Workers need higher wages

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (16:32): Today I am calling on the government to schedule a debate in this House about wages. If they will not do it, I will, because wages growth in this country is at an all-time low. At 1.9 per cent in 2016 and less in the last quarter, wages growth is barely keeping pace with the cost of living. That is, wages are going backwards and this government does not have a plan to do something about it. There is no good news in this budget for the average Australian worker. In fact, you have never seen a more pessimistic outlook from this government—nearly 95,000 fewer jobs in the economy at the end of the forward estimates and wages looking anaemic.

It is bad news for workers, but it is also bad news for business, because with less money in their pockets there is less money to spend in the small businesses and shops around my electorate, around yours and in fact around every percent in the country. The government does not have a plan to do it. In fact they are doing the exact opposite to what workers need. Instead of helping workers to increase their wages, they are cheering for a cut of penalty rates—a cut of around $77 a week for a worker who relies on penalty rates.

The government must schedule a debate so that we can talk about the things that matter to real workers. If they won't, we will.