We hear so much about productivity, mainly from the bosses.

We hear about how we need to raise our productivity for the future wellbeing of the Nation from our PM.

One wonders if they are talking about the same thing.

I suspect not.

With the bosses, the answer is simple, the worker just has to do as ordered and work harder.

For the country to reach the productivity needed to make bosses wealthier, the boss has to have full control.  The right to treat workers as they do all their other inputs to the company is the first requirement.

The right to hire and fire, at will is the first on the list.  Without this, they say, they will go offshore and we will all be sorry.

One wonders who is correct.  I will push for the PM and the union movement.

Our greatest increases occurred during the Hawke/Keating years.  What stood out was the cooperation between government and the union movement.  This along with opening up the economy to completion was very productive.

The unions acting with the Rudd government also played a part in getting the Nation through the GFC relatively unscathed.

In my opinion, the workers are just not there to serve industry.  They are a vital clog in the wheel that ensures industry survives.  Workers are just not another tool in industry and can be disposed of at the will of the employer.  They are an important cog in the wheel of industry.

Education is the key, but not education for education sake.  It has to meet the needs of our future economy.  I also believe it has to be lifelong endeavour.

Gone are the days that one leaves school at fifteen or eighteen years, completing the education they leave for life.  It does not even end at the completion of a degree or apprenticeship.  That is only the beginning.

School and later university is not where we learn the skills for industry.  School is   where we obtain the skills to be able to learn.  We will be gaining new skills throughout our working life.

Education means a better life for our children.  Is that all productivity is about.  I suspect not.  I think the industry needs the skills to rake advantage of an educated workforce, they have to learn to treat the workers as humans and in the scheme of things, equals.  Is that a step too far?

The PM it said does not have a narrative or a view for the future.  Ever since the[E1]  Rudd government came to power and since the Gillard, government took over, the PM has been saying that the most important thing this country needs is an educated work force.  The PM has worked tirelessly towards this end.

The PM has concentrated her interest in learning from early childhood, through to middle or later age in life.

She does not believe as Mr. Pyne has stated all that one need is good teachers.  He went onto say, with the right teacher, one can teach under a gum tree.  I am waiting to see Mr. Pyne educate his children under the nearest gum tree.  I feel it will be long wait.  I am sure his children will have the latest technology and be taught in comfortable surroundings, as I am sure he was himself.

All we hear from the boss is “WorkChoices”.

It is conveniently ignored, the fact, that productivity did not improve under WorkChoices and is the same under FWA.

We already have a flexible workforce, one I suspect that has too many workers on casual or short-term basis.  The boss does not appear to be having problems shredding workers.  The Opposite appears to be true.

Yes, days lost due industrial strife has increased al little.  Most appears to be from the bosses lockouts and new State Premiers attacking their public servants.

Even with this action, the numbers of days lost are still minimal.

Productivity is the most important matter facing the nation.  Education and training is the key to a prosperous future.

Good, successful employers do not need strict industrial laws to get the most from their employees.

Unions, as back in the Hawke/Keating days still have a part to play.  Without unions, the worker does not have a voice.

It is so important that the politicians should see it as needing bipartisan approach.


“That is, both the performance of countries in ensuring that almost all students achieve at basic levels and their performance in producing high-achieving students seem to matter,” they say.

Just why this should be so is not hard to imagine.  Even if a country is simply making use of new technologies developed elsewhere – as we do – the more workers who have at least basic skills, the easier it will be for them to make use of those new technologies.

On the other hand, some workers need a high level of skills so they can help adapt the new technologies to their countries’ particular situation.

Of course, it’s not just the broad community that benefits from the accretion of human capital.  As Dr Ben Jensen, of the Grattan Institute, has pointed out, improving the effectiveness of teaching – which is what increases students’ cognitive skills – has substantial benefits for the students themselves.


“Young people who stay in school and invest in further education can expect to earn an additional 8 to 10 per cent per year for each additional year of education they undertake,” he says.

But while we’re focusing on the acquisition of education as a means to raise our material standard of living, let’s not forget that education is also an end in itself. It allows us to lead broader, more inquiring, more comprehending lives.

Want better productivity? Try better education


It seems just about all our senior business people have taken to preaching sermons about the need to improve our flagging rate of productivity improvement, but I’m not sure how sincere they are.

Why not? Because the specific changes they say they want sound like a child’s wishlist for Santa: industrial relations “reform” to reduce their workers’ bargaining power, and tax “reform” to reduce the amount of tax they pay.

If chief executives were more sincere in their thirst for higher productivity – as opposed to things the government could do to make their jobs easier – they might have asked what the empirical research tells us about which changes would do most to enhance our productivity.

Had they done that, they would have found the biggest gains come from adding to human capital – that is, to the education and training of the workforce


The researchers collected data for 50 countries over the 40 years to 2000. They found that each additional year of schooling raised a country’s average annual rate of growth in gross domestic product per person by 0.37 percentage points.

That’s a significant increase. And it’s consistent with the findings of many other researchers.


They also found, once the effect of higher levels of cognitive skills was taken into account, the significance of levels of school attainment dwindled to nothing.

So, the authors deduce, a country benefits from asking its students to remain at school for longer only if the students are learning something as a consequence.

