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Youth jobless rate a “crisis” that can’t be ignored, says welfare group

Unemployment among Australian young people has risen to an “alarming” 12.2% in the year to January, compared with 8.8% in…

Former News CEO John Hartigan is supporting a new charity campaign. AAP/Alan Porritt

Unemployment among Australian young people has risen to an “alarming” 12.2% in the year to January, compared with 8.8% in 2008, the Brotherhood of St Laurence says, launching a national campaign to get draw attention to the “crisis”.

As the general unemployment rate hit 6% in January, the jobless rate among those aged 15 to 24 was 13.4 % last month.

The welfare group has identified “hot spots”, saying the young are especially bearing the brunt in outer suburban, regional and rural areas.

Over the year to January, youth unemployment hit 21% in west and north west Tasmania; 20.5% in Cairns; 19.7% in northern Adelaide; 17.5% in the area of Victoria’s Goulburn Valley, Wodonga and Wangaratta; 17.3% in Mandurah in Western Australia, and 16.8% in Parramatta in outer Sydney.

The worst state for youth unemployment is Tasmania, with more than 17%; the lowest rate is in Western Australia, with under 10%.

The Brotherhood’s campaign for youth employment has attracted backing from former News Ltd chief John Hartigan. It is releasing a Youth Unemployment Monitor, including an introduction by Hartigan, keys fact and analysis, and young people’s own accounts.

The Brotherhood’s executive director Tony Nicholson said the situation was a crisis that Australians could not afford to ignore, and youth unemployment as high as 21% in some areas was “a scandal” for young people, the community and the economy.

“It’s a disaster for our young people who want to work but are getting locked out of the workforce and locked into welfare dependency because they have no choice. It’s a disaster for communities, leading to more homelessness and despair for young people and their families. And it’s a disaster for the national economy and for taxpayers who will end up paying the bill.”

The campaign sought to highlight the problem so Australians could start tackling this crisis together, he said.

Join the conversation

44 Comments sorted by

  1. Garry Baker

    researcher

    They should see Joe Hockey about that. . He's got plans for them. That is, approve the sales of even more Australian businesses, so the 457 work visa intake can increase. His better, cheaper, answer to Australia's high priced workers who are killing the prosperity dream.

    Maybe when they get back to $3 per hour wages, he might just help them

    Meanwhile Ms Grattan - perhaps do some study on the relative crime rates and family dislocations in these geographic areas you speak of.

    Added to this, during the great depression which got underway in 1929, Australia's unemployment went as high as 28% in some areas. Begging a question or two about some early signs of government policy today

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    1. James Jenkin

      EFL Teacher Trainer

      In reply to Garry Baker

      Hey Garry, you raise some interesting questions.

      There's no question of the social problems caused by unemployment.

      And you're right - conservatives suggest 'freeing up the economy' solves almost everything.

      So what data do we have regarding the relationship between immigration and employment, the relationship between wage levels and employment, and the effectiveness of government programs in reducing unemployment?

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    2. Jack McCadden

      Analyst

      In reply to James Jenkin

      The data we're seeing now on youth unemployment has got nothing to do with Hockey. The seeds for this were sewn by his predecessor. Specifically the former govt made it:
      1. more expensive to hire young people
      2. more difficult to fire young people, so the jobs aren't offered in the first place.
      3. Increasing the cost of doing business generally.

      Doesn't it suck when business pauses to lick its wounds for a while and stops employing people...

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    3. Arnd Liebenberg

      self-employed carpenter and joiner; exploring the possibilities of post-capitalist society

      In reply to James Jenkin

      I actually find myself agreeing with the conservatives (reactionaries, more likely), who suggest that 'freeing up the economy' will solve almost everything - but we need to include: freeing from the right to inheritance, and the cross-generational wealth accumulation and wealth concentration that goes with it.

      Not sure whether the Packers and Murdochs, and Abbott and Hockey would support that kind of 'freeing of the economy' quite as enthusiastically, since it does not involve kicking more sand into the faces of those who are down already...

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    4. Garry Baker

      researcher

      In reply to Jack McCadden

      You are probably right about this merely coming to pass on Hockey's watch, insofar as the perfect storm has been brewing for years - With our politicians offshoring jobs and industries, as if they were easily trade-able items like cases of apples.

      However, Hockey's confrontational approach to GM just before Xmas, where he dared them to fess up and leave Australia, doesn't bode well for his nous to actually do something about alternative industries and employment.

