Image for Fighting for a Fair Go

*Image: In 1853 Tasmanians canned the Convict System and sent it packing back to England, but we didn’t fix up a future with a Fair Go. Now a new convict system has been forced upon us, and we must decide if we will buckle and comply, or fight for a Fair Go.

Late last year the Federal Government found the Green Army to be wanting, and put the scheme to the axe.

Now Canberra has Work for the Dole under the executioner’s gaze, and may be about to send this scheme to the chopping block as well. [1]

Is there another way that would serve to create work?

For anyone who would like to see all Australian citizens who are able to work, employed on the minimum wage, the Centre for Full Employment and Equity at the University of Newcastle has a proposal that can be considered, with an Employment Guarantee.

On their website we can read ~

“Under the Job Guarantee policy, the government continuously absorbs workers displaced from private sector employment. The Job Guarantee employees would be paid the minimum wage, which defines a wage floor for the economy. Government employment and spending automatically increases (decreases) as jobs are lost (gained) in the private sector. The approach generates full employment and price stability. The Job Guarantee wage provides a floor that prevents serious deflation from occurring and defines the private sector wage structure.” [2]

Rather than employers seeking ways to avoid paying workers, there would be real competition for people to be employed, along with a need to pay workers a proper wage for all their work hours, if employers wish to attract workers and keep them.

With an employment guarantee there would no longer need to be unemployment benefits, such as Newstart, as real work with real pay would be ongoing for all able citizens.

Shifting to real full-employment would have a powerful impact on affordable housing, as workers need homes.

Centrelink would shrink, the job network vanish, and training colleges of a dubious nature would be axed, saving many billions of dollars that can be directed into an employment guarantee.

One of the prime drivers of ill-health in this nation is the disempowerment and humiliation that goes with the current Centrelink system, where people are disciplined and punished as a way to keep the unemployed on their toes, and anyone with employment, in fear of falling into the clutches of a convict-style system.

Homelessness is a huge burden on the nation, where it turns out to cost less to provide housing, than allowing people to be homeless.[3]

An employment guarantee will save this nation many billions of dollars in health care costs, money which can be directed to an employment guarantee program.

AN UNEMPLOYMENT CATCH 22

By allowing unemployment to rise, the economy has adjusted, so now the fiscal forces work to keep unemployment up, and turns under-employment into a growth industry.

Academics Stampe and Fryer observed in 2015, “The Non-Accelerating Inflation Rate of Unemployment is a term used by economists and politicians to refer to the level of unemployment, between 4% and 6%, considered necessary to prevent inflation taking off.” [4]

They further observed, “Clearly unemployment cannot be “solved” by unemployed people taking non-existent jobs and it is unreasonable to blame unemployed individuals for unemployment when there is no paid work.”

The disturbing political blame-game that targets the unemployed, would be put to the axe, in a society where every citizen able to work, is employed with honour and respect.

THE ROBOTS ARE HERE

For some time we have been warned that over the next couple of decades, half of current paid work will shift from people to robots, as the dawning robot revolution changes the economy. [5]

Even lawyers are not safe, as robots are already taking over their career path ~

“The legal profession — tradition-bound and labor-heavy — is on the cusp of a transformation in which artificial-intelligence platforms dramatically affect how legal work gets done. Those platforms will mine documents for evidence that will be useful in litigation, to review and create contracts, raise red flags within companies to identify potential fraud and other misconduct or do legal research and perform due diligence before corporate acquisitions.” [6]

The stark reality of the robot revolution came home to roost in the harshest possible way over the past 9 months, with the Centrelink robot debt claw-back debacle.

The first blow came for Centrelink workers, who were replaced by the new robot.

Then came the debt letters, determined by a robot comparing tax records over the past decade, and not designed to allow for details, such as tax records working differently from Centrelink records.

The amount of heartache and distress, and the sheer volume of time wasted, may determine the next Australian government.

Faced with the humiliation of receiving a debt demand from Centrelink, getting calls from a debt collection call centre, confronted by a system that was difficult and time-consuming to navigate, finding access to old employment records difficult, many people who did not really have a Centrelink debt, who were on Centrelink for a short time many years ago and were now in work, simply paid rather than pursue the case and lose valuable time from more valued life activities.

Was the Commonwealth Ombudsman being cautious when declaring ~

“Centrelink’s demands on former welfare recipients targeted by its “robo-debt” program were neither “reasonable” nor ‘fair”, the Commonwealth Ombudsman has found.” [7]

There are further declarations pending, especially from the Senate Inquiry into the Centrelink robo-debt catastrophe.

How much trust has the Australian Government now lost, through hammering citizens really hard with a robot mallet, as a way to save money on wages and raise revenue from many of the nation’s most vulnerable citizens.

