A federally funded Job Guarantee is an essential part of a Green New Deal. The Job Guarantee returns Australia to full employment, giving everyone who wants it, access to meaningful, sustainable, fairly paid work. It also provides some – but not all – of the massive scale of effort we will need to combat climate change in the near future.
A Job Guarantee is:
1) Federally funded
2) Meeting local needs
3) Available to all
4) Compulsory for none
5) Not for profit
6) Stabilises the economy (shrinks in an upturn, grows in a downturn)
7) Bottom-up fiscal policy
8) Sets the effective minimum wage = an end to exploitative jobs and wage theft
9) Does not replace public service or private sector jobs
10) Nurtures and empowers participants
11) A nation-wide policy designed to be permanent
12) Green, i.e. it should be designed to be a net carbon positive by emphasising jobs in environmental repair and renewables.
“We are creating millionaires on the back of the long-term unemployed by paying providers to offer a failed service. The people that win are the service providers, not the unemployed or the employers… The whole system needs to be turned on its head.”
Council of Small Business Organisations Australia CEO, Peter Strong.
The practical examples below don’t cover the full range of possible projects in each area; they can all be expanded. The projects would be implemented in each region/district/neighbourhood according to local consultation and needs assessment.
Many of these projects are already being done in some areas. This is good because the knowledge and experience in how to make them work is already available. The challenge is to scale up for widespread implementation.
The scheme as a whole also needs a central recruitment and placement system, local management and coordination, training for workers and a structure for longer term progression for participants (into other roles, further education, private sector employment, etc.)
A central knowledge sharing and evaluation system would add value to the whole program.
Some of the proposed work is currently being done by volunteers; see our separate paper on the relationship between volunteers and a National Job Guarantee.
Urban tree planting. Trees clean the air, cool temperatures and improve water quality and runoff. Projects should include care of the trees for a number of years to ensure they survive. One-off tree planting projects without maintenance are useless.
Removing weeds and invasive plants is very important for maintaining our unique Australian biodiversity heritage, and habitat for endangered species.
Community Gardens and Urban Farms engage local communities, provide healthy food to low income people, and teach gardening, food growing and cooking skills for children and adults.
Wetland Development – wetlands control floods, purify water and provide habitat for birds and animals, as well as being calming and interesting places for people to visit.
Park Maintenance and Renewal, including walking trails, BBQ areas, seating, trees, skate parks, bicycle tracks, etc.
Building Local Fisheries, maintaining fish nursery areas, artificial reef building
Recycling – local sorting, re-use and recycling to greatly improve waste management. Also “urban mining” of landfill sites.
Carbon Farming, revegetation to take carbon out of the atmosphere and improve soil quality.
Coastal Engineering, including building and maintaining seawalls, coastal vegetation reclamation, to prevent storm and surge damage and prepare for sea level rise.
Bushfire recovery – this is an urgent national priority, which is being funded, though it will be a big challenge to see that this is spent properly and according to the evidence. Additional Job Guarantee workers could assist households in rural areas that lack physical and financial capability with clearing and fire infrastructure.
Public and Affordable Housing, from supporting small scale housing co-ops, to large scale developments.
Co-working Spaces, providing infrastructure and community for small businesses and start-ups.
Community Arts Projects including mural painting, community theatre groups, community choirs and music groups, art classes.
Sharing Economy Projects – organising structures to share a wide range of things such as tools, garden produce, car-pooling etc.
Libraries and Community Centres – expanding and upgrading these facilities to increase group spaces, computer facilities, and learning areas.
Vacant blocks need workers to clean up, create gardens and plant trees.
Playgrounds – refurbishing existing and establishing new playgrounds.
Building restoration of historical and significant sites, as well as community infrastructure.
Bicycle paths and other infrastructure to support cycling.
School and Teaching Assistants – increased help for teachers so students can have individual attention where needed, and schools can provide quality after school care and other services.
Elder Care in the Community – everything needed to keep people out of residential aged care for as long as possible.
Offender Rehabilitation – services for former prison inmates are presently grossly inadequate, resulting in a lot of unnecessary re-offending.
Skills Projects – people with skills could teach a wide range of subjects, e.g. home maintenance, gardening, cooking, sewing, recycling, languages, and anything for which there are enough people in the local community to arrange classes.
Family Support Workers and Mentors to assist families who are struggling with a range of problems, such as housing, parenting, financial issues etc
Counselling Services – affordable and available counselling can prevent mental illness and suicides and help people cope better with crises.
Mental Health Services – better support for those with chronic mental illness, especially housing, physical health and meaningful work, prevents hospital admissions and suicides.
Solar Power Projects ranging from small rooftop installations, to medium-sized farms on commercial buildings, to large-scale farms in rural areas.
Home Energy Efficiency – upgrading insulation, appliances, hot water systems.
Battery Storage Projects ranging from small household, to medium commercial, to very large statewide projects.
Electricity Distribution – large interconnector projects to link and stabilise the national electricity grid.
There are many other plans and documents that provide detailed proposals for the future of sustainable work in Australia.
Beyond Zero Emissions One Million Jobs plan
Clean Energy Council: Renewable energy jobs in Australia: Stage One
The Climate Council’s Clean Jobs plan
The Greens Economic Recovery plan, which includes a Job Guarantee for young people under 30 years of age