Labor and its leader Anthony Albanese have come up with a deadly play – a promise to keep wages in line with inflation – while supporting the union’s call on the Honest Labor Commission to raise the minimum wage by 5.1%.
Business is not happy. Scott Morrison is unhappy and labels Alba a pest, saying he is not ready to run the economy.
But low-paid workers, whose wages depend on the minimum wage, would be very happy about the future prime minister’s drive to support a big pay rise.
Politically, his support seemed to be on the run, as he did not express such full support until yesterday, when the journalist’s question about whether he supported the growth of 5.1% was answered: “Absolutely.”
Alba’s recently discovered position must have surprised the Director-General of the Australian Chamber of Commerce (ACCI) Andrew McKellar, who hosted Labor leader at Doltone House in Sydney on Thursday (which I attended). At lunch, there was no mention of supporting the ACTU’s 5.1% demand in the Fair Work Commission, which is ongoing right now. “Imposing an unbearable wage increase on small businesses will lead to tough jobs, not job creation. Any increase of 5 percent or more will inflict additional pain on small businesses and the millions of jobs they maintain and create. Small businesses cannot afford that, ”Mr McKellar said.
The minimum wage sets the salary at 2.7 million workers, and unions want the hourly rate to rise from $ 20.33 to $ 21.45. In government, the Labor Prime Minister will usually allow the Commission to decide what is fair and affordable, but before the election the leader of the opposition Labor Party is likely to fully support a large increase in the minimum wage.
And they will say things like, “If you get the minimum wage, you have a hard time paying rent, you have a hard time buying food, you have a hard time surviving, and the Honest Workers Commission has to take that into account in the decision they make.”
Such requests are less likely from the prime minister, who can actually help those fighting on the street, reduce taxes and direct payments.
At last week’s ACCI dinner, Ebo brought with him Team A, which was attended by such as former Treasurer and Prime Minister Paul Keating. And one comparison that Albo wanted to make us think about is the great achievements of Labor under Mr Hawk and Keating. There was so much in his speech that you realized he was saying that this possible Labor government could be similar to this Labor government. Of course, things went wrong for this team (interest rates on home loans in the late 1980s and the deep recession of 1990-91, which resulted in unemployment rising by more than 10%), but they were fruitful reformers, which is partly explains why our economy went on for 30 years without the recession that came with this damn coronavirus.
But if you want to see how an opposition leader differs from a successful Labor prime minister, let me remind you when a journalist accused Bob Hawke of being a Labor leader where wages grew at the expense of wages. Hawk’s response was that he could do more for his constituency in government than he could by defending cases that could throw him and his team on the losing side in the House of Parliament. However, the chart below shows how in the 1970s workers received high wages, so the 1980s were sometimes of moderate wages.
Ultimately, if Either is too lenient with wage growth and we get a spiral of wages and prices, we will find ourselves in a recession. And this is not the economic “feather in the cap” that will give him a second term as prime minister, provided that he is likely to get the first!