Queensland Policy Pitch
The Australian Fabians Policy Pitch is open to all political thinkers and activists in Queensland. We want to hear your view on any policy issue relevant to Queensland in 2020.
- Opinion pieces can be on any policy issue facing Australian progressive politics today
- Entries should be greater than 700 and no longer than 1,000 words, with no footnotes
- Entries will be judged for their originality, fluency of style and their practical solutions to current issues
- All policy pitches will be also voted on by Queensland members.
Your views about the future of Queensland could be published in our Yearly Pamphlet in Queensland. In Fact the top 5 submissions will be.
This competition is an exciting chance for progressive writers to challenge themselves and share their ideas with the Queensland public.
To enter, simply use the upload and attach your 1000 word opinion article or policy pitch below before the 29th of February 2020.
Australia’s current industrial relations system provides minimum national basic terms and conditions of employment which are supplemented by a complex technical and legal framework covered by legislation, awards and enterprise-level bargaining agreements.
This system is not delivering for workers, for employers or for the economy. Low or zero real wage growth is an issue for workers while also being a documented drag on economic growth. The inability of policy makers to address record unemployment in some regional areas and underemployment across the economy undermines the social compact and fosters ever growing inequality. It is also clear that the system lacks the adaptability to respond to influences such as the ‘gig economy’, automation and climate change,
The current system ignores the diversity of Australia’s economy and population in geographic spread, economic activity and social context. In a nation and economy so diverse, the current system creates winners and losers based primarily on location. Established businesses close to the centre of our cities are naturally advantaged by a scheme which insists on universal application of standard terms and conditions of employment.
The failure of policy makers to address the fundamental flaws in the system is related to the corruption of debate surrounding industrial relations policy, which has become a partisan plaything. Contemporary debate on this topic is primarily framed by reference to major points of conflict, for instance the Waterfront Dispute and WorkChoices. Defining as those events were for a generation of working Australians, they were symptoms of a broader malaise.
The well of policy debate has been poisoned by the rancour of past conflict and has resulted in a climate where common ground is harder to find. How else can one explain the position of union leaders publicly defending the indefensible (domestic violence) and equally employer groups providing cover for the systematic underpayment of basic conditions (wage theft). However, to focus solely on the politics of industrial relations prevents a closer examination of the true problems with the system itself. At the heart of the problem is the enterprise-level bargaining framework, underpinned as it is by awards and a highly legalistic structure.
Whether intended or accidental, the decline in relevance of the union movement and the inevitable shrinking influence of unions as a part of the civil society landscape has at its root enterprise-level bargaining. In the modern union, significant resources are dedicated to negotiating new enterprise agreements, interpreting and arguing points of interpretation of existing bargaining agreements, or litigating workplace disputes related to enterprise agreements. Union resources are so focused on achieving incremental change to a narrow band of ‘permitted matters’ such that focus has been lost on bigger struggles, including addressing the decline in union membership itself.
It is hard to argue, however, that unions and workers are the only losers in this system. Employers too must expend significant resources on enterprise bargaining and litigating disputes. Virtually none of those efforts result in increased productivity or other positive benefits for the economy.
The primary sin of the current system is that it pits worker against worker. It forces employers to compete against each other on terms and conditions of employment (cost of labour) rather than on innovation, technological improvements, productivity enhancements, skills, expertise, or indeed on things like location or approaches to corporate social responsibility.
We need to move beyond points of conflict like the Waterfront Dispute and WorkChoices as reference points for the true contours of Australian industrial relations, and we need to remove workers and employers from the front line of industrial disputation. Their efforts are better focused on what they are good at – applying skilled labour and being engine rooms of economic activity for our economy. The continued framing of debate by reference to old battles also prevents us from looking forward and designing a system which is responsive to the needs of today’s workforce and economy, while being adaptable enough to change as needed.
Neither can government continue to wash their hands of industrial relations as a matter solely between workers and employers. Industrial relations is the bedrock on which the entire economy is footed, so government has a vested interest.
