Australia news live: Sally McManus tells minimum wage rise critics ...
Base shift means some workers will get a wage boost of as much as 8.6%
Fair Work Commission Adam Hatcher said minimum wages would lift 5.75% from July 1 but didn’t state how that translated to actual dollars in his brief speech.
Turns out that using last year’s decision of $21.38 an hour and multiplying it by 1.0575 did not give the actual dollar amount that the commission had decided on. So instead of $22.61 an hour, it transpires once you dig into the actual verdict, the national minimum wage comes out at $23.23 or $882.80 per week.
That $1.85/hour boost is more than the ‘gold coin’ increase of a year ago, and comes in at 8.6%.
Turns out the base for some workers has been lifted. The decision states:
[We] have decided to end the alignment between the national minimum wage and the C14 classification wage rate in modern awards – an alignment which has existed since 1997.
The C14 rate is the lowest modern award minimum wage rate but was only ever intended to constitute a transitional entry rate for new employees,” and is not “a proper minimum wage safety net for award/agreement free employees in ongoing employment.
It’s that realignment the 5.75% increase is based on. Should the RBA panic about the 8.6% adjustment?
The commission insists:
Having regard to the negligible proportion of the workforce to which the NMW applies, this outcome will not have discernible macro-economic effects.
I do recognise that this is an issue that I think is becoming increasingly uncertain. And it is a matter that the government takes very seriously and as a premier has indicated we’ll be having more to say about this.
In the latter half of this year. This is a very, very complex area of public policy and I think you recognise the comments of ..., the Governor of the Reserve Bank when asked what was the consequence of peak prices around rent and access to housing.
He said it was an effect or function of the rules of supply and demand at work. And it is. We can’t deny the fundamental gravity of that problem.
We don’t have enough supply ... the government does not see any value in trying to effectively deflate the market to a point where all you do is you get a spring back in a very substantial way and we we saw that, in practical terms, when the [Covid] rent freeze that we put in place was lifted and perhaps the numbers that we’re seeing at the moment in metropolitan Melbourne is in many cases just a reflection of that bounce back. So we need an enduring solution.
Sandell says if he’s not a fan of a rent freeze, how about a cap on rent increases? Pallas replies:
Well, we’ve said that everything’s on the table and we mean it.
Sandell says there’s nothing in the budget for renters:
You mentioned in your presentation that the rents are up in Victoria 25%. And we saw the RBA just recently say that there’s really no end in sight in terms of rent increases, we’re expecting another at least 10% on average nationally next year, probably more in Victoria.
So we do have this whole generation of Victorians now who are unable to buy a house but are also spending 30, 40, 50% of their income on rents. Many people are just one rent rise away from homelessness. There’s nothing new in this budget around renting.
There’s nothing specifically to assist renters. Will the government commit to a rent freeze so that we can wait for rent, wages growth to catch up with rents?
Tim Pallas on public service jobs being cut in Victoria to save $2.7bn
After 20 minutes of dixers from Labor MPs, PAEC has just got (somewhat) interesting again. Greens MP, Ellen Sandell, is asking the treasurer, Tim Pallas, and representatives from the department of treasury and finance about 3,000-4,000 public service sector jobs being cut in an effort to save $2.7bn. She asks, can we really expect this will have no impact on service delivery?
Pallas replies that it won’t – because the jobs that will be cut won’t be “frontline” workers:
Services in the Victorian Public Service such as child protection services [are] protected from any adverse cuts.
You’ve said that there’ll be no cuts to frontline workers. Is there an official definition of that? And is there a list of roles that will be protected from those cuts?
We have made it clear that the responsibilities for managing this is with the employers of public servants and that is the secretaries of the departments.
Rainbow Ball in Victoria cancelled amid continuing security threats
In Victoria, the cancellation of LGBTQIA+ events has continued, with a Rainbow Ball scheduled to be held on Saturday called off amid continuing security threats towards the community.
It is the first event in pride month to be cancelled, and at least the 12th since Glitter Nova was postponed indefinitely last 7 December.
It comes as The Rainbow Community Angels, a community-led safety group, will attend Qwere St in Banyule this Saturday, to protect the community from any protesters.
Rural City of Wangaratta mayor Dean Rees said this decision was made because the event was targeted by groups with radical views:
There has been some confronting commentary around the Rainbow Ball circulated on social media, and because of this, we have chosen to prioritise the safety of all attendees and staff and delay the event.
We are extremely disappointed that there has been some hateful narrative around this event, we do not accept this but we cannot risk an event that is about fun and celebration posing a risk to anyone attending.
Prioritising the safety of our community, especially our youth, is not negotiable but we will aim to reschedule this event to enable all LGBTQIA+ young people, allies, and friends across the greater north east region of Victoria to celebrate together.
‘Financial stress’ among the reasons behind the minimum wage rise, FWC says
Fair Work Commission president Adam Hatcher said he was confident this year’s 5.75% minimum wage increase would not contribute to a “wage-price spiral”.
This year’s decision was made in “very unusual circumstances”, with low unemployment, falling real wages and high inflation, he said. “A further challenge is the expected sharp slowdown in economic growth over the next year.”
