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Harper admits the minium wage can go down in real terms.



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M E D I A R E L E A S E

Stephen Smith MP Shadow Minister for Industry, Infrastructure and Industrial Relations Member for Perth

32/06 27 April 2006

HARPER ADMITS THE MINIMUM WAGE CAN GO DOWN IN REAL TERMS

Professor Ian Harper, Chair of the Australian Fair Pay Commission, has finally confirmed what Labor has been saying all along: the Minimum Wage can go down in real terms under the Howard Government’s extreme industrial relations changes.

Speaking on ABC Radio in Melbourne today, Professor Harper said

"The law prevents the minimum wage from being put down in nominal terms - that means in dollar terms. . . over time in real terms, that is to say inflation-adjusted, well, yes it's possible that in real terms minimum wages could go up or down over time."

Prime Minister Howard and Minister Andrews have consistently refused to respond to Labor’s analysis that the Minimum Wage would be reduced in real terms under their so called Low Pay Commission. John Howard refused again to respond to this very question just under a month ago in the Parliament.

And the reason why the Prime Minister refuses to respond to the issue is because John Howard deliberately designed the Low Pay Commission legislation to allow the Minimum Wage to be reduced in real terms.

The Government’s legislative changes strip the requirement that the Minimum Wage and the Award Safety Net be fair.

As well, the requirement that current economic factors be considered in future Wage Cases is also removed. That means that the Minimum Wage is not required to rise in real terms in the future.

Professor Harper has today joined Justice Guidice, President of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission, in agreeing with Labor that the Howard Government’s Low Pay Commission is designed in a way which allows the Minimum Wage to be reduced in real terms.

Contact: Courtney Hoogen on (02) 6277 4108 or 0414 364 651