Young people will be guaranteed a job, secure income, and free education under a new Greens recovery plan to restart the economy and build ‘a better normal’ after the coronavirus economic shock.
The vision for a debt-financed recovery reaffirms the government’s role in responding to the crisis, and rejects the austerity approaches offered by the Liberal and Labor parties, charting a course for a government-led recovery that extends Australia’s world-class social services, instead of slashing funding for education, healthcare, and the environment.
The Invest to Recover plan is part of the Green New Deal approach announced by Greens Leader Adam Bandt earlier in the year. Key elements of the plan will:
- create 870,000 jobs in the private and public sectors through projects that will build new energy infrastructure, 500,000 new public and community homes, expand TAFE and universities, save the arts and creative sectors, expand the care-based sectors and restore axed public service jobs;
- renew and reshape the economy with $60bn in government support to revive manufacturing and grow new processing, manufacturing and pharmaceutical jobs in these industries that have been neglected or decimated in the era of Liberal/Labor free trade agreements, mining booms & neoliberal industry policy;
- get Australia running on 100% renewable energy with $59bn investment in sustainable infrastructure
- guarantee everyone under 30 either a free place at uni or TAFE, an apprenticeship or traineeship, or a secure job working on nation building, planet saving projects that will build our nation, restore our environment, and help care for Australians;
- save Australia’s hard-hit arts, entertainment and creative industry with a $2.3bn Create Australia recovery package, that will put artists in every school and library in the country, and directly fund festivals, films and live performances;
- establish a $6.7bn Nature Fund to clean up our natural environment and create 13,000 jobs.
Through the Next Gen Guarantee, the plan lays the groundwork to ensure young people are supported through the crisis with jobs, education and income. History shows recessions disproportionately affect young people, with under-employment remaining persistently higher for years, even as the general population recovers. With the first post-corona crisis ABS data showing nearly 4 in 10 young people now without a job or enough hours of work, a youth-focused jobs plan is essential to avoid a lost generation.
Learning from the success of post-war recovery efforts, a debt-funded Invest to Recover plan is needed because austerity will worsen existing economic inequality and set back economic recovery efforts.
The plan also borrows from the successful ‘New Deal’ programs of the 1930s in the US and post-depression initiatives in Australia, which delivered long-lasting benefits to the respective countries, such as the National Parks system in the US and Australia’s beachside pools, which are still used to this day.
The plan calls for the current JobSeeker rate of $1115 per fortnight to be retained and by blocking any attempts to halve the payment, it ensures no Australian would be forced below the poverty line.
The ongoing job and social programs will be funded by measures such as winding back unsustainable tax breaks to the fossil fuel sector and not proceeding with Stages 2 and 3 of income tax cuts, with the balance of the investments to be debt-funded. The cost of the jobs guarantee would reduce as private sector jobs growth picks up.
The additional debt required to support the recovery plan is not only affordable, but a good investment in our nation’s future. With current net debt estimated to be around 29%, the Greens estimate that by borrowing to fund these investments over the next 10 year period, net debt would remain below 44%, well below the post-corona OECD average of around 95%. The Federal Government committed to spend over $200b in about six months as part of its coronavirus response; under the ‘Invest to Recover’ plan, net debt would increase by about $250-300b, spread over a 10 year period, to be subsequently repaid through a stronger economy. By way of further comparison, gross debt in Australia peaked after WWII at around 120%, but was back at previous levels in a decade because the money was invested in rebuilding.
Quotes attributable to Greens Leader Adam Bandt:
“Government must lead the way out of this crisis by investing in our future.”
“Coronavirus is smashing into an economy already hit hard by inequality and the climate emergency, presenting us with the biggest economic crisis our country has ever seen.”
“Depression-era job numbers demand a Depression-era response. That means not shying away from debt, but using it to invest in building a cleaner, fairer Australia.”
“We can’t cut our way out of this crisis. The government and big corporations are calling for more cuts - to company taxes, to public spending, to workers’ rights - but that is a recipe for disaster. We must invest to recover.”
“The economy is not in hibernation, it is in an induced coma, and a lot more support and rehabilitation will be needed to get the patient walking again. More rounds of government investment will be needed to avoid a lost generation of young people who now face joblessness, debt and the climate emergency.”
“Our Jobs and Income Guarantee offers people security and decent work while setting Australia up for the future.”
“Young people have been smashed by the corona crisis. If we don’t offer every young person a job, a study place or a decent income, we risk creating a lost generation.”
“Without public investment now, young people at the start of their working lives will be consigned to years of unemployment or lower wages, something that could damage them for life. People starting their careers now will be $35,000 worse off than their peers and without substantial action, they’ll only get left further behind.”
“We can’t leave young people the burden of dealing with the coronavirus and the climate crisis as well. Under the Greens’ plan, every young person who wants a decent job or a free study place will be given one or they’ll get income support they can actually live on. Young people will be key to getting this country back on its feet.”
“Our ‘Invest to Recover’ plan will jump-start the economy with green investment, grow new industries and create hundreds of thousands of high paid jobs, but until the private sector picks up again, government will also act as a ‘safety-net’ employer by guaranteeing young people decent jobs on nation-building projects that tackle the climate and inequality crises and make Australia a more creative and caring place.”
“If you don’t like the coronavirus, you’re going to hate the climate crisis. The climate crisis still looms and will result in decades of corona-style restrictions and deprivation unless we act right now.”
“Our recovery plan doesn’t simply get us ‘back to normal’, it builds a better normal. The Green New Deal puts people at the centre of the recovery effort, stops people falling through the cracks and reshapes an economy that works for people.”
“After WWII, Australia had record high debt of 120% of GDP, but it only took a decade to get back to normal levels because the money was invested in rebuilding. We won’t need to borrow anywhere near as much to invest our way out of this downturn, tackle the climate emergency and make Australia more equal.”
Quotes attributable to Greens Environment Spokesperson Senator Sarah Hanson-Young:
"From the bushfires to yearning to reconnect with nature after the COVID lockdown, Australian’s are concerned about our environment more than ever before.
“The Greens plan for getting young people into jobs that rehabilitate bushfire devastated areas, protect native wildlife and restore our iconic rivers is a win win. It’s good for the economy, it tackles youth unemployment and its good for our environment."
Quotes attributable to Greens Community Services Spokesperson Senator Rachel Siewert:
"We need to make sure we are looking after people as we come out of this pandemic, I can’t see how anybody can think that it is okay to return the Jobseeker Payment to the old rate of $40 a day which will condemn unemployed Australians to poverty and will act as a barrier to employment.
“We can and should choose to support people who are not in work, particularly when we know very well that we are in an economic downturn and it will be difficult for many people to find work That is why we need to keep the rate of Jobseeker for good.”
Quotes attributable to Greens Industry Spokesperson Senator Mehreen Faruqi:
“We have to invest now to rebuild Australian manufacturing. This will create decent well-paid jobs, ensure economic resilience and centre environmental sustainability. Embracing this future will go hand in hand with reviving our public TAFEs which have been decimated.
“High-quality, well-funded and fee-free higher education will be critical to delivering a Green New Deal. The research, training and skills fundamental to this fair and just future can only happen through universal access to university and TAFE."
Quotes attributable to Greens Spokesperson for Women Senator Larissa Waters:
“The gender inequalities in the Australian jobs market have been turbo-charged by the COVID crisis and the Government’s lack of specific focus on supporting women to remain in employment.
“Now more than ever the women of Australia need the gender pay gap closed, free childcare retained, valuing of the unpaid care work they disproportionately perform, and better pay for workers in feminised industries - many of whom have kept us safe during COVID."