      Then he added to his simplistic…

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    5. Jane Middlemist
      Jane Middlemist is a Friend of The Conversation.

      citizen

      In reply to Garry Baker

      They came to government promising 'one million new jobs'. (forgetting to mention these jobs would not be in Australia).
      Now, they have realised that the silly voters thought they meant one million Australian jobs, and voters might be a little put out when they twig what was really meant.
      So I saw Joe Hockey on tv Sunday burbling away about the G20 all jumping to attention and saluting his brilliance.
      In the middle of a wide ranging rant he slipped in the words: "and this will create 10s of millions of jobs - right around the world.
      (Once again he forgot to add: "but not here in Australia".)
      Meanwhile Bill Shorten asked him in QT about the jobs and Tone replied, "Our actions will be consistent with our pre-election commitments." True enough because they never said where the new jobs were going to be, so they weren't lying - technically.Just misrepresenting… The softening -up process is well underway.

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    6. Jane Middlemist
      Jane Middlemist is a Friend of The Conversation.

      citizen

      In reply to Jane Middlemist

      P.S. Bill Shorten also tried to get TA to undertake not to fiddle with old age pensions, per his pre-election promise.
      Asked him twice before that awful old woman on the 'throne' shut Bill up and made him sit down. She is so terribly rude.
      Once again the only answer provided was something like "Our actions will be consistent with our commitments".
      We all will pay a heavy price,I think, for the public squabbling by Kevin and Julia over the leadership of the ALP.
      My country is evaporating at a very rapid rate since Sept, '13.
      The New Era has arrived.

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  2. Bruce Shaw

    Retired Hurt

    Look out Greece, make room for us.

    Perhaps if the pathways to trades, service industry and higher education remained clear, instead of the constant changes every time the newly elected experts take office, we may see change.

    The fact there are vast differences at the state level provides further clues as to the problems associated with a fractured national curriculum.

    The underlying, and no doubt debatable, source of the problem (in my humble opinion) is the motivation of the individual.

    Perhaps a year of payed indentured service (military, farming etc) with the removal of all electronic devices and separation from the nest may clear the fog.

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    1. Michael Bartlett

      PhD Candidate at ANU

      In reply to Bruce Shaw

      Did you even read the article? These are people who want to work but can't find anything. It's never been easier to get into tertiary education, but the number of graduate jobs has contracted so sharply that the current generation of graduates are being forced into work they are overqualified for, while forcing those who didn't go to university onto the unemployment queue.

      Forcing young people to march in line and be shouted at for a year is not going to magic extra jobs from nowhere.

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    2. Bruce Shaw

      Retired Hurt

      In reply to Michael Bartlett

      Michael, yes I did read the article and thanks for your input.

      Perhaps the situation that as you say "it has never been easier to get into tertiary education" is also part of the problem. Could it be that the situation whereby governments deflate employment figures by shifting people from newstart to disability is analogous to allowing those more suited to trades and manufacturing acceptance into a course for Teaching or Arts for example.

      We can not all steer the ship if there is no one…

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    3. Michael Bartlett

      PhD Candidate at ANU

      In reply to Bruce Shaw

      Of course tertiary education being so accessible is part of the problem, because it runs counter to the shrinking market for graduate jobs. Rather than making it so that financial background was no barrier to entering tertiary study, governments and universities have generally lowered the academic requirements.

      You really don't seem to understand the scope of the problem by suggesting that young people consider certain work beneath them or lack discipline. I know plenty of jobseekers who don't let the fact that they have a university education deter them from seeking whatever employment they can find; but they get turned down from very basic work like cleaning or hospitality because they are 'overqualified'.

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    4. Bruce Shaw

      Retired Hurt

      In reply to Michael Bartlett

      "Of course tertiary education being so accessible is part of the problem, because it runs counter to the shrinking market for graduate jobs. Rather than making it so that financial background was no barrier to entering tertiary study, governments and universities have generally lowered the academic requirements."

      Yes Michael and I have seen firsthand what happens when those unable to access a course they wanted such as Law or Medicine simply decide to become a teacher because that degree matched…

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    5. Fatima Karroun

      Mother of 8

      In reply to Michael Bartlett

      It's a bit hard for an employer to hire a kid straight out of high school on Sunday's. At $40.93 per hour (before super, payroll tax, workers' comp etc) on double time and a half, it's a lot of lattes to sell besides paying the CO2 taxed electricity.

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    6. Michael Bartlett

      PhD Candidate at ANU

      In reply to Bruce Shaw

      Bruce, they meet with prospective employers and present their CV and are turned down: when exercising their legislated right to request feedback they are told they are 'overqualified'.

