How can we lift wages? Wages vs unemployment and more

Rotayjay

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If you're wondering why you haven't received a decent pay rise in a while, you're not alone: this is now the longest period of slow wage growth in Australia since the Great Depression.

https://theconversation.com/the-five-not-so-easy-steps-that-would-push-wage-growth-higher-107510

The Global Financial Crisis and Recession has come and gone, but Australia's crawling pay packets are part of a global trend of rising economic inequality known to sociologists as the 'Great U-Turn'. In the more primitive days of our society, inequality was marked. In the mid-twentieth century there was much shared prosperity in the developed world.

Shared prosperity then started going out of fashion again. Since the 1980s, the 1% or 0.1% (whichever way you want to look at it) wealthiest people are now increasingly vacuuming up most economic gains for their benefit, and their benefit alone. This is aided and abetted by governments the world over implementing trickle-down economic policies, under an ideological, almost quasi-religious belief that if you cut taxes for the wealthiest, the benefits will flow through to everyone.

How's that thirty-year experiment working? Many Australians are struggling to stay afloat, even so-called middle class Australians are now entering housing rental stress, and the share of earnings that are distributed to employees has shrunk to pre-1960s levels. In other words, businesses in Australia and around the world are doing quite well but keeping more and more of that benefit for themselves. They are withholding significant pay rises because they can.

The article linked above proposes some interesting reforms but implementing any of them would prove very challenging, even for any future Labor government.
 

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CheapCharlie

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I posted an article in another thread about this yesterday
I think its worth sharing here again...

New research: Australia’s immigration system undercuts workers

Yesterday, a group of labour academics released a book, entitled The Wages Crisis in Australia, which bemoans Australia’s anaemic wages growth and offers policy prescriptions.

Locked away in chapters 13 and 14 are incendiary analyses on the great Australian migrant wage rort, which is unambiguously lowering employment standards and undercutting local workers.

"...Ultimately, Australia’s so-called skilled immigration system is one giant rort that’s all about lowering labour costs for employers by crushing wages and abrogating their responsibility for training, while also feeding the growth lobby more consumers.

It needs root-and-branch reform, starting with dramatically lowering the overall permanent migrant intake, as well as setting a wage floor for ‘skilled’ migrants at the 80th to 90th percentile of earnings, thus ensuring the scheme is used sparingly by employers on only the highest skilled migrants, not as a general labour market tool for accessing cheap foreign labour."


Below are key excepts from Chapter 13 entitled Temporary migrant workers (TMWs), underpayment and predatory business models, written by Iain Campbell:
https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2018/11/australias-immigration-system-undercuts-australian-workers/

This chapter argues that the expansion of temporary labour migration is a significant development in Australia and that it has implications for wage stagnation…

Three main facts about their presence in Australia are relevant to the discussion of wage stagnation. First, there are large numbers of TMWs in Australia, currently around 1.2 million persons. Second, those numbers have increased strongly over the past 15 years. Third, when employed, many TMWs are subject to exploitation, including wage payments that fall below — sometimes well below — the minimum levels specified in employment regulation…

One link to slow wages growth, as highlighted by orthodox economics, stems from the simple fact of increased numbers, which add to labour supply and thereby help to moderate wages growth. This chapter argues, however, that the more salient point concerns the way many TMWs are mistreated within the workplace in industry sectors such as food services, horticulture, construction, personal services and cleaning. TMW underpayments, which appear both widespread in these sectors and systemic, offer insights into labour market dynamics that are also relevant to the general problem of slow wages growth…

Official stock data indicate that the visa programmes for international students, temporary skilled workers and working holiday makers have tripled in numbers since the late 1990s… In all, the total number of TMWs in Australia is around 1.2 million persons. If we include New Zealand citizens and permanent residents, who can enter Australia under a special subclass 444 visa, without time limits on their stay and with unrestricted work rights (though without access to most social security payments), then the total is close to 2 million persons… TMWs now make up around 6% of the total Australian workforce…

Decisions by the federal Coalition government under John Howard to introduce easier pathways to permanent residency for temporary visa holders, especially international students and temporary skilled workers, gave a major impetus to TMW visa programmes.

