Page 1092 - Week 04 - Wednesday, 16 March 2005

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do very well—hopefully the majority. There is also an enormous group of people who do not get the benefit of increased wealth. The living wage case is about addressing that, it is about ensuring that there are advocates to make sure that the people who are earning the lowest wage possible are keeping in line with current wage outcomes.

That is the submission that the combined state and territory governments have seen. I would be interested to see if Mr Mulcahy has read the extensive, 65-odd page submission to the living wage case, which contains data from ACIRRT from Sydney University Economic Group. The submission contains very considered economic data to support the case to argue for a $20 a week increase. When making decisions about the living wage case outcome the industrial relations commission considers the submissions from the states and territories—and from the federal government, if they make one—from the IMF, the OECD, from data from the Household, Income and Labour Market Dynamics in Australia and from NATSEM, the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling.

There is quite a deal of considered economic data going into this to support the claims provided by the state and territory governments and the union movement. On the other side, there are submissions from employer associations, who argue that the sky will fall in unless people get only a $10 a week pay increase; that if they get $10 a week, then none of these bad things is going to happen; but if they get $20 a week, then all of these bad things are going to happen.

The AIRC’s job is to take all those submissions, consider them and then make a decision based on all those submissions. It is a fair way of doing it. Everyone cooperates and it delivers, I think, a fair and fast outcome for all the workers who depend on this. It is the only way they are going to get a wage increase. They do not have the benefit of EBAs to support them. This is their only avenue for an increased income, to ensure that they are keeping apace at four per cent in terms of a wage outcome. If all these terrible things were going to happen, why would they not be happening to all the other people who are not working on minimum rates awards, to the thousands of workers who operate on EBAs that are delivering four per cent outcomes?

Mr Mulcahy interjecting—

MS GALLAGHER: The current wage index is moving around that figure, and this is what this figure is. Why should we exclude them? Why is it all right for everyone else who is not on an award to get increases of around four per cent but if everyone who operates an award gets four per cent, all of a sudden there are going to be no jobs, and businesses are going to close.

When it is asked of those providing submissions who are opposed to the living wage case to show where there are job losses linked to increased wage outcomes, they cannot come up with it. It is one of those age-old things: if you get a wage increase it is going to equal job losses; but when you say, “Okay, show me where the job losses were when there were wage increases,” all of a sudden there is absolutely no data to support that.

Mr Mulcahy: Where were you in the early 1990s? There were a lot of people out of work!

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