      I fail to see how lack of discipline or over-engagement with social media is responsible for employers deeming people 'overqualified'.

      If you're suggesting that people who are turned down for work in the city need to start picking fruit for a living: have you considered that the seasonal nature of fruit picking and the often remote location makes it uneconomical for young urbanised job seekers to even consider?

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    7. Bruce Shaw

      Retired Hurt

      In reply to Michael Bartlett

      "uneconomical for young urbanised job seekers to even consider" pretty much sums it up for me Michael.

      I wonder have any of the "young urbanised job seekers" ever requested a trial for a week without pay.

      I don't see too (actually any) many "young urbanised job seekers" volunteering (working for free) at Vinnies, Salvos, Lifeline etc.

      However, I digress and I do accept there are many obstacles to finding a job in the city for those without experience.

      Considering there are still some amongst us that were alive during the depression of the 30's I wonder what they think.

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    8. Troy Howard

      Mechanic

      In reply to Bruce Shaw

      Really Bruce? I'm sorry mate but this is an unfortunate disconnect I see with lots of people when dealing with youth unemployment.
      I agree with the fracturing of curriculum in all areas I've been involved with (further education in trade training post initial qualification and apprenticeships) which currently in my state is an enormous mess.
      I have come across many young men (nearly all men, as my trade is almost devoid of women) who were very keen to get a start anywhere doing anything for very…

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    9. Troy Howard

      Mechanic

      In reply to Bruce Shaw

      Bruce I made my above comments without reading lower, yes you can attain your trade in the Army, Air Force and Navy as I in fact did. The service period including return of service obligation (ROSO) is 6 years. It would seem improbable then that a national service scheme could be formulated en masse to deal with a protracted enlistment period.
      I fully understand the benefits of discipline having shouted "yes corporal" more times than I care to remember. I still think that compulsory service of any kind outside of a real and present national emergency (invasion) is an abhorrent idea. Are we to conscript everybody or just the unemployed who are usually the poor.

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    10. Michael Bartlett

      PhD Candidate at ANU

      In reply to Bruce Shaw

      Are you aware that it's actually illegal to do the whole 'unpaid trial' thing? https://www.fairwork.gov.au/pay/student-placement-and-unpaid-work/pages/unpaid-trials.aspx

      The reason you probably don't see them at Vinnies and Salvos is because in order to qualify for the dole you have to provide evidence you're looking for work. This means you need time to canvas potential employers, go to interviews, refine your CV etc. Doing volunteer work in the interim is not necessarily the most productive use of your time, especially if you want to actually find a job.

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    11. Troy Howard

      Mechanic

      In reply to Bruce Shaw

      Bruce I guess for me you are pressing all the right buttons at the moment. I fortunately on Friday received a contract for employment after 5 months of soul destroying unemployment. I am grateful for the opportunity and that it also is quite competitive in remuneration and conditions.
      During the last 5 months I set my levels low on what I'd accept. The only stipulation was in the end that I got paid minimum wage for any hour of work I did. I was happy to relocate,work in the sun, work cleaning toilets…

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    12. Bruce Shaw

      Retired Hurt

      In reply to Troy Howard

      Thanks for joining in Troy.

      I also served Troy and in fact trained as a Carpenter and Joiner from age 15 (yes it is true). Whilst I must admit to learning more when actually on the job than in the classroom I gained other benefits that I was not even aware of at the time.

      Discipline learned then can be applied to many area's later in life such as diet, health etc. Self esteem from the knowledge that I had left home and was earning and learning and therefore capable of looking after myself…

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    13. Troy Howard

      Mechanic

      In reply to Bruce Shaw

      Thanks for the reply Bruce, just a quick note - you can no longer apply at 15, I think the minimum is now 17.

      "Incentives could include one year of service in exchange for three years of study at a uni of your choice or financial reward akin to that of a 2nd or 3rd year apprentice.

      Such schemes have already proven to be successful such as the defence graduate program."
      Whilst I think these ideas have much merit and could be explored further I personally believe would only really be applicable to a voluntary scheme.
      I greatly enjoyed my time in the Army but would not wish it upon someone who didn't want to be there.
      " We currently see examples of 50 year olds being assaulted by those in the early 20's. Tell me this is not indicative of a much wider problem than simply not being able to find a job."
      I don't have an answer to this but don't believe National service would help.

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    14. Bruce Shaw

      Retired Hurt

      In reply to Troy Howard

      Troy back then the ROSO was 9 years.

