So my favourite Prime Minister is back. Well, my second favourite after Paul Keating anyway. Kevin Rudd has come back from the wilderness and given Julia Gillard a swift kick up the bum. The only reason I like him is because he got rid of John Howard and his increasingly UK Tory style of government i.e. promoting low wages and reducing workers’ right to stick up for themselves.
Having lived in the UK from 1996 until 1998 I got to experience the inequity in the employment market there. At first I worked for £5 per hour on a 48 hour week. After tax and rent I’d have £120 a week to entertain myself with. A pack of smokes was £3.00, a pint of beer was £2.30 and good food was pricey. I was paid well! Warehouse workers and cleaners got £2.60 per hour. In London I do not know how these people lived unless they had a second job selling drugs or robbing liquor stores (known as off-licence shops, or offies).
In 2006 when Workchoices was introduced I could see the UK/US style of employment beginning to take hold. Workers being forced to become independent contractors and being tied to their ex-employer, unable to be true independent contractors. One of my good friend’s had his salary nearly halved from $75 000 to $42 000, it nearly destroyed his marriage, he lost his house and couldn’t pay school costs for his 3 children. Like most fair minded people in Australia, I didn’t like seeing the little person being kicked in the shins. What I really despised was a government legislating to allow people to be kicked in the shins.
6 years on and things are going well in Australia. People are relatively well off. There is reward for effort. There is the ability for everyone to get ahead if they be imaginative, motivated and financially prudent.
I am scared that the next conservative Australian government will carry on from where John Howard left off. Tories are ‘lowest common denominator’ politicians. They want the lower end of society to feed the wealth of the top end. Australians don’t want that…or do they actually care anymore?
Demographics may be the ruler of our future though. As the Baby Boomers start retiring en masse, they are going to demand cheaper cost of living. The Boomers get what they want. They got educated for free, got cheap housing, subsidised industry to help build their wealth – now the rest of us are going to pay for their retirement with low wages and no rights in the workplace.
Hopefully I’m wrong, but I don’t think I will be for some reason.