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The concept of Smart Specialisation (S3) as a foundation of regional development has spread far beyond the European Union. In Australia, S3 appeared first in the Hunter Valley in New South Wales, but was applied in its most developed form in the Gippsland region of Victoria. Despite its growing influence, S3 has come in for criticism. In this article, we look at the way that the Foundational Economy (FE) and the related concept of Deep Place (DP) analysis have been promoted as potential answers to these limitations. I question how far FE and DP should be seen as an extension of or an alternative to S3. I look to more extensive approaches that have been put forward.
Neoliberal policies of industrial relations decentralisation and privatisation have transformed the economic landscape of Australia in the last 20 years. The primary objective of these policies has been to enhance wealth and prosperity by improving productivity and flexibility of the workforce and competition and accountability in the market. Yet the evidence suggests that precarious workers are not benefiting from this increased prosperity, indeed they suffer by comparison with all other workers. Cleaners are a subset of precarious workers who have been hard hit by the dual impacts of labour market decentralisation and privatisation. This study finds quantitative evidence of an increasing gap in earnings between cleaners and other workers in Australia since the onset of workplace relations decentralisation and the proliferation of privatisation in the mid 1990s. We locate our argument in recent debates about the nature of variegated neoliberalism, the emergence of the networked economy, and the implications of these developments for the nature of work and employment.
This discussion paper by a group of scholars across the fields of health, economics and labour relations argues that COVID-19 is an unprecedented humanitarian crisis from which there can be no return to the ‘old normal’. The pandemic’s disastrous worldwide health impacts have been exacerbated by, and have compounded, the unsustainability of economic globalisation based on the neoliberal dismantling of state capabilities in favour of markets. Flow-on economic impacts have simultaneously created major supply and demand disruptions, and highlighted the growing within-country inequalities and precarity generated by neoliberal regimes of labour market regulation. Taking an Australian and international perspective, we examine these economic and labour market impacts, paying particular attention to differential impacts on First Nations people, developing countries, women, immigrants and young people. Evaluating policy responses in a political climate of national and international leadership very different from those in which major twentieth century crises were addressed, we argue the need for a national and international conversation to develop a new pathway out of crisis.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic erupted onto the world stage, a new narrative was apparently beginning to emerge about the impact of i4.0 and new technologies in general, and three-dimensional printing in particular, on the future of work and employment. This was to have particular geographical implications for the manufacturing sector in particular. Proponents of i4.0 also suggested that this process, particularly in manufacturing, would promote the re-emergence of patterns of clustering. Developments in advanced manufacturing, particularly three-dimensional printing, would accelerate and reinforce these tendencies. This article looks at the role that three-dimensional printing is supposed to play in the new world, and in particular, critically evaluates its role in reinforcing the trend towards deglobalisation on the one hand, and, on the other, new clusters of manufacturing industry.
This article critically analyses the opportunities for Australia to revitalise its strategically important manufacturing sector in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. It considers Australia’s industry policy options on the basis of both advances in the theory of industrial policy and recent policy proposals in the Australian context. It draws on recent work from The Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work examining the prospects for Australian manufacturing renewal in a post-COVID-19 economy, together with other recent work in political economy, economic geography and labour process theory critically evaluating the Fourth Industrial Revolution (i4.0) and its implications for the Australian economy. The aim of the article is to contribute to and further develop the debate about the future of government intervention in manufacturing and industry policy in Australia. Crucially, the argument links the future development of Australian manufacturing with a focus on renewable energy.
Since 1993 and the removal of the separate award system for the Australian State of Victoria, many Victorian workers have been on five minimum conditions and on pay levels well below that of employees in other States. Despite attempts to rectify the situation (with Victorian common rule awards), issues of coverage and employer compliance remained. The implementation of WorkChoices legislation in 2006 posed a further challenge to Victorian low-paid workers. Our research found that the impact of WorkChoices on the Victorian low-paid has been largely insidious, surfacing primarily as an increased wage-effort ratio, with people working more unpaid hours and at an increased pace. The implications of this are that these hidden effects are more likely to linger, even with the replacement of WorkChoices with the Fair Work Act, 2009. Furthermore, it appears that employer compliance with minimum conditions requires more adequate enforcement by the Federal Government.
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