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Mike Smith’s stupidity

The CEO of ANZ Mike Smith urged the government to cut unemployment benefits to induce labour shifts to Western Australia.  This proposal would make sense if unemployment benefits permitted a luxurious lifestyle that inhibited work incentives but that is not the case.  The argument is well analysed by Adele Horin in the SMH.  Unemployment benefits for single workers are around $34 per day.  That must cover rent, food, clothing and transport costs.

Mike Smith himself takes home $27,400 per day for managing the ANZ and, I guess, for offering these pearls of wisdom that are intended to drive some social advantage.

My guess is that the distortions in the labour market for CEOs are worth looking at.  If Smith is as inept and gauche inside his banking domain as he is in offering social commentary he should get the sack.

9 comments to Mike Smith’s stupidity

  • Mel

    I wonder how he thinks people with no money can uproot themselves and go to a WA mine which for most Australians is a thousand or so miles away. Row a hire boat around the coast, perhaps? Chop off his head.

  • conrad

    I must agree with Mel’s last suggestion here. It would be worthwhile looking at the effect that trying to get people to live off this amount (especially for extended periods) has on crime and mental health, both of which might stop people getting jobs in the longer term.

  • rog

    For many unskilled work as a FIFO employee is a golden opportunity to make serious money, if they can stand the challenge. Is not easy but the money is real.

  • Peter Whiteford


    I agree entirely, as written about at:

    The comment by Sean Lamb brings up some of the complexities involved in people applying for jobs interstate.

  • conrad

    I think Sean Lamb just touches the surface, presumably being single, unemployed and without any great commitments — these are the easy cases. What do you do with, for example, unemployed couples with children who have support networks in the state? Do you move the entire family so the children then have no access to their relatives etc. (who might be far better role models/providers of resources for the kids than the parents). Do you break families up and then wonder why the kids end up delinquent when they live with a single low SES parent? etc. . Even just people with people partners are going to be problem — do you force people to break up and create yet more low SES males with mental health problems?

  • Peter Whiteford


    Yes, as you say problems are likely to be greater for families – for example, taking children out of school and away from friends. Even if you are already employed you may well have to balance two people’s job opportunities, and there are also problems facing people who may have to do some caring for their parents.

  • Ken Miles

    Is there actually any significant demand for unskilled labour in the mining industry?

    My impression is that there demand is for highly specialised workers with extensive experience in mining.

  • rog

    There is also demand for ticketed workers eg forklifts.

  • rog

    My advice is anecdotal and needs to be backed up by evidence. From what I hear it’s hardto get people to stay because of the heat and conditions.

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