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Stooging a Generation - by Kelvin Thomson

I have often expressed concern in the last few years that my baby boomer generation has pursued policies such as rapid population growth which have damaged the chances of the next generation. Recently I have referred to the Axis of Financial Evil confronting our children – student debt, job insecurity, and housing unaffordability.

Support for this concern comes from a report released yesterday by the Foundation for Young Australians. The report expressly says that today's young people face very different prospects from their parents: higher unemployment, large education debts and even larger housing debts, which will put home ownership out of the reach of many.

We are experiencing a new baby boom. Foundation Chief Executive Jan Owen says that over the next forty years Australia will experience a 50 per cent increase in the number of young people, who will rise from the present 4.3 million under the age of 24 to 6.3 million under the age of 24, making it the largest cohort of young people Australia has ever had.

But today's young people graduating from University will start their careers with over $24,000 more in student debt than their parents. Over 25 per cent of young people who do gain qualifications do not use those qualifications in their job. They are taking on three times as much debt as their parents did to buy their first home – houses are six times more expensive than they were in 1985. More than 38 percent of 18 to 24 year olds are overweight.

Jan Owen says we have a situation where the next generation could be worse off in many areas, and that we have a shrinking window of opportunity to ensure young people don't become the first generation of Australians to do worse than their forbears.

Kelvin Thomson is the ALP federal Member of Parliament for Wills Electorate.
This article was originally published on his blogspot on 11 November 2014.

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Comments

We are told that one of the most notable aspects of recent Australian history has been unbroken economic prosperity. We are told about more than two decades of growth, the proceeds of the mining boom, the benefits of deregulation, and 'dodging the bullet' of the Global Financial Crisis through clever economic policy measures. The GFC is being used as a scapegoat for poor economic management, and tunnel-vision on monetary values rather than per capita GDP growth, and social welfare.

The ACOSS 2014 report ... finds that 603,000 or 17.7% of all children were living in poverty in Australia.

ACOSS' 2014 report on poverty in Australia, finding that 13.9% of people in Australia are living in poverty, and 17.7% of all children. "The Government appears to have developed a country growth plan for the G20 without engagement with those who will be most affected - the community," said ACOSS CEO Dr Cassandra Goldie.

The report provides the most up to date picture of poverty in the nation drawing on new data released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics Income and Expenditure surveys for 2011-12 and previous years.

The dispro­portionate urbanisation of Australia is ... keeping regional centres from reaching their full potential.

In Victoria, in July our unemployment rate hit 7%, the highest rate since 2001. This is the tenth month in a row that unemployment in Victoria has been above 6 per cent. With the closure of many manufacturing industries and a high population growth rate, it's clear that more needs to be done to create new jobs. At the same time, the housing industry is "booming", and spreading the few jobs being created even further between more people.

Our measure of economic growth, based on population growth, is being used to hide the poverty and the dysfunctional nature of our economy. Population growth is the no-brainer, lazy way of boosting the size of our economy. The more of us there are, the more thinly our natural and built resources are spread and shared out between a swelling number of people. The disproportionate urbanisation of Australia is not only placing a strain on the large cities, but is keeping regional centres from reaching their full potential. The great big Ponzi scheme of perpetual economic growth means feasting and gorging at the top of the pyramid of wealth, and discarding the less well-off on it's way!