“Higher levels of cognitive skill appear to play a major role in explaining international differences in economic growth,” they say”

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………Enough of these zombie ideas: let’s be bold

Labor’s leadership struggle, reminiscent of the Howard-Peacock battles of the 1980s, has raised justified complaints that personality conflicts have obscured the need for a new reform agenda. Indeed, neither of the contenders for the Prime Ministership offered much beyond the consolidation of measures dating back to the government’s first term. On the other side of politics, Tony Abbott offers nothing more than opportunistic populism and appeals to the politics of fear. And

That’s the title of my last piece in the Fin (Thursday before last), which was about the zombie push for productivity (code for working harder) and the failure to pursue the genuine productivity gains that can be achieved through improvements in education, and particularly better education for kids from lower-income families. Ross Gittins made a similar argument, with some nice touches a few days later in the SMH. I particularly liked his point that the “productivity agenda” is essentially about making life easier for bosses.


Sadly, however, the advocates of reform have little more to offer than our current leaders. Rather, they are pushing an agenda that also harks back to the 1980s: the tired old package of microeconomic reform, workplace reorganization and productivity growth. The benefits of this package, oversold at the time, have long since been exhausted.


In reality, the apparent increase in productivity arose from the increase in the pace and intensity of work produced by the combination of microeconomic reform and the adverse labour market conditions that followed the ‘recession we had to have’. These increases in effort weren’t sustainable, and as Herbert Stein famously observed, a trend that can’t be sustained won’t be.


The speedup in the pace of work, and the resulting problem of work/life balance were described by John Howard as a ‘barbecue stopper’.The imbalance between work and life was apparent to everyone in Australia except the economists looking at the productivity statistics. Although work intensity can’t be measured directly, we can look at related measures such as the number of people working extremely long hours and the proportion of workers compensation claims citing stress. All these measures rose during the spurious productivity miracle of the 1990s, and fell back again during the 2000s. As a result, measured productivity growth slowed to a crawl in the 2000s, even as good macroeconomic performance and favorable terms of trade allowed steady increases in living standards.


The way ordinary Australians understand the push for productivity was underscored by the outpouring of anger against WorkChoices, and the lack of any support for its revival. As has been shown on numerous occasions, Australians understand that ‘workplace reform’ and ‘productivity’ are codewords for ‘work harder and faster, with less autonomy’. Yet, presented with a vacuum at the level of political leadership, the advocates of refrom can come up with nothing better than another attempt to reanimate these


Meanwhile, reforms that could produce genuine and sustainable improvements in productivity have languished. Rudd’s ‘Education Revolution’ is barely a memory. Julia Gillard, who once made much of her passion for education, dropped the phrase the moment she left the portfolio behind. Throughout her period as Minister, Gillard pointed to the forthcoming Gonski review of school funding as a reason not to take any substantive new steps in this area.

Gonski’s committee finally reported last week. It made a powerful case, on both equity and efficiency grounds, for a substantial increase in funding to the most disadvantaged schools, almost all of which are in the public sector. If we are to become a more productive nation, we cannot afford to lose a quarter or more of our young people to inadequate education and social exclusion.

The alternative can already be seen in the United States, where what was once the land of opportunity is now characterized by the highest levels of inherited inequality in the developed world, largely because of unequal access to education.


Naturally, the advocates of ‘bold reform’ are nowhere to be seen in this fight. The only concern of free-market thinktanks like the Centre for Independent Studies is to protect the class interests of wealthy private schools ‘Gonski: less for private schools, AFR 21/2/12’.

This is, indeed, a time for bold new ideas about reform. What we are getting instead is personality politics and zombie economics.


I do not believe that a movement representing about two million Australians lacks legitimacy or needs to apologise for being part of a public debate. I see it as correcting an imbalance.

When was the last time you saw a delegation of minimum wage workers flying to Canberra in a private jet for an audience with a minister? When was the last time you saw community sector “workers at an intimate fundraising dinner for one of our political parties? When did you last see a TV advertisement funded by single parents asking for tax breaks for their contribution to society?

We should never think that our democracy is perfect, or that it is not vulnerable. I would hate for our system to become like the USA’s where nearly half the population sees so little that represents them in politics that they do not vote.

If we lose the ability to have the robust public debates that have characterised Australian democracy, then our society will be the loser.”



  1. Catching Up. You have way too much spare time. If you work your employer must be missing the productivity train. Gotta go my lunch break is over.

  2. Again, Geoff has nothing productive or constructive to say, just another personal attack.
    Way to go Geoff!

  3. Tony Abbott is a lot like Geoff, with nothing constructive to say in eighteen months, just a long list of personal attacks and brain farts.

    This is his latest contribution today:-

    The official spokesman has informed journalists today’s meeting of Coalition MPs and senators was “blissfully peaceful.”

    The blissful peace was, however, broken with strong statement from Opposition leader Tony Abbott on industry super funds established by the trade union movement.

    Mr Abbott in the party-room spoke of the “venality” of the trade union movement.

    “Too often industry super funds are gravy trains for union officials with no experience in corporate governance.”.

    For the benefit of all Australians could Mr. Abbott present his CV of his own corporate governance experience?

  4. Work hard Geoff – your benevolent employer may just let you retire one day too, but you’ll have to work a lot harder and smarter to come anywhere near matching what CU has achieved in her life 🙄

  5. Geoff, you are correct. It is the one luxury one has when they reach seventy and live alone.

    I been around long enough to know the answer is not working harder and taking benefits such as penalty rates off the poorest.

    If a boss cannot balance his costs over the whole week, I suggest that is his problem, not the staff.

