Federal Treasurer Jim Chalmers appears to have walked away from a promise that a Labor government would formally advocate for workers on the minimum wage to get a pay rise.
- Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said during the campaign the government would make a formal submission
- Dr Chalmers said today the Fair Work Commission already knew Labor’s views
- Submissions to the commission are open until June 7
The Fair Work Commission is reviewing the minimum wage and during the election campaign, now Prime Minister Anthony Albanese repeatedly stated his party would make a formal submission if elected.
But when asked today, Dr Chalmers would not answer questions about when the government would make that submission to the independent umpire.
“The Fair Work Commission already knows our view,” he said.
“It may be that we can supplement that with a formal submission but nobody is in any doubt about the new government’s view about a decent pay rise for low wage Australians to keep up with the skyrocketing cost of living.”
Wages were a key issue throughout the election campaign, with now Prime Minister Anthony Albanese saying he “absolutely” supported a pay rise of 5.1 per cent for those on the minimum wage.
He repeatedly insisted that a Labor government would make a submission to the commission, even up to the last day of the campaign, but would not say if it would include a suggested figure.
“They will take submissions until 7 June, and that submission will say that people who are on the minimum wage can’t afford to go backwards.
“The Fair Work Commission will make a decision independent of government…and if the Fair Work Commission make a decision in line with that rate, then that is something that we would welcome.”
During the campaign, then Prime Minister Scott Morrison repeatedly insisted any decision about wages was up to the commission, and he never put a figure on how much they should rise by.
The former government had made a submission to the commission that included a section that outlined the importance of low-paid work.
However, the Treasurer today would not answer repeated questions about when the government would make that submission and instead provide a general response about its support of rising wages.
“We don’t want workers in Australia on the lowest wages to continue to go backwards during this cost of living crisis. So I don’t think anyone at the Fair Work Commission or indeed around Australia is in any doubt about our position.
“We want to see those low wage workers get the pay increase they need and deserve to keep up with the skyrocketing cost of living.”
The Fair Work Commission, which reviews and sets minimum wages each year, will accept submissions until June 7.
The ABC asked for further clarification from the Treasurer’s office about whether a submission will be made.