By Kristian Silva.
Tensions flared on Monday night’s Q&A when industrial relations expert Grace Collier said the unemployed could solve their problems by starting their own businesses.
On a night when industrial relations was a key focus of the program, Ms Collier’s remarks sparked several on the panel into life and surprised many in the Melbourne studio audience.
The panel was discussing the future of manufacturing — namely whether governments should subsidise certain industries to keep them afloat and save jobs.
But Ms Collier, a News Corp columnist, said governments did not owe workers any favours.
“Nobody has an entitlement to a job. Society doesn’t owe you a job. The Government can’t get you a job. The Government shouldn’t have to get you a job. There’s no such thing as Government money. There’s your money and my money,” she said.
“Everybody has something that they’re good at … You work out what you’re good at and you try and make a career out of that.”
When Greens Leader Richard Di Natale pointed out there were less jobs than people in Australia, Ms Collier fired back.
“People can start their own businesses,” she said, leading to several people in the audience to start heckling.
“It’s terrible, isn’t it? Wouldn’t it be awful to have to start your own business because someone else has to give you a job?” Ms Collier said.
“Why don’t you start a business and hire some people? Go on. I dare you.”
“I’m busy at the moment,” Mr Di Natale replied.
Australian Council of Trade Unions president Ged Kearney interjected, saying “nobody has any money in their pockets to spend in that business”.
“We are losing our manufacturing industry and there’s been absolutely no plan from this Government to try to reinvigorate manufacturing, to find where we can have a competitive edge in the global economy,” she said.
Labor MP Tim Watts said the Coalition Federal Government had “nothing” for manufacturing industry workers.
However John Roskham, the executive director of right-wing think tank Institute of Public Affairs, said it was “desperately unfair” for the Government to have to subsidise each job in the car industry to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.
Economist Judith Sloan disagreed with the whole panel, saying the Australian labour market had been strong for some time.
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