    Geoff, I have also learnt that going back to the past, is not the way to deal with the future.

    I hope I have been challenging in this post. Productivity and how we move into the future is important.

    What worries me is that our economy is relying on an industry that does not employ many and is quickly investing in new technology to get rid of those they now employ.

    I am talking about driverless trucks and trains.

    Looking around the world, it is the clever countries that do best.

    Look at the home of Capitalism, they, in spite of no wage rises for years, cuts in government spending are not doing too hot. A country where the rich are fast getting richer, at the expense of the poor.

    Personally it does not effect me, and I am happy to collect my pension rise next week.

    it does affect my children, grand and great grand children.

    I benefited greatly by mature age education myself. The only regret I have, is not going further.

    I do know if something is good for the three Musketeers, it will not be good for me.

    I do not trust the three Stooges that represent the Opposition shadow treasury, have the ability to do what is needed for the Nation.

    I do not believe old age brings wisdom. It only brings more questions. Just like education, the more one learns, one realises how little one knows.

    Geoff, thanks for getting the post off the ground. I appreciate that.

  6. “Mr Abbott in the party-room spoke of the “venality” of the trade union movement.

    “Too often industry super funds are gravy trains for union officials with no experience in corporate governance.”.”

    Another blast from the past. The Conservatives fought super hard. There greatest fear was if the Union’s got control, it would give them to much economic power.

    It was OK for the boss to have this power, through gaining control of the workers super. Not for the unions, which represents unions.

    It must irk the super industry that the unions do it more efficient and cheaper.

    Why they are back on this, I do not know, except like everything they are interested in, is battles from the distant past.

    It is like Mr. Abbott cease taking an interest in anything around him back in the 1980’s. It is like he just shut down, or maybe lost his short memory and cannot laid down any new memories since.

  7. Geoff @2.37pm..and what were you doing at 2.37pm..trawling the blogs in order to pop in a meaningless comment or several…

  8. Cu, It is like Mr. Abbott cease taking an interest in anything around him back in the 1980′s. It is like he just shut down, or maybe lost his short memory and cannot laid down any new memories since.

    Sounds like there’s a short circuit there. 😯

  9. I remember quite a lot about productivity – the things that do not work are pitting one worker against another as Howard wanted. The things that do work are engaging workers in a common goal, respecting each other as equal partners, working together towards this common goal.

  10. Maybe Mr. Abbott’s crusade in life is to revoke everything Labor has achieved for the last forty years or more.

    Carr is now in the senate

    I do not know where they got the speakers for today’s MPI.

    They are indeed ridiculous.


  11. Today Albanese was talking about productivity, it was in relation to a second airport for sydney.
    albanese suggested there should be a bipartisan approach in deciding on a second airport. (yeah as if that will happen)

    the point on productivity, 25 years ago the airlines allowed 65 minutes for the flight between sydney and melbourne. today even with all the advances in aviation the airlines have to allow 90 minutes.

    albanese’s point that extra 25 minutes equates to lost productivity

  12. There are many other things that come into play.

    Infrastructure, research and development. A strong economy for the nation to go ahead,

    Of course it does help to have imaginative and clever industry leaders.

    We need the roads, airports and ports to distribute what we produce.

    Labor is again dealing with ah hard political matter, another Sydney airport. This has been picked up and quickly dropped by governments since Whitlam as too hard.

    Maybe the answer lies on the Central Coast between Sydney and Newcastle. Maybe not.

    Thanks all for your support. I have not achieved that much and have mucked too much up.

  13. I’ll tell you one thing free of charge, I’m not getting too much productivity out of my f*cken modem.

    Migs & Sue, you should stop getting stuck into our paragon of productivity, Geoff.

    No doubt his 2 minute lunch break coincides with the sole toilet break in his 18 hour day, during which time he also blogs.

    Yes, yes, 2 minutes is an outrageously long time skiving off in the dunnies, but it takes 90 seconds to sprint there and back to his desk while siphoning down his lunch and juggling the laptop.

  14. I am talking about driverless trucks and trains.

    Intewrsting one-liner, CU …

    Wonder how many use the new customer self service checkouts at supermarkets … I always make a point of discussing the loss of jobs as I wait in line for the checkout girl/guy …

    Productivity is often misunderstood as longer hours rather than finding ways to work smarter …

    … the Hawke/Keating approach to productivity worked well because of the Accord Agreements between government, employee unions and employer unins … they actually discussed issues, came up with solutions AND – the clincher – implemented them as a team … unfortunately neither the RuDD or Gillard governments have engaged the other two parties well …

    Sometimes it is worthwhile to revisit history …

  15. TB, yet compare the work hours lost since Labor has been in government. Labor changed the criteria for “skills shortage” from piano tuners and hairdressers to engineers and scientists. Little acknowledgement of course.

  16. TB, I am with you. I make my daughter very angry, and I sometimes believe I embarrass her.

    I also find them so, and they are definitely not service.

    What else annoys me is security staff in many businesses, especially clubs and pubs. Mostly men, that stand around and intimate everyone, while the one bar staff is rushing to catch up with orders. leading to customers getting riled.

    The same result cam be obtained by putting more staff on and keeping the customer happy.

    I have seen this proven in one RSL I used to visit many years ago, in a bad areas. Good planning, leading to a pleasant environment. Plenty of staff, that were highly trained in how to handle trouble.

