Labour Markets in Transition
Edited by Ruud Muffels
Chapter 11: Labour Market Transitions in Australia: Employment, Flexibility and Security in a Liberal Welfare Regime
Stephen Ziguras and Peter Stricker 11.1 INTRODUCTION 11.1.1 The Australian Liberal Welfare Regime During the 20th century, Australia developed a welfare state based on award coverage, compulsory arbitration and centralised wage fixing to provide a ‘living wage’ and protection from insecurity for workers, and tariff barriers to ensure profits and protection from competition for industry (Castles, 1988). Following World War II, this system was extended through a commitment to full employment policy and a minimalist social security system for those in temporary unemployment. Castles (1996) argued that the Australian welfare state – labelled the ‘wage-earners’ welfare state’ – shared some features of Esping-Andersen’s (1990) typology of a liberal regime, but was distinctive in that many welfare provisions were incorporated into the labour market. Specifically, the high minimum wage, a centralised bargaining, ‘unfair dismissal’ legislation, industry protection and full employment policies all provided workers with security, a high standard of living and a stable income distribution. This system ensured that, although the social security system was tightly targeted and provided low levels of financial support, few people had to rely on it for any length of time. From the 1980’s on, though, the Australian wage earners’ welfare state has changed in significant ways. 11.1.2 Economic Restructuring From the early 1980s onwards, protectionism was replaced by a policy concern with greater integration of the Australian economy with international 282 Flexibility and Employment Security in Europe markets, based on the idea that economic growth would be increasingly determined through international trade. A common theme in...
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