The long-term challenges facing the Australian economy beyond the mining boom must be solved through collaboration, not confrontation, unions will tell the Prime Minister's Economic Forum today.
ACTU Secretary Dave Oliver said recent data confirmed the resilience of the economy and labour market, but Australia faced serious challenges to deliver more equality and secure jobs so the prosperity is maintained and shared in future decades.
He said that the overall strength of the economy should not obscure the fact that there are regions and sectors that are struggling and that the economy needs to diversify beyond mining.
Heading into the forum in Brisbane, unions are calling for the establishment of a series of industry councils where unions, employers and government can identify problems and develop solutions. Unions will also present to the forum a range of options for how secure jobs can be protected and created, and economic prosperity can be shared more broadly.
"The latest official data shows Australia continues to enjoy high rates of economic growth, job creation, solid wages growth and improving productivity," Mr Oliver said.
"However, despite the recent run of good economic news, we must be planning now to ensure secure jobs and economic growth continues well beyond the current mining boom. The benefits of prosperity have not spread enough across the community. Inequality is widening and the multispeed economy is a reality.
"Some sectors, particularly trade-exposed industries such as manufacturing, finance and tourism are under pressure from the high exchange rate and because of the global downturn, with jobs lost or under threat.
"The mining boom will not last forever, and we must avoid a hollowed out economy. We need to continue to diversify our economic base, and to support sectors that are struggling. "This will be achieved through collaboration between unions, business and government to identify problems and devise solutions.
"We have a shared interest in a prosperous economy, and unions are keen to participate in taskforces in industries like tourism, hospitality, finance, construction, mining and childcare and to plan infrastructure, skills and public services.
"The objective of the Economic Forum must be to plan for a strong economy that is fair and prosperous, offers secure jobs to all who want them, and equal opportunities for all.
"What it must not become is a platform for a business ideology of diminished public services, less regulation, lower corporate tax, and fewer workplace rights."