Commentary 9th May 2014

Pre-budget comments by Monash experts

Monash University experts comment ahead of the Federal Budget, which will be handed down on Tuesday 13 May 2014.

Adjunct Professor Philip Taylor, Faculty of Business and Economics

"Opportunities for older workers to work more flexibly are often promoted in policy circles. However, this argument may push many towards certain roles or kinds of organisations associated with low status, skill, security and pay, and which carry additional occupational health and safety risks. Transition rates into both unemployment and inactivity are higher for older workers in jobs of low quality. Unless the factors which limit older workers' opportunities such as health, skills and negative workplace attitudes are tackled then it will not be possible for an age diverse workforce to become a reality."

Professor Julian Teicher, Department of Management

"Workplace relations remains a priority for the government but in this term of office it will not risk a recurrence of the very effective Your Rights at Work Campaign which played a key role in the defeat of the Howard Government. For this reason it will continue to move stealthily on the workplace relations front. Two early and important steps were the Royal Commission into the Building Industry and the Productivity Commission review of the Fair Work Act. The Budget will doubtless provide another opportunity to have an impact on workplace relations with the most obvious target being funding for the Fair Work Commission. This was a target for the former Howard Government but it is more complicated this time round as the Commission now deals primarily with individual disputes and not unions." 

Professor Justin O'Connor, School of Media, Film and Journalism

"Perhaps the death of Chicago School economist Gary Becker in the same week as Thomas Piketty's book Capital in the 21st Century hit number one on the Amazon charts suggests an epoch change. The forty year dominance of neo­liberal economics, in which low taxes and a small state would stimulate a growth that would benefit everybody, now seems threadbare.

"Growth is low, stability is fragile, societies are fragmented, and though the state owns less it is more intrusive than ever before. The social, political and economic chat rooms of Europe and North America are alive with speculations and debates about what this new era might lead to. We are in that most interesting of times ­ when an old paradigm has gone but no new one has yet emerged. Unfortunately, here in Australia the clocks stopped sometime in the late 1990s. Tony Abbott goes to speak to the great and the good at Davos that we need low taxes and freer trade. And that's it! The vision.

"Australia is certainly at a turning point, but at the steering wheel are the hard core neo­liberals who never quite got over Paul Keating doing it for them. They are set to promote exactly what the rest of the developed world don't want: more inequality, less state investment, less education, less environmental protection, more unequal global trade. And all to the benefit of the heady combination of mining ­ which pushes up all the prices ­ and financial services, who thrive on these. This is what they mean by 'business'. If, like the vast majority of the population, you are not involved in these sectors: be afraid, be very afraid."