- Banking & Finance
- Employment & Unemployment
- Future of Work
- Gender at Work
- Gig Economy
- Industry & Sector Policies
- Infrastructure & Construction
- Insecure & Precarious Work
- Labour Standards & Workers' Rights
- Population & Migration
- Public Sector, Procurement & Privatisation
- Science & Technology
- Social Security & Welfare
- Tax, Spending & the Budget
- Unions & Collective Bargaining
- Wages & Entitlements
- Young Workers
- Climate & Energy
- Democracy & Accountability
- International & Security Affairs
- Law, Society & Culture
Commonwealth Budget 2023-24
The Commonwealth government’s 2023-24 budget reveals a progressive government seeking to help lower paid workers and those struggling to pay bills, support public health care, and pursue investments towards a net zero economy. But it is very much a first step, and leaves much more work to be done to repair past harms done to workers, low-income Australians, public services and infrastructure, and the environment.
Minimum wages and inflation
New research from the Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute has revealed how rises in the minimum wage have almost no impact on inflation and given the collapse in the value of the minimum wage in real terms over the past 2 years, a 7% increase is a necessary recompense for Australia’s lowest
Profits and Inflation in Mining and Non-Mining Sectors
New research from the Centre for Future Work at the Australia Institute has shed further light on the role of higher corporate profits in driving higher prices in Australia since the COVID pandemic.
The Fiscal, Economic, and Public Health Dangers of Water Privatisation
Safe drinking water and sewage services are one of the most essential elements of public infrastructure in our society. Communities cannot survive and thrive without reliable water services. Providing those services is core business for any municipal or regional government.
Profit-Price Spiral: The Truth Behind Australia’s Inflation
Workers in Australia have suffered considerable economic losses as a result of accelerating inflation since the onset of the COVID pandemic. Reaching a year-over-year rate of 7.8% by end-2022, inflation has rapidly eroded the real purchasing power of workers’ incomes; average wages are currently growing at less than half the pace of prices. Now, severe
Public Services in the Hunter
The provision of essential public services generates extraordinary and far-reaching economic and social benefits for the Hunter region. A new report prepared by the Centre for Future Work documents the scale of these benefits for workers, families and communities across the Hunter. The fact sheets provide a portrait of the different ways public services build a stronger economy, strong communities, and better lives.
Going Nuclear: The Costs of Mid-Bargaining Termination of Enterprise Agreements
New research from the Centre for Future Work quantifies the dramatic risks faced by workers whose employers unilaterally terminate enterprise agreements during the course of renegotiations. This aggressive employer strategy, which became common after a precedent-setting 2015 court decision, would be curtailed by new industrial relations legislation proposed by the Commonwealth government.
Collective Bargaining and Wage Growth in Australia
The reforms proposed in the Secure Jobs, Better Wages bill represent important but incremental steps in restoring a better balance of bargaining power between workers and employers, and lifting wage growth back toward a normal and healthier pace.
The Cumulative Costs of Wage Caps for Essential Service Workers in NSW
Since 2012 the NSW government has arbitrarily suppressed pay gains for workers in state-funded public services (including health care, education, public administration, emergency services, and more). At first those pay caps were justified as a deficit-reduction measure, and then later as being supposedly tied to inflation trends. But both those arguments have been discarded, given state surpluses in most years since the cap was introduced, and now the dramatic acceleration in inflation (now running more than twice as fast as allowed compensation gains).
The October 2022-23 Commonwealth Budget: A Good Start… But Rocky Times Ahead
The new Albanese Labor government has tabled a revised budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year, revising revenue and spending forecasts originally contained in the March budget (from the previous Morrison government), and providing new funding to support several new programs and policies.
Robbed at Sea
Seafarers perform difficult, often dangerous work that is essential to the operation of global supply chains, delivering all the merchandise we take for granted in modern life. Yet because of the legal vacuum governing international marine traffic, a lack of resources and attention for enforcement by national regulators, and the corporate strategies of shipping companies and their customers, seafarers are subject to some of the worst exploitation and abuse of any occupation in the world economy.
An Economy That Works for People
The new Commonwealth government is hosting a major Jobs Summit in September 2022, bring together representatives from a range of stakeholder groups to discuss the challenges facing Australia’s labour market, and how to achieve strong employment, job quality and security, and better skills and training opportunities.
Working With COVID: Insecure Jobs, Sick Pay, and Public Health
Almost one in five Australians (and a higher proportion of young workers) acknowledge working with potential COVID symptoms over the course of the pandemic, according to new opinion research published by the Centre for Future Work. The research confirms the public health dangers of Australia’s existing patchwork system of sick leave and related entitlements. The main
The Wages Crisis Revisited
A comprehensive review of Australian wage trends indicates that wage growth is likely to remain stuck at historically weak levels despite the dramatic disruptions experienced by the Australian labour market through the COVID-19 pandemic. The report finds that targeted policies to deliberately lift wages are needed to break free of the low-wage trajectory that has
Budget Analysis 2022-23
The Commonwealth Government has tabled its budget for the 2022-23 financial year. As the nation emerges from two years of lockdowns and border closures, with less than two months until a federal election, this budget is focused on getting the government re-elected – rather than addressing the challenges of public health, stagnant wages, and sustainability facing Australia.
