The Howard government’s industrial relations agenda is supposedly about job-creation, as if the cost of labour — including wages and salaries, penalty rates and other perks, and the difficulty of reversing bad hiring decisions — were the last remaining barrier to full employment.
Sorry that we have to state the bleeding obvious, but:
- Jobs cannot be created unless the employer can pay the rent or mortgage on the business premises out of the proceeds of the business; and
- Jobs cannot be created unless the workers can pay the rent or mortgage on housing within commuting distance of those jobs, out of wages that the employer can pay out of the proceeds of the business.
So, if job-creation is the aim, why is the Government so concerned about the cost of labour and so unconcerned about the cost of accommodation? Why is it bad news when wages blow out, but good news when housing prices blow out? Why is the Government willing to force down labour costs by freeing up the supply of labour — e.g. by requiring more disabled people to seek work — but not willing to force down accommodation costs by freeing up the supply of accommodation — e.g. by taxing vacant land so that the owners have to build on it, and taxing unoccupied premises so that the owners have to seek buyers or tenants?
The only possible explanation is that the unearned profits of property speculators are considered more important than the earned wages of workers. In other words, the property market is privileged while the labour market is not.