Most international students and temporary skilled workers, together with many working holiday makers, see themselves as involved in a project of ‘staggered’ or ‘multi-step’ migration, whereby they hope to leap from their present status into a more long-term visa status, ideally permanent residency. One result, as temporary migration expands while the permanent stream remains effectively capped, is a lengthening queue of onshore applicants for permanent residency…

Though standard accounts describe Australian immigration as oriented to skilled labour, this characterisation stands at odds with the abundant evidence on expanding temporary migration and the character of TMW jobs. It is true that many TMWs, like their counterparts in the permanent stream, are highly qualified and in this sense skilled. However, the fact that their work is primarily in lower-skilled jobs suggests that it is more accurate, as several scholars point out, to speak of a shift in Australia towards a de facto low-skilled migration programme

A focus on raw numbers of TMWs may miss the main link to slow wages growth. It is the third point concerning underpayments and predatory business models that seems richest in implications. This point suggests, first and most obviously, added drag on wages growth in sectors where such underpayments and predatory business models have become embedded. If they become more widely practised, underpayments pull down average hourly wages. If a substantial number of firms in a specific labour market intensify strategies of labour cost minimisation by pushing wage rates below the legal floor, it can unleash a dynamic of competition around wage rates that foreshadows wage decline rather than wage growth for employees…

Increases in labour supply allow employers in sectors already oriented to flexible and low-wage employment, such as horticulture and food services, to sustain and extend strategies of labour cost minimisation… The arguments and evidence cited above suggest a spread of predatory business models within low-wage industries.37 They suggest an unfolding process of degradation in these labour markets…

And below are extracts from Chapter 14, entitled Is there a wages crisis facing skilled temporary migrants?, by Joanna Howe:

Scarcely a day goes by without another headline of wage theft involving temporary migrant workers…

In this chapter we explore a largely untold story in relation to temporary migrant workers… it exposes a very real wages crisis facing workers on the Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) visa (formerly the 457 visa) in Australia. This crisis has been precipitated by the federal government’s decision to freeze the salary floor for temporary skilled migrant workers since 2013… the government has chosen to put downward pressure on real wages for temporary skilled migrants, thereby surreptitiously allowing the TSS visa to be used in lower-paid jobs…

In Australia, these workers are employed via the TSS visa and they must be paid no less than a salary floor. This salary floor is called the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold (TSMIT). TSMIT was introduced in 2009 in response to widespread concerns during the Howard Government years of migrant worker exploitation. This protection was considered important because an independent review found that many 457 visa workers were not receiving wages equivalent to those received by Australian workers…

In effect, TSMIT is intended to act as a proxy for the skill level of a particular occupation. It prevents unscrupulous employers misclassifying an occupation at a higher skill level in order to employ a TSS visa holder at a lower level…

TSMIT’s protective ability is only as strong as the level at which it is set. In its original iteration back in 2009, it was set at A$45 220. This level was determined by reference to average weekly earnings for Australians, with the intention that TSMIT would be pegged to this because the Australian government considered it ‘important that TSMIT keep pace with wage growth across the Australian labour market’. This indexation occurred like clockwork for five years. But since 1 July 2013, TSMIT has been frozen at a level of A$53 900. ..


There is now a gap of more than A$26 000 between the salary floor for temporary skilled migrant workers and annual average salaries for Australian workers. This means that the TSS visa can increasingly be used to employ temporary migrant workers in occupations that attract a far lower salary than that earned by the average Australian worker. This begs the question — is the erosion of TSMIT allowing the TSS visa to morph into a general labour supply visa rather than a visa restricted to filling labour market gaps in skilled, high-wage occupations?..

But why would employers go to all the effort of hiring a temporary migrant worker on a TSS visa over an Australian worker?

