Wednesday, 30 March 2022
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Finance, Senator Birmingham. Can the minister confirm that real wages are predicted to go backwards by 1.5 per cent this year, even more than the Morrison government's last budget anticipated?
I thank Senator Ayres for his question. The budget papers do set out the impacts of what we are seeing are global shocks and disruptions in relation to pressures on inflation in Australia and right around the world. The aftershocks of COVID-19 that are causing disruptions to global supply chains, but most notably the terrible, tragic war that Russia is inflicting upon Ukraine at present, have had enormous implications for inflationary pressures right around the world. Those opposite may not want to acknowledge the fact that oil price spikes are a real inflationary factor, but they are a real inflationary factor.
Senator Ayres spoke about the change in relation to inflation figures since the previous budget. Of course, since the previous budget we have seen huge spikes in oil prices, which have a very direct impact in relation to there being higher inflation. Our government is responding to the pressures that Australians face. We're responding in terms of providing a 22c a litre reduction in the fuel excise. We're lowering petrol prices for Australians while this spike is in place, while the world moves through these terrible difficulties caused by what's happening in Ukraine. We're providing additional support to low, middle, fixed income Australians. Why are we able to do that? We're able to do it because our government has created a strong economy that has got more Australians in jobs, a strong economy that has provided a stronger budget position. That is enabling us to have lower deficits, lower debt, but also provide additional support for Australians when they need it—additional support for Australian households, motorists, farmers and businesses to ensure they get the help that they deserve. (Time expired)
I addressed the impact of inflation before, and it's set out in the budget papers, in relation to that interaction between inflation and wage rises. The wage price index is forecast to grow to 3¼ per cent in the new financial year starting 1 July, following the provision of these additional supports that we're providing. It then grows further to 3½ per cent real wages growth put out into the future.
Senator Ayres also asked about the dollar value for Australians in different circumstances. But when it comes to take-home pay for Australians there are many factors at play. And when it comes to take-home pay our income tax cuts play a very big factor. They play a very big factor. Someone earning around $90,000 under the Labor Party would have been paying $21,200 in income tax. But under the Liberal and National parties they are paying $18,600—a very significant addition to their take-home pay.
I'd ask the minister when he's answering this question maybe to be a little bit less smug. There are aged-care workers up there for whom no provision has been made in the budget for an increase in their wages. Given 52 out of 55 of the government's wage forecasts have been wrong in the past and real wages went backwards at a higher rate than even the government's last budget anticipated, why on earth should Australians believe anything that you promise on wages on the eve of an election?
Australians should have faith because we've demonstrated an ability to increase the take-home pay of Australians by cutting their income taxes. We've demonstrated the ability to increase the ability of Australians to earn a wage by creating more jobs. Under our government 1.7 million more jobs have been created during our time in office. That's 1.7 million more Australians who have the opportunity to work, the opportunity to earn an income, the opportunity to support their families. And thanks to our income tax cuts they get to take more of that pay home as well.
Those opposite, I see, like to come and grandstand in relation to hardworking aged-care workers. I know that they will do that. I've heard their calls to say they believe there should be an increase in wages for aged-care workers. But will they put a number on that? No. They don't have the guts. They won't put a number on it. They won't budget a cent for it in their election campaign promises, because they're all just hollow rhetoric with no real action.