Voters want direct route to wage rises

Colin Brinsden, AAP Economics Correspondent
(Australian Associated Press)

The Turnbull government sees its planned company tax cuts as the be all and end all of lifting the economy and putting more money in Australians’ pockets.

But a new survey ranks business tax cuts fifth behind other various options the government could take to lift wage growth from its record low pace.

Four out of five respondents in the latest Essential Research poll back an increase in the minimum wage, while just under three quarters support cutting personal income taxes.

Reducing the number of foreign workers on 457 visas (70 per cent), stronger regulation of labour hire companies (69 per cent) and cutting company taxes so that business invest and give workers pay risies (61 per cent) were also high on the list.

Giving more power to unions to negotiate pay rises scored a comparatively lowly 43 per cent.

However, separate government figures show pay rises under enterprise bargaining agreements are growing at almost three times the rate of inflation, unlike individual pay increases that are just keeping ahead of prices.

Average annualised wage increases through bargaining agreements grew by 3.4 per cent in the September quarter, compared with three per cent in the June quarter, the Department of Employment says.

Awards in private sector agreements increased by 0.5 percentage points over the quarter, while in the public sector they were flat.

The earlier reported wage price index for the same quarter – the Reserve Bank’s preferred measure of wage inflation – showed record low annual growth of 1.9 per cent.

This compared with the consumer price index at 1.3 per cent.


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