Scott Morrison has spent most of this campaign poo-pooing Anthony Albanese’s “increase wages” line by saying he “doesn’t have a magic pen/wand” to raise wages, and is making a promise he has no influence over.
Since the RBA lifted the official cash rate, Morrison has made it clear he does not believe the government has any impact on interest rate rises.
Governments make submissions to the Fair Work Commission as part of the process, about what it believes needs to happen with the minimum wage. Last year, the government submitted the FWC should “take a cautious approach” to raising the minimum wage.
According to Morrison this week, not only does Albanese’s opinion have the power to influence things Albanese writing a letter as prime minister apparently didn’t have any influence over, it will also lead to higher interest rates.
But at the same time, Morrison does not have an opinion on an independent process. Except his opinion on what Albanese’s opinion could do.
The press conference ends.
Q: Why haven’t you disendorsed your candidate for Lilley?
Those matters are – sorry, did you say the candidate for Labor? Sorry, I thought you said the candidate for Labor. I was going to say that has nothing to do with me.
Those matters are working their way through with the relevant authorities there and people are cooperating fully with those matters and I would expect them to do that.
But ultimately – and I will leave you on this – this is a choice, as I say every single day. And it’s the responsible choice, the responsible choice at a time of great upheaval globally, with our economy, with international security, the responsible choice is for the Liberals and the Nationals – I’m just finishing up – The Liberals and Nationals is the responsible choice when it comes to the economy, and national security.
With Labor you just don’t know what’s going to pop into Anthony Albanese’s head any day and what he will blurt out and what that will mean for your interest rates, for your cost of living, and indeed Australia’s national security. Thanks very much everyone.
Q: If you win government but Josh Frydenberg loses his seat, who will be the next treasurer?
That’s not something I’m speculating on because I know Josh will be returned.
Q: Isn’t it hypocritical you attack Labor for not confirming who the defence minister will be but, if the polls are accurate, Josh Frydenberg will not be treasurer [after the election]?
You know my view about the polls. Josh Frydenberg will the treasurer. I still don’t know who Anthony Albanese’s defence minister is going to be, I don’t know who his home affairs minister is going to be.
[Do you know who will be your treasurer?]
Yes, it is Josh Frydenberg.
Q: What personal would you be comfortable with then given all of the fact that you have just mentioned, or is it just no dice on a real wage rise.
The figure I have always been comfortable with, and that is what is calmly determined, sensibly, by the independent process that looks at all of these factors.
That’s – that’s what discipline is. That’s what financial discipline works. Now, as you know, we have…
Q: [ The government makes a submission to FWC, so how can ou say it is wrong for any politician to suggest any increase when you go to fair work.]
As you know that’s never been our government’s policy and nor was it the previous government’s policy as you recall.
Q: If Fair Work come up with 5.1% are they wrong?
I’m not speculating about what Fair Work is going to say. Anthony Albanese is the one who was recklessly making comments in this area, and he doesn’t seem to understand. So you know, when you’ve been a Treasurer for three years and a prime Minister for four years, you understand that careless speculation can lead to real world impacts in the economy. You don’t get – you don’t get the latitude to be loose like Mr Albanese was yesterday.
And that shows that he’s not up to the job, the job is bigger than him, he doesn’t understand the economy and if that’s not true he is seeking to take you for a ride.
Q: The RBA has said that real wages won’t increase until the end of 2023, with unemployment reaching almost full employment in that time and businesses only just starting to offer wage rises, what are Australians supposed to do in the next 18 months when the RBA is saying that real wages won’t increase in that time, how do they pay for things?
They won’t be able to pay for things if inflation goes even higher and interest rates go even higher. That is why what Anthony Albanese is speculating on and running off at the mouth on, would only make that situation worse. It would only make it worse.
Labor would make the very issues you’re highlighting worse under what they are proposing.
(A journalist repeats the question.)
Q: Is it correct to say then that you – any workers will not see a real wage increase until that inflation number comes down? And would your government do anything to … look at trying to ease those global factors that you keep saying are causing Australia’s higher inflation level, particularly around supply chains?
… There are two things driving those inflation numbers at the moment. One is, of course, what’s happening with the – there’s a range of immediate factors. Let’s call them that. There is the war in the Ukraine, there is the shutdown in China because of Covid, and also we will continue to see, particularly this quarter, and perhaps the next quarter, the impact of the floods in Australia and what that means for fruit and veg prices and we have seen that when there is cyclones and other disasters in parts of the country in the past.
