At least you have to give business credit — it is consistent. No matter what the actual facts say about how one builds prosperity and how an economy thrives, we keep hearing the same whinging and hand-wringing: the economy suffers from a lack of productivity and that is holding down growth. Uh, nonsense.
This is all going to be in the wind as the government rolls out its review of the Fair Work Act. Surprise, it’s been good for workers:
”After considering the economic aspects of the Fair Work Act the panel concludes that since the Fair Work Act came into force, important outcomes such as wages growth, industrial disputation, the responsiveness of wages to supply and demand, the rate of employment growth and the flexibility of work patterns have been favourable to Australia’s continuing prosperity,” it says. It also criticises Work Choices. ”Of the four bargaining frameworks over the last 20 years, Work Choices is least like the others. Its period of effective operation was relatively brief and during that period it was significantly amended.” [emphasis added]
Mark Twain once said, perhaps borrowing from others, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes”. And you can only think: Tony Abbott and the business p.r. machine must have that branded on their arms as a guide because every time they open their mouths to talk about the economy, jobs and workers what escapes are lies on top of lies. The problem, though, is that the truth eventually laces up its shoes and catches up. Take productivity.
If you haven’t been living in a cave for the past year, or you’ve been maybe lucky enough to avoid reading the slavish traditional press that too often regurgitates every press release it is handed, you’ve heard the mantra that Australian workers just aren’t productive enough. Rubbish.
The Australian Council of Trade Unions is out with its June 2012 Economic Report. What caught our eye was the productivity section. Surprise, surprise:
Whichever way the productivity figures are examined, the numbers in the latest National Accounts are strong. Labour productivity in the market sector rose by 2.3% in the quarter and 5.3% over the year, the strongest annual growth in a decade.
And what about any dips in productivity here and there? Well, it has nothing to do with industrial relations and Fair Work, which is what Abbott and his business buddies keep yapping about. As the report reiterates:
Investments in skills and infrastructure are the sources of real productivity growth, it was argued. We also pointed out that there is consensus among economists that some portion of the growth slowdown is due to factors related to the mining boom, some of which are temporary and will be reversed as projects are constructed and begin to generate output. [emphasis added]
So, the truth has overtaken the lies. That will not deter those people who have to lie because they have one mission in life: figure out how to shake down workers, pick their pockets for every dime they can get and do it all wrapped around some phony economic double-speak that doesn’t even pass a basic smell test of truth.