“It Is Clear That We Are Not All In This Together.”

Written by:
21 May 2020
“It Is Clear That We Are Not All In This Together.” - Featured image

A daily email by free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs, providing the latest economic data and policy measures for journalists, commentators and IPA members.

New research released today by the Institute of Public Affairs has found that the private sector has suffered job losses at 4.5 times the rate of the public sector since the COVID-19 lockdown measures were imposed in March.

Over the past two months wages in the public sector have decreased by 2.6 per cent, compared to a 5.7 per cent decrease in the private sector. This means that wage decreases in the private sector were 2.2 times higher than wage decreases in the public sector.

The public sector recovery commenced in early April: Over the past month, public sector jobs have increased by 2.7 per cent, while wages have increased by 3.7 per cent in the public sector but decreased by 2.2 per cent in the private sector.

Daily IPA comment, attributable to Daniel Wild, Director of Research at the Institute of Public Affairs:

“This is further evidence that there are two Australias: those who are sheltered from the negative impacts of the lockdown measures in the public sector and quasi-public institutions, and those exposed in the private, productive sectors of the economy.”

“It is clear that we are not all in this together. There is no concept of shared sacrifice amongst the public sector workforce.”

“Not only are public sector workers better off than private sector workers, but it is those in the public sector who decide when those in the private sector are allowed to go back to work. This is a very worrying and serious moral hazard where those responsible for the lockdown measures do not suffer the consequences of those measures.”

“Governments must focus on boosting jobs and wages in the private sector, which means easing the lockdown measures faster than currently planned, cutting red and green tape, and making it easier for small businesses to employ new staff.”

Research prepared by IPA Research Fellows Kurt Wallace and Cian Hussey. 

Latest Changes


  • 7,079 confirmed cases and 100 deaths. There 535 active cases and 6,444 recoveries. There are 43 cases in hospital and 9 of those are in intensive care.
  • The ABS today released detailed labour force data for the month of April. The data shows:
    • 1.8 million employed Australians are working less hours than usual for economic reasons (“no work, not enough work available, or stood down”). The number is over 1.3 million higher than March.
    • 770,000 Australians classed as employed worked zero hours in the reference week due to economic reasons. The number is ten times higher than the 77,000 recorded in march.
  • 1.65 million people have withdrawn $13.2 billion from their superannuation under the early access scheme, according to the Treasury.




Labour force paid by the government

73.3 per cent of the labour force is either directly employed by Commonwealth and state governments or local councils, or is in receipt of the JobSeeker unemployment payment or the JobKeeper wage subsidy:

  • Public sector: 2 million (15.1 per cent of labour force).
  • JobSeeker: 1.6 million (12.1 per cent of labour force).
  • JobKeeper: 6.1 million (46.1 per cent of labour force).
  • Total: 9.7 million (73.3 per cent of labour force).
  • Labour force: 13.24 million.


  • New South Wales – All schools will return to full-time face-to-face classes from May 25.
  • Victoria – A staggered return to classrooms will begin on May 26, with prep, grades one and two, and years 11 and 12 returning. Students in years three to 10 will return on June 9.
  • Queensland – From May 11 kindergarten, prep and years 1, 11 and 12 return. Remaining students planned to return from May 25.
  • Western Australia – Face-to-face teaching in place for all students, but attendance is optional until May 18.
  • South Australia – Schools reopened and students encouraged to attend.
  • Tasmania – Home-learning still in place, but schools open for parents who are unable to supervise their children.
  • Northern Territory – Returned to classrooms on April 20.
  • ACT – Plan to return during term 2. Primary school children, and year 7 and 12 students will return first.

Plans to lift restrictions


From 15 May

  • Home gatherings limited to a maximum of five visitors from separate households.
  • Gathering limit increased to 10 people for outdoor activities.
  • Weddings limited to 10 guests.
  • Funerals allowed 20 people indoors and 30 people outdoors.
  • Religious gatherings limited to 10 people.

From 1 June

  • Intra-state travel restrictions are completely lifted.
  • Museums, art galleries and libraries can reopen.
  • Pubs, clubs and cafes can have 20 patrons.


From 13 May

  • Home gatherings limited to a maximum of five visitors from separate households.
  • Gathering limit increased to 10 people for outdoor activities, and religious gatherings.
  • Weddings will be limited to 10 people plus the couple and celebrant.
  • Funerals allowed 20 people indoors and 30 people outdoors.
  • Food and drink businesses remain limited to takeaway and home delivery.

From 1 June

  • Cafes, restaurants, and pubs will be allowed to serve 20 people per enclosed area.

From 22 June

  • The restrictions on cafes, restaurants, and pubs may be raised to 50 people.

From mid July

  • The restriction on cafes, restaurants, and pubs may be raised to 100 people.


From 15 May

  • Home gatherings limited to a maximum of five visitors from separate households.
  • Gatherings allowed for up to 10 people for most outdoor non-contact activities, libraries, weddings, religious services.
  • Funerals up to 20 people indoors or 30 people outdoors.
  • Recreational travel allowed within 150km of home in metro areas. Travel up to 500km from home is permitted in regional areas, and travellers can stay in a location (accommodation, family or friend) overnight.
  • 10 person maximum for dining in at restaurants, cafes, pubs, licensed clubs, RSLs and hotels. 20 person limit for licensed venues in regional areas.

From 12 June

  • Gatherings of up to 20 people.
  • Funerals allowed up to 50 people.
  • Recreational travel limit raised to 250km. Camping and accommodation restrictions lifted, including caravan parks.

From 10 July

  • Gatherings of up to 100 people.

South Australia

From 11 May

  • Gathering limit increased to 10 people.
  • Funerals allowed up to 20 people indoors and 30 people outdoors.

From 22 May

  • Restaurants and cafes will be able to seat 20 patrons, half inside and half outside, and serve alcohol.

From 5 June

  • Pubs and clubs can reopen.

Western Australia

From 18 May

  • Public gathering limit increased to 20 people.
  • Weddings and funerals allowed up to 20 people indoors and 30 people outdoors.
  • Some regional travel bans remain in place.

Stage 3

  • Due to begin around four weeks after stage 2.


From 18 May

  • Gatherings increased to 10 people.
  • Households capped at 5 visitors.
  • 30 people allowed at outdoor funerals. Funerals increased to a 20 person limit on 11 May.

From 15 June

  • Gatherings increased to a 20 person limit.
  • Review of household visitor restrictions.
  • Funeral limit lifted to 50 people.

From 13 June

  • Gatherings maximum limit will be lifted to between 50 and 100 people.
  • Aged care homes will be allowed five visitors and multiple visits.

Northern Territory

From 1 May

  • Restrictions lifted on a host of indoor and outdoor recreational activities.

From 15 May

  • More restrictions lifted on businesses, including food services, gyms, and public libraries.

From 5 June

  • Further easing of restrictions due.


From 9 May

  • Gathering limit lifted to a maximum of 10 people for both indoor and outdoor gatherings. Includes religious ceremonies, outdoor boot camps, and real estate open houses and auctions.
  • Home gatherings are limited to 10 people with the exception of where two households coming together is more than 10 people.
  • Weddings allowed 10 guests.
  • Funerals allowed 20 people indoors and 30 people outdoors.

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