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Roadblocks in Australia’s Inevitable Energy Transition

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 27/10/2020 - 6:00am in

Australia is currently undergoing what is acknowledged to be the fastest energy transition in the world. In the face of this rapid and uncertain transformational change, the federal government is pushing for a ‘gas-led recovery’ and a Technology Investment Roadmap that explicitly excludes support for solar and wind energy under the guise of a technology-agnostic approach. This brief piece discusses the Australian government’s energy policy and its role in impeding the inevitable transition to a fossil fuel free economy.

The impending retirement of coal

Wind and solar energy are currently the cheapest form of new energy generation, set to increasingly dominate national energy consumption as Australia’s ageing coal-fired generators retire. The challenge now lies in integrating increasing amounts of renewables into a power system traditionally built around the location of coal-fired generators, and electrifying heavy industry and transport.

The Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) – whose ownership is shared between government and industry – recently released its 2020 Integrated System Plan (ISP), a biennial 20-year blueprint to navigate the transformation occurring in Australia’s main grid, the National Electricity Market. It modelled five different scenarios, from slow to fast paced energy transitions.

Under the fastest scenario with high political, consumer and commercial motivation, renewable energy could account for 94.2% of total national energy consumption by 2040. In the business-as-usual scenario governed by current government policy, this proportion could still reach 74%.

What’s the target?

Despite the increasing uptake of renewable generation, the federal government has resisted setting any new targets outside of its unambitious commitment under the Paris Agreement to reduce emissions to 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2030. Furthermore, the achievement of the national Renewable Energy Target last year remains underwhelming given the government’s reduction of the target from 41,000 gigawatt hours (GWh) to 33,000 GWh of renewable generation by 2020.

State or territory
Renewable target
Net zero target

Australian Capital Territory
100% by 2020
By 2045

Tasmania
200% by 2040
By 2050

South Australia
100% by 2030
By 2050

Victoria
50% by 2030
By 2050

Western Australia

By 2050

New South Wales

By 2050

Northern Territory
50% by 2030
By 2050

Queensland
50% by 2030
By 2050

 

States and territories have largely taken the lead in setting renewable generation and net zero greenhouse gas emissions targets. Renewable targets coupled with net zero targets are an important and increasingly uncontroversial policy tool, yet it is critical they do not eventuate in ‘target techno-speak’ disguised as ambitious policy allowing for increased renewables without the explicit phasing out of fossil fuels.

In the absence of any national renewable or net zero targets, the federal government’s main climate strategy, the $18 billion Technology Investment Roadmap, has been described as a “roadmap to nowhere”. The five shortlisted technologies to be invested in over the next decade include carbon capture and storage (CCS) which is widely considered an unviable technology, and ‘clean’ hydrogen primarily produced from gas or coal gasification supplemented with CCS as opposed to ‘renewable’ hydrogen produced from renewable energy.


Source: Clean Energy Council, 2020, Clean Energy Australia Report

Gas is the new coal

In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government has committed to a gas-led recovery. Gas is a fossil fuel whose emissions in 2018-19 were equivalent to 49% of total on-grid electricity emissions. This figure only accounts for gas extraction, processing, pipelines and use by industrial facilities, and is likely to be much higher when including gas-fired power stations and gas used in mining operations and in households. Replacing coal with gas is a marginal form of climate policy inconsistent with the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C  above pre-industrial levels.

The Prime Minister recently made a suite of announcements in what he dubbed ‘energy week’, including plans to develop five major gas basins across the country to feed a new Australian Gas Hub in Queensland. The federal government justifies the need for new gas as a source of dispatchable energy to replace the traditional baseload energy – continuous and steady generation – that will be lost from retiring coal-fired generators.

While existing gas plants currently provide significant dispatchable support, AEMO’s ISP features a continuous reduction in gas generation and no need for new gas plants as the federal government claims. The ISP outlines that 63% of Australia’s coal-fired generation with a collective baseload capacity of 15 GW will retire by 2040. 26 GW of new grid-scale renewable generation – variable energy dependent on variable weather conditions – will be needed. 6-19 GW of new dispatchable generation – controllable energy that can be dispatched on demand – will be required to support the transition from a traditionally baseload energy-dominated to modern variable energy-dominated power system.

Gas vs clean dispatchable solutions

The 6-19 GW of new dispatchable generation referred to in the ISP includes batteries, pumped hydro, virtual power plants and demand side participation. AEMO suggests that new gas generation will only play a role if gas prices range between $4-6 per gigajoule (GJ) which is unlikely as domestic prices have been sky rocketing, ranging between $8-11 per GJ earlier this year. Meanwhile, the cost of batteries – a source of clean dispatchable energy – have been falling. The ISP’s findings satisfy the mainstream pursuit for a least-cost transition pathway (as opposed to a least-polluting transition pathway), and nonetheless the federal government has selected a high-cost, high-polluting pathway in its push for new gas.

Before becoming Prime Minister, Scott Morrison mocked Tesla’s plans to build what was until recently the world’s biggest battery in South Australia, likening the Big Battery to the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour. The Big Battery demonstrated its distinct usefulness just weeks after its connection to the grid after responding within a fraction of a second to the tripping of a 560 megawatt (MW) coal-fired generator in Victoria with no warning in 2017.

The Prime Minister’s preference for new gas over new batteries was further solidifed during ‘energy week’ when he announced that the government owned utility Snowy Hydro would build a 1 GW gas plant in the Hunter Valley to replace the retiring Liddell coal power station if the private sector did not commit equivalent dispatchable energy by April next year.

This sent a confusing signal to the market as AEMO had not identified a 1 GW capacity gap. The owner of the coal-fired generator, AGL, had already committed to replacing Liddell’s capacity largely with new battery storage. This decision, by a company once known as Australian Gas Light, demonstrates the growing preference for new batteries over new gas. One week after the initial announcement the Prime Minister revised the 1,000 MW threat to 250 MW which AEMO still has not identified as needed.

This created even more confusion in an already discouraged industry with a threat hanging over its head, prompting Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes to announce his willingness to meet the challenge if the government would clarify its ask of industry before hastily building a gas plant to be locked in for 40 years. This is yet another instance where billionaires such as Elon Musk and Mike Cannon-Brookes have been compelled to step in with clean solutions.

