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Government's Annual Wage Review submission

The Hon Jim Chalmers MP

Government’s Annual Wage Review submission

The Albanese Labor Government has recommended the Fair Work Commission ensures the real wages of Australia’s low-paid workers do not go backwards.

One of the best ways to deal with cost‑of‑living pressures is to ensure workers earn enough to provide for their loved ones and to get ahead.

That’s why today the Government has gone in to bat for Australian workers and lodged its submission to the Commission’s 2023-24 Annual Wage Review.

Our economic plan is all about helping Australians earn more and keep more of what they earn, which is why we’re focused on delivering strong and sustainable wages growth and giving a tax cut to every Australian taxpayer on 1 July this year.

The Government believes our cost-of-living tax cuts should be in addition to any increase in award and minimum wages, not a substitute.

We’ve made welcome progress on inflation and seen a return to real wages growth earlier than forecast, but we know it’s not mission accomplished because many Australians are still under pressure.

Low paid workers – who are disproportionately women – are particularly affected by cost-of-living pressures because they typically do not have savings to draw on to cover rising costs.

Our Government’s support for low paid workers in the Annual Wage Review has been an essential part of returning to real wages growth.

In 2022 our advocacy helped secure a 5.2 per cent pay rise for workers on the minimum wage. In 2023 we helped secure a record 8.6 per cent increase.

We’ve also seen record increases for award wage workers in both of those years.

These changes have helped contribute to three consecutive quarters of real wage growth and wages growing at the highest level in 15 years.

Under the Albanese Labor Government real wages are growing, unemployment is near record lows, the gender pay gap is down and inflation is moderating.

Around 790,000 jobs have been created since we came to office – the most of any first-term Government on record.

The gender pay gap is now at the lowest level on record at 12 per cent.

Inflation – while still too high – is moderating, helped by our cost-of-living policies.

We know that economic conditions remain challenging, but we have the right plan to steer the economy through these difficult times.

This submission does not suggest that across-the-board wages should automatically increase in line with inflation, or that inflation is the only factor the Fair Work Commission should consider.

We are also delivering on our broader economic agenda to boost productivity, which is the key driver of real wages over the longer term.

For the best part of a decade, the Liberals and Nationals deliberately kept wages low.

We know that because they admitted it – saying low wages were a deliberate design feature of their economic management.

Peter Dutton wants Australians to work longer for less.

We take a different view.

We’re helping Australians earn more and keep more of what they earn with strong and sustainable wages growth and cost-of-living tax cuts for every Australian taxpayer from July this year.

We thank the Commission’s Expert Panel for the opportunity and look forward to their decision.

The Government’s full submission is available here

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