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Andrews should withdraw bill that suppresses wages of working poor.



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FOR MEDIA

CRAIG EMERSON Member for Rankin

SHADOW MINISTER FOR WORKPLACE RELATIONS

15 October 2003

Andrews should withdraw bill that suppresses wages of working poor

In Anti-Poverty Week the Workplace Relations Minister, Kevin Andrews, should withdraw a Government bill designed to suppress the wages of the working poor.

In parliament today the minister refused to withdraw the Orwellian-titled Protecting the Low Paid Bill introduced by his one-dimensional head-kicking predecessor, Tony Abbott.

If passed, this legislation would make it more difficult for the Australian Industrial Relations Commission to grant safety net wage rises to the lowest-paid working Australians.

Mr Andrews should meet some of the working poor in Australia. But he won’t come across many of them in his electorate of Menzies, which ranks as the 20th wealthiest in the country.

The minister confined his answer in parliament to average earnings, revealing he has little understanding of the plight of the working poor who earn as little as $11.80 an hour.

The government’s bill would tear away at the safety net preventing the wages of the lowly-paid crashing to the floor.

The Howard Government has entered the working poor into a race to the bottom, competing on wage costs against the countries of East Asia - particularly China.

It’s a race we should never have entered and a race we should never want to win.

Labor will take working Australians along the high road to high skills and high wages.

Contact: Craig Emerson 0418 781 386