gap





The average Australian lawyer is contributing a full week of work every year for free, but even this is insufficient to fix Australia's legal assistance funding crisis, which is set to dramatically deepen after the upcoming Federal Budget.
Law Council of Australia President, Fiona McLeod SC, has told the sixth National Access to Justice and Pro Bono Conference in Adelaide today that although the crisis in legal assistance funding had been getting steadily worse over two decades, drastic cuts to take effect from 1 July this year will be particularly disastrous.
"Scheduled funding cuts to Community Legal Centres (CLCs) will amount to a loss of $35 million between 2017 and 2020 – that's a 30 per cent cut to Commonwealth funding for services that are already chronically under-resourced," she said.
"Last year CLCs were forced to turn away 160,000 people seeking legal assistance. These cuts will lead to 36,000 fewer clients assisted, and 46,000 fewer advices provided.
"We are talking here about real people, with real problems. People who thought their situation was serious enough to seek legal assistance. People who would not have had other viable options for legal advice.
"How many of those turned away now have exacerbated problems? How have those problems spread within their families, their social networks, their communities?
"The Productivity Commission has called for an extra $200 million for legal assistance, because research shows these problems cost the economy long-term. Legal problems are a lot like medical problems – without prompt attention they tend to get much worse.
"The Government needs to listen to the experts and reverse these catastrophic cuts."
Ms McLeod noted that pro bono cannot ever be a substitute for properly funded legal aid services, remarkable though this contribution of Australian lawyers is.
"The pro bono work undertaken by Australian lawyers should be a matter of enormous pride for the profession," Ms McLeod said.
"Australian lawyers give away literally hundreds of thousands of pro bono work hours every year to those who have no one else to turn to. 35 hours of pro bono legal services, per lawyer, per year.
"But if pro bono is to be truly effective it needs a strong legal assistance sector. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services and CLCs assess cases and refer work to appropriate pro bono lawyers. Without proper funding this link is broken and many more people fall through the cracks."
You can access the Law Council President, Fiona McLeod's speech here.
To learn more about the legal aid crisis visit: www.legalaidmatters.org.au.


   Contact Us
© Australian Associated Press, 2017  


Friday, 31 March 2017

Dear Malcolm, Barnaby, Scott, Peter, Julie, Alan and friends - before you put that federal budget to bed in May let me tell you about those living in relative poverty


As the Coalition Government approaches yet another cost cutting budget – the fourth since your political parties regained federal government – I’ve noticed how financially comfortable all six of you are in comparison to a great many of other Australians.

It must be satisfying to see your names listed against family homes, rural properties and investments:

8 March 2017
13 January 2017
13 February 2017
15 February 2017
28 November 2016
16 December 2016

However, before your red pens slash across currently funded government programs covering health, education, training, community legal services and various forms of income support, you need to remove those ideological blinkers from your eyes and really look at the people you have been labelling welfare cheats, leaners, lazy bludgers and worse for the last four years.

They are not an anonymous horde harbouring a vile intent to drain money from the pockets of your family, friends and business acquaintances.

These ordinary people are not your enemy.

They are two parents with three young children but only one low-paying casual job bringing in a weekly wage.
The single mother at the bus stop who has to scrimp and save for months to buy her children new school shoes because her rent is too high and her part-time wage too small to allow her to buy all necessities easily.
The old man living alone in a rented flat who goes without meals to pay the veterinary bill for his only companion – his faithful old dog.
It is the grandmother with arthritis who gets up at 5am every weekday so she can travel to her son’s house to babysit her grandchildren so both he and his wife can work to cover the normal bills of a growing family.
A 23 year-old permanently confined to a wheelchair who is determined to live a full life and is out there job hunting every week.
Or the 17 year-old on the street selling The Big Issue to get extra money towards a boarding house bed and meals, because growing up in care left him without a support network.
It’s every middle aged person holding down three separate 8 hour-jobs each week to make ends meet in the face of widespread employer age discrimination and not enough job vacancies.
And so many volunteers in every town or village who spend their few spare pension dollars getting back and forth to the unpaid jobs that keep community alive.

