When my wife sent me the link, this ABC story was headlined Treasury head says Australians must work harder. It’s now been changed to “Australians must increase productivity: Treasury head”, which sounds a bit more reasonable, but I think is still a somewhat problematic.
I’ll try to discuss this in detail later, but for now I just want to push a point I’ve been making for a long time, which came up in comments recently. If governments want a simple reform that would improve our economic performance (though maybe not the standard measures of that performance), one of the best things they could do is legislate for six weeks annual leave as a standard employment condition. We have parental leave for parents of new babies, but there’s an equally big problem for parents of school age children trying to deal with the mismatch between school holidays (six weeks over summer, as well as term breaks) and the measly four weeks they are allowed, unchanged since the Whitlam government. And the rest of us could do with more of a break as well.
An extra week’s leave is like a 2 per cent wage increase. If annual leave were increased in a couple of stages to six weeks a year, it would only be necessary to find productivity increases or other offsets of 2 per cent, and, as Martin Parkinson implies, that shouldn’t be too hard.