Aussies deserve a pay rise — Greek City Times

Australians are hard workers.

From factory floors to hospital wards and office towers, workers are settling in. They go to work so they can take care of themselves and their families.

In return for their hard work, Australians expect fair pay and pay to keep up with the cost of living so that we can move forward. This is part of the social pact.

But right now, wages are falling. The small pay raises we get are more than wiped out by inflation driving up the cost of living.

None of this will come as a surprise to anyone managing the family budget or spending time in supermarkets and gas stations. It really seems like everything is going up except our salaries.

Since the Coalition took office in 2013, salaries have increased by 18%.

But the price of beef has gone up 64%. Fruit and vegetable prices have increased by 22%, child care costs by 44% and healthcare costs by 33%.

The cost of a leg of lamb for a Sunday roast has increased by 49% since the Coalition took over. And if you want to wash it down with a cold beer, the price of your favorite beer has gone up 26%.

It shouldn’t be like this.

But Scott Morrison is happy with the situation. In 2019, former finance minister Mathias Cormann said low wage growth was “a deliberate feature of our economic architecture” so that jobs were not at risk.

It’s a lazy escape from a political group that thinks governments have no role to play in managing the economy in the national interest.

Companies can raise wages without cutting jobs.

Productivity is the key.

If our economy becomes more productive – if we can produce more from the same inputs – both sides of the workplace equation can be winners.

A Labor government will tackle wage stagnation head-on in consultation with business, unions and other levels of government. We will convene a jobs summit to bring these groups together around the table and craft a new Australian productivity agenda that also includes measures to improve job security and remove barriers to full employment.

Cooperative and collaborative work.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the Hawke and Keating Labor governments achieved real productivity gains by encouraging employers and unions to work together.

Profits have increased. Salaries too.

Productivity growth stalled under the watch of Scott Morrison. The government’s own Productivity Commission reported that labor productivity was 0.56% in 2019/20 – well below the long-term average.

For nearly a decade in power, the Coalition had no productivity agenda. And instead of fostering collaboration in the workplace, they stoked conflict to satisfy their ideological distaste for the labor movement.

This must change. Australians deserve a government that sees wage growth as a goal, not a problem.

The government can do more to boost productivity.

It can start with appropriate investments in roads and railways that reduce congestion and allow people and goods to move more efficiently. It can reduce the cost of doing business.

However, the Morrison government wasted scarce infrastructure funds by shifting grant funds to curry favor with marginal seats.

We had Sports Rorts and Carpark Rorts – both condemned by the Auditor General. And the government has set aside $16 billion for decisions made but not yet announced, the funding people could reasonably expect given Mr Morrison’s form, will be used for the pork barrel in the coming elections.

Mr Morrison has completely ignored government regulatory reform aimed at reducing the cost of doing business.

Regulatory reform is essential to productivity.

For many years prior to the election of the current government, prime ministers on both sides of politics worked with state and local governments to reduce business costs by reducing bureaucracy.

As transport minister in the previous Labor government, I worked with my state and territory counterparts to reduce the number of transport regulators from 23 to just three.

Streamlining the system created a $30 billion dividend for the national economy over the next two decades.

The Morrison government has no record of regulatory reform. In effect, it abolished the Council of Australian Governments which, since 1992, had been the main vehicle for regulatory reform in that country.

When governments work together, they can accomplish a lot for our country on many fronts.

However, as we have seen during the Covid pandemic, Mr Morrison’s habit is to fight with Labor state governments, rather than working with them for national progress.

I have no interest in unnecessary conflict. I want results that serve Australians in the way they live their daily lives.

After nearly a decade of inaction on productivity and regulatory reform, there’s no way Liberals and Nationals will suddenly discover these concepts if reelected.

Australia needs a government with the ideas and energy to kick-start wage growth, ease cost of living pressures and deliver a brighter future for Australian families.

We’ve already announced plans for direct relief, including making childcare affordable, bolstering health insurance and offering free TAFE classes in labor shortage areas.

We will also do the hard work on economic reform to generate sustained economic growth that can benefit the many, not just the few.

Anthony Albanese is the leader of the Australian Labor Party


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Twitter: @AlboMP

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Key words:
Anthony Albanese, Australian Government, Australian Liberal Party, Australians, Greek Australians, Labor Party, National Liberal Party, Liberals and Nationals, Medicare, Morrison Government, Scott Morrison, Minister for Transport

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