Candidate S. Jackson Webinar
Report. Robert Durkacz 31 Aug 2020.
Mr Shirley Jackson will be a candidate for councillor for the south ward of Moreland, the South Ward being Brunswick but only up to Albion St. This is a report on a Zoom webinar that he held on 27 August 2020.
Mr Jackson introduces himself in an email as "a progressive economist" and has spent "the last ten years of his life trying to convince politicians that our community needs government to play a stronger role in managing the economy, and I’m sick and tired of waiting for them to listen."
I presume that "Shirley" is a nickname. For a friendly nickname I prefer, say, Jacko.
In a later email Jacko invited us to listen in on a webinar with three economic colleagues, one calling in from the UK. It was not free, probably the admission fees go to campaigning expenses.
I don't know how big is Jacko's mailing list. Most likely it is based on ALP mailing lists but I want to assume that Jacko would like to reach everyone in Moreland south ward if he could. Having said that the audience for the webinar seemed to based on the membership of the Brunswick ALP branch together with other ALP or union people who might be taking part in Jacko's council campaign. There were 20 odd in attendance.
My report on the meeting is based on memory. I would welcome a transcript or video record and it would be fine to carry it on this website.
Jacko started the meeting by addressing the listeners as if they were all branch members. I was a member of the branch at the time Jacko joined in early 2020. It is possible therefore that what he would say to branch members might differ from what he might say to rate-payers or voters at large, but I will assume not as everything was consistent with his announced interest in government intervention in the economy. He made an ambiguous statement at this point in his warm-up that he knows how much effort the branch puts into council policy work. I know how little work the branch put in. Both statements are true.
Jacko said he was as much as a candidate for the ALP as an individual candidate.
He said he had trouble getting through university and finding a professional job. His first job was as a union official. He told us more of his CV. So he is a professional economist but a modest one.
The title of the seminar was: Can We Build More Democratic Local Economies?
It was academic in style in that the speakers gave reports on specific themes. Though there was nothing technical in any of the reports Jacko should have known that branch members would not be interested in this kind of thing - he is a newcomer to the branch. [Correction 3 Sep. Mr Jackson has been a Brunswick ALP branch member since 2012.]
The first speaker was Dr Martin O'Neill a UK academic in political philosophy. He appears to be an entrenched academic who has written a number of books. Dr O'Neill was speaking from the perspective of chronically depressed environments in the north of England (Cleveland county, Preston). He wants to recruit immobile local businesses to intentionally cultivate local business efforts. Likewise councils should shape their procurement expenditures to benefit the locals. Doing this, Preston supposedly got itself out of the bottom 20% of economically deprived areas in the UK.
The second speaker was Dr Lisa Fowkes. You can read her bio in Jacko's promotion for the event. Lisa is from the welfare sector. Lisa was kind enough to provide me with a summary of the themes she spoke about, as follows.
"Theme was how local government can influence local employment:
- "Attitude to internal challenges like aging workforce
- "Use of procurement to support social enterprise
- "Using and fostering networks to bring employers, people needing jobs together"
So that is in sympathy to the first speaker's views.
The third speaker was Osmond Chiu from Per Capita and the CPSU, who seems to be a colleague of Jacko's. He was telling us that there has been some kind of retreat from out-sourcing by public institutions going on. The connection with the previous two speaker's themes would be that out-sourcing by the council is not desirable compared to spending the money on locally employed people.
Questions from the audience were taken. There were no questions from the branch members (which included former mayors). There was a question from a union official in the context of Jobkeeper type payments about how to argue for the council to continue to pay people who were no longer working for the council (but would be if not for Covid-19). The answer from Dr O'Neill was to ask ratepayers to take a wide view of their responsibilities and interests.
Through and through, Jacko's webinar was about some kind of welfare-state response to economic malaise. It is hard to imagine Brunswick residents relating to this. Preston in northern England is not the Preston a couple of suburbs away from Brunswick. Jacko is invited to clarify his ideas and we will publish whatever he writes.
This is the promotional invitation for the webinar that gives the speaker's bios. Reproduced without permission.
When the pandemic hit, local economies across the state collapsed. Hundreds of hospitality and retail businesses shut their doors, thousands of young workers were thrown out of work, and everyone has had their livelihoods affected. There's only one problem with this story:
The coronavirus didn’t create the economic crisis, it just exposed the cracks that have been in the foundation for the past 20 years.
We don’t need to ‘snap back’, we need to move forwards.
We don’t just need to survive the crisis, we need to thrive in a new economy, and we need local governments that will build an economy that works for all of us.
If you agree, I'd love for you to join me a discussion about alternative models to local economic development with some fantastic guests.
Dr Martin O'Neill is a Senior Lecturer in Political Philosophy at the University of York, whose work on social justice and inequality sits at the intersection of political philosophy, political economy and public policy. He is the co-author of The Case for Community Wealth Building with Joe Guinan.
Dr Lisa Fowkes leads Social Ventures Australia’s Employment Ventures work, which aims to contribute to system change by generating new ideas and insights as well as improving the effectiveness of existing approaches. Lisa has spent over 15 years as a practitioner, researcher and policy advocate in the area of ‘welfare to work’, included senior roles at a large national non-profit employment services provider, working with local community based organisations across the country to improve their capacity to support long term unemployed people into work.
Osmond Chiu is a Research Fellow at Per Capita and the Senior Policy and Research Officer at the Community and Public Sector Union. He is also an elected rank-and-file member of the NSW Labor Policy Forum. He has written for the Guardian Australia, Sydney Morning Herald, Canberra Times and South China Morning Post on a range of topics. His recent research work has been on the reversal of privatisation in Australia, in collaboration with the Transnational Institute.
RSVP HERE to secure your ticket and join us for a discussion about what a new economy could look like.
In Solidarity, ...