The critical environmental and sustainability issues of Australia:
Nearly 13 million Australians are now employed, with more than 8.8 million of those employed full-time. The number of unemployed people who are looking for work fell by nearly 17,000 to just over 700,000. But most economists expect unemployment to rise. The Australian labour market is showing signs of fatigue, with employment growth softening and unemployment drifting up, in reference to a rise in the unemployment rate from its low of 4.9 per cent early this year. The overall youth unemployment rate rose 0.3 percentage points over the first 11 months of the year, with 11.8 percent of 15-24-year-olds seeking work out of a job. At the same time as younger people are struggling to find work, or enough hours at work, many more older Australians have come back into the workforce, especially women aged 60-64.
- Poverty and Inequality
Australia has the 14th highest poverty rate out of the 34 wealthiest countries in the OECD – higher than the average for the OECD. A 2018 report Poverty in Australia found that there are just over 3 million people (13.2%) living below the poverty line of 50% of median income – including 739,000 children (17.3%). One in eight adults and more than one in six children are living in poverty, and many of those are living in “deep poverty” – a staggering $135 per week below the poverty line on average.
- Economic Growth
Australia holds the world record among developed countries for the longest period of uninterrupted economic growth. But there are signs of this remarkable streak being in serious trouble, owing to the chaotic nature of the country’s economic system, where most productive assets are privately owned and the major decisions regarding how to use them are made by the market. In this paradigm, the livelihoods of current and future generations of Australians are being left to chance.
- Environmental Issues
Australia is not on track to meet its 2030 emissions targets under the Paris agreement and needs to bring its environment policies into line with the “scale of the challenge” the country is facing, one of the world’s pre-eminent economic institutions says. In a major report on Australia’s environmental performance, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development also finds the status of Australia’s biodiversity is “poor and worsening” and the government’s national threatened species strategy will fail unless it is expanded and funding increased.
From 2011 to 2018, homelessness increased by 14% nationally and rough sleeping – the most extreme form of homelessness – increased by 20%. In Melbourne, homelessness increased by 200% in that period. A report by the Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (Ahuri), released on Thursday, said the proportion of people experiencing homelessness in capital cities had increased from 48% to 63% over the period studied, 2001 to 2016. Right now, there is not enough affordable stock to house Australia’s bottom 9% of income earners. There is one irrefutable solution to the homeless problem and that is to increase supply by building more housing. Yet successive governments have failed to build infrastructure to keep up with the problem.