Renowned Australian demographer Graeme Hugo observed that employers ‘will always have a “demand” for foreign workers if it results in a lowering of their costs’.17 The simplistic notion that employers will only go to the trouble and expense of making a TSS visa application when they want to meet a skill shortage skims over a range of motives an employer may have for using the TSS visa. These could be a reluctance to invest in training for existing or prospective staff, or a desire to move towards a deunionised workforce. Additionally, for some employers, there could be a belief that, despite the requirement that TSS visa workers be employed on equivalent terms to locals, it is easier to avoid paying market salary rates and conditions for temporary migrant workers who have been recognised as being in a vulnerable labour market position. A recent example of this is the massive underpayments of chefs and cooks employed by Australia’s largest high-end restaurant business, Rockpool Dining Group, which found that visa holders were being paid at levels just above TSMIT but well below the award when taking into account the amount of overtime being done…

Put simply, temporary demand for migrant workers often creates a permanent need for them in the labour market. Research shows that in industries where employers have turned to temporary migrants en masse, it erodes wages and conditions in these industries over time, making them less attractive to locals…

A national survey of temporary migrant workers found that 24% of 457 visa holders who responded to the survey were paid less than A$18 an hour. Not only are these workers not being paid in according with TSMIT, but they are also receiving less than the minimum wage. A number of cases also expose creative attempts by employers to subvert TSMIT. Given the challenges many temporary migrants face in accessing legal remedies, these cases are likely only scratching the surface in terms of employer non-compliance with TSMIT…

Combined, then, with the problems with enforcement and compliance, it is not hard to conclude that the failure to index TSMIT is contributing to a wages crisis for skilled temporary migrant workers… So the failure to index the salary floor for skilled migrant workers is likely to affect wages growth for these workers, as well as to have broader implications for all workers in the Australian labour market.

While the book has done an excellent job of dissecting the systemic rorting of temporary migrant workers, which is undermining broader wages growth, it unfortunately has not also addressed the rorting of Australia’s permanent ‘skilled’ migrant program.

As noted previously, not one of the top five occupations granted permanent visas in the skilled stream in 2017-18 were in labour shortage over the past four years, according to the Department of Jobs and Small Business’ “historical list of skills shortages in Australia”.


Moreover, overall skilled migration – both permanent and temporary – continues to run at extreme levels despite actual skills shortages running near recessionary levels, according to the same Department of Jobs and Small Business data:


Remember, it is the permanent migrant intake that is primarily behind Australia’s population increase and therefore the choking of infrastructure and rising housing costs, in addition to dragging down wages. Many migrants also come to Australia initially on temporary visas with the hope of transitioning to one of the many permanent non-humanitarian visas handed out each year (numbering roughly 160,000 in 2017-18).

Therefore, if Australia was to remove the carrot of permanent residency by slashing the intake, it would also automatically reduce the flow of temporary migrants, since the two areas are intrinsically linked. In turn, workers’ bargaining power would be increased.

More broadly, ordinary workers’ cost of living would be reduced through lowering immigration, for example via cheaper housing (both prices and rents) and infrastructure, not to mention sinking the Australian dollar, thereby making trade exposed industries more competitive.

Ultimately, Australia’s so-called skilled immigration system is one giant rort that’s all about lowering labour costs for employers by crushing wages and abrogating their responsibility for training, while also feeding the growth lobby more consumers.

It needs root-and-branch reform, starting with dramatically lowering the overall permanent migrant intake, as well as setting a wage floor for ‘skilled’ migrants at the 80th to 90th percentile of earnings, thus ensuring the scheme is used sparingly by employers on only the highest skilled migrants, not as a general labour market tool for accessing cheap foreign labour.
 

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#3
I posted an article in another thread about this yesterday
I think its worth sharing here again...

New research: Australia’s immigration system undercuts workers

Yesterday, a group of labour academics released a book, entitled The Wages Crisis in Australia, which bemoans Australia’s anaemic wages growth and offers policy prescriptions.

