The job loss tally is rising. In the last three months:

  • Qantas: 5000
  • Holden: 2900 (by 2017)
  • Toyota: 2500 (by 2017)
  • Forge Group: 1470
  • Alcoa: 980
  • Sensis: 800
  • WA hospitals: 250
  • BHP Billiton Mitsubishi Alliance: 230

That’s more than 14,000 just among the large companies that report. It doesn’t count the associated jobs in the manufacturing sector, particularly automotive where experts put the figure at somewhere between 25,000-50,000. There are some predictions the public sector cuts arising from the federal government’s Commission of Audit could be as many as 6000. The national unemployment rate hasn’t been this high in a decade.

None of that (aside from the bureaucrats) is Tony Abbott’s fault. But he’s inherited a perfect storm of industry redundancy, management incompetence and economic turbulence, which demands a policy response. We’re still waiting.

The rhetoric around jobs from this government (and frankly, Labor too; in government and in opposition) is too vague. It’s “jobs for the future” without telling us where. It’s an infrastructure project here and there without any funding commitment. It’s not backing any horses while shooting others that could be winners (renewable energy, etc).

Propping up Qantas won’t save the 5000 jobs the national carrier wiped from its books today. “Axing the tax” won’t save any more. What is required here from Canberra is comprehensive industry policy. Not empty rhetoric.

Peter Fray

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