The energy transition is inevitable

The federal government has claimed a technology-agnostic approach to the energy transition, while taking advice to pursue a gas-led recovery from a National Covid Coordination Commission consisting of hand-picked members with strong links to the gas industry. The Prime Minister’s insistence on a ‘non-ideological’ approach to energy policy rests on a history of taking a lump of coal into parliament and comparing Big Batteries to Big Bananas.

In the face of confusing and unambitious national climate politics, Australia is currently undergoing what has been labelled the fastest energy transition in the world. Early and long-term planning is urgently needed to support the retirement of coal-fired generation over the next 10-20 years, the electrification of industries and transport, and the phasing out of fossil fuels.

The energy transition is inevitable. The government can either choose to speed it up or slow it down depending on whether it chooses to support energy sources that have a long-term future in the transition to a fossil fuel free economy.

The post Roadblocks in Australia’s Inevitable Energy Transition appeared first on Progress in Political Economy (PPE).

MMT Critique By Palley

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 22/10/2020 - 7:07am in

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Blog, MMT

Just a couple points. 
Thomas Palley has written (yet another) MMT critique; with comments by Ramanan here. The Mike Norman Economics site has a link, with comments there. I am looking at other things right now, and I only scanned the summary. My feeling is that it revolves around political economy issues that I am not particularly concerned with. (I am currently letting my manuscript rest, will go over it again shortly, and see whether it is worthwhile adding this Palley critique to the list of critiques.)
My current interest is that I am looking at the replication code for the calculation of r* (New York Fed website). Not sure when I will be able to comment on that.

Bolivia and the thesis that the Pink Tide is over

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 20/10/2020 - 11:02am in

Some two years ago I was invited to contribute to a volume on Latin American Extractivism that Steve Ellner has edited and is about to come out. In my contribution I set to explain why resource nationalism receives mass support as the engine of development projects in Latin American countries ‒ a question that, unfortunately, has been often neglected or misrepresented in academic debates on extractivism. In pursuing my goal I undertook a critique of theoretical preconceptions that have so far set extremely rigid boundaries to debates on resource nationalism ‒ thus precluding an adequate explanation of this phenomenon. While working on that critique I grew more and more convinced that some of those same preconceptions have pervaded (and conditioned) broader assessments of Latin American politics over the past two decades. Eventually, in that chapter I argue that the political assessments of the Pink Tide have been often distorted by the same analytical preconceptions that set boundaries to debates on resource nationalism.

I am writing this as I read reports on the electoral results of the Bolivian election. I believe this is a good opportunity to give more scaffolding to an argument that I have outlined in previous posts in the PPE blog, and which I presented in more depth and with more context in the chapter I contribute to Ellner’s new edited book. Here is a simplified excerpt of the section of that chapter that identifies the roots of the analytical limitations in the Pink-Tide-is-Over thesis:

As 2019 dawned, the thesis that presents Latin America’s Pink Tide as a vanished movement had few opponents. The factual pillars that sustained that thesis were seemingly robust: since 2015, rightist forces had secured a succession of electoral victories in several Latin American countries. Analysts diverged in the interpretation of the factors that had led to that scenario, but for those who supported the thesis the interpretative corollary was unquestionable: those right-wing victories had changed the orientation of governance in the continent, removing any shades of red from it.

However, the thesis was grounded in questionable premises. From the outset, its advocates failed to recognize and characterize the social forces that sustain and support Pink Tide governmental orientations. They minimized or ignored the mass support that these policy orientations received—orientations that were made possible through the adoption of resource nationalist principles. Electoral support was sustained over time and remarkably strong even when it did not amount to absolute majorities. Several Pink Tide governments completed successive terms backed by significant majorities, while the electoral victories of rightist candidates were obtained by very narrow margins. Beyond elections, expressions of support have included mass mobilizations in support of sovereignty, against parliamentary coups, and against neoliberal governments. These were already evident in 2015, but became even more prominent during 2019.

Proponents of the Pink-Tide-is-over-is-Over thesis (PTIO thesis, from now on) never granted much importance to evidence that countered their contentions. For instance, Venezuela and Bolivia, countries that remained identified with the more radical currents of the Pink Tide, were still in 2019 led by governments with post-neoliberal orientations and committed to supporting the structures of regional integration that had become another distinctive trait of the Pink Tide. But for advocates of the thesis those cases did not amount to much. Bolivia could be presented as an exception and, furthermore, lacked the financial muscle and the international projection that Venezuela had enjoyed under the governments of Hugo Chávez at the peak of the Pink Tide. In addition, a variety of political commentators, particularly from conservative outlets, predicted a defeat of Evo Morales in the presidential elections due later in the year. In short, Bolivia could soon lose its status of exception and therefore, in the view of its advocates, the PTIO thesis would be reinforced.

As for Venezuela, its profound economic crisis was used as evidence for the idea. By 2019 the country was an easy target for critics of post-neoliberal economic orientations. Maduro’s government could not flag the positive indicators of socioeconomic development that had previously illustrated the success of Pink Tide orientations. In addition, Maduro’s support base seemed to be weakening—an appreciation that was widespread even among commentators who nonetheless identified the self-proclaimed “interim” presidency of Juan Guaidó (launched in those days) as part of a United States–supported plan to destabilize Maduro’s government and facilitate an international blockade of it.

Beyond the cases of Bolivia and Venezuela, the PTIO thesis proved impermeable to other sources of evidence that weakened its validity. The turbid circumstances under which some rightist candidates had won elections were never taken into account when it came to testing the substance of the thesis (the background of Bolsonaro’s victory in Brazil was one instance). The instability of the governments that implanted orthodox neoliberal agendas after defeating left-leaning candidates seemed not to affect the acceptance of the thesis, either. Macri’s government in Argentina illustrates this case: it was incapable of gaining popular support or economic stabilization, as the negotiations with the International Monetary Fund in 2018 came to demonstrate.

However, as 2019 went on, the PTIO thesis seemed to generate less firm adherents. Halfway through the year it became more common to hear commentators referring to Latin America as “a continent in dispute”. The conceptual shift that took place during 2019 was an indirect recognition that the certification of the Pink Tide as defunct had been a precipitous act.

