House debates

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

Questions without Notice


2:02 pm

Photo of Anthony AlbaneseAnthony Albanese (Grayndler, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. After a decade of ignoring cost-of-living pressures and attacking real wages, will the Prime Minister now admit his latest budget shows that the average Australian worker will be $1,355 worse off this year?

2:03 pm

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I can confirm that, in the budget year and across the forward estimates, real wages are forecast to increase. That's what I can confirm. In the budget year and over the forward estimates, I can confirm that. The Treasurer can add further on the national accounts measure. The reason that is occurring is that, under this government, we've got unemployment down to four per cent. Under this government, we've been investing in essential infrastructure and in our regions and in skills. That is what is driving the Australian economy out of this pandemic at a rate of growth and a rate of employment growth that exceeds the advanced economies of the world, whether it's the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan or Canada. We're outstripping the growth of all of these countries coming out of the pandemic.

As a result of that strong growth, we're backing Australians, backing small businesses and backing Australians with lower taxes. We're cutting the red tape, ensuring they're investing in skills. We've got 220,000 apprentices in trade training right now. That's the highest level since 1963. We're investing a record $120 billion in our national infrastructure pipeline. We're getting businesses online. We're getting businesses in the data and digital economy. We're supporting our manufacturers to make things here in Australia, in everything from processing of critical minerals to the manufacturing of important mRNA vaccines in Victoria. We are investing in Australia's future. As a result, unemployment is going down, growth is going up and wages are increasing. It's the strength of the Australian economy which is going to support wages into the future.

Those opposite have an alternative budget to deliver in this place on Thursday night. The Leader of the Opposition has one plan for wages: to write a letter. That's it; that's his only plan. He's going to write a letter to the Fair Work Commission, and we've been waiting for him to write it for three years.

Photo of Mark ButlerMark Butler (Hindmarsh, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Manager of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives) Share this | | Hansard source

Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order on direct relevance. The Prime Minister was not asked about alternative policies. He was asked about a real wage cut of $1,355 delivered—

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The Prime Minister wasn't asked about alternatives. He was asked about the cost of living and wages. Up until then the Prime Minister was relevant.

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

You're right. I wasn't asked about alternative policies, because there are none. They're not a small target; they're a vacant space when it comes to economic policy. You can't find a policy between them. The Australian people deserve to know what the Labor Party will do, and they haven't got a clue, because the Labor Party haven't got a clue.