      My suggestion is for one year only and the range of studies available would be more akin to first year uni induction for example whereby you get an introduction into a range of topics. Or a selection of trades subjects, hospitality etc acting more like bridging courses.

      The scheme would be unfair to not include all barring those with obvious exemptions.

      Do I really expect this to happen? Of course not. Oddly enough I disagree with your subtle inference that conscription to fight is OK.

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    15. Bruce Shaw

      Retired Hurt

      In reply to Michael Bartlett

      I am now now Michael thanks to you.

      Are you suggesting every person on Newstart is actively seeking a job.

      The cocoon of academia strikes again.

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    16. Bruce Shaw

      Retired Hurt

      In reply to Troy Howard

      I admire your tenacity in the search for work Troy.

      As one of those having actually had a job at various times and many career changes I can sympathise with you and appreciate the sentiment in the soul destroying nature of no longer feeling useful.

      I also note that you are not what could be claimed to be the youth referred to in the headline and your situation is entirely different.

      The main thrust of my discussion here is more about the lack of drive in our youth and you have graphically expressed that by showing the lengths to which you have gone to secure a job.

      Can you honestly state that you believe the youth of today have the same drive that you do?

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    17. Michael Bartlett

      PhD Candidate at ANU

      In reply to Bruce Shaw

      No, I wasn't suggesting that, and if you read the article again, you'll note that the people behind the campaign are of the opinion that there are youth who are eager to work.

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    18. Troy Howard

      Mechanic

      In reply to Bruce Shaw

      "Do I really expect this to happen? Of course not. Oddly enough I disagree with your subtle inference that conscription to fight is OK."
      Only if faced with an ACTUAL invasion, resulting in foreign soldier's being on our shores with the REAL intent to subjugate our liberty. I would also add it would have to be on Australian soil and only in the context of defensive operations. Even at that point the thought makes me just a little queasy. I am a dove not a hawk and violently opposed Iraq and Afghanistan. I would pick up a rifle again to protect my family community and then country in that order. I would hope we were never as foolish as to put ourselves as a nation in a situation like that.

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    19. Troy Howard

      Mechanic

      In reply to Bruce Shaw

      No I definitely can't run on the youth ticket Bruce more the broken middle aged man.
      I have 1 son 17 and 1 daughter 16 and think at times they're both lazy, yet still both work casually whilst at high school.
      I can't speak for them (the youth) but my time recruiting apprentices was a definite eye opener. For every idiot I came across they were far more good conscientious young men than previously seemed credible.

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    20. Henry Verberne

      Former IT Professional

      In reply to Troy Howard

      That person seems to be a troll.

      Do not respond if you can bear to ignore their spurious and provocative comments.

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    21. Henry Verberne

      Former IT Professional

      In reply to Bruce Shaw

      Bruce, you make some worthwhile suggestions regarding avenues to skills in the armed forces.

      I am of the opinion that our economy is just not generating enough traditional "blue collar" jobs anymore due to the increasing degree of automation, globalisation reducing opportunities in manufacturing, reluctance of employes to train workers, eg apprentices, the high $A dollar, more emphasis on tertiary qualifications, a dearth of employment in certain country areas etc etc.

      Wish I knew what could be done about it!

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    22. Henry Verberne

      Former IT Professional

      In reply to Troy Howard

      I agree that is is unfair as well as a gross generalisation to depict youth as lazy or lacking motivation.

      When I started work jobs were there for the picking. I secured the second job I applied for and did not have work at it.

      Not now!!

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    23. Bruce Shaw

      Retired Hurt

      In reply to Michael Bartlett

      Michael, there is no doubt there are youth eager to work and that is not the point I was trying to make.

      The simple demographic v geographic statistics quoted in the article suggest to me there is something going on rather than simply a lack of jobs. I would clarify that the case in regional centres is most likely due to a lack of supply and reinforces the point I made earlier about the need to travel to find employment. I would suggest employment in regional centres is and always has been an issue.

      "Unemployment among Australian young people has risen to an “alarming” 12.2% in the year to January, compared with 8.8% in 2008, "

      Given the turmoil of global economies over this period is this figure really that alarming or unexpected.

      My main point is that I am of the opinion that faced with the choice of leaving home and working against staying at home accepting welfare is far too "uneconomical for young urbanised job seekers to even consider" as you yourself have stated.

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    24. Bruce Shaw

      Retired Hurt

      In reply to Troy Howard

      Fair enough Troy and I suspect I may be inclined to join you in that scenario.

