House debates

Monday, 2 December 2019

Questions without Notice


2:00 pm

Photo of Jim ChalmersJim Chalmers (Rankin, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Treasurer) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Treasurer. Given the finance minister's boast that low wages growth is a 'deliberate design feature of the government's economic management' and the Reserve Bank's recent statement that low wages growth under those opposite is now 'the new normal', is this a case of mission accomplished?

2:07 pm

Photo of Josh FrydenbergJosh Frydenberg (Kooyong, Liberal Party, Treasurer) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Rankin and I thank the Leader of the Opposition for letting him out of witness protection, because he's been averaging one question a sitting week since the election—not bad for a shadow Treasurer! He's been kept in the dark.

He asks about wages. Let me inform the House that real wages have been growing at 0.6 per cent, which is around the historical average, and when we came to government it was only 0.5 per cent. Real minimum wages have increased every year under us—whereas, under the Labor Party, three out of six years they went backwards—and we now have one of the highest, if not the highest, minimum wage in the world.

Compensation of employees, which is the wages bill of the economy, according to the last national accounts was at five per cent. This compares to 3½ per cent when we came into government. Employment growth—because we know that jobs are so important for the Australian people—today in Australia is at two per cent. That compares to an OECD average of 0.9 per cent. Do you know what it was when we came to government—under Labor? It was 0.7 per cent. It was nearly a third of what it is today, and we know that we've helped create more than 1.4 million new jobs—34 out of the last 36 months have seen jobs growth, whereas under the Labor Party, six out of their last 12 months saw negative jobs numbers.

When it comes to the participation rate, it is now at a record high of around 66 per cent. Again, when we came to government, it was 64.8 per cent. Female participation is at a record high. Employment growth of females has been around two-thirds of the overall employment growth over the past year. Female participation is at 61.2 per cent, whereas under Labor it was at 58.7 per cent. I know the member for Rankin rarely gets to ask a question, but, when he does, I appreciate it!