The state government of New South Wales recently awarded a contract for the purchase of 512 new intercity passenger rail cars to a consortium that will manufacture the equipment in South Korea. The contract is worth $2.3 billion, including an unspecified sum to cover maintenance of the double-decker cars over an initial 15-year period. The government chose to import the cars from Korea instead of purchasing made-in-Australia products, claiming this was the "cheapest" option. However, major government purchases have important indirect effects on many economic, social, and fiscal variables: including GDP, employment, incomes, exports, and even government revenues. A comprehensive cost-benefit analysis must take those broader impacts into consideration; governments should make decisions that maximize the overall social net benefit of procurement, not simply minimize the up-front purchase cost to government.Read more
In this briefing paper Jim Stanford digs beneath vague claims about economic competence and friendliness to business, and considers more concrete indicators of economic progress. The paper asks: is there any correlation between the policy outlook of those respective governments, and in particular its “business credentials,” and Australia’s real economic progress?Read more
The insecure nature of work in Australia today can be illustrated through the following infographic (based on 2015 data published by the ABS). Australia has over 19 million residents of working age (which the ABS defines as anyone over 15). Of those, 12.5 million “participated” in the labour market (by working or actively seeking it). Participation has declined in recent years, in large part because of poor job prospects; that’s a turnaround from earlier decades when participation (especially by women) increased steadily.
This paper explores the cost of unpaid overtime, the extent to which Australian workers fail to take a break and the cost of work bleeding into everyday life.Read more