A better industrial relations model would see unions, employer bodies and government coming together to reach a tri-partite national partnership agreement focused on basic terms of employment for all Australians – for example annual and personal leave entitlements, basic rights and obligations, and standard hours of work.
This national partnership approach would also provide a forum to debate and agree actions to boost standards of living, improve productivity, reduce unemployment and underemployment, reduce regional and rural disadvantage, and to adapt our industrial relations settings as needed in response to major challenges, whether they be man-made or natural.
Genuine negotiations between unions and employer bodies, removed from enterprise-level conflict between managers and workers, would result in less hostile workplaces and workplace cultures.
Wage rates and other conditions would be agreed on a sectoral basis as part of subsidiary tri-partite agreements based on geography or industry. In this system, regions would be given the opportunity to compete favourably with city cousins. Having the same conditions across an industry or region would allow employers to focus their efforts on competing through technology or innovative practices, or indeed by becoming an employer of choice for the most skilled workers.
Central to this model is the need to remove industrial relations from courts and tribunals and return it to the negotiating table, with government as the honest broker and guarantor of last resort.
Our economy has changed, and the pace of change is accelerating. The system has not kept up with that change, and indeed has embedded disadvantage which is likely to become more pronounced. The current system has passed the end of its useful life and the task of re-shaping our industrial relations framework for the twenty-first century is now an urgent necessity.
Due to the Paris Agreement and stark warning signs from leading members of the scientific regarding climate change, and anxiety in the business sector and wider community its time that the state of QLD reflects on its impact environmentally and transition in ways forward economically to better itself in the next 30 years and reduce its carbon foot print. Economy and Jobs: QLD is to date the second highest unemployed state in all of Australia sitting at 6.4 %, increasing amounts of employers are paying less appropriate wages to their staff of all ages, particularly new young workers in industries across the board, particularly in retail and hospitality. There is a growing trend towards robotics and aviation as well but water security, increasing weather events and drought is also playing a big impact in already existing industries as well. QLD has a substantial tourism industry (which is affected by drought and cyclone seasons) but also a successful farming belt industry growing bananas, pineapples, peanuts, it also is known for its wineries, cattle industry, wool, cotton, and sugarcane. But it is well known for its mining sector. Primary metals and resources mined are coal, silver, bauxite, lead, zinc, copper, and gold. Although coal resources are one of the state’s biggest exports, less demand for coal is projected in coming decades this leaves opportunities still open for mining alternative resources such as lithium in North QLD which would be more sustainable and long term then mining projects like Adani. Future state governments could consider the following options: • Assess stolen wages in the retail and hospitality industries and encourage incentives for businesses to pay minimum wages to their staff. • Boost employment opportunities in sustainable eco – tourism ventures. • Create transitional compensation packages for employers in the coal industry to transition into more viable long term alternative mining projects like Lithium etc. • Assess the necessary transitional changes for industries that will be affected by the growing demand for robotic industry and manufacturing, and compensation for workers affected in retail and manufacturing. • Introduce a safety net levy for future drought, fire and cyclone related events that may affect businesses in the tourism industry. Education: With high youth unemployment figures particularly in regional areas, and casualisation at all time highs throughout the state it could be time for a total rethink of how we treat the education system. Future state governments could consider the following options: • QLD needs to streamline more affordable TAFE and undergraduate University education across the board, explore the possibility of a space centre in North QLD. • Construct more education and research hubs in Regional QLD townships with emphasis on sustainable jobs focuses on emerging industry. Energy and Waste: QLD has a high demand for electricity generations particularly in metropolitan’s areas but also in refineries, smelters, mines and in regional QLD. QLD has a big output of coal, oil, and gas production as well, but a developing industry in renewables; geothermal, wind, hydro, and solar. A largely forgotten resource that many underestimate also is the production of waste from metro areas which is usually exported to foreign countries more recently in Asia. Future state governments could consider the following options: • Considering that state electricity assets were deregulated it could be an idea for increased incentives to be introduced alongside solar power and set up