The Australian economy is experiencing the best of times and worst of times, as both company profits and share prices soar, while on the other hand a million Australians are now unemployed and workers’ share of earnings are going backwards.
Today’s announcement of a quarterly drop in GDP of 7.0%, combined with the 0.3% fall from the March quarter, confirms that Australia is in recession for the first time since 1991.
The lion’s share of the government’s support package, including JobKeeper, is being directed through business. It appears that businesses may be holding on to payments for their own profits while workers’ share of income is at the lowest level since 1959.
“Now is not the time to cut JobSeeker and support for workers, yet that is exactly what Scott Morrison is doing,” Greens Leader Adam Bandt said.
“Inequality has been growing for a long time in Australia, but it appears that COVID-19 has accelerated this problem, leaving millions in economic stress while a small number of big shareholders and businesses are going gangbusters.
“The Parliament needs to respond to this with a Green New Deal, a concrete plan for full employment and a green recovery through public investment in infrastructure and universal services.
“We need more government spending, not less. And we need that money to go directly into the public’s hand and public services, rather than through big business and the banks.
“For decades, big businesses have been holding onto more and more of their profits for the benefit of CEOs and shareholders rather than paying them to workers or investing in productive capacity. The Morrison Government’s response to COVID is accelerating and locking in this trend, which is a recipe for continued stagnation and greater inequality," Bandt said.