    It was a wondrous thing to see them in action. They would move to back one another up. The trouble maker was out the door before they knew what had happened. There was hardly a break in service.

    All research proves that security only makes matters worse, beside being expensive.

    yes, what is going to happen when the boss does no longer need humans.

  17. Piano tuners are actually in short supply Min. We should be training apprentices here though, instead of importing tuners – that’s the “rort” Labor fixed, but the job is only half done.

    You can do a 12 month course in Melbourne for only $25,000:

    Disclaimer: A good mate I’ve known for 45+ years is a piano tuner and technician – he’s turning down work because it’s impossible to keep up with demand. He employs 2 people in his workshop doing repairs, while he’s on the road tuning, including places like the Queensland Conservatorium.

  18. Min, your link is three years old … and “job shortages” in different areas aren’t actually “controlled” by government but the marketplace … they shift constantly … based upon demand … apprenticeships have been the poor cousins for too long … and the system we now use to train tradespeople needs a history lesson too …

  19. The great international student rort … Crikey, Tuesday, 8 July 2008

    Among modern-day business rorts, the privately-owned colleges selling education courses to overseas students are in a category of their own.

    They advertise widely in Asia, the Middle East and in the ethnic press in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane to attract suckers … er, I mean, students … to sign up for expensive courses for up to two years.

    As my dear old Grandad would say, “W’er’ tha’s munny tha’s muck!”

  20. Bacchus, a lot of the problem is the definition of ‘trades training’, which varies considerably between the States. In some States, we have for example Swinburne University which started out it’s life as a tech school, other States we have TAFE being beauty practitioners and other hobby courses.

    Then we have the differentiation between High School courses. For example, youngest completed a number of wood turning courses at Mullumbimby High School. Yet I doubt that you could obtain this same qualification in either Qld or Victoria.

    But that’s what it’s all about, giving young people the best of all experiences, whether it be academic or trade, so that they can choose which suits them best.

    **Disclaimer: yes this is the same lassie who is about to complete her PhD in molecular bioscience..and re the woodturning, I have a step ladder to prove it.

  21. Min, all the government did was change the criteria ti “fast track” jobs identified as “critical” …

    Australia, October 21, 2009 – Professionals that will be fast-tracked through the Australian visa system to address skills shortages under new rules. The following specialized are dentists, doctors, civil engineers, occupational therapists, psychiatrists, midwifes, secondary school teachers and accountants.



    a lot of the problem is the definition of ‘trades training’, which varies considerably between the States

    I’m sorry but that is just not true … all trade training is conducted under the National Training Scheme agreed by all states, territories and the federal government … and administered by the states and territory governments …

    Schools are in a class of their own … pun intended …

    Anyway I covered this a couple of days ago … on the Open Thread

  22. That’s where TB’s expertise with RTO’s comes in… Perhaps it’s to do with the registration process. Any comment TB?

    I know mate has been saying for decades that they need some sort of piano training to happen in Australia before all the existing technicians retire. He’s taken on his son as an apprentice, but there isn’t the large training that was given by the retaliers back in the 60’s & 70’s when he was trained.

  23. I read, with interest, your musings in the open thread TB, but how come there are still so many shonky operators, given the requirement for national registration?

    The other are where there is still a hole is in providing the courses for where there are known shortages now and in the future. It’s all very well training 100,000 hairdressers a year, but where will they work? Can they tune pianos?

  24. Conclusion

    Under the Gillard Government, Australia’s trade policy will be driven by ongoing productivity-raising domestic reform coupled with the negotiation of improved access for exporters to overseas markets. The best trade policy is domestic economic reform designed to boost the productivity and international competitiveness of Australian businesses. Improved access to overseas markets will be sought not on the basis of preferential treatment but as an opportunity to compete on level terms with other countries. Negotiations will seek the maximum possible opening of markets but Australia will not hold back on domestic reform if other governments refuse to reform their economies. Far from being a necessary evil in bargaining for better market access abroad, domestic reform will be pursued in Australia in its own right and for its own benefits.

    The Gillard Government will continue to press the primacy of multilateral trade negotiations. Support for multilateral liberalisation will extend beyond the Doha Round to strengthening the global trading system at every opportunity, great and small. The Government will pursue high-quality, comprehensive regional and bilateral trade deals only where they offer net benefits to Australia and do not impede progress on the multilateral front.

  25. Baccy,

    You need to be an RTO to be registered to deliver training and assessment – but only for those courses you are qualified (or have trainer/assessors qualified) to facilitate … VET/NTS training can be conducted by people with equal to or above qualifications AND TAA40104 Certificate IV in Training and Assessment

    So if there are not many piano tuners with TAA and not many RTO’s wanting to do it … a market problem exists …

    As for shonky training organisations depending on the level of government supervision – that has reduced dramatically … it took a long time for the states to realise that they all needed to have similar if not the same Acts and Regulations and actions for breaches … initially Queensland was the toughest and eventuyally the Mexicans started to toughen up …

    Not so sure its quite as bad in 2012 … but to my knowledge three day certificates don’t exist anymore (BTW, Cert IV is generally trade level) … the Australian Qualifications Framework describes what the award levels reflect (eg in the army a corporal studies Certificate III in Frontline Management, sergeants Certificate IV in FM, warrant officers Diploma of FM … a first leiutenant has a Batchelor Degree (or equivalent work experience …

    …howvwer, I know a guy who has gone through the ranks from Craftsman (motor mechanic) in RAEME to major today – 30 years and still serving but no degree) …

  26. TB, I wonder how machines work as customers.

    Not very well, I suspect.