a state owned energy retailer. • More Hydro facilities such as Kidston should be built in North QLD; furthermore pipelines should be built to connect this water to QLD regional townships and agriculture. • Assess the viability of sensitive water resources that may be susceptible and delicate during drought seasons, and find ways to mitigate impact on them from the water grid during such time periods, an example would be North Stradbroke Is. • Waste from Metro and Urban areas should be processed in QLD not shipping overseas, stronger legislation should be encouraged to discourage neglect of waste being shipped in areas that will also otherwise cause environmental harm. • Waste collection businesses must be held accountable if they are raising unfair prices on their customers and the general public for collecting rubbish and unfairly making a profit in the process, better waste management regulations must be introduced. • Introduce a state based penalty caps for big polluters – ETS mechanism and introduce incentives for everyday households who are complying with saving energy. Urban Planning, Housing, Public Transport: In recent years there has been a vast steady rise of concern from communities, businesses, and groups on numerous issues on urban planning and public housing. Some issues address the concern for the regional SEQ plans, the Toondah Harbour PDA, recent planning law changes, and the widening crisis of homelessness, long public waiting lists and rising crime. A particular concern noted is of planning new highways, urban sprawl in areas where space, vegetation, green and wildlife already exist. Future state governments could consider the following options: • Improve consultation with communities particularly surrounding PDA projects. • Amend planning legislation so that it can better protect RAMSAR wetlands and sensitive bush lands that it can protect wildlife and vegetation fro overdevelopment. • Develop urban density in CBD areas of regional QLD, and metro areas where infrastructure already exists and can be improved. • Develop public housing in areas susceptible to likely job prospects long term in Regional QLD (be it mining, research hubs, manufacturing, or energy). • Introduce drugs rehabilitation and PTSD programs for stressed public housing recipients across the state, and cultural empowered programs for TSI and Indigenous recipients in public housing. • Introduce more affordable public transport for students, pensioners, and unemployed via train, and bus, rising cost prices are making it more difficult for people to travel mobile and more people driving creates more carbon footprints. • Develop a high speed rail network for better accessibility across the state. Species Protection, National Parks and Green Spaces: A growing concern for species protection is rising in QLD, particularly for Koalas populations, migratory shorebirds, marine wildlife in the Great Barrier Reef and beyond. Concerns are also evident for plans to privatize national parks and create corporate investments outside the scope of state which could impact green spaces in such areas. Future state governments could consider the following options: • Better map the planning of species including in areas were developments are planned, with the spread of disease and illness all populations need to be factored. • Better mitigate and include the protection of Koala populations across QLD. • Better mitigate and include the protection of migratory shorebird populations. • Ensure limits are capped for any corporate investment in national parks to ensure that no overzealous ventures encroach green space or national park land. • Introduce community garden initiatives across the state in conjunction with city/shire councils, small business and Indigenous groups to encourage alternative lifestyle choices and encourage people to grow their own produce as well.
Queensland is part of Australia. We are a Commonwealth, by definition, all the States & territories in Australia and its wealth are the wealth of ALL Australians. So we move from the current debt based speculative economy to a planned economy based on resources, with a reduced work week using automation. This will reduce waste, create stability and increase the wealth and happiness of most of us. Yes the top will be a little angry, but they can cry on the mega yachts.
We have a system where the RBA creates credit based on population and lends it to Banks. The concept is that if borrowers use it to buy a house, it takes a house off the market, creating demand shortages. In turn this spurs construction and with it increased economy. Same with lending to business for operations causing shortages, increasing demand. This doesn’t happen though; instead new money is created and competes with existing money for existing goods, services and assets.
The best example is when house investors borrow using created credit, than enter the cities to buy existing houses. They do this because they want renters and value increases. The Banks leaned on government to allow foreign investment. This created huge speculation and the created credit doesn’t enter production, it enters into the speculative markets. We have excess credit of over $136 trillion dollars turning over every year in the Australian Markets alone. This excess credit will cause hyper-inflation if defaults happen and economy crashes.
We need to prevent the further debt credit creation and remove the excess credit.