That will put pressure on prices. And they are things that occur well outside Australia’s control. The structural factors that are driving inflation are about those supply chain pressures that we are seeing which is a lag and a direct consequence of the pandemic.
And that’s why what we are talking about here, advanced manufacturing, linking up supply chain in Australia, critical supply chain work, whether it be in the critical rare earth minerals and so on – that’s what helps moving the supply chain efficiently.
On top of that, it’s ensuring that we keep getting people into jobs, keep that pressure in the system, which leads to sustainable wage rises, supported by businesses that stay in business.
I mean, this is one of the most difficult times with the pressures that are on the global economy and hence the Australian economy, that we have seen in a very long time.
And how we manage that must be sensitive, must be responsible, must be disciplined.
Now, what we saw yesterday from Mr Anthony Albanese, what we saw yesterday from Mr Albanese was loose. It was ill-considered.
It showed a lack of understanding of the relationship between wages and inflation, and interest rates. If you want your interest rates to be skyrocketing, as a result of what Anthony Albanese is suggesting, well, he’s your guy.
But what I’m saying, is Anthony Albanese will make it worse.
Q: Prime Minister, today you are quoted as saying that it is economic vandalism …
I didn’t say that.
Q: I want to confirm that, do you think it is vandalism …
I didn’t say that.
Q: You are not calling him a vandal?
I didn’t. That is a misquote in the paper. They were not my words.
Q: What is wrong with asking for a pay rise?
There is nothing wrong with asking for a pay rise but, obviously, it – and the Reserve Bank governor has said very clearly, that is what we are seeing in our economy, and the reason we are seeing that is because unemployment is coming down and businesses are growing and becoming stronger. That is where pay rises come from.
They come from businesses doing well*, not being shut down by reckless policy, by a Labor party that would see not only your interest rates go up more than they might otherwise do, or your cost of living go up even more, getting into a vicious spiral, going up and up and up.
What is he next proposing, if it goes to 6% they have to go by that and when that pushes it up to 7%, they go by that? That is how we ended up with 18% interest rates in this country under Labor.
That is what causes the worst of all outcomes, which is a crash in the economy. That is not responsible.
*Wage growth was stagnant before the pandemic in Australia.
Q: If you say that 5.1% for the minimum wage is a crazy pay rise and you think is a terrible idea – given the government has said it wants to see people earn more, what would be a more sensible minimum pay rise? And please don’t say the Fair Work Commission decides this or businesses determine wages. We have heard that from you before.
You are attacking Albanese for what he is saying, what is your alternative, sensible solution and that you propose is 5.1% is too high?
An independent process that carefully calibrates and considers all the things in the economy that is sustainable.
Q: You are attacking Anthony Albanese …
I am attacking him for being thoughtless and not having a clue about the economy and not understanding how the economy works and not respecting the process of an independent setting of minimum wage conditions in this country and I will tell you why that is important, small businesses, businesses around the country have to make decisions about how they invest, how many people they employ.
They don’t want these things set by some erratic statement of a politician. They want this stuff to be carefully considered. Mr Albanese showed yesterday that he is a complete loose unit on this stuff.
He just runs off at the mouth. It is like he just unzips his head and lets everything fall on the table. That is no way to run an economy because that only leads, if you vote Labor, to having a leader who can make interest rates worse, who can make inflation worse.
Q: If you don’t support a wage increase of 5.1%, are you OK, comfortable with some of Australia’s lowest paid workers essentially getting a real wage cut?
The Fair Work Commission is the appropriate body to look at all of the economic implications for where they set the minimum wage. If we wanted politicians to make this up, that is what we would have done. That is not wise.
In the same way the Reserve Bank goes and works out what interest rates should be and looks at all the various information and all the implications for the decisions they have to make, this is a very similar process.
It provides certainty, it provides stability in the management of our economy.
It is not a place where you will see the thought bubbles we saw from Anthony Albanese yesterday and they will think through because this is the end game of what Anthony Albanese says. He will say “Here is a 5.1% increase in your wages”, but then “Here is the interest rates you have to pay”, and “Here is the cost of living that it causes”. He pretends to give with one hand and then he sees interest rates and cost of living rises take it all back from you.