    Yes, CU, I’ve always wondered what would happen when all the jobs had disappeared and wealth was in the hands of just a few Robber Barons … I guess history would just repeat itself … and we’de start all over again … 🙂

  27. You won’t catch me on any self serve checkout. Will they see a drop in prices? Not bloody likely.

    When self serve petrol stations were introduced it was under the guise of cheaper petrol. That turned out to be a major con.

  28. Roswell,

    Did the GST mean the end of the cash in hand economy as promised by Costello.

    What was it, that everyone from then on would have to pay taxes. Good one Costello, that one worked a treat.

  29. Thanks for that TB.

    So it is a little more than just a market problem – someone (probably a government department) needs to recognise where skill shortages exist, and have a crystal ball to predict where shortages will occur in the near and far term future.

    Once this information is made available, a market solution can be found, OR, solutions can be sought by governments (via their TAFE networks) to meet the training needs.

    I would assume various levels of government already study this sort of thing, and publish their findings?

    I know a guy who has gone through the ranks from Craftsman (motor mechanic) in RAEME to major today

    Yep – I have seen similar in various industries TB. Even universities will give credit exemptions for RPL (Recognition of Prior Learning).

  30. I suspect not. It is hard to pay any tradesman with anything but cash. They will even take you to the ATM.

    Nearly fainted the other day, when one gave me a receipt.

    My daughter does a lot of books for small business. Mechanics etc.

    She has problems convincing them there are advantages to Eftos.

    While we are talking about tax evasions, I believe pressure is being put on the treasurer to once again look at family trusts etc.

    It appears there is up to 400 million that would need to be paid if the trust was winded up. Not chicken feed.

    Not a great amount when they is over 5 billion involved in the trust. I believe a low figure is 1.2 billion each. I am sure the 100 million will not be missed.

  31. Catching up,

    Even better, they will give you a discount for paying in cash. Why would that be, surely the tradies aren’t still doing it cash in hand. I can’t argue with it, who wouldn’t take what they can get when the very wealthy have all kinds of rorts which we average people can only merely contemplate.

  32. Baccy, yes, yes and yes

    I used to get reports from … VEET or VEAT (??? just did a quick Googlr but no luck) … who did a wide range of reports and papers in adult learning issues …

    … TAFE’s get a lot of money but they have to cover a lot of ground … their real problem is getting good staff … as is private organisations (my local TAFE rang me within the first month, when I retired – news gets around!) …

    … I was actually given … literally … a training business specialising in Management training … including two “consultants” … I did some numbers and we would have netted about $20,000 … and The Minister would have been a mess, I reckon … we gave it (and the “consultants”) back … reputations are important …

    And of course private organisations usually specialise …

    … (as I did — initially as an instructional designer and consultant in adult learning … 80% of my income came from facilitation and 20% from instructional design/consulting but I spent 80% of my time on instructional design/consulting …

    … when I decided I wanted to retire I did a Pareto switch and concentrated on training and assessement 80% … more money … particularly in the mining industry …

    (! was pleased to get a 3 point credit after five years study, 36 point degree from memory!) 🙄

  33. While we are talking about tax evasions, I believe pressure is being put on the treasurer to once again look at family trusts etc.

    … and while they are at it they should look at “negative gearing” both tax evasion reduction vehicles …

  34. Thanks to an early voluntary redundancy my productivity has reduced to zero. I do bugger all Monday to Friday and I take the weekends off.

  35. Except if they are not paying, those on wages will find themselves paying more. Unlike the wealthy and self employed, there is no escape hole.

    You are contributing to their high incomes.

    it appears this and not necessarily high government debt is causing the present trouble in Greece and Italy.

  36. negative gearing

    Even Mr Keating had to put that one back. No matter that it distort the housing market.

  37. Just looked back through some old emails TB – I got 84 credit points for RPL in a 288cps degree. I did have an Associate Diploma, many years of industry experience, and quite a lot of industry training though.

  38. Yes, taxation is another facet of dealing with future productivity. I think the bankruptcy is a little exaggerated. 100 million out of at least 1.2 billion still leaves a nice pile.

    Treasurer Wayne Swan is under caucus pressure to take a fresh look at the tax arrangements surrounding family trusts, as a legal stoush between mining magnate Gina Rinehart and three of her children continues.

    Three of Ms Rinehart’s children – John Hancock, Bianca Rinehart and Hope Welker – have taken NSW Supreme Court action to have their mother ousted as trustee of the family trust.

    The Hope Margaret Hancock Trust, which holds an almost quarter share of the family mining company potentially worth billions, was set up in December 1988 by Ms Rinehart’s father, Lang Hancock, with her children as the beneficiaries.

    Ms Rinehart contacted her children in early September 2011, days before her youngest turned 25, when all four were due to receive their share of the trust.

    She warned them the vesting of the trust on September 6 would render them liable for a substantial amount of capital gains tax and lead to bankruptcy.

  39. I do bugger all Monday to Friday and I take the weekends off.

    Me too R, if you don’t count the odd’s n sod we do for our immediate family …

    … we all live in the same street – 35, 37, 46 … two kids/spouses and five grandkids!