Locked away in chapters 13 and 14 are incendiary analyses on the great Australian migrant wage rort, which is unambiguously lowering employment standards and undercutting local workers.

"...Ultimately, Australia’s so-called skilled immigration system is one giant rort that’s all about lowering labour costs for employers by crushing wages and abrogating their responsibility for training, while also feeding the growth lobby more consumers.

It needs root-and-branch reform, starting with dramatically lowering the overall permanent migrant intake, as well as setting a wage floor for ‘skilled’ migrants at the 80th to 90th percentile of earnings, thus ensuring the scheme is used sparingly by employers on only the highest skilled migrants, not as a general labour market tool for accessing cheap foreign labour."


Below are key excepts from Chapter 13 entitled Temporary migrant workers (TMWs), underpayment and predatory business models, written by Iain Campbell:
https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2018/11/australias-immigration-system-undercuts-australian-workers/
Racist.
 

CheapCharlie

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#4
The Libs/Nats want the cheap labour
But what about Labor and the Greens? It goes against their ideology of workers rights.

For anyone in Sydney, go for a wander through Paddys markets and think of the millions of dollars per years being paid in cash to nearly all those workers you see in the stalls.
When you have such out in the open wage rorting, it says enforcement is not taken seriously
 
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#5
I posted an article in another thread about this yesterday
I think its worth sharing here again...

New research: Australia’s immigration system undercuts workers

Yesterday, a group of labour academics released a book, entitled The Wages Crisis in Australia, which bemoans Australia’s anaemic wages growth and offers policy prescriptions.

Locked away in chapters 13 and 14 are incendiary analyses on the great Australian migrant wage rort, which is unambiguously lowering employment standards and undercutting local workers.

"...Ultimately, Australia’s so-called skilled immigration system is one giant rort that’s all about lowering labour costs for employers by crushing wages and abrogating their responsibility for training, while also feeding the growth lobby more consumers.

It needs root-and-branch reform, starting with dramatically lowering the overall permanent migrant intake, as well as setting a wage floor for ‘skilled’ migrants at the 80th to 90th percentile of earnings, thus ensuring the scheme is used sparingly by employers on only the highest skilled migrants, not as a general labour market tool for accessing cheap foreign labour."


Below are key excepts from Chapter 13 entitled Temporary migrant workers (TMWs), underpayment and predatory business models, written by Iain Campbell:
https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2018/11/australias-immigration-system-undercuts-australian-workers/
Title of article needs some work;

New Research: Rich people once again find a way to exploit people
 
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#8
I can’t believe you call other people plebs.
If people are treated like plebs it’s good to point this out to them to set them free (I’m not the one treating them like plebs). Then they will realise that they are slaves spending all their working lives increasing the wealth for the people in power.

Like seriously the Prime Minister of Australia’s strategy to alleviate the drought was to pray. And then you trust the same bloke when he says immigents are responsible for everything wrong with this country...
 

Rotayjay

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Thread starter #10
I posted an article in another thread about this yesterday
I think its worth sharing here again...

New research: Australia’s immigration system undercuts workers

Yesterday, a group of labour academics released a book, entitled The Wages Crisis in Australia, which bemoans Australia’s anaemic wages growth and offers policy prescriptions.

Locked away in chapters 13 and 14 are incendiary analyses on the great Australian migrant wage rort, which is unambiguously lowering employment standards and undercutting local workers.

"...Ultimately, Australia’s so-called skilled immigration system is one giant rort that’s all about lowering labour costs for employers by crushing wages and abrogating their responsibility for training, while also feeding the growth lobby more consumers.

It needs root-and-branch reform, starting with dramatically lowering the overall permanent migrant intake, as well as setting a wage floor for ‘skilled’ migrants at the 80th to 90th percentile of earnings, thus ensuring the scheme is used sparingly by employers on only the highest skilled migrants, not as a general labour market tool for accessing cheap foreign labour."


