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Workshop: 70th Anniversary of the White Paper on Full Employment - Sydney, May 30, 2015

Workshop Partners

This Workshop also incorporates the 15th Path to Full Employment and the 20th National Unemployment Conference, which are custodian events administered by the Centre of Full Employment and Equity.

On Wednesday, May 30, 1945, Mr John Dedman, Minister for Post-war Reconstruction and Minister in charge of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in the Curtin Labor Government, stood up to present the White Paper on Full Employment to the House of Representatives of the Australian Parliament.

He drew attention of the Members "to the importance of the document and the fundamental character of the policy outlined in it" and "sets forth boldly and unequivocally the Government's intention to secure full employment for the people of Australia after the war" and outlined "the method by which the Government proposes to achieve this aim".

The White Paper and the policy framework that was implemented to achieve the aim of full employment defined the Australian government's socio-economic strategy until the mid-1970s, when the rising dominance of what we now call neo-liberalism, saw the Federal Government abandon its commitment to full employment.

On May 30, 2015, to recognise the 70th Anniversary of this great event in Australian history, the Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) and the Society of St. Vincent De Paul (Vinnies) partner to hold this Anniversary Workshop in Sydney, Australia.

The aim is to restore a full employment narrative in Australia and to disabuse the population of the idea, that the major political parties propagate, that full employment is consistent with unemployment rates of 5 to 6 per cent and underemployment rates approaching double digits.

With the global economy is still stuck in the aftermath of the worst economic crisis in 80 years and the legacy has been tens of millions remain unemployed, a large proportion of productive capacity is lying idle, and vast quantities of output and income foregone and lost forever. The downturn is now into its fifth year and large economies such as the Eurozone and Britain are back in recession as fiscal austerity undermines their nascent recoveries.

The political landscape seems divorced from the reality that on-going recession is extremely costly and prolonged unemployment, especially high youth joblessness, has intergenerational effects. Instead of creating jobs, governments are seeking ways to impose undermine the labour markets by imposing fiscal austerity at a time when private spending is still mostly weak.

The Workshop will seek to explore the relevance of the White Paper approach to Full Employment in the context of the apparent contradictions of the policy stances that are now entrenched and causing the prolonged global unemployment crisis.


12:00-12:30 Neale Towart from Unions NSW will show people around the historic Trades Hall building and give a brief outline of the various displays of the history of Trades Hall
13:00-13:10 Welcome and Introduction - Professor Bill Mitchell, CofFEE Director.
13.10 - 13.30 Professor John Nevile, UNSW - Reflections
13.30 - 13.45 Dr Victor Quirk, CofFEE, University of Newcastle - Historical summary of right to work debates
13.45 - 14.00 Dr John Falzon, Chief Executive Officer, St Vincent de Paul Society, National Council of Australia - From each according to their ability; to each according to their needs
14.00 - 14.15 Pat Forward, Deputy Federal Secretary and the Federal TAFE Secretary of the Australian Education Union (AEU) - The Union Perspective
14.15 - 14.30 Professor Bill Mitchell, Director, CofFEE, University of Newcastle - Full employment - the Federal government chooses the unemployment rate
14.30 - 14.50 Afternoon tea
14.50 - 16.00 Panel Discussion and Questions


The Workshop will be held on Saturday, May 30 at The Auditorium, Trades Hall (Unions NSW), 4 Goulburn Street, Sydney.

The Workshop will run between 13:00 to 17:00 with registration at 12:30 and afternoon tea around 15:30.

A gold coin donation will be accepted.


Please register your interest in attending by E-mailing - coffee@newcastle.edu.au or calling 02-4921 7283 - this information will help us cater for the afternoon tea.