A succession of political events obliged commentators to reconsider their assessment of the political scenario in the continent. In October, Alberto Fernández won the Argentine presidential election at the head of a left-leaning platform (Frente de Todos) strongly associated with the legacy of Pink Tide governments—indeed, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was a key figure in the formula that facilitated the victory of the Frente de Todos candidate. Elsewhere, rightist governments faced the results of their sustained failure to combine economic growth with social inclusion. Furious protests exploded in Chile, bringing Piñera’s government, an active promoter of an anti–Pink Tide agenda through both rhetoric and foreign policy, to the verge of collapse. In Colombia, a national strike revealed the depth of accumulated discontent with governments that had shown an incapacity to reduce marked inequality levels even under favorable macroeconomic conditions—gross domestic product growth of 3.7 percent between 2010 and 2018 and a four-point decline of the Gini coefficient. President Iván Duque, openly supportive of a United States–backed international agenda in the continent (including the sanctions on Venezuela), had to backtrack on some of his proposals for neoliberal economic reform, among them pension reform that incidentally replicated key aspects of the “Chilean model,” with privately owned funds administering the system.

Finally, the 2019 presidential election in Bolivia provided yet another instance of a political phenomenon that had been granted little importance by proponents of the thesis that the Pink Tide is over: rightist forces unable to defeat consolidated leftist candidates at the ballot box pave their way to government through parliamentary maneuvers (often called “parliamentary coups”), “lawfare” strategies, and/or direct military interventions. Seizing power for these forces seems to depend on neutralizing electorally legitimized leftist leaders. The case of Morales in 2019 epitomized this phenomenon: he won the election but was eventually forced to leave the country by an elite-led rebellion backed by commanding sectors of the army. It replicated the cases of other Pink Tide leftist leaders who were prevented from completing their terms or from competing in the electoral arena.

In Brazil, Lula da Silva’s controversial conviction for corruption prevented him from competing electorally with the rightist Bolsonaro, who furthermore emerged as a national figure only in a scenario of institutional crisis marked by the ousting of President Dilma Rousseff (like Lula a leader of Partido dos Trabalhadores) through a questionable parliamentary impeachment in 2016. In Paraguay, Fernando Lugo had been subjected to a similar process four years earlier (ominously, Lugo’s impeachment was in its day labeled a “coup” by Rousseff, among other Latin American leaders). The Honduran President Manuel Zelaya (2006–2009) was also ousted from office through a military-backed coup, cutting short a term that included some pro-poor policies and sought to incorporate the country into the new Latin American regionalism that emerged with the Pink Tide. Most recently (April 2020), amidst increasing signs that he could return to play a direct active role in the Ecuadorian political arena, Rafael Correa, president for 10 years (2007–2017), was convicted of corruption after a controversial trial that would ban him from holding political office for more than two decades.

In sum, 2019 provided instances of three types of evidence that weaken the thesis that the Pink Tide is over: electoral victories of pro-leftist candidates associated with the Pink Tide kept occurring (e.g., Argentina, Bolivia); right-wing politicians reached government by sidestepping direct electoral competition with qualified leftist counterparts (e.g., Bolivia); and mass extrainstitutional collective action took place on the streets of countries with right-leaning governments, mobilizing demands for socioeconomic enfranchisement (e.g., Chile, Colombia). These diverse types of evidence are interconnected by a common factor: they all reveal the existence of mass social forces that, channeled through different streams of collective action (electoral politics, extrainstitutional mobilization), support the governmental orientations that characterize the Pink Tide and oppose neoliberal governance. This evidence revealed the inadequacy of the PTIO thesis’s premises, which were always impervious to the signs of the social forces that Pink Tide governmental orientations helped to crystallize, with resource nationalism as one of their drivers.

The post Bolivia and the thesis that the Pink Tide is over appeared first on Progress in Political Economy (PPE).

Longlist For The 2020 Australian International Political Economy Network (AIPEN) Journal Article Prize

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 19/10/2020 - 9:10am in

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The selection committee for the Australian International Political Economy Network (AIPEN) Richard Higgott Journal Article Prize is pleased to announce the articles nominated by AIPEN members for the longlist for the 2020 prize.

The prize will be awarded to the best article published in 2019 (online early or in print) in international political economy (IPE) by an Australia-based scholar.

The prize defines IPE in a pluralist sense to include the political economy of security, geography, literature, sociology, anthropology, post-coloniality, gender, finance, trade, regional studies, development and economic theory, in ways that can span concerns for in/security, poverty, inequality, sustainability, exploitation, deprivation and discrimination.

The overall prize winner will be decided by the selection committee, which this year consists of Sara Motta (University of Newcastle), Susan Park (University of Sydney), Gareth Bryant (University of Sydney), John Mikler (University of Sydney), Wesley Widmaier (Australian National University), Samanthi Gunawardana (Monash University) and Maria Tanyag (Australian National University).

Before that decision can be made, we now require AIPEN members to vote on the longlist to establish the final shortlist of four articles for deliberation.

Voting is being conducted online through Election Buddy and is open to all members of the AIPEN e-list. Voting is open from 9am on Monday 19 October and closes 5pm on Friday 30 October (AEDT).

Existing members should have received an email to the address they use to subscribe to the AIPEN e-list with instructions on how to vote.

Voting is also open to new subscribers to the AIPEN e-list. To subscribe, visit https://lists.murdoch.edu.au/mailman/listinfo/aipen. Once you have subscribed you will soon be added to the voter list and will receive an email with voting instructions.

If you have any questions about the voting process or have not received your email with voting instructions, please contact Gareth Bryant: gareth.bryant@sydney.edu.au

The 2020 longlist for The Australian International Political Economy Network (AIPEN) Richard Higgott Journal Article Prize is as follows:

  1. Lisa Adkins, Melinda Cooper and Martijn Konings (2019) Class in the 21st century: Asset inflation and the new logic of inequality. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space. Online early.
  2. Stephen Bell and Hui Feng (2019) Rethinking critical juncture analysis: institutional change in Chinese banking and finance. Review of International Political Economy. Online early.
  3. Bieler A, Jordan J and Adam David Morton (2019) EU Aggregate Demand As a Way out of Crisis? Engaging the Post-Keynesian Critique. JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies 57(4): 805–822.
  4. Tom Chodor (2019) The rise and fall and rise of the trans-pacific partnership: 21st century trade politics through a new constitutionalist lens, Review of International Political Economy, 26(2): 232-255.
  5. Shahar Hameiri (2020) Institutionalism beyond methodological nationalism? The new interdependence approach and the limits of historical institutionalism. Review of International Political Economy 27(3): 637–657.
  6. Sung-Young Kim (2019) Hybridized industrial ecosystems and the makings of a new developmental infrastructure in East Asia’s green energy sector. Review of International Political Economy 26(1): 158–182.
  7. Tiffany Morrison, Adger WN, Brown K, Lemos MC, Huitemade D, Phelps J, Evans, Cohen P, Song AM, Turner, R, Quinn T, Hughes TP (2019) The black box of power in polycentric environmental governance. Global Environmental Change 57(July).
  8. Freya Newman and Elizabeth Humphrys (2020) Construction Workers in a Climate Precarious World. Critical Sociology 46(4–5): 557–572.
  9. Claire Parfitt (2020) ESG Integration Treats Ethics as Risk, but Whose Ethics and Whose Risk? Responsible Investment in the Context of Precarity and Risk-Shifting. Critical Sociology 46(4–5): 573–587.
  10. Matthew DJ Ryan (2019) Interrogating ‘authoritarian neoliberalism’: The problem of periodization. Competition & Change 23(2): 116–137.
  11. Riki Scanlan (2019) Capital accumulation, urban planning, and the greater Sydney commission. Journal of Australian Political Economy (83): 115-139
  12. Jeffrey D Wilson (2019) The evolution of China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank: from a revisionist to status-seeking agenda. International Relations of the Asia-Pacific 19(1): 147–176.

Past Awardees

2019 Linda Weiss and Elizabeth Thurbon, “Power Paradox: How the Extension of US Infrastructural Power Abroad Diminishes State Capacity at Home.” Review of International Political Economy 25:6 (2018).

2018 Maria Tanyag, ‘Invisible Labor, Invisible Bodies: How the Global Political Economy Affects Reproductive Freedom in the Philippines’, International Feminist Journal of Politics, 19:1 (2017).

2017 Samanthi J. Gunawardana, ‘“To Finish, We Must Finish”: Everyday Practices of Depletion in Sri Lankan Export-Processing Zones”, Globalizations, 13:6 (2016).

2016 Gareth Bryant, Siddhartha Dabhi and Steffen Böhm, ‘“Fixing” the Climate Crisis: Capital, States and Carbon Offsetting in India’, Environment and Planning A, 47:10 (2015).

2015 Ainsley Elbra, ‘Interests Need Not be Pursued If They Can be Created: Private Governance in African Gold Mining’, Business and Politics, 16:2 (2014).

Image: Map of massacres of Australian First Nations people in the frontier wars. Judy Watson, Angus Hooper, Jonathan Richards, Greg Hooper, ‘The Names of Places‘.

The post Longlist For The 2020 Australian International Political Economy Network (AIPEN) Journal Article Prize appeared first on Progress in Political Economy (PPE).

Associate Lecturer / Lecturer (Education-Focused) in Political Economy, University of Sydney

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 16/10/2020 - 5:24pm in
  • Opportunity to contribute to outstanding teaching and learning outcomes in political economy
  • Located on the Camperdown Campus
  • Full-time Level A or B, fixed term 2 years with a base salary of $76K – $128K p.a., plus leave loading and a generous employer’s contribution to superannuation

About the opportunity 

This position is an education focused role within the School of Social & Political Sciences Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Sydney. Education-focused is a specialised category of academic engagement reserved for talented educators with a passion for, and demonstrated excellence in, pedagogical practice and design. An Associate Lecturer (Education-focused) contributes to the teaching and learning efforts within a School/ Faculty while working with the support and guidance of more senior academic staff to develop their education proficiency. A Lecturer (Education-focused) is expected to make a significant contribution to teaching and learning practice, design and evaluation within the School/Faculty and will be on a trajectory towards leadership in educational design and delivery. Both levels are expected to dedicate the majority of their contribution to teaching (up to 70% – or 80% by mutual agreement – of their academic workload allocation).

The Department of Political Economy focuses on the links between the economy, society and political interests. It deals with important challenges such as economic instability and uneven development, employment and inequitable income distribution, the globalisation of economic activity, and environmental sustainability.

About you

The University values courage and creativity; openness and engagement; inclusion and diversity; and respect and integrity. As such, we see the importance of recruiting talent aligned to these values and are looking for an Associate Lecturer (Education-focused) in Political Economy (Level A) who possesses:

  • a relevant higher degree in political economy or cognate social science (or four years of tertiary study or equivalent qualifications and experience) as determined by the Discipline;
  • experience in conducting original research and/or engaging in scholarly activity in political economy;
  • experience in teaching and learning in political economy, as evidenced by participation in team teaching and teaching in a variety of settings;
  • demonstrated understanding of the subject-matter within the discipline of political economy, and
  • a developing knowledge and understanding of contemporary pedagogical practice and design.

In addition, if applying for the Lecturer (Education-Focused) in Political Economy (Level B) position, we are seeking a candidate who possesses:

  • a PhD in political economy or cognate social science or other higher professional qualifications appropriate to the discipline;
  • a proven ability, commitment and passion for engaging in scholarly activities in political economy to inform innovative pedagogical practice;
  • deep and broad experience in teaching and learning in a tertiary environment, as evidenced by participation in team teaching within an established program and experience in teaching in a variety of settings;
  • demonstrated success in designing, implementing and evaluating teaching and learning initiatives in political economy or cognate discipline;
  • a developing network of relationships with key academic, industry and professional institutions, partners and stakeholders;
  • experience in supervising or mentoring others and/or coordinating team activities, and
  • demonstrated capacity to stimulate, actively engage and educate an audience using a range of media.

About us

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences is consistently ranked among the leading faculties of its kind, nationally and internationally.  Its mission is to conduct research and teaching across the breadth of the humanities and social sciences to make a difference in the lives of its students, staff and the broader community. It is made up of 6 cognate schools and offers a diverse curriculum at undergraduate and postgraduate level. The Faculty comprises over 600 academic staff and 13,000 students; its senior executives include the Dean, 6 Heads of School and Associate Deans.

The School of Social and Political Sciences (SSPS) is composed of the departments of Anthropology, Government and International Relations, Peace and Conflict Studies, Political Economy, and Sociology and Social Policy. It offers innovative degrees at undergraduate and postgraduate levels that attract the very best students from Australia and overseas. SSPS is the focus for the strategic development of the social sciences at Sydney with a view to us becoming Australia’s leading center for research and teaching in the area.