These are people who deserve the certainty of an adequate universal welfare safety net – they are also the voters you will have to face in 2018.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Privately run vocational training 'colleges' - what could possibly go wrong?


Just one of many allegedly dodgy businesses allowed to flourish under a dubious federal education policy which saw state government-run TAFE colleges allowed to decline.

The Age, 13 March 2017:

Rich-list tycoons behind a vocational training empire that collapsed after receiving $100 million in government funding have been implicated in alleged fraud, predatory conduct towards vulnerable students and shocking vilification of business associates.

The claims of widespread malfeasance at Australian Careers Network have been laid bare during an extraordinary defamation trial in the Supreme Court of Victoria that was launched by ACN co-founder Atkinson Prakash Charan against the publisher of The Australian newspaper.

Mr Charan is a former Qantas baggage handler who joined forces with ex-policeman Ivan Brown and invested their last $500 to register their first vocational training business in 2012.

Just two years later, they joined the ranks of the BRW Young Rich List in 2014 with a stake in an estimated $177 million fortune when ACN was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.

ACN was placed into voluntary administration last March after the federal government froze more than $40 million in payments under the VET FEE-HELP loans program.

The company is the subject of an ongoing fraud investigation by the federal Department of Education and Training. 

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

A Fair Day's Wages For A Fair Day's Work*: has an employment epoch finally come to an inglorious end?


Looking at the Australian employment market in 2016 and 2017 one has to ask if this country has entered the Era of Exploitation………

ABC News, 1 March 2017:

the Australian economy is currently growing at around 2 per cent per annum. That's about fast enough to keep the unemployment rate steady, but it's not fast enough to create lots of new jobs. To create jobs, it needs to grow at least 2.5 to 3 per cent per annum.

The economy isn't growing fast enough for a whole bunch of reasons, but the big picture is that we haven't been able to transition as smoothly as we would have liked from the mining boom, to an economy being driven by a number of different sectors.

The sectors of the economy that have enjoyed increased activity are healthcare, hospitality, and tourism. These sectors tend to be biased towards hiring part-time workers.

Nine2Three Employment Solutions in Sydney's Sutherland Shire specialises in placing candidates into part-time roles. Managing director, Kathryn MacMillan, say business is booming. Right now, she's placing job seekers into part-time roles including mining, tourism, retail, clerical and accounts-type roles, sales roles and business development.

Ms MacMillan explained to me that she's placing lots of mums re-entering the workforce, and people after just a few days of work a week. Part-time work can also be convenient for students, and for those returning to the workforce after an illness or injury.

You can't ignore, however, the hundreds of thousands of Australians over the past 12 months that have either lost their job, or would dearly like to work more (to help pay the mortgage, utility bills etc.).

We know, for instance, the economy shed 53,000 full-time positions in September last year. Another 44,800 full-time jobs disappeared in January.

It's really quite straight forward. The Australian economy is transitioning, and many workers are getting left behind.

Remember the kids' game, musical chairs? Everyone has a seat to start with. That was the mining boom. The music started playing during the financial crisis, and now that it's stopped, we've noticed quite a few chairs have been taken away. We're now seeing two or three people trying to squeeze onto the same chair in many cases!

Darren Coppin is the chief executive of Esher House. His company spits out all sorts of interest research. He told me recently that this big economic transition has also ignited a bit of a social change.

He explained to me that 30 years ago the man did most of the paid-for work (40 hours a week). Since then millions of women have entered the workforce. During the 1980s and 1990s both men and women were working more, and earning more (excluding the recession).

Recently, however, the economy's been unable to sustain those jobs.

Now, women tend to be working 25 hours a week, while men also work 25 hours a week (in trend terms). So, overall, the household is working more, but because both jobs may not be strictly full-time, the actual combined take-home pay at the end of the day is less.

So yes, you guessed it, overall we're working more, for less pay.

Record low wages growth is also rubbing salt into the wound.

