BRENDAN O'CONNOR: Australia has a wages problem

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Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoons

The Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government is still working on the discredited theory of trickle-down economics, the winners of which are not everyday working Australians, writes Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations Brendan O'Connor.

THE PRIME MINISTER and the Minister for Industrial Relations may have changed, but one thing hasn’t changed — and that is Australians' wages. 

They are still stagnant.

The concerning thing is, the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Government doesn’t have a clue, let alone a plan to do anything about it.

Instead, their “plan” to increase wages relies on blind faith in a fiction called trickle-down economics.

This trickle-down economics agenda is simple, yet toxic — giving tax cuts to the wealthy and large corporations and wage suppression for everyone else.

It may well be true that there will be some big winners of trickle-down economics, but I guarantee they won’t be everyday working Australians.

The economic theory has been repudiated by the most eminent economists across the world because it looks after the top one per cent. It doesn’t look after most people in our society.

The reality for many working Australians is that they haven’t had a pay rise for years. Meanwhile, living costs have been climbing steadily.

In the past year, energy and household costs have gone through the roof. Looking after your health is getting more and more expensive. Even the cost of sending your kids to school has increased more than wages have. 

Company profits are up, CEO salaries have been soaring and yet many Australian families are struggling just to get by.

Despite this, the Liberals support cuts to penalty rates for low-paid workers and want to give more and more handouts to the top end of town. 

They may have “dropped” their corporate tax cuts for big business for now, because it is politically expedient — but make no mistake, a $17 billion tax giveaway to big banks is their great hope, their ideological belief. It’s in their DNA. 

In fact, the latest Prime Minister fought tooth and nail to stop a royal commission into the banks and is the architect of giving the big banks a $17 billion tax handout. Everybody knows the Liberals will bring the corporate tax cuts back as soon as they get the chance. In fact, they have already promised the tax giveaway will be back.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said in the Senate (21 August):

“The moment will come when this Parliament will have to revisit this proposal.” 

How out of touch can this Government get?

In contrast, Labor has a plan for low and middle-income Australians that will make a significant difference to their everyday lives.

A Labor Government will restore Sunday and public holiday penalty rates.

We will crack down on wage theft. 

We will stop the abuse of labour hire where companies shift their permanent jobs onto labour hire jobs just to cut their pay. 

We will lead a new push to deliver genuine pay equity for Australian women.

We will get collective bargaining off life support and bring employees and employers back to the negotiating table. 

Under Labor, Australia will have more productive workplaces, profitable enterprises, more secure work and higher wages.

Australians deserve a fairer society, they deserve a pay rise and they deserve the bigger, better and fairer tax cut that a Labor Government will deliver. 

Brendan O'Connor is the Federal Member for Gorton and the Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations. You can follow him on Twitter @BOConnorMP.

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BRENDAN O'CONNOR: Australia has a wages problem

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