    Baccy, sounds very similar but I only did three of four years of my Ass Dip (and no high school, left at 14, trade cert though) … started degree at 40 … mine was an in-service degree (had to be working in training) …

    … oh how we celebrated when I got a place!

    … and it was an equal opportunity program (females had to equal males 1:1 – we started with 64 and seven of us graduated five years later … very sad, I thought) …

    … we spent a lovely four days in Adelaide (and the wineries) … a colleague said, “You may have done all your studies by mail – but make sure you pick up your degree personally” … glad he did … 😉

  40. Can they handle it? Can we? It remains to be seen.

    That is, can we all do what is necessary to make the country strong.

    Are we going to continue to let the doomsayers and whiners continue to talk the economy down, trashing the country in their wake.

    It’s hard to tell who’s most addicted to easy money and the expectation of ever-rosier economic news – us as voters, or the politicians who have grown accustomed to delivering glad tidings. Even the bad news has felt like good news; how many Australians will remember the tense days around Global Financial Crisis Mk I as an existential brush with ruin, and how many will remember the snowstorm of $900 cheques, the dizzying bounty of interest rate cuts and the school libraries that sprang up overnight?

    We are used to tax cuts, and to the panoply of methods successive governments have invented to funnel the nation’s wealth back to us; family payments, baby bonuses, money for us to spend on privately insuring our health, and money for us to buy first homes which we insist on continuing to receive even though the fact of the payment itself drives house prices higher, fuelling the very problem it was hoped the handout would modestly defray.

    We are bad at giving these baubles up. The news that there would be an indexation freeze on eligibility for family payments in last year’s budget set off a round of caterwauling among some $150,000-plus earners that was piteous to hear.

    But on the whole, things have been pretty good for high income-earners in the past 30 years. In 1984, the top tax rate (for people earning $35,788 or more!) was $11,963.98 plus 60c in every dollar earned over the $35,788 threshold. Today, the top rate (for those earning over $180,000) is $55,850 plus 45c in every dollar earned over $180,000. To get an idea of how the very well-off are faring, let’s compare the tax paid by people earning exactly double the top tax threshold in 1984 and today.

    In 1984, if you earned $71,576, you would have paid $33,435 – 46c in the dollar overall. Whereas today, if you earned $360,000 – twice the top threshold – you’d pay $136,850, or just 38c in the dollar.

    Now that the easy money is over, the responsibility returns to leaders to make difficult decisions either – as Mr Parkinson reports with the beguiling blandness of the bureaucrat – “to significantly increase revenue or reduce expenditure”. Can they handle it? Can we? It remains to be seen.

  41. Roswell we have to be ready for the scare campaign that is coming from the MSM and the Opposition. They are already broadcasting their punches.

    They need to move on from allegations of liar and waste.

    Productivity will be used to launched the attack. Using it as a weapon to attack the workers and unions.

    I wanted to get in first. Do not see many disagreeing with what I have written, that surprises me.

    I sorry Geoff did not hang around.

    We need to get the message out that productivity is what is is about. It is too important to let it be hijacked.

    Yes, there are many interesting things going on a this time.

    All important, I think.

    I wonder what Miglo is up to,

    Never a dull moment.

    Is Mr Abbott a second rate cheapskate hypnotist or lousy clown. Definitely in a run down circus. No disputing that description.

  42. “School and later university is not where we learn the skills for industry.  School is where we obtain the skills to be able to learn.  We will be gaining new skills throughout our working life”.

    Cu, I haven’t argued with you because I agree with you, especially during my time as a disability advocate. I fought a 3 year battle for one young lad to be given keyboard skills. He was above average iq but was unable to write due to..well, it’s a long story.

  43. Min, I make sure all my grand kids have access to that keyboard as early as possible. It is marvellous how quick they catch on. Some take more interest than others. It does not stop their love of drawing and attempting to write.

    I find they handle the real thing the best. The toy ones often need a degree to use.

    Many mix education up with training. They are not the same in my opinion.

    It is interesting see many on this post talking about things that Hawke/Keating bought in. That is recognition for their work experience and informal training they have done over the years. It all adds up over a lifetime.

    We lost much during the Howard years. We have enough who were in the union in those times, to revive what worked.

    I know that the PM during the last few weeks has visit Mr. Keating. I hoped they talked about a few of these things.

    Mr. Abbott has nothing to offer.

  44. CU

    did you read this article today? it fits in with the productivity theme, as joyce tried that theme in his push against the unions and his lock out/ shut down of the national carrier. how much did he wipe off national productivity. and as this article questions for what? nought!

    “The strategies of the chief of our national airline have been disastrous.

    Since June last year, Joyce and his senior executives have spent every spare minute banging on about setting up a new premium, Asian-based airline, all of which was endorsed by the Qantas board and chairman Leigh Clifford.

    But it was a plan that was never going to fly. For it was first and foremost a threat – a hollow one – to its workforce rather than a legitimate blueprint to turn around the company’s fortunes.

    If there was strategy in the plan, it was as part of an ideological battle over trade unionism in general and Fair Work Australia in particular, which culminated in management shutting down operations for three days last November.

    There is no denying the challenges facing Qantas. Soaring fuel prices, competition from subsidised government-owned carriers, global economic upheaval, topped off by natural disasters in key markets such as Queensland, New Zealand and Japan.

    But the Asian option tackled none of those factors and Joyce now presides over an organisation where industrial relations could best be described as toxic while his customers, disillusioned and jaded, have begun walking across the terminal to rival Virgin Australia.”

