The Guardian • Issue #2021


  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2021

All the contradictions. The official unemployment figure is 3.4 per cent, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). Workers were told that once unemployment fell their wages would rise – this has not happened, with ABS data revealing that annual wage growth is only 2.6 per cent despite inflation being 6.1 per cent. Women continue to earn $471.30 per week less than men on average due to women-dominant industries being underpaid and heavily casualised. The participation rate has dropped by 0.4 per cent this month as thousands of people are forced out of the workforce. Workers now have the lowest share of GDP in recorded history as the gender pay gap flatlines. The Albanese government talked up bigger pay packets for workers in its election campaign, but there was no mention of the collective power of organised labour in getting wage rises. Whatever issues the Jobs and Skills Summit in Canberra next month throw up – whose participants include unions and employers – the outcome will turn on the issue of wages, and the action needed to increase them.

What goes around comes around. The last time there was this much noise about the Governor General he had sacked a Labor government in 1975. This time Her Majesty’s representative granted all-encompassing portfolio powers to Scott Morrison as casually as one scoops out an avocado. Soon there followed John Howard, chiding Morrison to try and take the heat off, “I don’t think he should have done it, I don’t think there was any need to do it, and I wouldn’t have done it.” Let us hark back to 2003 and Howard’s lie, with President George W Bush and British PM Tony Blair, about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, the pretext for the invasion and occupation, death and destruction by the Coalition of the Willing that followed. All this was accompanied by the usual hand-wringing over the delicate flower of the Westminster system with its glorious history of colonialism, genocide, plunder, slavery and endless wars.

PARASITE OF THE WEEK: The ALP has supported the current abusive policies against asylum seekers from the beginning. The end of the Coalition government is very welcome, but the fight for refugee rights is far from over. The Albanese Labor government has committed to granting the 19,000 refugees on Temporary Protection Visas and SHEVs (Safe Haven Enterprise Visa) permanent visas. The Refugee Action Coalition says that after ten years separated from families, this needs to happen immediately, not months down the track. There are still 200 refugees stranded on Nauru and PNG. The Albanese government has washed its hands of those in PNG who are not eligible under the formal NZ resettlement deal but NZ has indicated it is willing to consider them separately. The fight for refugee rights is not over until the thousands of refugees whose lives the Coalition tore apart gain a secure future, and until the boat turnback and offshore detention policies designed to keep out refugees end for good.

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