7 April 2021

Michael Pascoe: “It takes a particular kind of gutlessness for the federal government to push for no real increase in wages without being game to say it. That’s what the 109-page government submission to the Fair Work Commission boils down to — nudge nudge, wink wink, let’s have another stuff-all minimum wage increase that also impacts a couple of million workers on awards. … For all the uncertain economic theory and graphs and charts and (often somewhat old) statistics in the submission, the key sentence, the money shot, is printed early: ‘Given the current uncertainties in the domestic and international economic outlook, the government therefore urges the panel to take a cautious approach, taking into account the importance of creating jobs for Australians and ensuring the viability of the businesses, particularly small businesses, which provide the jobs which are crucial to the economic recovery and the wellbeing of Australian families.’ As sure as neoliberals preach trickle-down economics, the government is re-running the discredited simplistic version of the wages v jobs story. That’s the same story the FWC bought when it reduced penalty rates. That was supposed to increase employment. It did not. … [The submission] continues the Treasurer’s habit of selectively quoting the Reserve Bank, reaching back three years for a favourite line that can be bent to its purpose[, but ignoring the RBA’s] more recent stressing of the vital importance of boosting wages growth to something north of 3 per cent if the economy is to be able to get back to something like normal.”