Q: You are comfortable with some of Australia’s lowest paid workers getting a real wage cut?
What I am saying is you need to balance all these things very carefully. That is what responsible economic management is. These are complex issues. What is the point of allowing someone to be put in a position where they are paying more and more, even more as a result of the inflationary impacts of what he was saying yesterday, let alone the impacts on interest rates which already have great pressure on them. This would only see interest rates rise even higher.
Is there any wonder that why, when Labor gets into power, that we see a deterioration around these things because they just don’t think about it. There is a reason why Anthony Albanese was never given a financial portfolio by …
Q: But …
I haven’t finished. Hasn’t been given a financial portfolio by any of the Labor leaders in the past. They knew he couldn’t be trusted with money. He is like someone working in a small business who they won’t let near the till, and the Australian people shouldn’t let him near the till.
It was only Monday that Scott Morrison was saying:
There’s no magic pen from Anthony Albanese that makes your wages go up.
But today apparently, Morrison believes Albanese has the power to destroy the economy with just an opinion on what the minimum wage rise should be.
We will hear a lot more about this in the answers:
What he said yesterday puts a chain reaction in place – dominoes fall that lead to higher interest rates and higher cost of living.
If he doesn’t understand that … that tells you everything you need to know about what he doesn’t understand about the Australian economy. If he does understand it, he’s playing you for a mug.
He thinks he can run around at this election saying he can increase peoples’ wages and at the same time, see cost of living pressures fall and pressure on interest rates to remain down.
It just doesn’t work like that, you either don’t know what you are talking about and you are not up to the job, or you are taking the Australian people for a ride and I have called you out, Anthony.
‘What we saw from Anthony Albanese yesterday was reckless,’ says Scott Morrison
But Scott Morrison really wants to talk about Anthony Albanese:
What we saw from Anthony Albanese yesterday was reckless.
It was incredibly reckless. We all want to see wages go up, and indeed, the Reserve Bank governor has made it very clear that we are seeing wages starting to go up, but the way you engage in economic policy is not in the loose way we saw from Anthony Albanese yesterday.
Anthony Albanese is a loose unit on the economy. We saw that right at the start of the campaign.
He didn’t know what unemployment was. He didn’t know what the cash rate was. He says his policies are costed but they’re not costed.
When it comes to what he said yesterday, ill thought through, not understanding the potential consequences of what he was saying.
Yesterday, in what he said yesterday, it is like throwing fuel on the fire of rising interest rates and rising cost of living. He has had a lot to say about cost of living.
He has got no solutions or policies to put downward pressure on it and what he did yesterday would only exacerbate it, it would only make the problem worse.
Anthony Albanese’s intervention yesterday and his thoughtlessness on this would actually make inflation worse, it would make interest rates rise even higher, it would threaten the strong growth we have had in employment and, ultimately, it would force small businesses, potentially out of business altogether.
Scott Morrison announces ‘new technology’ manufacturing program
We have another pamphlet – this time on manufacturing.
This is a government, in our government, that is investing in the things that ensures the Australian economy can grow, and it is investing in the people, it is investing in their ideas, it is investing in their collaboration and their partnerships because that is what turns things around, that’s what creates the opportunity.
Australia is coming out of this pandemic stronger than all of the advanced economies in the world and the G7.
We have stronger economic growth, we have an outstanding world class health system, an outstanding world class education system – and what we’re building in the collaboration here between our universities and our companies will enable them to take advantage of the economic opportunities that Australia has in the years ahead. One of the biggest beneficiaries of that will be regional Australia – regions like right here in the Hunter.
Three weeks ago, we looked here at the challenges facing the Australian Electoral Commission in trying to recruit more than 100,000 employees at a time when the jobless rate was at about a 50-year low.
We’ll get the ABS’s April labour figures on 19 May, two days before the polls close, and a day after the March quarter wage price index data drops. That will tell us a bit more about how tight the jobs market is.
The AEC tells us the recruitment for AEC temporary election staff across the country “is going extremely well”. A spokesperson said:
With approximately 105,000 staffing positions we’ve had more than 200,000 people who’ve registered their interest which is fantastic.