Since our inception 160 years ago, the University of Sydney has led to improve the world around us. We believe in education for all and that effective leadership makes lives better. These same values are reflected in our approach to diversity and inclusion and underpin our long-term strategy for growth. We’re Australia’s first university and have an outstanding global reputation for academic and research excellence. Across our campuses, we employ over 8,100 academic and non-academic staff who support over 73,000 students.

We are undergoing significant transformative change which brings opportunity for innovation, progressive thinking, breaking with convention, challenging the status quo, and improving the world around us.

How to apply

Specific enquiries about the role please contact Professor Martijn Konings at martijn.konings@sydney.edu.au.

Enquiries regarding the recruitment process please contact Recruitment Consultant Rae Hao on 8627 0063 or rae.hao@sydney.edu.au

Please refer to the position description for further details.

Also see HERE for further details.

Job Reference No. 1185/1020F

Routine pre-employment probity checks will be carried out for this position

Please note: visa sponsorship is not available for this position

Closing date: 11:30pm, Sunday 1 November 2020

The post Associate Lecturer / Lecturer (Education-Focused) in Political Economy, University of Sydney appeared first on Progress in Political Economy (PPE).

2020 JAPE Young Scholar Award: Applications Open

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 15/10/2020 - 10:30am in

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Each year the Journal of Australian Political Economy (JAPE) offers a $2000 prize to encourage young scholars to convert their research work into a publishable article.

‘Young’ in this context is defined in terms of the experience of the applicant. Applicants may be of any age, although they must be in at least their third year of undergraduate study in political economy or a related social science subject. They may have already completed their degree and/or be progressing to a Masters degree. Students who are completing an honours thesis and would like the experience of doing further research during part of the following year (or the year after) are particularly welcome to apply. Applicants cannot be established academics.

The normal project undertaken by recipients of this Award is to develop a thesis or other research findings into a publishable article of about 8,000 words [e.g. for submission to the Journal of Australian Political Economy]. That might mean condensing an existing honours thesis, or it might mean developing just one part of a thesis into a stand-alone article.

The winner of each year’s Award may have the opportunity to spend some time in a University for this purpose. This could be the Department of Political Economy at the University of Sydney, for example, because it has the biggest group of political economy academics in Australia. However, other places could be possible, according to the winner’s preference and region of residence. Having that connection with a university is not a necessary condition placed on the recipient of the Award, however, and she or he would not have any employment relationship with the university.

Would you like to apply? If so, you should send an email to JAPE’s editorial coordinator, Frank Stilwell [frank.stilwell@sydney.edu.au], attaching: [1] your curriculum vita, including academic record; [2] a statement of about 200-400 words indicating the research topic or writing project on which you propose to work; [3] an indication of the proposed time and location/s where this would be undertaken; and [4] a brief statement by an academic with whom you have had prior contact (e.g. a thesis supervisor) stating her/his willingness to provide some personal guidance if you are successful in getting the Award.

Applications normally need to be submitted by the last day of November each year.

Note: for 2020, because of COVID, this deadline for the current year’s applications has been extended to December 18th.

A committee, comprising members of the JAPE editorial committee, will review all applications and select the winner. The criteria for selection will include: [1] evidence of the applicant’s capacity to undertake good quality work in political economy; [2] the nature of the proposed project, including its political economic significance; and [3] the committee’s assessment of the project’s prospects for successful completion.

This Award process has resulted in the publication of some excellent articles in previous years. Let’s keep the momentum going….

The post 2020 JAPE Young Scholar Award: Applications Open appeared first on Progress in Political Economy (PPE).

After The Donald, The Deluge?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 14/10/2020 - 12:12am in

French Revolution Series Ordered at Netflix - ComingSoon.net

           Joe Biden enjoys a double-digit lead over the incumbent president because he promises a return to normalcy—not the platonic ideal of objective normalcy in a country that doesn’t torture or spy on its citizens or let them starve because their coding chops are a few years out of date. Americans desperately want to resume “normal” political life as Americans knew it before the last four years of manic presidential tweetstorms, authoritarian strongman antics and pandemic pandemonium. As Michigan voter Katybeth Davis told The Guardian, “I just want it [the Trump presidency] to be over with. I really do.”

            Be careful what you wish for. Things could get even crazier under Biden.

            Even though it’s only a few weeks away, I am hesitant to call the election. Biden has a huge lead in the polls but Trump has an ace in the hole: an unprecedented volume of mail-in ballots due to the COVID pandemic, which will run predominantly Democratic and provide attractive targets for Republican attorneys to drag out state vote counts past the December 14th electoral college certification deadline, which would trigger the obscure 12th Amendment scenario in which 50 states each get one vote for president in the next House of Representatives, in which case Trump wins even if Biden wins the popular vote by a lot.

            But let’s assume Biden prevails. Let’s say it’s a blue wave election and the Democrats expand their majority in the House and take control of the Senate. What happens next? Revolution, maybe.

            Revolution would certainly be likelier under Biden than under Trump.

            One of history’s least-discussed ironies is a counterintuitive pattern: it is not the vicious tyrants who are overthrown by angry mobs, but well-meaning liberal reformers who promise to fix a broken system and fall short of expectations.

            A Biden Administration will face several daunting existential challenges. Unlike Obama, whose high approval rating at inauguration prolonged his political honeymoon into his second year, Biden will enjoy little to no support from Republican voters or elected representatives. Progressives will pressure him from the left. Worse, Biden will inherit problems that have been neglected or exacerbated for so long that no solution will be able to come fast enough.

A president who will have achieved victory by campaigning against his predecessor’s mishandling of the coronavirus pandemic will be expected to quickly turn around the ongoing medical and economic disasters with lightning quick results. Like Obama, Biden has promised to add a “public option” to the Affordable Care Act; he’ll need to do that right away. That’s only the beginning: the ACA will collapse unless Congress vastly increases premium subsidies to middle-class patients and orders Medicaid expansion nationally.

The $600-a-week supplemental unemployment benefits that both parties allowed to expire during the summer will have to be replaced in some form. There will need to be meaningful broad-based relief for distressed renters and homeowners facing eviction or foreclosure; without an infusion of cash millions of people who formerly belonged to the middle and working classes will become homeless, adding to social and political instability. Billions will have to be pumped into the economy in the form of direct stimulus checks to every man, woman and child. The alternative is economic collapse.

