Is our $921 billion capital investment project pipeline real or is it a pipe dream in our purportedly high-cost, low-productivity nation? A new report from the Business Council of Australia requests a conversation about a workplace relations system that:
(i) meets the changing nature of the economy
(ii) meets the changing nature of the workforce with more people participating, more people wanting to work part-time, more women working, older people wanting to stay in the workforce.
A Cost To All
In the long run we all bear the cost of multiple planning approvals, labour shortages and basics like childcare.
PLANNING APPROVALS: Currently there are:
- multiple approvals between the Commonwealth and the states
- at a state level multiple agencies dealing with planning consent – in some states 10, 15 agencies giving a planning consent, thousands of conditions
COAG has now agreed to streamline these approvals.
LABOUR SHORTAGES AND PRODUCTIVITY LEVELS: Labour shortages add to costs, and, it’s estimated that work that takes one hour in the US takes 1.35 hours here. The BCA Report asks that the Productivity Commission work out what’s driving our very high project costs – looking at all aspects, including labour productivity.
PARTICIPATION AND CHILDCARE AFFORDABILITY: The issue of participation is huge – particularly for women and for long-term unemployed people – the more people participating, the higher our living standards, the stronger our economy. Affordable childcare is part of this issue. Both sides of politics have been slow to act on this.
Heinz Leaves – Vic Food Bowl Communities Fight Back
In May 2011, Heinz Australia announced ‘productivity initiatives to accelerate future growth’.
This meant it was shifting production from plants in Girgarre, Brisbane and Wagga Wagga to New Zealand – 344 jobs would disappear, including all 146 positions at Girgarre, which would affect 600 in the Goulburn Valley.
- Brought together expertise across the whole ‘paddock to plate’ food chain
- Developed new food products based on consumer demand for local produce
- Found a site for a new factory in Kyabram (20 km from Girgarre)
- Organised the finances to get this started and is now seeking additional support so that it can be producing Australian Grown food products within the next 12 months
Co-Ops Cope Better With Droughts, Floods, Financial Crises
“The co-op is there for that regional economy..
It’s not upping sticks and going offshore and getting out of town, like Heinz has done recently in Girgarre because it just didn’t fit the profit model that the shareholders wanted to maximise their return in that circumstance.”
The ACTU, at its recent Congress, approved a resolution backing the ‘empowerment model’ of social enterprise – in the form of union backed cooperative ventures.
Conversation all around sounds good – collaboration not confrontation