Below are key excepts from Chapter 13 entitled Temporary migrant workers (TMWs), underpayment and predatory business models, written by Iain Campbell:
https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2018/11/australias-immigration-system-undercuts-australian-workers/
As I posted in another thread a few months ago (and I stress that this issue is not migrants' fault):

Café owner looks at a Australian-born uni student and thinks 'Why should I pay you the proper casual minimum wage when I've gotten dozens of resumes from international students who will be grateful for $10 an hour?'

Pay manager at a medium business looks at a typical Australian-born white-collar worker and thinks 'Why should I give you a pay rise when there are hundreds of people lining up to do your job for several grand less per year?'

Supply and demand 101. We now see that the current industrial relations system is exposing Australian employees to the worst effects of global labour market forces. Unfortunately human labour is cheap because everybody has to eat, and there are fewer and fewer non-automated tasks for us all to do in exchange for food money. Governments need to think big and seriously consider long-term, large-scale job-creating projects, IR reform, or even perhaps universal basic income. Automation and artificial intelligence could absolutely destroy wages (as well as jobs) in the coming decades.
 

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CheapCharlie

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#13
As I posted in another thread a few months ago (and I stress that this issue is not migrants' fault):

Café owner looks at a Australian-born uni student and thinks 'Why should I pay you the proper casual minimum wage when I've gotten dozens of resumes from international students who will be grateful for $10 an hour?'

Pay manager at a medium business looks at a typical Australian-born white-collar worker and thinks 'Why should I give you a pay rise when there are hundreds of people lining up to do your job for several grand less per year?'

Supply and demand 101. We now see that the current industrial relations system is exposing Australian employees to the worst effects of global labour market forces. Unfortunately human labour is cheap because everybody has to eat, and there are fewer and fewer non-automated tasks for us all to do in exchange for food money. Governments need to think big and seriously consider long-term, large-scale job-creating projects, IR reform, or even perhaps universal basic income. Automation and artificial intelligence could absolutely destroy wages (as well as jobs) in the coming decades.
Its the fault of successive governments getting addicted to revenue from overseas students and visa applications from business peoples and them not enforcing (or adequately funding perhaps) the bodies that are meant to be keeping an eye on wages rorts
 

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#14
If people are treated like plebs it’s good to point this out to them to set them free (I’m not the one treating them like plebs). Then they will realise that they are slaves spending all their working lives increasing the wealth for the people in power.
Are you employed?
Like seriously the Prime Minister of Australia’s strategy to alleviate the drought was to pray.
While prayer cannot alleviate a drought, it is also true that nothing can alleviate a drought, aside from rain. What strategy would you propose?
 

Rob

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#15
Immigration isn't the problem, if this was just an Australian issue then you might be able to pin the problem on that but slow wage growth has been seen across many developed economies over the past ten years.
Most of those developed economies have gone through a recession or 2 over that time though.

In the end there's never ust one reason for anything. The law of supply and demand dictates that if you increase the number of people, the price of labour is going to drop, so immigration rates are probably a factor. But the alternative might be rampant inflation which probably means wage rises, but less overall purchasing power. Given inflation is pretty low, I wouldn't call current rates of wage growth a crisis.
 
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#16
Are you employed?

While prayer cannot alleviate a drought, it is also true that nothing can alleviate a drought, aside from rain. What strategy would you propose?
I’m a slave

Improve irrigation, improve water capture and storage, improve water management and division, mobility of farming land, mobility of pasture, storage of food stock, drought resistant crops, water transportation, and finally but most important, find out whoever the rich assholes are and mitigate their affects.
 

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I’m a slave

Improve irrigation, improve water capture and storage, improve water management and division, mobility of farming land, mobility of pasture, storage of food stock, drought resistant crops, water transportation, and finally but most important, find out whoever the rich assholes are and mitigate their affects.
Do you realise how much investment and infrastructure has gone into all these things the past 100 years?
 