The presidency, of course, is about more than policy. Many Americans who believed in exceptionalism a few years ago are wondering aloud whether the U.S. is literally over and done. During times of crisis, leaders are called upon to reassure citizens that a wise and steady hand is at the helm and that a team of intelligent and innovative advisors is running the show behind the scenes.

Can Biden deliver? On most fronts, probably not.

The Democratic Party is too beholden to its corporate donors to enact the FDR-style stimulus and social programs that are required to dig out of an economic hole filled with tens of millions of newly unemployed workers and where one out of five businesses have gone broke. Biden comes out of the Clinton/Obama/Democratic Leadership Council austerity wing of his party. His instinct will be to spend as little as possible in order to try to balance the budget.

“When we get in, the pantry is going to be bare,” says Ted Kaufman, who will run the transition office that will select Biden’s top personnel. “When you see what Trump’s done to the deficit…forget about COVID-19, all the deficits that he built with the incredible tax cuts. So we’re going to be limited.” Kaufman, a former Delaware senator, promises that Biden won’t significantly increase federal spending.

The streets are already seething. Austerity will bring things to a boil.

Political suicide by fiscal means.

The Soviet Union didn’t collapse under Josef Stalin. It couldn’t have. He would have ruthlessly crushed any meaningful opposition. Nikita Khrushchev and Leonid Brezhnev presided over graduated liberalization but it was under Mikhail Gorbachev, architect of perestroika, that the USSR went out of business. Gorbachev, arguably the best, brightest and most decent premier the Soviet system could allow to come to power and the best the Russian people could hope for, failed to deliver the improvements in living standards and personal freedoms people wanted and needed. It was precisely the fact that he was so excellent, yet couldn’t deliver, that exposed the corruption and incompetence inherent to the system.

Neither Khrushchev nor Brezhnev nor Gorbachev were the problem. The system itself was. It had to go.

Similarly, the French Revolution couldn’t have succeeded under Louis XIV; the Sun King was too brutal and autocratic. Louis XVI attempted numerous reforms to make life better for the French, including the free distribution of grain, slashing the royal budget and the abolition of torture and servitude. He granted equal rights to Jews and Protestants, tried to tax the nobility (they refused) and began a transition toward parliamentary monarchy as in Great Britain. But the reforms were insufficient, internal forces were intransigent and resentments had built up for too long. The French were hungry and angry so Louis XVI lost his head to the guillotine.

So it went in Russia. Although Czar Nicholas II was a bit of a clueless dolt, he recognized the crisis and desperately tried to save a collapsing system. He introduced civil liberties, worked to increase literacy, granted representation to local districts throughout the country and modernized the empire’s infrastructure. Again, it wasn’t enough. He destroyed the economy by squandering the treasury on wars of choice, refused to consider democratization and ultimately succumbed to the resistance of shortsighted Russian aristocrats. Lenin and the Bolsheviks had long argued that the Russian government was corrupt and unwilling to provide for the needs of the people. Only when Nicholas II’s reforms proved to be too little too late did they agree and rise up.

Like Gorbachev, Louis XVI and Nicholas II, President Biden will disappoint at the worst possible time.

(Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of the biography “Political Suicide: The Fight for the Soul of the Democratic Party.” You can support Ted’s hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.)

 

 

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13th Annual Wheelwright Lecture: Susan Ferguson, Jayati Ghosh and Adam Tooze

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 13/10/2020 - 2:42pm in

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13th Annual E.L. ‘Ted’ Wheelwright Memorial Lecture

Hosted by the Department of Political Economy at the University of Sydney, together with the Journal of Australian Political Economy (JAPE) and the Political Economy Student Society (ECOPSoc)

This Global Crisis: Capitalism In And Beyond The Pandemic

Speakers: Susan Ferguson, Jayati Ghosh and Adam Tooze

When: 9 November 2020, 12.30-2pm (Sydney time/AEDT)

Where: Online via Zoom. Link will be sent prior to the event to registered attendees. All welcome. Register here.

About

2020 has revealed the deep connections between our intersecting crises of economy, health, care, gender, race and climate. The course of the pandemic has been shaped by long-standing inequalities in our households, communities, workplaces and financial systems. Governments have responded with experimental fiscal and monetary policies that at least temporarily bypass the usual constraints while at the same time implementing new forms of repression at borders, elections and protests around the world. The Covid-19 crisis will drive political economic transformations that will reverberate around a world in which environmental risks are set to multiply.

As the battle of ideas and blueprints for the post-pandemic world intensify, the Department of Political Economy’s 13th annual Wheelwright lecture will be delivered by a panel of three global experts who will discuss the lessons of 2020 and what might come next. Associate Professor Susan Ferguson (Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada), Professor Jayati Ghosh (Jawaharlal Nehru University, India) and Professor Adam Tooze (Columbia University, USA) will provide sharp analysis of the dynamics of the crisis in social reproduction, the crisis in the global south and global macro-economic crisis.

Panel Bios

Susan Ferguson is Associate Professor Emerita at Wilfrid Laurier University in Ontario, Canada and Adjunct Professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey, US. She has been a longtime activist in socialist and social justice groups and has written extensively on Marxist Feminism and Social Reproduction. She co-edits the Pluto book series Mapping Social Reproduction and her book, Women and Work: Feminism, Labour and Social Reproduction was published in 2020 by Pluto Press. Susan now lives in Houston, Texas.

Jayati Ghosh is a distinguished economist and was professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University until September 2020. She will be joining the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, USA in January 2021. Her research interests include globalisation, international finance, employment patterns in developing countries, macroeconomic policy and issues related to gender and development. Jayati has held positions at Tufts University and Cambridge and lectured at academic institutions across India. She is one of the founders of the Economic Research Foundation in New Delhi, a non-profit trust devoted to progressive economic research. She is also Executive Secretary of the International Development Economics Associates, a network of economists critical of the mainstream economic paradigm of neo-liberalism. Jayati has been a consultant and researcher for government and non-government organizations, internationally. She is widely published, with 18 books (most recently Demonetisation Decoded wth CP Chandrasekhar and Prabhat Patnaik, and the Elgar Handbook of Alternative Theories of Economic Development co-edited with Erik Reinert and Rainer Kattel) and nearly 200 scholarly articles. She writes regular columns on economics and current affairs for various national and international publications.

