The Minutes of the November Board Meeting of the Reserve Bank released this week and comments by RBA Governor Michelle Bullock are stark reminders of the risks to the inflation outlook. Comments are by Australian Industry Group's Innes Willox.
"Further interest rate rises from strong nominal wage increases at a time when productivity is going backwards,” says Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group.
“While the surge in immigration and the resilience of the labour market have edged up the outlook for growth, they are also reinforcing the imbalance between domestic demand and supply that will make inflation more difficult to return to below 3 per cent.
“It is critical that governments, employees and businesses exercise restraint in price setting and wage negotiations.
“This is all the more important because the changes the federal Government have already made to workplace relations arrangements and the further changes it is promoting, will deter rather than encourage workplace-based productivity improvements.
“To be fair, the Reserve Bank has been emphasising for some time the importance of revitalising productivity growth. This message cannot continue to be pushed aside,” adds Willox.
Editorial commentary by Andy McCourt.
While Mr Willox's commentary is economically sound. 'restraint' is something that appears to be urged upon the most vulnerable members of our society. What we once knew as 'Australia-the Lucky Country' is disintegrating in a storm of global macro-economics, poor federal and state fiscal management (I single out Victoria in this - a debt greater than NSW and Qld combined under ex-Premier Andrews), over-greedy major companies and CEOs, no small measure of incompetence on their part and a lack of vision to adapt to what is emerging as a new 'world order of things.'
- Should Australian families living in tents and their cars because they can't afford rent or mortgages excercise 'restraint'?
- Should the increasing number of just plain homeless people, including children, excercise more 'restraint?'
- Should those lucky enough to find a place to rent, while spending up to 70% of their income on the roof over their head, excercise more 'restraint?'
- Should young families, without a hope in Hades of ever owning even a modest home, excercise more 'restraint?'
- Should CEOs who walk away from major companies with massive, obscene payouts excercise more 'restraint?'
- Should supermarket chains who, despite these hard times, announce record profits and increase their prices to depression levels, then deceptively advertise 'specials' and 'half price' on excessively price- increased products - excercise more 'restraint?'
- Should Governments, adept at spending billions of dollars that is not theirs, sometimes on frivolous projects, excercise more 'restraint?'
- Should smaller contracting businesses who have seen their life's work ruined by larger companies who go belly-up and sometimes phoenix themselves, excercise more 'restraint?'
This list could go on. I have always considered Australia to be a great, fair and egalitarian country - it's even in our national anthem but we are at risk of seeing it all evaporate if our leaders (government and corporate) are incapable of finding the answers to the challenges we face RIGHT NOW! As with all great societies ruled by laws, culture and conventions, it starts with paying attention to those most vulnerable who can't find meaningful work and thus go through life fulfilled and happy - not constantly struggling to feed and educate their kids from payday-to-payday or Centrelink.
Parkes, the father of our Federation, called himself the 'Man of the hour' - where are the men and women 'of the hour' this very instant?