Seeds

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If you're wondering why you haven't received a decent pay rise in a while, you're not alone: this is now the longest period of slow wage growth in Australia since the Great Depression.

https://theconversation.com/the-five-not-so-easy-steps-that-would-push-wage-growth-higher-107510

The Global Financial Crisis and Recession has come and gone, but Australia's crawling pay packets are part of a global trend of rising economic inequality known to sociologists as the 'Great U-Turn'. In the more primitive days of our society, inequality was marked. In the mid-twentieth century there was much shared prosperity in the developed world.

Shared prosperity then started going out of fashion again. Since the 1980s, the 1% or 0.1% (whichever way you want to look at it) wealthiest people are now increasingly vacuuming up most economic gains for their benefit, and their benefit alone. This is aided and abetted by governments the world over implementing trickle-down economic policies, under an ideological, almost quasi-religious belief that if you cut taxes for the wealthiest, the benefits will flow through to everyone.

How's that thirty-year experiment working? Many Australians are struggling to stay afloat, even so-called middle class Australians are now entering housing rental stress, and the share of earnings that are distributed to employees has shrunk to pre-1960s levels. In other words, businesses in Australia and around the world are doing quite well but keeping more and more of that benefit for themselves. They are withholding significant pay rises because they can.

The article linked above proposes some interesting reforms but implementing any of them would prove very challenging, even for any future Labor government.
Poor low income earners have higher real incomes then they did 30 years ago. How come you dont mention this?

The only area for complaint is young poor people have been screwed on higher education and housing prices. You also dont mention this. How odd.
 

Seeds

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#20
I'm sure the economists out there know how to work out what to pin this down to but it does seem like globalisation of labor markets would be a key factor. Hard to compete with countries that don't have the same expensive IR laws and protections that we have here in Aus.
This is a big part as is reduced labour union power.

Wages in the west for unskilled labour have been too high though. Effectively subsidised by trade barriers which have harmed people in poor countries, harmed high skilled workers and harmed capital owners. Over the past 30 years we have seen the gradual adjustment that needed to happen to better reallocate resources.
 

kranky al

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#21
D1B06D5B-77DF-4CCB-9725-24C59BB31B80.jpeg
Poor low income earners have higher real incomes then they did 30 years ago. How come you dont mention this?

The only area for complaint is young poor people have been screwed on higher education and housing prices. You also dont mention this. How odd.
Wait wat?


The minimum wage in 1975 was $82.90

Ie 6.49 x the yearly minimum wage purchased the median house

Or 345 loaves of bread from a weeks wage



The minimum wage in 2018 is $694.40

Ie 23.54 x the yearly minimum wage purchases the median house

Or 244.5 loaves of bread from a weeks wage


The damage caused to low income people by people talking utter utter demonstrably false yet easily checkable facts is unbelievable.

The only thing thats cheaper for them is all the consumer shit they cant afford as their basic needs soak up all their available income.

Instead of purchasing a house - bringing up their kids, paying it off and selling to downsize - the money gained becoming a sizeable part of their retirement - they are trapped as renters forever.
 
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View attachment 590973
Wait wat?


The minimum wage in 1975 was $82.90

Ie 6.49 x the minimum wage purchased the median house

Or 345 loaves of bread



The minimum wage in 2018 is $694.40

Ie 23.54 x the minimum wage purchases the median house

Or 244.5 loaves of bread


The damage caused to low income people by people talking utter utter demonstrably false yet easily checkable facts is unbelievable.

The only thing thats cheaper for them is all the consumer shit they cant afford as their basic needs soak up all their available income.

Instead of purchasing a house - bringing up their kids, paying it off and selling to downsize - the money gained becoming a sizeable part of their retirement - they are trapped as renters forever.
You have the truth of it, a whole generation lost to the housing market. Not even their fault. If the Gubmint does not want to do anything about it, I believe at the very least they should admit this to these people.
 

DaRick

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#25
Its positively darwinian


Ill see myself out....
In all seriousness, my understanding of Darwin is that it's really a 'man's town'.

It's apparently not that great a place to raise a family because of the oppressive conditions. It makes Brisbane resemble Melbourne.

It was once (and probably still is) a public servant's city.
 
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