Graham Matthews

According to the Reserve Bank of Australia, the future of the Australian economy is so bright we should all start wearing shades. Justifying the RBA’s decision to lift official interest rates a further 0.25% on March 2, governor Glenn Stevens said, “the risk of serious economic contraction in Australia [has] passed”.
Responding to pressure from media, the community and the federal ALP, NSW Labor Premier Kristina Keneally dropped the state’s unpopular “Metro to nowhere” (planned to run from Barangaroo to Rozelle) on February 21.
The Sydney Morning Herald-sponsored “Independent Public Inquiry” into Sydney’s public transport released its preliminary report on February 13. The report outlined a 30-year strategy to massively improve Sydney’s public transport infrastructure.
New figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics said unemployment had fallen in January by 22,300 to 612,000 — a drop of 0.2% to 5.3%. The ABS, which released its unemployment figures on February 11, estimated that 52,700 jobs were created in January.
Increased interest rates, declining working hours and stagnating wages are still chipping away at working people’s living standards, despite small falls in the official unemployment rate in November and December.
The November 26 announcement that the sovereign fund Dubai World would require a six-month pause on payments on its US$60 billion debt sent tremors through international stock markets.
Do you have that sinking feeling? As though you have to run faster just to stand still? Are you having increasing problems making ends meet? Well, you’re not alone. It’s official — wages growth has fallen behind inflation. While the economy goes through “recovery”, we’re going backwards.
On November 12, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released labour force figures for October that showed unemployment had increased by 11,100 to 690,000 people. At the same time, monthly aggregate hours worked fell by 1.9 million hours (to 1521.1 million hours) from September.
On November 6, the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) and the mining division of the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) announced they would jointly donate $10,000 to the 78 asylum seekers aboard the Oceanic Viking.
“What threatens Australian workers is the abuse of guest workers and the use of guest workers to drive down Australian workers’ wages and conditions”, Dave Noonan, national secretary of the construction division of the Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union (CFMEU) told Green Left Weekly.

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