How many people will now avoid touching Centrelink, even with a twenty foot barge pole, which may only serve to increase poverty in this nation, leading to more homelessness, health costs, and for too many, a premature death.

A woman froze to death in the bush near Sydney, homeless. [8]

A man was stabbed and killed in Melbourne, homeless. [9]

A homeless man was beaten to death by a gang in Victoria. [10]

How many must die, before Australia decides to be fair to all citizens?

Faced with a cruel process delivered by the Centrelink robot, many people may now be quite fearful of anything to do with robots.

TURNING PROFITEERING INTO FAIRNESS

The Industrial Revolution opened the way to generate great wealth, and did, and helped to end slavery, but ways were not identified to ensure that the wealth created was fairly shared with all citizens through work.

Worker cooperatives were initiated, but they were not enough to avoid ongoing poverty. [11]

Following the Second World War, a revolution in automation reduced the need for workers, allowing more wealth than ever to be created, but this wealth was not shared with all citizens through work, leading to the current disgraceful situation in this nation of an official unemployment level that is way too high, with the real unemployment level being higher, the expectation of people with employment putting in unpaid hours, too much underemployment, high poverty levels, and the national embarrrassment of homelessness.

At the stroke of the pen, and with the will of the people, the current cruel regime can be terminated, and replaced with an employment guarantee, which will serve to keep the citizens of this nation connected with society, able to contribute to the economy,  and also lead to fairness in housing, as poverty and homelessness are sent packing into history.

Part of the change to an employment guarantee, could be the introduction of military conscription, which will also serve to improve the defence capability of our nation.

Anyone objecting to military service, on the grounds of faith or otherwise, could serve in an Australian peace service, where they could work in projects such as providing clean water in nations with this need, as part of our overseas aid.

FAIRNESS WITH RESOURCES

Norway was very wise with the money gained from North Sea Oil, investing the bounty for the future of the nation.

Blessed with abundant resources and markets in China, Australia has experienced a resource boom that has kept this nation afloat.

The downside of the boom has been a total failure by Canberra to ensure that the benefits were invested for the future of the nation, as happened in Norway.

Now it is wondered if one of the resource boom States, Western Australia, is heading into a depression ~

“Western Australia’s Premier has announced the state’s finances are in a dire position, the worst “since the Great Depression”. But just because the Government’s budget situation is bad, does that mean we’re facing depression-like conditions in the wider community? Sadly, while Tom Joad and his family are not yet riding Western Australia’s backroads, economic indicators do point to a worsening position for everyone.” [12]

As a nation we have allowed ourselves to be used and abused.

When will we stand up and demand a Fair Go with our nation’s resources, and demand that any further boom bounty be invested in the fiscal future health of Australia?

If we decide to shift to the principle of fairness and launch a national employment guarantee, we will need the boom from those resources.

It is a delightful thing that smart people can use our resources to jetset around the World and send our money flying on global markets for their gain, but that does not build fairness, or a stronger nation.

THE NEXT BIG RESOURCES AND EMPLOYMENT BOOM

Companies have formed to mine the asteroids, the Moon and Mars, where there is a million times the resources than have ever been mined on Earth.

Conferences are being held in Australia on space mining, attended by our miners. [13]

Space pioneers like Elon Musk are providing us with the means to harness and store the energy of the Sun in our own home, and using the profits gained to invest in serious space development, building rockets for NASA, and planning for the future on Mars.

Companies like Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic are about to send the first tourist flights into space, followed by Jeff Bezos’ space rocket, and Russia is still in the running for the tourist dollar.

Considering how Russia launched space tourism, that is to be expected.

China is also looking to develop a space tourist market ~

“Even China can’t resist the lure of space tourism. A state-backed firm is developing a gigantic spaceplane, New Scientist can reveal. The plane may one day fly up to 20 passengers to the edge of space – significantly more people than any other commercial spaceflight firm has pledged to fly to date.” [14]

Will Australia benefit from the next great mining, tourism and industrial boom beyond Earth, or be left in the dust of squandered opportunities, a banana republic that could have become a great space nation.

Australia does not yet have a space agency, so is not yet really very serious about space options.

If the people of Australia want a future for this nation, which includes a Fair Go for all citizens, and which includes real work with real pay for all able citizens, then we need to get serious about what is happening with space development, and become part of the future, while we still can.

Why not hold a Senate inquiry into the space industry in this nation and look at the employment opportunities that can be created, how this will inspire students to chase careers in science, maths, engineering, robotics and virtual world technologies, where VR headsets like the Oculus Rift are also the way that workers on Earth can work with robots in space, as well as training and developing robots in the virtual world, that can then be used in space in real form.

Robots are even now being evolved as a way to improve their performance, with technology imitating Nature to find new pathways to improve. [15]

Why would anyone hide under a rock from such an exciting future, or deny this future to the youth of Australia?