In our consideration, we have placed significant weight on the impact of the current rate of inflation, on the ability of modern award-aligned employees, especially the low paid, to meet their basic financial needs.
Inflation is reducing the real value of these employees’ incomes and causing households financial stress.
We’ll know by next Tuesday if the increase will have any impact on the Reserve Bank’s decision on interest rates.
The bank will be adding the rise to its economic models as we type.
As the RBA noted in its May quarterly statement on monetary policy, “larger increases to minimum and award wages and the lifting or removal of wage caps by state governments could have greater spillover effects on the wages of other workers than currently expected.” (State governments are trying to limit those increases, cf. New South Wales.)
The RBA has projected inflation to be running at a 6.25% annual pace by June, before slowing to 4.5% by December and 3.5% by next June. Will 5.75% more going to the least paid make much difference?
Employers should shoulder some responsibility for easing cost of living: McManus
McManus says employers posting big profits need to shoulder some of the cost of living burden their employees are feeling:
We see the huge profit announcements being made over the last month, whether it be from the banks, whether it be the supermarkets, whether it be Qantas, whether it be the mining companies. We all see this. Australians see this.
It is not fair that during this economic crisis some people are doing very well and posting those profits. Some of them are larger than their profits in previous years, and at the same time the working people are seeing the largest real wage cuts they’ve ever seen. Ever recorded. That is simply not fair.
Those employers, those big CEOs, need to stop thinking of their short-term bonuses and accept they need to pay Australian workers fairly and shoulder some of the responsibility for easing the cost of living.
McManus’ message to the business groups not happy about the rise:
Your workers are also your customers. What goes around comes around.
When minimum wage workers get pay increases, they spend it in your businesses.
The worst thing that could possibly happen will be more real wage cuts because they’re very likely deciding not to spend in your shops because they have no choice.
ACTU’s Sally McManus says minimum wage boost will ‘make an incredible difference’ to workers
The secretary of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Sally McManus, has welcomed the Fair Work Commission’s decision to lift the minimum wage by 5.75%.
It will make an incredible difference to these workers.
It will mean they will not need to sit down and work out line by line what is they need to continue to cut out of their household budgets.
That’s what Australians have been doing around the country, whether it’s skipping, going to the doctor, whether it’s skipping meals.
It’s not a small thing, [it’s] a big thing – it’s living standards.
PM in Singapore to address leaders’ meeting while Singaporean PM recovers from Covid
Speaking of Covid …
The prime minister, Anthony Albanese, has touched down in Singapore to address the Shangri-La dialogue in front of the US defence secretary, China’s defence minister and a host of senior officials.
Albanese was also supposed to meet his Singaporean counterpart, but instead of sharing the standard smiling handshake pics we are used to from the PM’s social media account, he’s been forced to retweet Lee Hsien Loong’s positive Covid result.
There were 13,480 new cases in the weekly reporting period, and 34 people are in intensive care.
Those cases continue to trend downwards from the 14,409 cases last week and 14,699 the week before. The deaths recorded this week are just above the 61 recorded last week but deaths are always a lagging indicator.
Australia ‘pushing as hard as we possibly can’ on repairing China trade relationship, says Farrell
Australia is pushing as hard as it can on trade issues with China, the trade minister has told senate estimates.
Don Farrell told the foreign affairs and trade hearing he is plugging away on trade issues on wine, barley, meat, hay and crayfish and “making progress”, but conceded it was tricky:
We are pushing as hard as we possibly can on this … and it hasn’t been easy to repair the damage that was done to a range of relationships by the former government.
Australia has suspended its World Trade Organization challenge to China’s barley tariffs, but Farrell said they would resume that action if necessary.
Asked if there was talk of a prime ministerial visit to China, Farrell said Anthony Albanese had been invited and it was up to him to work out when he might go.
Farrell said further progress had been made on the relationship (in the context of where the relationship needs to be before Albanese visits).
Cheese and wine names up for negotiation in Australia-EU free trade talks
The end of feta, parmesan and halloumi? Back to Senate estimates (I should have said earlier – it’s the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade up now).
The trade minister, Don Farrell, says he is arguing with the European Union that Australian producers want to keep using those names for cultural as well as economic reasons as they negotiate the free trade agreement.
He said Australia accepted many European migrants in the wake of the second world war:
We opened the doors and many, many Europeans came to Australia. They brought their families, they brought their culture and, in many cases, they brought their food and their wine.
They used the “time honoured traditions” of their home countries and have cultural attachments to those products, Farrell said. There is some talk of a grandfathering deal, where producers can keep using those terms, but new starters won’t be able to.
And on the topic of market access for Australians to sell beef, dairy and so on into the EU, and “scuttlebutt” that Australia will get a dud deal, Farrell said “there’s still a lot more water to go under the bridge”.
There is also discussion about what the EU’s deforestation rules could mean for Australians – Josh Butler has covered this in detail here.
No risk to public from Sydney CBD package, police say as exclusion zone lifted
Police have found the suspicious package reported within the Downing Centre court complex in the Sydney CBD and concluded their operation.
A police spokesperson said:
There is no risk to the public. The exclusion zone is being lifted and roads are being reopened.
Investigations are ongoing.