Adam Tooze holds the Shelby Cullom Davis chair of History at Columbia University and serves as Director of the European Institute. In 2019, Foreign Policy Magazine named him one of the top Global Thinkers of the decade. Adam received his BA in Economics from King’s College Cambridge and PhD from the London School of Economics. From 1996 to 2009 Adam taught at the University of Cambridge, where he was Reader in Modern History and Gurnee Hart fellow in History at Jesus College. After Cambridge, Adam was appointed to the Barton M. Biggs Professorship at Yale University before joining Columbia’s history department in the summer of 2015. Adam is a regular commentator and has appeared on PBS Television, BBC Radio, Norddeutscher Rundfunk, the History Channel, Swiss and French television. He is the author of a number of award-winning books, including Statistics and the German State: the Making of Modern Economic Knowledge (2001), Wages of Destruction: the Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy (2006), Deluge: The Great War and the Remaking of the Global Order 1916-1931 (2014), and, most recently, Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World (2018).

Previous speakers

Previous distinguished lecturers include Susanne Soederberg (2019), Alfredo Saad-Filho (2018), Katherine Gibson (2017), David Ruccio (2016), Erik Olin Wright (2015), Leo Panitch (2014), Susan George (2013), Diane Elson (2012), Sheila Dow (2011), Fred Block (2010), Jim Stanford (2009) and Walden Bello (2008).

Image: Marcel Crozet / ILO

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Valuing Knowledge: The Impact of Human Capital Accounting on Global Economic Governance

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 12/10/2020 - 5:14pm in

Since the 1990s, with the rise of endogenous growth theory, the internet and the new economy, knowledge – or ‘human capital’ – has been widely understood as the central factor underpinning growth and competitiveness in advanced post-industrial economies. There’s just one problem: no one has known how to measure it. Recent efforts to develop monetary estimates of human capital are deeply problematic, however, because they capture only a narrow measure of value, and push countries with supposed deficits of human capital towards market-oriented welfare and labour market policies.

Post-GDP accounting

Human capital measurements for a long time remained crude – unmonetized indicators of educational attainment, such as the % of the population with a college degree. Standardised comparisons of school pupils’ performance attempt to measure skill attainment directly, but still fail to measure the economic value of these skills. This means that, unlike the produced and financial assets that show up in the balance sheets in the national accounts, human capital has not had a monetary value and cannot enter growth accounting models or other types of economic analysis.

As I explored in a recent article published in RIPE, this has been changing over the last decade as global economic governance institutions have sought to develop a more formal accounting framework for estimating the monetary value of a country’s ‘human capital stock’. As a recent UNECE document indicates:

Understanding and quantifying human capital is becoming increasingly necessary for policymakers to better understand what drives economic growth and the functioning of labour markets, to assess the long-term sustainability of a country’s development path, and to measure the output and productivity performance of the educational sector.

We can situate this measurement agenda within a broader ‘post-GDP’ movement in global economic governance that has sought to adjust national accounting systems to better capture the realities of post-industrial economies and societies. Under this governance agenda, the ‘wealth accounting’ approach to sustainable development has emerged as dominant since the late 2000s, with the publication of a key UN, Eurostat and OECD report as well as the Stiglitz commission on the reform of global socio-economic statistics.

According to this framework, to account for all the non-produced assets and resources that modern economies increasingly rely on (‘natural capital’, ‘human capital’ and ‘social capital’), we should extend national balance sheets to show whether ‘total wealth’ across all asset classes is being preserved or depleted. A recent UN taskforce suggested that:

If these stocks are calculated using a common measure and assumptions are made about the substitutability of various capital stocks, changes in the total stock of wealth (per capita) will provide information on the sustainability of the development path of each country.

This is an elegant idea: a way for economic analysis to internalise the externalities that GDP growth relies upon, re-embedding the market economy in its ecological and social context.

Knowledge as capital

Regarding human capital, however, operationalising this framework is fraught with methodological difficulties. The way in which global governance organizations have confronted these valuation challenges is little understood, buried in technical accounting manuals and methodological appendices – but it exerts an ever-increasing influence on development discourse and policy.

Most notably, emerging international standards for valuing human capital – used by the UNECE and the World Bank – are heavily influenced by neoclassical capital theory first outlined by Irving Fischer in the 1900s. This views the accounting value of a capital asset as the discounted market income that its owner can expect during the lifetime of the asset.

The conceptual sleights of hand needed to translate this methodology to the valuation of human knowledge are heroic. For instance, we must assume that knowledge and skill are something separate from, and ‘owned’ by their bearer. This has meant that ‘knowledge’ is quickly reduced to formal qualifications in these frameworks, since these can (if one squints hard enough) be seen as something owned by the student, unlike informal skills gained on-the-job. Perhaps most bizarrely, cost-based estimates require accountants to assume that ‘like physical capital, human capital depreciates over time’, due to ‘the wear and tear of skills due to aging’, in a manner analogous to the deterioration of aging physical equipment.

Even with more commonly used output-based methods, which value knowledge based on discounted future wages, the human capital of the unemployed falls to zero (as this ‘asset’, the skills of the worker, is no longer generating an ‘income’ stream) and that of the elderly close to zero. They also assume that education spending is pure investment – that there is no intrinsic pleasure or ‘consumption’ aspect to learning and that it is something endured purely for the enhanced wage prospects it offers the student.

Human capital metrics and the commodifying of care

Methodological choices made on these issues would be of academic interest if monetary estimates of human capital were confined to experimental papers in economics journals. But increasingly they are used by global governance agencies to pathologise certain countries and judge which welfare regimes and labour market policies are deemed ‘sustainable’.

An illustration of this is the use of human capital wealth estimates by the World Bank, within its Human Capital Project (HCP) launched in 2018. Based around ‘using policy and results-based lending to support critical human capital reforms’, this agenda plays a central role in the Bank’s wider development strategy for poverty eradication by 2030. In 2019 the Bank launched human capital plans for the MENA region and Africa, to support the HCP. In MENA, human capital targeted financing is set to increase from $1.119bn in 2019 to $2.5bn by 2024, while in Africa it is set to reach $15bn by 2021-23.

In both strategies, these regions are pathologized on the basis of comparative analysis of their human capital wealth. For instance, the MENA human capital plan laments how ‘with the lowest percentage of human capital as a share of total wealth per capita of any region in the world (35%), MENA faces a severe human capital gap’. This is, moreover, linked explicitly to their relative lack of labour commodification and an insufficiently developed free market economy. By comparison, Bank analysis of human capital in China applauded the ‘very rapid increase in urban human capital from the mid-1990s, in part because of the transition to a market-oriented economy’.

