AUTOMATED TRUCKS: Maggie John says driverless vehicles are already changing Australia's employment landscape.
AUTOMATED TRUCKS: Maggie John says driverless vehicles are already changing Australia's employment landscape. Kjell Olausson

Workers urged to prepare for 'tsunami of change'

MAGGIE John has a challenge for Hervey Bay workers and businesses: adapt to survive.

The Hervey Bay resident believes employment is at a "crucial crossroads” as automation and robotics play an increasing role in the workforce.

"It's changing around us and we have to change with it,” she said.

Mrs John, who says she has always been at the forefront of social change, is the driving force behind a special event to be held at University of Sunshine Coast's Hervey Bay campus.

The event, titled The Future of Work and Universal Basic Income, will look at the rapidly changing nature of work throughout the world, and what impact it might have here on the Fraser Coast.

Mrs John pointed to examples of automated technology already transforming the way business was done.

"Driverless trucks already service some of the mines here in Australia and take the long haul trips across America,” she said.

"It's only a matter of time before all truck drivers, train drivers, taxi drivers, bus drivers, and even driving instructors are obsolete and surplus to requirement.”

She said the event was organised in response to "alarm bells from financial research institutes” such as Smith's Lawyers, which predict huge numbers of jobs being put at risk from automation.

Mrs John said the purpose of the event was not to cause panic about a "dystopian future” but rather seek answers to a "tsunami of changes” expected to affect employment numbers.

"Could small business survive a situation where 40 per cent of workers were unemployed?” she said.

She said the idea of introducing a Universal Basic Income in Australia was one way to prepare for the shifting employment landscape, ensuring wealth was distributed evenly.

Professor Greg Marston, head of the School of Social Science at University of Queensland and one of Australia's leading experts on Universal Basic Income, will be guest speaker on the night.

The event will be heald at Lecture Theatre B1.04 at USC from 6.30pm, Wednesday May 29.

Phone Maggie John on 0418 543 866 for more information.