The New Daily asked me to write a bit on the question “What should/will the post-coronavirus economy look like?
Here’s what I sent
The Covid crisis has demonstrated the inadequacy of crucial aspects of our social and economic system, particularly relating to employment and unemployment. Before the resurgence of neoliberalism in the 1970s, Australian governments accepted responsibility for maintaining full employment, and provided support for all those unable to engage in paid work, whether through age, disability or unemployment on an equal basis. The full employment goal was not always achieved, but it remained central to public policy.
Over the period since the 1970s, government has passed the responsibility for economic management to the Reserve Bank and required a primary focus on low inflation. The treatment of benefit recipients, except the old, has been steadily less generous and more punitive. Meanwhile governments have focused obsessively on largely meaningless measures of budget balance.
The failures of this approach have been evident for years, but it has taken the Covid crisis to lead to any change. Within a matter of weeks, dogmas that have been in place for decades have been abandoned.
The most important requirement for the post-coronavirus is that we should not attempt to return to a pre-crisis ’normality’ that was unsustainable in almost every respect: social, economic and environmental. Rather, the income support measures adopted in response to the crisis should be maintained, and the government should accept the maintenance of full employment as its core economic responsibility.