That said, in some regional centres the AEC is competing against other industries such as mining and presumably seasonal farm workers. And there’s the challenge of ensuring some back-up recruits are on hand in case Covid disrupts sites at the last minute:
We expect and have planned for the furloughing of some staff, but with the scale and complexity of the election in a pandemic across Australia’s vast geography, some venues could be impacted at short notice.
Anyway, if you’re interested, there are still jobs going, and you can sign up here.
Queensland woman dies in flood waters
A woman has died in flood waters in north Queensland, premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told parliament on Wednesday.
Emergency crews were frantically searching for a woman after a car washed away in Mount Ossa, north of Mackay.
“I’m advised they have recovered the body … I offer my heartfelt condolences to the family and I sincerely hope that this is the last tragedy,” Palaszczuk said.
A Queensland Fire and Emergency Service spokesperson said they received a call around 5am on Wednesday about a missing woman and a vehicle washed into flood waters at Seaforth Rd and Surprise Creek Rd.
A police spokesperson told Guardian Australia they believed two people had managed to escape the vehicle.
Palaszczuk said the incident was “a stark reminder” of the dangers of weather events.
She said the SES has responded to more than 110 requests for assistance since 3pm on Tuesday.
Authorities have confirmed a woman has died in Queensland flood waters.
A woman has died after the car she was in became submerged in flood waters triggered by days of torrential rain in north Queensland.
The woman became trapped in the vehicle with two other people on Surprise Creek Rd at Mount Ossa, north of Mackay, about 5am on Wednesday.
The two others escaped from the car, but the woman’s body was found a short time later.
The Queensland Ambulance Service said one of the people who survived was treated for a cut to their head.
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services received more than 90 calls for help in the state’s north as six-hour rainfall totals reached 240mm in some areas by 1am on Wednesday.
“Although rain is expected to move off the coast in the state’s north today, a large number of roads remain flooded,” QFES said in a statement.
“Please avoid unnecessary travel and don’t risk it on flooded roads and causeways.
“If it’s flooded, forget it.”
Rainfall records tumbled at the Hughenden, Richmond and Cloncurry airports on Tuesday as those inland regions recorded their highest May totals ever.
Townsville is set for totals up to 250mm on Wednesday and Thursday with the severe weather warning indicating up to 200mm in a six-hour period.
“That whole area under the severe weather warning could see flash and riverine flooding,” Bureau of Meteorology senior forecaster Laura Boekel said on Tuesday.
A flood watch is current for dozens of river and creek catchments across Queensland and almost 300 roads have been cut by flood waters.
In the south-east, heavy rain hit the Sunshine Coast and northern Brisbane, with 135mm falling at Mapleton and 113mm at Maleny.
“If you are on the road this morning take extra care and plan your drive. If you come across flood water, back it up and find an alternate route,” QFES said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
“With the ground already saturated and further heavy rainfall possible, there is a risk of flash flooding today and over the coming days.”
Seqwater has alerted Moreton Bay region residents it has started flood releases from North Pine Dam, with releases also set to start from Wivenhoe and Somerset Dams into the Brisbane River from 10am.
The utility expects the releases to flood Savages Crossing, Colleges Crossing, Burtons Bridge and Kholo Bridge downstream, but not Fernvale Bridge.
“If you are downstream of the dam, stay away from fast flowing or deep water near waterways and floodplains,” Seqwater said.
Scott Morrison is campaigning in Newcastle (Labor MP Pat Conroy’s seat of Shortland) this morning.
Both Morrison and Anthony Albanese will be keeping close to NSW, given the debate in Seven’s Sydney studios tonight.
Victoria to become first state to ban Nazi symbol
The Victorian government is set to become the first Australia state or territory to ban the Nazi symbol, with legislation to be introduced to state parliament today.
The Summary Offences Amendment (Nazi Symbol Prohibition) Bill 2022 will make it a criminal offence for a person to intentionally display the Nazi swastika, the Hakenkreuz, in public.
Once passed, anyone who intentionally displays the symbol in public faces penalties of up to almost $22,000, 12 months imprisonment or both.
The bill also recognises the cultural and historical significance of the swastika for the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain faiths and does not prohibit its display in such contexts.
It comes after a parliamentary inquiry last year recommended the ban, citing a recent rise in neo-Nazi activity.
NSW is also working on similar legislation.