We need to wake up to all options, if we wish to have a future with options.

POVERTY IS A GLOBAL NIGHTMARE

If we solve the problem of poverty in Australia, the whole world will want to move here, increasing the refugee problem.

We can build a high wall around Australia to keep refugees out, or we can work toward making the rest of the planet a fairer place.

The best way to deliver global fairness, is to work for a global employment guarantee.

This will contribute to a more peaceful future, as poor citizens are often made angry, suffering the brunt of unfairness.

Knowing that there is about to be a space mining and industry boom like nothing on Earth, we can now look to the design of a stellar economy, where there is work for all able citizens, and no poverty.

To appreciate the wealth of space, we can look to the Sun, which is a virtually infinite energy well, and has so much fuel in reserve, our star will burn fiercely over the next 5 billion years, until expanding to the orbit of the Earth as a red giant star.

With that much power at our front door, and a bounty of resources beyond Earth, we can tell a story filled with hope, one that offers a healthy and creative life for all Earth’s children.

Telling such a story is the only way that we can hope to win peace on Earth.

Making that story happen will build peace on Earth.

By reaching to the stars, we can plan for a sustainable human presence on a healthy home planet, as we invest in unlimited opportunities across the Solar System and among the stars.

REVISITING FAIRNESS

At the root of the problem we face with fairness, is the reality that we signed up to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1947, which we helped to draft, but have not abided by the commitment.

Article 23 declares ~

“Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.” [16]

We are now inheriting decades of political laziness that has led us to the verge of becoming a banana republic of abundant poverty.

We find ourselves on the precipice.

We can jump off the cliff and into desperation as a nation, or we can turn around and fight for a Fair Go for all our citizens.

The key to a Fair Go is to allow real work with real pay for all able citizens, which can be delivered with an employment guarantee.

Every politician who votes for a Fair Go, will have the gratitude of the nation, and all future generations, whether they are living in our Great Southern Land, or in an Australian city beyond Earth.

We will build thousands of orbital cities in space, if we have a mind to, if we want a future among the stars.

This is the future we need to plan for, a future that will inspire action to solve any problem on Earth, where we have the power of the Sun to do any work, to create any dream.

A FAIR GO FORUM

Anyone who wants a Fair Go in this nation, can connect, meet and explore the option.

How do we future proof this nation along the lines pursued in Norway, pursue serious space development for a better future, and also create an employment guarantee for all able workers?

It is surprising that Australia is the only advanced nation that doesn’t have a Bill of Rights.

New Zealand has a rather good Bill of Rights. [17]

Should we look at getting an Australian Bill of Rights?

We can remember how the inspiration for the Southern Cross on our national flag was raised by self-employed miners seeking a Fair Go in the Eureka Rebellion in 1854. [18]

We can look to building a fair society, wherever the Southern Cross flag flies.

GETTING INVOLVED

A Fair Go will not happen by waiting for others to be fair, or politicians to get fair.

We shape the nation by what we do, and how we vote.

When political candidates see votes are won with a Fair Go, they will run like the wind to win those votes.

We must also run like the wind, while we can still make this nation a fair place for all citizens.

Are we ready to fight for a Fair Go?

Join the debate.

Contact Kim Peart at ~  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

REFERENCES ~

[1]  May budget: Axe hovers over government’s $648.5 million work-for-the-dole program
James Massola, 11 April 2017, Canberra Times
http://www.canberratimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/may-budget-axe-hovers-over-governments-6485-million-workforthedole-program-20170410-gvhnlz.html

[2]  Centre for Full Employment and Equity
University of Newcastle
http://e1.newcastle.edu.au/coffee/job_guarantee/JobGuarantee.cfm

Read more here ~
Why a universal basic income is a poor substitute for a guaranteed job
Claire Connelly, 19 January 2017, ABC News Online
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-19/universal-basic-income-vs-job-guarantee/8187688

[3]  Cost of homelessness: Governments will save money by spending on accommodation services, study finds
Guy Stayner, 16 March 2017, ABC News Online
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-16/cheaper-to-provide-homes-for-homeless-rather-sleep-rough/8354284

[4]  How the unemployed ‘disappear’ and why it matters
Rose-Marie Stampe & David Fryer, The Conversation, 12 January 2015
https://theconversation.com/how-the-unemployed-disappear-and-why-it-matters-35850

[5]  Nearly half of Australia’s workforce at risk of computerisation and automation, CSIRO report finds
Imogen Brennan, 27 February 2016, ABC News Online
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-02-26/robots-will-take-over-44pc-of-workforce:-csiro/7203782

[6]  Lawyers could be the next profession to be replaced by computers
Dan Mangan, 17 February 2017. CNBC
http://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/17/lawyers-could-be-replaced-by-artificial-intelligence.html

