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Morrison to Australia: Shut Up and Take My Money

Miles Davis famously said of jazz music that, “It's not the notes you play, it's the notes you don't play.” We have no idea what this means.

While we aren’t experts in jazz music, we do have a pretty good idea what it means in relation to a federal budget. 

It's not the areas you do address in the federal budget, it's the areas you don't.

It's not the areas you do address in the federal budget, it's the areas you don't.

It can be very easy to dismiss Frydenberg and Morrison (especially Morrison) as bumbling, out-of-touch suits who don’t have a plan. Folks are saying, “They don’t have a plan for wage growth.” Or, “They don’t have a plan for climate change.”

This lets them off the hook. 

They have a plan for wage growth. It is to suppress wage growth.

They have a plan for wage growth. It is to suppress wage growth.

They have a plan for women. It is to strenuously resist the movement for equality and protect the status quo. 

They have a plan for insecure work. It is to expand and entrench insecure work.

Wages won't grow on their own

The budget feels like a world away in workplaces like Downer. This is a site where insecure work has reached a boiling point. Workers are on strike. Insecure work is a huge problem at Downer where the use of rolling fixed-term contracts is causing massive uncertainty for their futures.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, Rail Tram and Bus union, and Electrical Trades Union members at Downer

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, Rail Tram and Bus union, and Electrical Trades Union members at Downer

This Liberal Government budget was never intended to address the scourge of casualisation. But a good place to start would have been the 20,000 labour hire workers employed in the public service, who serve the public via expensive labour hire contracts that line the pockets of corporations while denying these workers job security and same-job-same-pay.

Due largely to its recalcitrance to address precarious work, the Morrison Government has overseen the longest period of low wage growth on record, and despite rebounding profits, treasury confirms that working people will not benefit from the recovery, with real wage growth either negative or flat until 2023/24. Instead, the government has opted to pour billions of dollars into business, no strings attached.

Pinkwashing the budget - working women left out

Since aged care and childcare are overwhelmingly run as for-profit businesses, the budget spending in these areas will have little benefit to the predominantly women workers in these industries. Unions in the sector say the Government missed an opportunity to mandate minimum staffing levels, legislate higher wages or promote job security. 

   


And despite making much noise about a "women's budget", the Treasurer has made no mention of crucial recommendations in the Respect @ Work report, including the call to establish stronger protections against sexual harassment in the Fair Work Act.

There is some positive news, however. Abolishing the $450-a-month earnings threshold for superannuation will see an additional $4.7 million flowing into super accounts for 200,000 women workers on low incomes. Relentless pressure from women activists is paying off.

Young Workers Left Behind

Union activist Jorja Hickey appeared on Channel 7’s Sunrise last week to tell Australia how she felt about Tuesday’s budget announcements. She didn’t mince words. 

“The jobs that are predicted - are they going to be good jobs? Are they going to be paid well?” 

 
 


The answer is apparently "no". Most new jobs created in the last year have been casual. 

Morrison needs to create so many jobs because many people will need three of them to survive. 

With training, too, Morrison has opted to shovel money in the direction of business and hope for the best. Unions have warned that "JobTrainer" is likely to funnel millions into dodgy private training providers while TAFEs are left behind.  Likewise, funding aimed at boosting apprenticeship commencements may encourage bosses to take on more apprentices, but that doesn’t guarantee a job when the wage subsidy runs out. It also does nothing to address prevalent wage theft and bullying in apprenticeships, which is a key reason why so many apprentices do not finish their training.

Migrant Workers

The cap of 40 hours of work per fortnight for international students will be scrapped for the hospitality, tourism, agriculture, health and aged care sectors. This is good news, as the cap was simply facilitating wage theft schemes such as that seen at 711 franchises. However, nothing is being done about the disproportionate impact that wage theft and job insecurity have on international students.

New migrants are significantly disadvantaged in this Budget. New migrants will be forced to wait four years before being able to access support payments. Currently, migrants are eligible to receive family tax benefit B immediately; carers allowance and family tax benefit A after one year; and paid parental leave and carers payments after two years. All these payment types will be subject to the four-year wait from 2022. This will have disastrous negative impacts on poverty and homelessness among new migrants. 

With Morrison’s well-known tendency to either fail in delivering results or blame others for that failure, it remains to be seen what this budget will actually achieve. And with Labor's budget reply including a commitment to national wage theft laws, there would seem to be a compelling case for change.

Help Get This Ad on TV

With all of the above in mind, we need to remind Australia of every time Scott Morrison washed his hands of responsibility as Prime Minister.

We need your help to make sure as many people see this ad as possible before the next election.

We've already made the ad. Now we’re looking to raise $50,000 to get this ad on the air. Together we can ensure Scott Morrison's failures and constant scapegoating are front of mind at the next election.

To make sure it gets done, Victorian Trades Hall Council will match the first $25,000 in donations. Chip in now.

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