March 2005

    universityofnewcastle.gif - 7993 Bytes

    A Future That Works

    Jobs growth and environmental sustainability compatible

    There doesn’t have to be a trade-off between jobs and the environment.
    That’s the message from the conference A Future that Works: economics, employment and the environment that was held at the University of Newcastle in early December. Hosted by the University’s Centre of Full Employment and Equity (CofFEE), the three-day event incorporated CofFEE’s annual Path to Full Employment Conference as well as the 11th National Conference on Unemployment.

    The conference brought together over 100 academics, policy makers, service providers and social activists from across Australia and around the world to examine environmentally sustainable ways to promote full employment and greater social equity. The aim of the conference was to develop the link between labour market issues and environmental issues to advance the debate about social and environmental sustainability.

    According to CofFEE Director, Professor Bill Mitchell, “The issues that were explored at the conference, namely what is required for a future that supports social and economic sustainability, are not adequately addressed by policymakers. The conference aimed to address this gap.”

    Dsc08667 vivian hutchinson coffee conference newcastle university  dec03.jpg - 39864 Bytes

    One of the keynote speakers at the Conference, Vivian Hutchinson, Community Advisor to the New Zealand Mayors Taskforce for jobs.

    Keynote addresses included a presentation on The New Zealand Mayors Task Force for Jobs by its Community Advisor, Vivian Hutchinson, who is also cofounder and Trustee of the Jobs Research Trust, New Zealand. Mr Hutchinson’s paper highlighted the importance of a common cultural vision for achieving full employment and the social importance of employment opportunities for youth.

    These are goals that the Mayor’s Taskforce embodies and promotes at a local level. CofFEE’s research work has been used in the NZ Government recent announcement of a Youth Job Guarantee which is a positive and tangible outcome of the Taskforce activity.

    David Thompson, CEO of Jobs Australia which is the peak body representing not-for-profi t Job Network providers in Australia, took up a complementary theme in his presentation, which highlighted the need for paid employment opportunities in regional Australia being generated by public sector activity.

    The role of government in promoting full employment was a key area of discussion at the conference. Warren Mosler, Associate Fellow of Cambridge University’s Centre for Economic and Public Policy, argued that there are no fi nancial constraints on government spending and that governments must spend in order to achieve and maintain full employment, contrary to the current macroeconomic paradigm which emphasises budget surpluses.

    This central role of government in achieving full employment was also highlighted by Professor L Randall Wray, of the Center for Full Employment and Price Stability (C-FEPS), University of Missouri, USA. His presentation, a joint paper with Professor Bill Mitchell, CofFEE Director, answered in detail critics of CofFEE’s Job Guarantee approach to full employment.

    Professor Wray introduced Argentina’s Head of Household Job Guarantee scheme which was introduced at the height of the recent crisis in that country.

    The scheme, inspired by work of CofFEE and C-FEPS, has been a spectacular success and offi cial data from Argentina’s Economic Ministry show that between May 2002 and the 3rd Quarter 2003, 1,995,000 new jobs (18.8 per cent growth) were created, 618,000 from the Head of Household Program and 1,377,000 from the general labour market (13.3 per cent growth). In the recent period, general labour market growth has steadily absorbed workers from the guaranteed jobs and unemployment has continued to decline, exactly the way CofFEE’s Job Guarantee predicts. This real world application of the research work of CofFEE is highly significant.

    As would be expected, leading environmental economists also participated in the conference. Professor Peter Victor of York University, Canada presented a paper which explored how employment, anti-poverty and sustainable environmental objectives can be met in a low or no growth economy. It was the first time Professor Victor had presented this work to an academic audience, and the positive feedback from the conference was evidence of support for the achievement of these aims.

    cover200503.jpg - 27438 Bytes

    Over 50 other papers were presented at the conference. A book of Proceedings is available through the CofFEE Shop link at the CofFEE website

    Information about the 2005 event, also to be held in early December, is being made available at