[7]  ‘Not reasonable or fair’ Ombudsman slams Centrelink’s robo-debt scheme
Noel Towell, 10 April 2017,  The Examiner
http://www.examiner.com.au/story/4587110/not-reasonable-or-fair-ombudsman-slams-centrelinks-robo-debt-scheme/?cs=7

[8]  Homeless woman dies in Hornsby bushland during extreme cold weather
Patrick Begley, 15 July 2015, Sydney Morning Herald
http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/homeless-woman-dies-in-hornsby-bushland-during-extreme-cold-weather-20150715-gicjqj.html

[9]  Former Melbourne Grammar student Easton Woodhead stabbed homeless man Morgan Wayne ‘Mouse’ Perry with ‘murderous intent’, court hears
Mark Russell, 1 October 2015, The Age
http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/former-melbourne-grammar-student-easton-woodhead-stabbed-homeless-man-with-murderous-intent-court-hears-20151001-gjyzhc.html

[10]  Killer laughs after beating homeless man to death
Mark Russell, 4 April 2016, The Age
http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/killer-laughs-after-beating-homeless-man-to-death-20160404-gnxq0x.html

[11]  Co-operatives and social enterprise: are they a replacement for mainstream capitalism?
Tim Mazzarol, 4 November 2012, The Conversation
http://theconversation.com/co-operatives-and-social-enterprise-are-they-a-replacement-for-mainstream-capitalism-10520?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+5+November+2012&utm_content=Latest+from+The+Conversation+for+5+November+2012+CID_0a067ac95fb97e59de1e5e40b0ea6ce6&utm_source=campaign_monitor&utm_term=Co-operatives%20and%20social%20enterprise%20are%20they%20a%20replacement%20for%20mainstream%20capitalism

[12]  Is this really the Great Western Australian Depression?
Rebecca Trigger, 7 April 2017, ABC News Online
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-04-07/so-how-bad-is-it-really-in-western-australia/8424396

[13]  2015 Off Earth Mining Forum
Australian Centre for Space Engineering Research
University of New South Wales
http://www.acser-archive.unsw.edu.au/oemf2015/

[14]  China plans world’s biggest spaceplane to carry 20 tourists
Paul Marks, 3 October 2016, New Scientist
https://www.newscientist.com/article/2107802-china-plans-worlds-biggest-spaceplane-to-carry-20-tourists/

[15]  Robot epigenetics: Adding complexity to embodied robot evolution
Space Daily, 4 April 2017
http://www.robodaily.com/reports/Robot_epigenetics_Adding_complexity_to_embodied_robot_evolution_999.html

[16]  Universal Declaration of Human Rights
United Nations
http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/

[17]  New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990
http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1990/0109/latest/DLM224792.html

[18]  Eureka Flag
Wikipedia
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eureka_Flag

PREVIOUS ARTICLES BY THE AUTHOR ~

Creating a Future Beyond Homelessness …
13 February 2017
http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/article/creating-a-future-beyond-homelessness/

Dawn of the Centrelink Robot
24 January 2017
http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/article/dawn-of-the-centrelink-robot/

Creating a Future that Works
17 August 2015
http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/article/creating-a-future-that-works/

Help! Saving Australia
6 April 2015
http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/article/help-saving-australia/

Liberating Australia from an Addiction to Unemployment
16 March 2015
http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/article/liberating-australia-from-an-addiction-to-unemployment/

Kim Peart is aged 65, but I am not sure that I would step foot into a Centrelink office ever again, or use their phone line, or use their website, even though I am eligible for the old age pension. In around 1992 I was cut off Centrelink over Employer Contact Certificates, which I found to be stupid and designed to humiliate, not find work. I appealed and won the case, with back pay, but I suspect that I would not win a similar appeal now. I organised a conference on employment as a human right in the 1990s, as part of Human Rights Week in Hobart, but was bitterly disappointed that any follow-up was killed off by vested interests, as I hoped Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights might be honoured. I was automatically cut off Centrelink in 2007, because I objected to Work For The Dole. Much was then lost by standing by principle, but much more was later gained. I moved to Brisbane and found work, but was also homeless for a time while paying off a credit card debt. I discovered how many people use self-storage and slept on the street. In 2015, after I had left Centrelink, I was contacted by their debt collector. I was expected to see a letter on their website, but I was not signed up for their web site. When a letter arrived for a small debt, I went straight to Centrelink and found it was about not having filled out a final form. Why had they not checked this detail in my final visit to a Centrelink office, just as when any employee would leave a business. That was quickly fixed with a form and the debt cancelled. I would not like to be dealing with Centrelink now. I am a visual artist and have engaged in diverse community activities over the years, and know that hard work does not always lead to income in a society that is dedicated to keeping a mean percentage of people poor. I now live in Ross, Tasmania, and look to a Fair Go, and how we can make it so.