Anecdotally I've met quite a lot of people who are doing their best to make the best of a bad situation.

Many couples with children, for instance, have decided to work nine-day fortnights. That means mum or dad takes one day off each week. That day's devoted to running errands, and, of course, child care... and cooking.

I spoke to a single mum last month who told me she felt quite isolated. She said she spends all of her waking hours working and looking after her child, with no time left over for friends, because the bills keep piling up (child care and rent being the ones that hurt).

While many Australians are working out how to get by, too many are really struggling.

I spoke to a few people last week who told me the decision by the Fair Work Commission to scrap Sunday penalty rate had been a kick in guts.

Mandy Carr, for example, a retail worker on Queensland's Gold Coast, had decided to return to work (post maternity leave) on the Sunday shift so her and her husband could get ahead financially.

She says the decision will cost her $100 each and every week.

There are too many Australians though that are angry... really angry.

They're upset because they'd desperately like to make a go of life. They want a home, and enough money on the side to give their kids opportunities in life. But they're being held back by a job that doesn't offer them enough in terms of hours and/or pay, and the cost of living keeps rising.

There's also the emotional toll that workers face with heightened job insecurity, combined with ever-increasing debt repayments.

The Reserve Bank governor told a Parliamentary Committee last week that the situation households face (having to cut back on spending because of rising costs and low wages) is "sobering".

The recognition of the problem is heartening. At this very moment though, recognising the problem is all we seem to be doing.

Low wages growth is at record breaking level and underemployment is endemic in Australia in this second decade of the 21st Century.

By December 2016 seasonally adjusted wages growth was 1.9 per cent December Quarter 2015 to December Quarter 2016, with growth in the private sector being lower still at 1.8 per cent.

Trend percentages are even more dismal.

In December 2016 the Cost Price Index (CPI) showed rises in the cost of food, non-alcoholic beverages, alcohol, tobacco, clothing, footwear, housing, furnishings, household equipment & services, recreation & culture, education, insurance and financial services – with CPI rises ranging from 1.8 per cent to 5.9 per cent December Quarter 2015 to December Quarter 2016.

According the Australian Bureau of Statistics Labour Force Statistics in  December 2016 there were seasonally adjusted an:

est. 739,600 people who were unemployed and looking for full-time work – an est. 18,100 more individuals than in December 2015;

est. 3,814,200 people who were working part-time but would prefer to be working full-time – an est. 126,600 more individuals than in December 2015; and

est. 212,500 unemployed people who were exclusively looking for part-time work in December 2016 – an fall of est. 1,100 individuals since December 2015.

In November 2016 there were seasonally adjusted an est. 1,099,400 underemployed individuals - usually working less than 35 hours per week for a wage which does not meet economic needs. That represents an underemployment rate of 8.6 per cent.

In January 2017 there were around 129,800 more people working part-time than there were a year ago and around 40,100 fewer people working full-time and, despite an alleged small growth in full-time jobs in December 2016, the trend unemployment rate still stood at 5.7 per cent for the ninth consecutive month.


Affecting the take home pay of more than 700,000 workers, with those who regularly work Sunday shifts being left between $29 and over $80 worse off every week.

Many of these workers are already employed in industry sectors and regions which often allow only limited opportunity for changing employers.

According to the Internet Vacancy Index (based on a count of online job advertisements newly lodged on three main job boards SEEK, CareerOne and Australian JobSearch) in January 2017 job vacancies decreased in the Northern Territory, south west Western Australia, western Victoria and regional New South Wales - with the NSW North Coast showing a twelve month decline of -2.6 per cent and three month moving average of 1,700 job on offer to suitable applicants.



The effect of statistics such as this on individuals, families and communities are amplified across rural and regional Australia where the job market is usually tighter than in metropolitan areas and, I suspect that many of us living in the NSW Northern Rivers region have friends or family members struggling with poverty-level incomes due to unemployment or underemployment.

* The saying A Fair Day's Wages For A Fair Day's Work appears to have entered the public arena in or about 1839.