In the MENA region as well as in Africa the World bank strategy outlines a number of ‘priority interventions that can help build, protect, and utilize human capital’. These involve using targeted funding and policy consultancy to adapt education systems to competitive job markets, encourage entrepreneurship and focus teaching on young people’s employability in the private sector.

An interesting feature of this agenda is the way in which it interacts with the Bank’s discourse on gender equality and female empowerment. Human capital estimates are used to justify the commodification of care work, by bringing female labor market participation up to parity with male workers. The MENA strategy prioritises ‘closing the gap in female employment by improving conditions that facilitate women’s insertion into the labor market to realize their potential as productive workers’.

This is not of course to suggest that moves towards gender parity in labour markets are unwelcome. Notably, however, human capital estimates render one particular means of achieving this (full-time employment for both genders in the context of commodified care provision) as a contribution to the national balance sheet, while other routes (for instance, job sharing and work redistribution or commons-based care networks) cannot.

As this case illustrates, currently dominant human capital accounting methodologies naturalise the assumption that ‘sustainability’ depends on a particular market-oriented development trajectory. These policy recommendations are a tautological result of methodological choices. Because the value of a nations’ human capital wealth has been made to depend upon its projected contribution to labour market income, countries with higher levels of de-commodified care provision will necessarily have lower human capital wealth.

Global governance discourse frames these policy recommendations as neutral, technical assessments of how to build human capital. However, by unpacking the black box of the concepts these valuations rely on, we see that they are based on highly contentious assumptions grounded in neoclassical wealth accounting theory.

Dr David Yarrow is Lecturer in International Political Economy at the University of Edinburgh. His research examines the impact of post-growth ideas on global economic governance, most recently by investigating the rise of alternative accounting practices in international statistical agencies. More broadly he is interested in how economic ideas frame the challenges of automation and post-industrialism in democratic politics.

 

 

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The Federal Budget: seeking ‘return to normal’ or radical reform?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 09/10/2020 - 6:00am in

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The budget delivered this week by the Federal government aims to get the economy ‘back to normal’. Is this the right goal? What if the old ‘normal’ was deeply flawed, as its political economic critics have long argued?

When the pandemic first hit, the Morrison government talked about its determination to ‘snap back’ as soon as possible. Facing a deep and prolonged recession, we know that was never going to be the case. Yet the rhetoric about ‘return to normal’ remains pervasive. This may be emotionally reassuring but, from a political economic perspective, the goal is both unachievable and inappropriate. Even before the pandemic, the ‘normal’ situation in Australia was economically insecure, socially inequitable and ecologically unsustainable.

What we really need now is a government aiming for a recovery process that takes us towards a more secure, fair and sustainable society. That would require radical reform that is currently conspicuously lacking. If the latest budget policies are the best the government can do – and it has had to jettison its long-standing ‘debt and deficits’ fetish to even get this far – it falls woefully short of what is needed.

It’s not even clear that the recently announced budget is likely to get things ‘back to normal’ anyway. Cutting income tax in a way that mostly benefits people on high incomes probably won’t boost consumer spending much. At a time of such uncertainty, the propensity to save is very strong. So the tax cuts, as well as increasing inequality, are unlikely to generate much economic stimulus. Rather, as Ross Gittins argued in the Sydney Morning Herald, the tax cuts are really aimed at restoring some electoral popularity (at least among the Coalition’s political base) rather than economic recovery.

The very generous business investment allowances announced in the budget and the business tax cuts (from writing down past business losses) are also unlikely to produce a jobs surge. Policies like these are a form of discredited ‘trickle-down economics’, based on the claim that enriching the wealthier segments of society will lead to other people eventually gaining some benefit. The rhetoric is all about encouraging firms to create more jobs, but the reality is that the give-aways have not been made conditional on the businesses actually hiring additional workers. Jobs could actually decline in the medium-term if investment allowances to businesses, particularly big corporations, encourage them to use less-labour intensive forms of technology for their production processes.

Meanwhile, the planned withdrawal of the JobKeeper scheme and the failure to commit to maintain JobSeeker payment above the old NewStart level leaves huge numbers of people facing the prospect of poverty. If this is the ‘new normal’ it has a terribly old-fashioned ring – leave the wellbeing of low and middle-income people to the vagaries of market forces, while providing the relatively wealthy with corporate welfare.

Even the new subsidy to businesses hiring younger workers could have adverse effects for job security. The emphasis will be on jobs for only 20 hours per week. There is no longer term commitment. Older workers may become more likely to lose their jobs and will certainly find it harder to get any new employment. Overall, it’s a case of winners and losers, with little or no net benefit.

Of course, no-one really knows with certainty what the actual effects of the newly announced policies will be. The budget’s underlying economic and public health assumptions are highly questionable, particularly so in these fundamentally uncertain times. So the Treasurer’s spurious claims about policies creating particular numbers of jobs or future levels of government debt and deficits are all, at best, a stab in the dark. Or, as journalist Laura Tingle put it in the Australian Financial Review, a ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ exercise.

The one thing we can be sure about is that the budget is a sadly missed opportunity for a comprehensive public-sector led recovery. A more certain ‘bang for the buck’, as well as much greater social benefit, would come from funding major programs of social housing, publicly-provided affordable child care, public provision of aged care facilities, perhaps high speed rail linking Australia’s eastern cities too. Most importantly, the government should be funding and organising a planned transition to a zero-emissions economy. None of these things has got a guernsey.

The case for a Green New Deal that directly targets our economic, social and ecological priorities has never been greater nor more urgent. Embracing such a policy program would directly link job creation to restructuring the economy for ecological sustainability. Australia could become a global leader rather than a conspicuous laggard in making this transition. Making it a ‘just transition’ would also require embracing policies for labour-reskilling and more egalitarian policies to reverse, not accelerate, the drift towards ever-increasing inequality in our society. Moreover, engagement with the interests and aspirations of First Nations peoples could further deepen the process of long-overdue social recognition and redistribution.

The government may have abandoned its long-standing ‘debt and deficits’ fetish – indeed, it has had to do so, driven by the current economic reality – but its budget for the year ahead shows that it is incapable of embracing what really needs to be done.

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