The Albanese Labor Government has recommended the Fair Work Commission ensures the real wages of Australia’s low-paid workers do not go backwards.
Every Australian deserves a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. For too long, the former government asked Australians to work longer for less – we take a different approach.
We believe the best way to ensure workers can deal with cost-of-living pressures is to ensure they earn enough to provide for their loved ones and to get ahead.
That’s why today the Government has lodged its preliminary submission to the Commission’s 2023 Annual Wage Review.
One of the first things we did after coming to office after the 2022 election was deliver on our promise to advocate for a pay rise for the lowest paid – something the previous Liberal National Government had consistently refused to do.
For nearly a decade, wages were deliberately kept low under the Liberals and Nationals. The Labor Government is changing that.
Our advocacy last year helped secure a 5.2 per cent pay increase for workers on the minimum wage – providing much needed support with increasing cost of living.
Current economic conditions remain challenging, with Australians facing high inflation due to supply chain disruptions and the war in Ukraine.
While nominal wages growth has lifted, high inflation has seen real wages fall behind.
This is having the greatest impact on Australia’s low paid workers and their families - many of whom don’t have the savings to fall back on or wages that cover the rise in living costs.
These workers are more likely to be women, under 30 years of age and employed as casuals. The Government does not want to see them go backwards.
An increase in wages for these workers reflects our commitment to helping close the national gender pay gap.
This Government will always support Australian workers getting a pay rise. That’s why we helped secure a pay rise for minimum wage workers last year. It’s why we supported a wage rise for aged care workers. It’s why we passed our Secure Jobs, Better Pay reforms last year.
This submission does not suggest that across-the-board wages should automatically increase in line with inflation, or that inflation is the only factor the Fair Work Commission should consider.
It builds on the work the Albanese Labor Government is doing to ease the pressure on families and help Australians manage their budgets.
Already the Government has passed legislation for cheaper medicines, cheaper childcare, energy price relief and 180,000 fee-free TAFE places. We are also delivering on our broader economic plan that has been calibrated to boost productivity, which is the key driver of real wages over the longer term.
We thank the Fair Work Commission’s Expert Panel for the opportunity to make a submission and look forward to their decision.
The full submission can be found here.