John Howard cannot refute evidence the minimum wage will go down in real terms under his industrial relations changes, says Shadow Industrial Relations Minister Stephen Smith.

Stephen Smith said:

Despite his best effort to hide the facts in Parliament today, the Prime Minister was unable to deny that his extreme industrial relations changes are a direct threat to the wages of the nearly 2 million Australian employees dependent on the Minimum Wage.

Today in Question Time I asked the Prime Minister the following question:

I refer the Prime Minister to his consistent refusal to guarantee that no individual Australian employee will be worse off as a result of his extreme industrial relations changes.

I also refer the Prime Minister to his earlier answer where he said that his guarantee is his record.

Prime Minister, is it not the case that the Government’s and your record on the Minimum Wage is as follows: If the Government’s submissions to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission had been agreed to over the Government’s period in office, the Minimum Wage would currently be $50 a week or $2600 a year less than it is? [attached]

Is it not the case that the only future for Australian employees is a drop in the Minimum Wage in real terms?

The Prime Minister refused to respond to his Minimum wage record.

And he refused because John Howard knows that under his industrial relations changes, the Minimum Wage will go down in real terms.

The Government’s legislative changes bind the so-called Fair Pay Commission in the setting the Minimum Wage, strip the concept of fairness from the current statutory requirement that the Minimum Wage and the Award Safety Net be fair.

And the removal of the requirement that current economic factors be considered in future Wage Cases, means that the Minimum Wage will not rise in real terms under the Australian Fair Pay Commission.

Justice Guidice of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) confirmed this last week when he told a conference

People with low skill levels, low bargaining power, are heading for the Fair Pay and Conditions Standard, which will have an effect on their incomes. …This will be accompanied by a slowdown in the rate of growth of minimum wages – that’s what the Fair Pay Commission is for.

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