MELBOURNE (CU)_With runaway inflation having triggered an interest rate hike, cost of living pressures and wage stagnation have emerged as critical issues for voters ahead of the upcoming election on 21 May. As experts project inflation to hit 5.5 per cent by mid-year and 6 per cent by the year’s end, the Australian Council for Trade Unions on Monday, called for an annual minimum wage increase of $2,200, upping their previous claim for a $2,000 pay rise in March.
When inquired if he supports the union push for the 5.5 per cent increase in the Fair Work Commission’s annual minimum wage review, the Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese declined to commit to the figure, but later took a U-turn saying he had not meant he didn’t support the claim. In an interview with ABC Radio National on Tuesday, the Labour Leader said he supports people’s wages “not going backwards”, but noted that it would be up to the Fair Work Commission to make a decision on the 5.5 per cent claim made by unions. When asked if he supported it, Albanese said: “No … the Fair Work Commission makes its own decisions, but people can’t afford to go backwards.”
However, the opposition leader and Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s rival in the upcoming election, later said that his comments did not mean he didn’t support the claim. “The ACTU make their claim independently. We’re not the ACTU,” he said. Albanese went on to note that if elected, the Labour Party would make a separate submission for a minimum pay rise “at least keeping up with the cost of living”. When asked if he was referring to an increase of 5.1 per cent, equivalent to the current inflation rate, he said: “Absolutely.”