17 June 2016
by Arthur Plottier

The deterioration of the living standards in Australia

It is the opinion of the the Grattan Institute that Australia’s political system is failing to deal with – among other things – the country’s deteriorating living standards and falling education standards. More about that can be read in their ‘Orange Book 2016: priorities for the next Commonwealth Government‘ by John Daley. Daley writes that:

The Commonwealth also needs to improve the quality and reduce the cost of public services. Pricing reforms to pathology and pharmacy, and reducing the number of inappropriate procedures, would save money. Funding should be redirected to promote more integrated care, and support more people to live at home near the end of life.

Budget repair is a major priority. Commonwealth budgets have not come close to balancing for eight years, and younger generations will be taxed significantly more to pay for today’s spending. Both spending reductions and targeted tax increases are needed.

The economists in the Grattan Institute – and our politicians for that matter – are continuing to look for solutions based on the ‘neoliberal economy theory base’ in indicators like the GDP and others that do not do anything to address the concerns in the report, or for that matter polices from our major political parties.

On the neoliberal economy theory people have to adjust their living to suit the economy target requirements instead that adjusting the economy to meet the needs of the people.

The only one way to change this universal trend is in the way of thinking; a new approach perhaps starting at the secondary and tertiary education levels.

The use of indicators like the GPI (Genuine Progress Indicator) and the Sustainable Development Indicator are some of the tools that can help reversing the present trend.

The apparent obsession to having a permanent growth and having a target to eliminate the deficit – even at the cost of development, infrastructure, and social progress – is one of the factors that has caused the decline of the living standards as well as environmental sustainability.

A permanent economic growth, large or rapid, is not possible. Growth eventually will slow down to a ‘sustainable’ rate and development will eventually take over and maintain that slow growth.

The economic growth that we had in Australia during the natural resources boom was not environmental nor economically sustainable. It worked against environmental and social issues, and as such it could be argued that it had an affect on what it was the foundation of a healthy economy.

I hope that we will mature politically to become more progressive and innovative in the way that we look at the macro and micro economy.

Until then our living standards will continue their decline.