When Franklin D Roosevelt applied huge taxes to the wealthy; he created a stable and fair economy. It is good that the wealthy invest their money to generate production and increases to economy, but when they pool it in market speculation, it means real goods will go to waste. So when the USA moved off this policy, they saw huge wealth created, but with it huge waste and a massive poor class of people. To control an economy we need to know the minimum, average and maximum of a money supply.
To do this we have a managed economy where we have a minimum wage (with training wages just below this, but supplemented by public funds), below average wage, average wage, above average and top wage. Plato envisaged a ratio of 5:1. The great American robber baron J.P. Morgan argued that the limit should be 20:1.
We if set a basic metric of 12 months of minimum wages against 1 month of minimum wages, we’d still offer incentive, but limit the massive divergence that takes place.
To determine money supply we multiply it by estimated population. Money Supply The preliminary estimated resident population (ERP) of Australia at 30 June 2019 was 25,364,300 people.
Minimum wage: $41,600 x 25,364,300 = $1.05 trillion dollars as minimum money supply
Average wage: ($30hr x 40) x 52 = $62,400 x 25,364,300 - $1.5 trillion as target money supply.
Top wage: 12 x $41,600 ($240p/h) = $499,200 x 25,364,300 = $12.6 trillion as absolute maximum money supply (Above this will definitely cause hyper inflation without the markets and government quantitative easing strategies.)
* Out of fact, Australia’s optimum population is around 66 million people. If we looked at the average wage of $62,400 x 66 million = $4.1 trillion. This would easily cover the expenses of infrastructure maintenance, r&d services, defence, police, fire & emergency, hospitals, education, training etc for a country out size.
* If you look at the Australian Defence Force Pay scales we’d follow this example for a national pay scale matrix.
Category A – Traineeships, Apprenticeships, Cadetships Wages from $15hr (with supplement of $5hr) to $35 hour for 30 years plus
Category B – No skill to Skilled (general hands, retail and entertainment, warehouse, deliveries, labourers etc) Wages from $20hr to $40hr
Category C – Skilled and Important (Technicians, Medical, Education, Government, Supervisors) Wages from $30hr to $50hr
Category D – High Skill and Knowledge (Specialist Technicians, Managers, Government) Wages from $50hr to $90hr Category E – Highest skill, importance (Theoretical scientists, medical officers, explorers, philosophers, thinkers, engineers, Directors) Wages from $60hr to $100hr
# There would also be allowances to reach $240hr & bonuses paid out from achieving targets for both workers, managers and directors.
New Deal for 21st Century with Automation
People would be trained and qualified in their chosen field by their current performance.
Unlike feudalism and communism, people could still shift careers, retrain, move into a higher category or down.
There is something about the Human Species that wants to be free, but can’t be free as we can be so destructive. So we apply rules to our natural law and we also regulate ourselves, but allow for enough freedom to keep the soul happy. However part of the human condition is natural born psychopaths, which and MRI can measure, but this is another topic.
The above examples are based on 40 hour weeks.
So long as Automation picks up the reduced human worked hours and production is maintained, the only extra cost on government and commerce is the cost of energy for the automation and maintenance. To cover this extra expense, we divide the population into a 6 day working week of 3 days x 8 hour shifts.
The Days would increase to 16 to 24 hours days, depending on the roles. People would perform work in production of 24 hours of work per week, 3 days of 8 hours shifts.
Solving the Speculative Market and Debt based credit creation issue
An automated transaction fee, set as a percentage, once per month with RBA interest rates. This will remove over time that $136 trillion over credit where it is over by $134 trillion. It is only hidden by the markets, but not forever.
RBA interest rates only deal with the Bank lending, it doesn’t deal with the inflation and speculative issues caused by the credit creation and lending.
In Brisbane, we live in a city where those that can afford inner city living enjoy a lifestyle of choices - where to go, when to go and how to get there. The further out you live the less options you have. It’s cheaper to drive the car (which is saying something at today’s petrol prices) than catching public transport, the roads are congested and it takes forever to get to where you’re going. Why not formulate a policy that rewards people using public transport? Encourage it as a way of life as it is overseas? By swapping the cost around so that fares are cheaper the further out you live, you give people a choice in their budgets. In the long term you’d have less cars on the road which means less road maintenance. It improves the lifestyle of people, the sustainability of the city and would be the a blueprint for the rest of the country.