    Read more:

  45. Miglo

    from the above article, i sympathise with the writer, i feel i know where he is coming from

    “the diminutive Irishman”

  46. Sue, yes, his actions did not help productivity at all. I would say the opposite is true, Unhappy workers are rarely productive.

    His job was to destroy the unions, not improve the company.

  47. Readers may have seen Judith Sloan on The Drum or read her articles in the Australian.

    Judith Sloans’s Answer to Everything

    Among the interruptions and bluster, Ms Sloan failed to mention any facts to support her assertions, and floundered over some very basic issues covering the mining tax, how to deal with any future global economic shock and fiscal policy. Quite astoundingly, her only answer when repeatedly questioned about what she’d do if Australia confronted another GFC type event was to cut wages. Not sure if that helps highly geared consumers or their banks or do much for the supply of labour either.

  48. Pip, the lady is one of the few I do not listen to. I find her to be an arrogant fool.

    Cutting wages would ensure the economy went into downfall.

    Everything is OK while the money is going around. When it stops, one is in trouble.

    Each time we have high unemployment, it takes longer to bring down. To do so, money has to be spent. What is wrong with spending before unemployment occurs.

    I noticed that there was an article and report today, that proves IR has little to do with productivity.

  49. True Cu, she is not only arrogant but very extremely rude to other guests, and she’s not short of confidence!!

  50. Did the GST mean the end of the cash in hand economy as promised by Costello.

    If anything Anthony G, the black economy has got bigger! Another top job by Tip. :mrgreen:

  51. Investing in austrlia’s infrastructure would also assist productivity. apparently the ff has not been interested in investing this way, this article suggests gonski may look that way.
    if that is so, no wonder the govt looked outside the current board when looking for a new chair.
    (oh and by the way costello has written a trite piece today, a bit snippy perhaps?)

    “The fund’s return since inception in May 2006 has averaged 4.2 per cent a year. In calendar 2011, however, the return was down to just 1.6 per cent, and in the final six months of the year it was minus 3.1 per cent.

    Gonski could ask whether the push into alternative strategies and private equity should continue given the lower returns hedge funds have been posting since the crisis, and a possible0 longer wait for private equity paybacks post-crisis.

    An alternative would be to directly and indirectly invest more infrastructure and other utility assets with the aim of locking in lower, safer post-crisis returns. Australia certainly needs capital in that area, and the fund could be a leader: the board’s other new member, the Morgan Stanley Australia boss, Steve Harker, could assist the review.

    Read more:

  52. I have trouble understanding why the idea of a sovereign fund or putting money away for the future makes sense in a national economy.

    A government cannot really be broke. They raised the money to spend on behalf of the people from the people.

    A national budget is not the same as a household or business budget.

    To put money away for the future, as far as I can see as raising too much tax, or ignoring the needs of the people.

    I can see the value of putting any windfall increase from taxation in developing infrastructure for future prosperity and productivity.

    Raising money to paid for future planned outlays, such as pensions is a different matter.

    Money, as we know can lose value over night. The roads, rails and ports will still be there.

  53. Sue, I do not believe it is because of my move. There have been many signs lately that this is a important matter.

    We cannot let it waylaid by the conservatives, calling to bring WorkChoices back.

    It has been allowed to sleep since the Howard days. Mr. Costello left structural deficits, caused by lazy budgeting, for the future.

  54. Productivity isn’t everything, but in the long run it is almost everything. A country’s ability to improve its standard of living over time depends almost entirely on its ability to raise its output per worker.


    So it seems pretty important then. So important that it probably deserves to be treated with a bit more respect than it currently is by many in politics, business and the media – where it is now so widely used that quite often it becomes divorced from its actual meaning and refers to whatever the speaker or writer wants it to mean.

    Mr. Abbott claims he will rise productivity by his parental scheme and getting people off welfare. Wrong on both counts.

    A similar error occurs when talking of paid parental leave. The Liberal Party’s proposed plan is frequently linked in the media with productivity.

    Except when the Productivity Commission looked at Paid Parental Leave back in 2009, the one aspect it was very hedgy on was the gain in productivity. In fact it found that for many companies productivity would decline because during the parental leave a temporary worker would need to be brought in, who would most likely be less productive than the person on leave. One area it suggested there may be productivity increase in the long term is for the children of those parents who are able to take the leave, because of the positive effects of parent-child bonding in those first six months.

    When the Productivity Commission talked of productivity benefits of parental leave for companies it mainly discussed for individual companies that offered such leave compared to those who don’t – as the companies that do offer it are more likely to attract higher skilled women. But such benefits are largely removed if all companies
    have to have in place a paid parental leave scheme.

    Now this is not to suggest that a parental leave scheme or encouraging young people and older workers on welfare back to work is a bad thing. Far from it – they are actually excellent policy aims, but not because of increases in productivity – but rather because they will increase participation and output. But it goes to the mistake of politicians, business leaders (and often journalists) believing that productivity is everything. In the House of Representatives Committee Inquiry into raising the level of productivity growth in the Australian Economy in 2010 the Department of Treasury nicely explained this fallacy:

    Some people who are not currently in the labour force, if you brought them into the labour force, may be less productive than the current average worker. So, if you took a strict measure, you could say they may reduce labour productivity through reducing the average. That might be a nice technical point but it would be a pretty silly conclusion. Given that there are a range of disincentives for participation, removing those and improving overall workforce participation outcomes clearly enhances wellbeing overall.

