Fireworks to really light up the joint

Back in Bittern when I was growing up, penny bungers were the fireworks of choice on New Year’s Eve. I had more fun setting off and running away from my small stash of crackers than being a passive spectator to the brilliance of News Year’s Eves at Times Square and on Sydney Harbour.

So, welcome in 2015 and here’s my fuse – can someone light the match?

Sometimes you need to completely change the existing state of affairs, and in Australia right now, one of those affairs are our Labour Laws. Not the efforts against bullying, harassment and improvements in safe workplaces, but our minimum wage conditions and penalty rates.

What’s the worst thing that could happen if we took just one State and made it the ‘test case’ for re-jigging wage conditions? I’m nominating South Australia. Why? Because if you’re up the creek without a paddle, you might as well install a propeller.

South Australia might just make for brilliant laboratory conditions: The suburb of Elizabeth in Adelaide has the highest inner-city jobless rate in Australia with 32.4 per cent of locals unemployed. Overall ABS youth unemployment is at 15% and I’m suggesting there is some smoke and mirrors in that number. Holden is pulling out in 2017, Mitsubishi withdrew in 2008, the naval shipbuilding industry is under threat, BHP has put a hold on Olympic Dam. It seems hope may well be missing in action.

Would the Federal Government in cahoots with the South Australian Government be prepared to run a 12 month trial whereby enterprises would be encouraged to trial labour hungry ventures with the lure of lower minimum wage? Of course I haven’t had the actuaries run the numbers or the analysts model the outcomes, but what if…

…the minimum wage wasn’t $640.90/week but $450.00/week, the minimum hourly rate wasn’t $16.87/hour but $10.00/hour? South Australia has lower cost of housing, lower rentals and lower overall cost of living. Work is about so much more than money. It’s about giving people a purpose, it’s about learning how groups of people can collaborate for a better results, it’s a reason to get out of bed in the morning, about building self-esteem through a sense of achievement. It’s having a sense that you’re part of a high functioning community. That’s just on the employee side of the balance sheet.

On the employer side, South Australia should attract offshoots of interstate businesses, it would lure start-ups, it would encourage further intake of job numbers, it would enable more expenditure on training and development.

What more could South Australia lose? And maybe the rest of Australia could learn something too.

As Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” I’m passionate about work, and I feel everyone should have the privilege of working.

What’s your point of view?

Geoff Slade

Geoff Slade has worked at the forefront of the Recruitment industry for over 50 years. He is the Executive Chairman of Slade Group and was awarded a Centenary Medal for services to the industry.

Geoff Slade
Executive Chairman
Slade Group
Level 10, 333 Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: +61 3 9235 5100

Posted in The world @work
2 comments on “Fireworks to really light up the joint
  1. Ross Clennett says:

    Bittern, Geoff! I must be one of the few readers to know where that is. That is the proverbial one horse town (hamlet?).

    Not sure your proposal would gain any political support of substance. Knowing how the issue of industrial relations (Work Choices) finished off John Howard’s prime ministership I would say it would take supreme political courage for any current leader to propose, and fight for, something like you suggest.

  2. Geoff Slade Geoff Slade says:

    Ross, I think that’s probably right. I don’t think there’s a politician or a party with the appetite for floating a radical lab experiment in youth employment in a small petrie dish.

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