Noticeable changes over the past generation have been evident in sport. Professionalism has seen significant investment at the elite level of those few sports with an established market presence. Meanwhile, community team-based sports are struggling with increased bureaucracy, dwindling volunteer numbers, inadequate facilities and limited support from peak sports bodies and all levels of government. On current trends, participation in community sport among adults could drop by 15% by 2036 with a similar decline in sport diversity. We risk becoming a nation of sporting consumers, rather than participants.
Beyond the recognised health benefits of physical activity, community team-based sport offers participants and families an opportunity to interact across demographics and promotes diversity. It can provide positive role models, teach resilience, enhance academic performance, and enable development of a wide range of life skills. The wide range of clubs and competitions in community sport can bring together people like no other sector, and clubs are a rich source of social capital.
While the value of community sport has been well documented, assistance in the sector has largely come from local, state and federal government grants aimed at developing sporting infrastructure, with very little regard being given to the lifeblood of community sport - volunteers. Addressing some of the difficult aspects of community sport administration, making available comprehensive education opportunities, and providing volunteers with recognition of skills could improve the recruitment and retention of volunteers. Some of my ideas to address these follow below.
Develop a comprehensive State or National insurance model providing accident insurance to all community based sports. This would include insurance for all volunteers and participants. Community sport injuries should have its own surgical stream to quickly resolve sports injuries with adequate funding made available to facilitate this, meaning return to sport can be done as quickly as possible.
Insurance models should also include income protection for sport participants with injured participants streamed into established Workcover processes to assist business when a staff member is injured playing sport. Business needs to feel included in the sporting community just as much as participants. Demonstrating the benefits to business of a strong community sport model can assist with sponsorship opportunities and with developing new business opportunities.
Provide a community sport education model for all volunteers with nationally recognised accreditation for various levels of training. Ensure these courses are targeted at outcomes to enable further training in relevant areas such as; community development, social work, youth work, teaching, physiotherapy, sports science, business, marketing, food health and hygiene.
There are many aspects to managing a community based sport and many opportunities for the young, old, unemployed or people in training to get a taste of these areas and to develop skills that can both benefit the volunteer and also the wider community. Government should develop a specific program to assist with the integration of tertiary students into community sport by specifying practical hours required for course work and resourcing this adequately to enable all community groups to participate, regardless of size or existing resources.
The development and application of specific skills from tertiary students can make a real difference to clubs where resources are stretched thin, and also to the educational outcomes of students who are provided with an opportunity to develop creative outcomes for often resource-poor clients. This is particularly true for humanities students such as marketing and business, journalism, and creative arts such as photography.
Incentivise the utilisation of government departments and the non-government service sector to further engage with the wider community. An example of this could be the use of police resources for coaching young people in areas of disadvantage. This both familiarises the local police and the community and enhances empathy for all participants. Quality refereeing and coaching are two key areas that have an impact of the participation of young people in team sport. Simplistically, police officers apply the law in the community. Development of that skill in a sporting context for officers in training should enhance the decision making skills of those people and also enhance their relationship with the community.
Similarly, other public servants could be engaged in community service to put them in touch with their key demographics and allow them to gain a better understanding of the communities in which they work. An example of this could be local government sport and rec officers gaining a grassroots appreciation of infrastructure and service gaps in community sport by serving on club committees.
Governments can also play a role in better recognising the role of volunteers in sport. Similar to Army Reserves or volunteer fire fighters, there are opportunities to provide real incentives for volunteers to shore up an area that is vital to the continued success of community sport. Whether providing taxation incentives for the use of phones or vehicles, providing subsidised educational opportunities that are targeted for specific outcomes, or simply expanding opportunities for public recognition for volunteers – all assistance to support volunteers to support our communities is important.
While government at all levels continues to focus on infrastructure to support community sport, a shift in thinking that supports wider engagement from the community, better access to skill development for volunteers and greater recognition for the economic and social benefits of community sport can ensure the predicted demise of community sport can be avoided.