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    25. Bruce Shaw

      Retired Hurt

      In reply to Troy Howard

      Troy
      I don't for one minute doubt there are more than the fair share of exemplary future leaders within (what are we up to now Gen Y/Z) today's youth. There does however seem to me to be an over representation of those that are "less aspirationally challenged".

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    26. Bruce Shaw

      Retired Hurt

      In reply to Henry Verberne

      Henry, the trend of "outsourcing" labour markets has and is occurring across too many sectors to name. To me the answer is obvious when you consider the vast increase in profits of our larger companies.

      Telstra for example
      Great for the CEO and the shareholders, helpful to those call centre workers in Malaysia and Sri lanka but devastating to jobs in Australia.

      As long as the notion that we can compete in an international global market continues we are doomed to failure.

      I will probably…

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    27. Fatima Karroun

      Mother of 8

      In reply to Troy Howard

      Australia's minimum wage under the Fair Work Commission is $16.37 per hour. Try taxing your brain and multiply that fugur by 2.5. An 18 year old kid gets paid a minimum of $40.93 per hour to sweep the floor, mow lawns or open a door on Sundays.

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    28. Troy Howard

      Mechanic

      In reply to Fatima Karroun

      Hmmm what about those under 18 which seem to be the majority serving my coffee at the coffee club on Sunday. How do you work out 2.5 x minimum rate most people would rate at best double time unless it's a public holiday in which 2.5 whilst rare would be more than acceptable. My son gets paid $11 dollars an hour plus change to work at Hungry Jacks on Sundays.
      Simple solution don't open, but I " fugur" sic that's taxing your brain.

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    29. Dartigen

      logged in via Twitter

      In reply to Bruce Shaw

      Actually, I did request trial weeks, several times from various employers (cafes, clothing shops, a couple of offices).

      I was told that trial weeks were illegal. Not sure if that was true or if they were just trying to get rid of me though.

      And unfortunately, too many employers are disinterested in volunteer experience. I've been told that unless it's paid, it doesn't count. And considering that volunteers don't get reimbursed for travel costs, unless it's going to help get a job many people won't do it because they simply can't afford to. (Plus, a lot of volunteering organisations now have too many people with them and can't take on more volunteers.)

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  3. Michael Lardelli

    logged in via Facebook

    Massive 457 and working holiday visa intakes make it much more difficult for our youth to get their first spot on the employment ladder. Many of those coming are the youth from other nations with employment problems! We really need to wind back on this sort of immigration if we are to improve employment outcomes for our youth.

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  4. John Kampert

    aged pensioner

    No doubt the Liberals' raising the pension age will fix this problem?
    NOT.

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  5. Jay Wulf

    Ideasmith at The Shoulders of Giants.

    The Elephant in the room is that the 19th Century Capitalism model that we worship has no more need for the meat for the grinder of the industry. Or, it does, for now... but in other countries. Countries without the evil trade unions to give living wage, countries with poor building code where you can squish 1000 workers in a factory and still be assured of new orders for your cheap T-Shirts.

    So the solution is for 'smart industries'. But that idea is inconsistent with the current dominant ideology…

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    1. Henry Verberne

      Former IT Professional

      In reply to Jay Wulf

      It may seem a bit "out there" but if what I have read on robotics, there could be a lot more automation of jobs to come.

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  6. Greg North

    Retired Engineer

    " Unemployment among Australian young people has risen to an “alarming” 12.2% in the year to January, compared with 8.8% in 2008, the Brotherhood of St Laurence says, launching a national campaign to get draw attention to the “crisis”. "

    Aside from the wording perhaps ought to being either " get " or " draw " attention rather than " get draw attention " , that paragraph and the following are more evidence of the western developed societies in decline.

    As the general unemployment rate hit 6…

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    1. Gary Murphy

      Independent Thinker

      In reply to Greg North

      Australia can't compete with manufacturing in other countries under a free trade regime because of our higher labour and environmental standards - hence the IPAs and by extension the Liberals war on labour and the environment.

      Either we trash our labour and environmental standards or our economy will be reduced to mining and agriculture - and the exports of raw materials will have to pay for all of our imports.

      This will leave us very vulnerable to fluctuations in commodity prices. When they are high our dollar will rise and our domestic economy becomes even less competitive - and if they crash our whole economy will crash as the dollar dives and inflation and interest rates rise.

      And that brings us to the problem of private debt (unlike our government debt which is very small and is borrowed at very low rates) which is based on inflated property values and means people need high wages to cover the borrowing costs.

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