Still Shocked

11 Oct

Postscript: October 10, 2012

Some of the comments my previous post prompted, both online and privately, made me to look further into the current state of the Australian economy, political developments, and the impacts on some of the more vulnerable members of our society. It’s worse than I thought.

These are a few pertinent facts:

In the past five years the cost of living increase in Australian capital cities has been the greatest in Brisbane with a 20 per cent increase. http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/households-growing-in-size-as-gen-y-stays-put/story-e6freoof-1226489745428

Wages over the same period increased 18 per cent but how do old age pensioners or unemployed people on a fixed income manage these increasing costs when they only receive some of that increase? The Pension of a single person increased by only 2.2% in September 2012 because it is based on the Australian Bureau of Statistics nation-wide Consumer Price Index http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/6401.0 which does not fully reflect local costs such as utilities. http://www.superguide.com.au/how-super-works/age-pension-september-2012-rates

It costs more to live in Sydney, Melbourne or Perth than in London or New York.
http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/business/our-cities-among-worlds-most-costly-20120612-208az.html

Queensland’s September 2012 unemployment rate of 6.3 per cent is worse than the Australian average of 5.4 per cent and is the worst in three years. http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/queensland/queenslands-worst-unemployment-rate-for-three-years-20121011-27exm.html Australia’s unemployment rate was 5.2 per cent in April 2012.

Of the 24,000 Queensland jobs lost in the past month 19,000 (71.2%) were held by women (The Australian, p.24, ‘Come the Federal Election, the real world will have moved on’, by George Megalogenis). Some of these were the 14,000 positions that are being made redundant by the Queensland Government within four years. In June 2011 64.17 per cent of Queensland Public Service jobs were occupied by women. The pain of sudden unemployment will be felt disproportionately by Queensland women, especially health workers.

Almost two million Australians, or one in 10, live in poverty. Poverty is defined as not having the resources to reliably meet basic physical needs such as food, housing, heating and health care. Groups with the highest proportion of people living in poverty include: 58% of indigenous people, 28% of jobless, 28% of renters, 22% of single parents and 7% of older people. http.www.salvationarmy.org.au

The Treasurer, Wayne Swan, proudly trumpeted this week the news that Australia is now the 12th largest economy in the world (as expressed by GDP in the current exchange rate for the US dollar) whilst not even coming in the top 50 for population.

I don’t think that South Korea, Mexico and Spain’s economic contraction pains and/or currency devaluation are a cause for celebration. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-10-09/australia-now-12th-largest-economy/4303140.

If resource prices keep dropping and China’s resource orders continue to decline Australia’s two speed economy will be reduced to one speed and we will all have to peddle together to keep the lights on.

Sadly the figure of two million poor Australians looks likely to climb.

I promise a more upbeat post next time but this upset me so much I felt I had to share.

Photo note: Ron Mueck’s heartbreaking works of art suit my current mood. I shot these on an iphone at his GOMA exhibition. He has my respect for allowing us, the punters, to photograph and share his work however we please. ‘Dead Dad’ is my favourite but the nudity may be confronting for kids so I left it out.

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2 Responses to “Still Shocked”

  1. jean-michel Govaere October 11, 2012 at 9:34 am #

    Hi Sharon,
    Followed with interest all steps of your trip in Europe since we met in Seville.
    I understand your trouble when back in Australia and you discover the big economic changes.
    I had no knowledge about sculptor Ron Mueck before your pictures and have gone to Google Images to have a more complete idea of his work.
    It’s surprising, but I like very much.
    Apparently, the GOMA exhibition is not now but was 2 years ago, no?

    • Sharon Tickle October 11, 2012 at 10:36 am #

      Dear Jean Michel,

      Yes, the Ron Mueck show was some time ago but it impacted me deeply. I am glad you like his work too.

      I am struggling to remember exactly where we met in Seville. Blame the aging brain… please remind me ;-))

      Sharon

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