(2021, director: Noah Hutton)

By Dan Nahum, Economist

The increasing precarity of economic life for many people is being reflected in a growing output of film and TV, including the work of Ken Loach (‘Sorry We Missed You’, ‘I, Daniel Blake’), Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert’s 2019 documentary ‘American Factory’, Bong Joon Ho’s Oscar-winning ‘Parasite’ as well as his ‘Snowpiercer’ film and subsequent TV series, the interplanetary class divisions explored by the Syfy Channel’s ‘The Expanse’, and Chloé Zhao’s Oscar-winning ‘Nomadland’. Here we consider a new entry in this recent canon of art imitating life.

Writer-director Noah Hutton has shrewdly crafted a science-fiction world…


By Alison Pennington

Image: Creative Commons.

Declining job quality

One of the clearest indicators of rising job insecurity in Australia is the decline of full-time, permanent, “good” jobs: available year-round, with paid leave entitlements and superannuation.

The standard employment relationship has been eroded on several sides: by the rising share of casual jobs, growing part-time work, and growing self-employment (often marginal). In 2017, the share of total employment accounted for by full-time paid jobs with normal leave entitlements fell to just below 50%, for the first time in recorded statistics. It’s still low, with around half (50.5%) of all jobs full-time with paid…


Commonwealth has Many Options to Fund Aged Care Repairs

Australians have been rightly shocked by repeated exposés of widespread mistreatment, neglect and even abuse of elders in our aged care system. Long-standing problems in the system became even more acute during the COVID-19 pandemic, which posed such a danger to older Australians (especially those in residential care facilities): three-quarters of all deaths due to COVID-19 in Australia occurred in aged care facilities. In response to these concerns, the government appointed the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. …


This Fair Work Amendment Bill proposes sweeping changes to Australia’s labour laws, at a very fragile moment in Australia’s economic history.

In our judgment, several features of this legislation will enhance the power of employers to hire workers on a just-in-time basis, suppress wages, and undermine terms and conditions. Key measures proposed include:

· Allowing employers to hire workers on a casual basis in virtually any position ‘deemed’ to be casual, with weak and inaccessible permanency conversion rights enabling long-term casual labour use.

· Reduction in permanent part-time loadings and hours security, allowing employers to treat permanent workers as if…


By Dan Nahum

Wednesday 18 November 2020 marked the twelfth annual Go Home on Time Day, an initiative of the Centre for Future Work, shining a spotlight on overwork among Australians including excessive overtime that is often unpaid.

2020 has been an extraordinary and difficult year, and our annual survey reiterated that working practices have changed, reflecting the threats presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. This year we reported that over half (51%) of employed respondents have chosen, or been requested by their employers, to perform some or all of their work from home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, even though…


By Dan Nahum and Jim Stanford

Like governments around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting recession knocked a huge hole in Queensland’s state budget. Big losses in revenues from the recession, combined with extra costs of fighting the pandemic, turned a planned $234 million operating surplus for this financial year into an $8.1 billion deficit.

That’s a dramatic but not unmanageable problem. In fact, big deficits are appropriate in a deep recession (Australia’s first in three decades). …


Victorian Inquiry Offers Novel Routes to Regulating Gig Work

Findings from a landmark inquiry commissioned by the Victorian government into the work conditions in the “on demand” (gig) economy have been released. The Inquiry confirms workplace laws have failed to keep pace with economic change.

Release of the report’s findings are timely with COVID-era unemployment surging and an expanding pool of vulnerable workers relying on “gig” work to meet living costs. How do platform “digital sweatshops” work?

Platform business models recruit workers without access to secure and better compensated jobs (especially migrant and young workers). Jobs performed are often menial…


By Dan Nahum

Since the COVID-19 crisis emerged, Australians have been starkly reminded of the importance of being able to manufacture goods domestically. International shortages of, and restrictions on, the export of medical equipment and personal protective equipment have given us all a fright. While thankfully critical shortages have not yet emerged, the crisis has confirmed that being able to domestically produce a full range of essential manufactures is a matter of national wellbeing.

For many years the conventional economic wisdom was that as a high-wage, resource-rich economy, Australia was unable to competitively manufacture — nor did it need to…


Australia’s economy needs more collaboration, inclusion and equality, not less

By Giri Sivaraman and Jim Stanford

During its “miracle” re-election campaign, the Coalition didn’t breathe a word about industrial relations and labour rights. In the wake of widespread frustration with Australia’s record-weak wage growth and stagnant living standards, their strategists rightly concluded that calling for employer friendly changes in IR would have been a vote loser. But now they’re back in power (to their own surprise as much as anyone else’s), they are quickly cobbling together a far-reaching plan, backed by business lobbyists, to shift the balance of power in Australia’s labour market even further in favour of employers.

The government’s emerging agenda for so-called labour…


Rising pressure on individuals and families to meet their caring needs is the “human face” of a decline in workplace protections and bargaining power that has gathered pace since 2013 in Australia.

Wages in female-dominated industries (healthcare, social services and education) remain too low, and high childcare costs prohibit mothers’ workforce participation — limiting their work/care choices. Meanwhile, the gender pay gap incentivises fathers to increase their working hours to meet rising family costs. But in an era of stagnant wages growth, they effectively work more for less.

The need for fathers and male spouses to take on more caring…

Centre for Future Work

CFW, housed within the Australia Institute, conducts and publishes progressive economic research on work, employment, and labour markets. https://www.futurework

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