IR news wrap: PM on real wages; High Court on advertising

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IR news wrap: PM on real wages; High Court on advertising

A Unions NSW report which doubts the assertion that real wages have increased by 14% under the Government is 'fundamentally flawed' according to the PM.

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A Unions NSW report which doubts the assertion that real wages have increased by 14% under the Government is 'fundamentally flawed' according to the PM. Meanwhile the Federal Government is facing some hostile questioning in the High Court over its spending on advertisements promoting its upcoming IR changes.

PM doubts figures on real wages

A Unions NSW report which doubts the assertion that real wages have increased by 14% under the Government is 'fundamentally flawed', according to the PM.

Howard said the the University of Sydney research cited by Unions NSW show that the Federal Minimum Wage increased from $349.40 in 1996 to $484.40 by 2005 - an increase of more than 12%.

'This contradicts a Unions NSW claim that ‘workers in the highest percentile were the only ones to enjoy a double digit increase in real wages.

'The tables also demonstrate that average weekly ordinary time earnings have increased by 20% in real terms.'

Howard maintains that real wages have risen by 14%, based on the ABS Average Earnings Measure published in the quarterly national accounts - which covered the nine-year period from March 1996 to March 2005.

He said that the UnionsNSW analysis is limited to a four year period (1997-2001).

UnionsNSW

The analysis by acirrt for Unions NSW drew together published and unpublished ABS data and found:

  • workers in the lowest two percentiles, received an average increase of just 1.2% over the six year period;
  • workers in the highest percentile were the only ones to enjoy a double digit increase in real wages (13.4%); and
  • that middle income earners experiences the lowest increases of all.

Unions NSW secretary John Robertson said the analysis shows the Howard government's claims of 14% increase in real wages was deceptive.

'[The Prime Minister] has been using this figure to paint himself as a friend of the workers while he goes about ripping away their working rights and conditions,' he said.

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High Court judges challenge Government assertions

Reports from yesterday's hearing of the ALP's challenge to federal Government spending on advertisements promoting its upcoming IR changes indicate that the Government is facing some hostile questioning from the bench.

Justices McHugh and Kirby seemed very doubtful that the IR advertising could be in any way equated with a 'compliance' promotion - such as one promoting road safety. The judges expressed views that such an argument was 'unrealistic'.

The unions and ALP are arguing that the appropriation of monies in the 2005/06 budget was not sufficiently specific to permit the funding of the advertising campaign.

The hearing continues today.

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