House debates

Monday, 11 September 2023

Questions without Notice


2:50 pm

Photo of Sally SitouSally Sitou (Reid, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Treasurer. How is the Albanese Labor government working to get wages moving again? And what policies have been rejected?

2:51 pm

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

We are very fortunate to work with the member for Reid, somebody who understands the pressures that people in her community are under, and a really important part of a team who said that we'd get wages moving again, and we are. This is especially important at a time when people are under substantial cost-of-living pressure. Our plan is all about getting wages moving in a responsible and sustainable way, after a decade of stagnation from those opposite, and in ways that will help people deal with the price pressures in our economy.

We are working for Australia and we are delivering for working people. We saw that in new analysis today, the average full-time earnings grew 3.9 per cent over the first year of the Albanese government. This is the fastest rate of growth in a decade, outside of the pandemic. It is much more than the 2.4 per cent average under those opposite. An average full-time worker was $3,700 better off in the first year of the Albanese government. That is $1,400 more than would have been the case if they got the wage increases under the wages stagnation of those opposite. Wage suppression was a deliberate design feature of those opposite. That's why wages stagnated, not by accident but on purpose. It's what they wanted for working people. When the member for Hume was asked about the changes we are making to industrial relations he didn't support them because, 'It would push wages up.' Not for the first time the member for Hume said the quiet bit out loud.

We've taken a different approach and we're making progress: pay rises for low-paid workers, pay rises for aged-care workers, changing the laws to support secure jobs and better pay, changes to early childhood education to make it easier to work more and earn more, investing in TAFE to train people for higher wage opportunities, deepening and broadening our industrial base with an emphasis on the great jobs of the future.

We are pleased with the wages growth that we are seeing. It is making a difference, but Australians are still under significant pressure. That's why the primary focus of this government and this Prime Minister is rolling out billions of dollars in cost-of-living relief in ways that take the edge of inflation rather than add to it. We are seeing that in child care, medicines, rent assistance and electricity bill relief that those opposite voted against. Those opposite will never understand. They will never understand that when it comes to the pressures that people are under, decent wages growth is part of the solution and not part of the problem.