Australia’s lowest paid workers could soon be in line for a pay rise as the government indicates it will back a push for the minimum wage to increase in line with inflation.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who declared he “absolutely” supported an increase during last year’s federal election, told reporters he stood by that stance.
But he stressed the government would list how much it wanted wages to grow by on its submission to the Fair Work Commission’s annual wage review.
“What we don’t do, what we didn’t do last time, is put a dollar figure on it,” he said.
Last year, the government urged the FWC to not allow low-paid workers to go backwards, shrugging off concerns a wage increase could lead to further inflation pressures.
Inflation reached a three-decade high of 7.8 per cent in December, well above the Reserve Bank’s 2 to 3 per cent target range.
Unions have been advocating for the review to lift wages in line with inflation.
Employment Minister Tony Burke told the ABC the government would hand down its submission to the review on Friday.
“People will see that our values haven’t changed. I think that’s probably the best way I can put it in advance of announcements that we’ll make,” he said.
Asked if he would be following Mr Albanese’s “absolutely” guarantee, Mr Burke said this year’s submission would not be a “photocopy”.
“So never identical in every way. But as I’ve said, our values haven’t changed. What you referred to there was a pretty strong value statement by the Prime Minister,” he said.
“The thing that we have to work our way through is there are some members of the workforce who have the least room to move with what’s been happening with inflation.
“And certainly the full award system goes all the way up to some people who are on significantly higher wages, the principles that we dealt with last year were to say no government ever wants anyone to go backwards.
“But last year we put forward the principle that the focus needed to be on the people on the lowest incomes because they had the least savings and they had the least room to move.”
The Australian Bureau of Statistics will on Wednesday morning provide an update to the monthly inflation indicator.
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