Sustainable Industrial Jobs in the Hunter
New research from the Centre for Future Work shows that the rapid transformation of Australia’s aluminium facilities to sustainable sources of electricity would spark substantial economic benefits: for the aluminium industry, its supply chain, and for the burgeoning renewable energy sector (which would achieve greater critical mass from major new power supply contracts).
New International Research Exposes Australia’s Missed Wage-boosting Opportunities
New research on international collective bargaining systems, released today in a special issue of the peer-reviewed journal, Labour and Industry, finds that Australia’s industrial relations system is rapidly losing its ability to support wages in the face of numerous challenges (now including the Omicron outbreak).
On the heels of new data showing further erosion of Australia’s collective bargaining system, researchers and practitioners from five countries have identified best practices from other countries that could strengthen collective bargaining and lift wages.
International COVID-19 Income Supports: An Update
The COVID-19 pandemic severely disrupted global labour markets, and exposed long-standing gaps in social protection systems. Governments around the industrialised world injected hundreds of billions of dollars into a range of unprecedented crisis measures: to support individuals who lost work, to subsidise employers to retain workers despite the fall-off in business, and to facilitate workers to stay away from work when required for health reasons. More recently, as the pandemic progressed and vaccination became widespread, governments have begun considering how to transition toward a post-COVID policy stance.
Ideas Into Motion
Our research at the Centre for Future Work is motivated by a deep commitment to improving the jobs, working conditions, and living standards of working people in Australia and around the world. We combine our knowledge of economics, our quantitative and qualitative research, and our connections with trade unionists and social movements to develop arguments and evidence that supports campaigns for decent work, stronger communities, and sustainability.
The Future of Work in Journalism
Information industries have lost some 60,000 jobs in Australia in the last 15 years, almost half during the COVID-19 pandemic. And a new research report highlights the need for active policy supports to stabilise the media industry, and protect the public good function of quality journalism.
Shock Troops of the Pandemic
New research confirms that workers in casual and insecure jobs have borne the lion’s share of job losses during the COVID-19 pandemic – both the first lockdowns in 2020, and the more recent second wave of closures. Since May, workers in casual and part-time jobs have suffered over 70% of job losses from renewed lockdowns and
Submission to the Senate Economics References Committee Inquiry on the Australian Manufacturing Industry
The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic disruptions, both within Australia and globally, have highlighted the strategic importance of a vibrant manufacturing sector to national economic performance and resilience. The Economic References Committee of the Senate of Australia recently conducted an inquiry into the future of Australia’s manufacturing industry, and the policy measures that are essential to ensuring its presence and success.
An Avoidable Catastrophe
Australia’s universities were uniquely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and recession — including the closure of borders to most international students, the implementation of new COVID-safe instruction practices, and effective exclusion from Commonwealth support programs like JobKeeper.
Family & Domestic Violence Leave Review (AM2021/55)
As one of its first legislative acts, the new Commonwealth government is proposing to provide 10 days of paid leave for victims of family and domestic violence, as a right enshrined in Australia’s National Employment Standards. This will provide victims of FDV with important economic security as they work to address or escape their situations. Access to such leave has been shown to be effective in reducing the subsequent incidence of violence, and assisting victims and their families in rebuilding their lives.
Funding High-Quality Aged Care Services: A Summary
The Centre for Future Work has prepared a 4-page summary of our recent detailed report on funding needed improvements in aged care services in Australia, in the wake of recommendations from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety.
Industrial Policy-Making After COVID-19: Manufacturing, Innovation and Sustainability
As Treasurer during the 1980s, Paul Keating lamented that Australian governments had for decades been allowing the country’s sophisticated industrial base to fall apart as unsophisticated raw materials came to dominate the nation’s exports and as a result, its economy slipped into developing-world status. Keating’s famous warning of Australia’s looming ‘banana republic’ status spurred the Hawke and subsequent Keating Labor governments into action on economic restructuring, which included considering a range of industry policy intervention options to put Australia on a track to advanced, industrial status, as had been the aim of post-war nation-building that helped to institute an advanced manufacturing industrial base in Australia.
Investing in Better Mental Health in Australian Workplaces
Australian society is experiencing an epidemic of mental illness that imposes enormous costs on individuals with poor mental health, their families, and the broader economy. There is no doubt that the stress, isolation and disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has made this crisis even worse. Unsafe workplaces contribute significantly to the incidence of mental
Investing in Better Mental Health in Australian Workplaces
Australian society is experiencing an epidemic of mental illness that imposes enormous costs on individuals with poor mental health, their families, and the broader economy. There is no doubt that the stress, isolation and disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has made this crisis even worse.
Funding High-Quality Aged Care Services
Implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety will require additional Commonwealth funding of at least $10 billion per year, and there are several revenue tools which the government could use to raise those funds. While the Royal Commission’s 148 recommendations were not explicitly costed, the Centre’s report shows that
Missing a Stitch in Time:
Australia’s electricity industry constitutes a large and critical component of our national economic infrastructure. The industry produces $25 billion per year in value- added. It employs around 50,000 Australians, paying out $6 billion per year in wages and salaries. It makes $45 billion in annual purchases from a diverse and far-reaching supply chain, that provides the sector with inputs ranging from resources to equipment to construction to services.