  55. Do you think that Productivity in Customs and Postal services would include the illegal guns which Barry O’Farrell says aren’t being hauled in often enough – a bit like fish netted? Tony Abbott seems to think so. He decided to give boats a rest today in Question Time and got onto guns instead!

    Stop The Guns!

    His Coalition colleagues say
    Their party boss is ‘toujours gai’
    ‘So happy’ – if he can portray
    Himself armed for any affray
    With words like guns, shoot, ricochet.

    If Tony Abbott had his way
    He’d mix with armed men every day.
    Policemen in their blue and gray,
    Khaki clad soldiers far away,
    With lots of weapons on display.

    So why the passion for gun play?
    He wasn’t raised in the USA
    Where being armed has such cachet.
    No young, leftist hero held sway
    With him like martyr soldier, Che.

    But maybe he found Pinochet,
    Rightist gunman who saved Chile.
    Does he dream of his own ‘V’ day?
    Aussies shouting, “Tony!” “Hooray!”
    Cannons roaring! A band to play!

    But how can he hope for victory?
    He’s still in the 19th century
    With his ‘gun/boat’ mentality!

    Posted with illustration and notes at

  56. Yes. Patricia, it is about much more than taking the rights of workers away. In fact that would be a negative.

  57. Something one cannot quite put their finger on. I suggest that it is easily explained, the man is a fraud,

    Yesterday the opposition leader took another almighty kick into the heads of asylum seekers linking them illegal gun trade. Reffos with guns? Is that the link? No mention of Reffos with guns and heroin shipments? Still you had to laugh. I was wondering what he would use as reason to suspend standing orders this week and someone told me not to worry as he would find something and low and behold!

    I really don’t trust the leader of the opposition. There is something about him. Can’t put my finger on it. Maybe it was his ludicrous ‘stop the boats’ slogan. Or maybe it was ‘CO2 is weightless’. The leader of the opposition has never answered my twitter question to the #asktony hashtag. ‘What weighs more. A tonne of steel or a tonne of CO2′. I think he is consulting Howarths.

    Hunt cannot talk about Palmer’s challenge to the Constitution. Know why”, there is action pending.

    There is action pending. Is there? Does it mean that the likes of Palmer only have to say they are lodging a challenge and everyone has to shut up.

    I believe not.

    Hunt once again in reality telling lies. ABC 24 News Morning. Talking about a line that has been in rental contracts for years.

    Logic has certainly disappeared in present day Opposition politics.

  58. Clive Palmer would do better to take the carbon price’s message to heart and invest his enormous wealth in clean energy than to use it to challenge the laws in the High Court, the Australian Greens said today.

    “Mr Palmer is very fond of threatening law suits against people and ideas he doesn’t like, but he’d do better to look at the latest climate science and the news from China and India that they see solar soon outcompeting coal,” Australian Greens Deputy Leader, Senator Christine Milne, said.

    Irrespective of the debate about climate change, the Indians and the Chinese aren’t doing this for nothing…

  59. When we listen to Mr. Abbott and his aims to give autonomy to education and hospitals, we need to ask were the proof is. It simply does not exist. With health it is taking us back to the days of cottage hospitals. Once again back in the past.

    NSW has since 1888 has managed to run a quality education system, in spite of it being run from the Education Department. yes changes need to be made, but we should not be throwing the baby out with the bath water for the sake of ideology.

    The Opposition see the responsibility for the system to end with the handing out of vouchers.

    At the risk of sounding boring the problem is that local management really doesn’t make much difference to the school bottom line — the achievement of students. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development does say that local management of schools “tends to” be associated with high school-system performance — but this falls short of being a ringing endorsement.

    The OECD has not discovered any significant link between autonomy and student achievement in Australia. And no matter how you read our Australian student outcomes data, state-by-state, there are few differences that can be pinned down to whether schools are locally or more centrally managed. Even Ben Jensen from the Grattan Institute has struggled to find a link. We do know that principals of independent schools wax lyrical about autonomy, and that has driven some of the interest — but again the evidence is light.

    Good teaching and learning is what matters — and it can be found and improved in schools of any type in any system.

  60. MSSO Calls why the government recommended candidate …..

    I thought yesterday was beyond the pale. It appears I was wrong,

    shifty and shrill. Oh goodness me.

    The government was not told that Mr. Costello was the best man for the job. They were told that the board supported Mr. Costello.

    It is the responsibility’s to pick whom they believe to be the best. I am sure there are many more than Mr. Costello that meet the criteria.

  61. We have our wealth doubled etc. . Yes but it was over twelve years.
    Voice shriller than ever. Why does the man have to yell. There are microphones on.

  62. MPI, the obvious adverse impact of government action on small business.

    That little fat man get a chance to rave again. His name escapes me.

  63. I thought yesterdays sso was the most pathetic ever. Looks like the libs are going to lower the bar daily 😦

  64. Min, at least it was decided that there was a better one. Case doubly closed.

    Those figures are after twelve years and a mining boom. Maybe we we see them better if we had some of those rose coloured glasses, or maybe, as Mr. Carr said, we need to be hypnotised.

    I sure cannot remember it. I can remember the user pays policies and cut in government services very clearly.

  65. Tom R, it was shocking and the anger so great.

    The MPI is not much better. The Attorney General showed her worth.

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