Job losses? What job losses? … says Andrews on $27 pay rise

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Job losses? What job losses? … says Andrews on $27 pay rise

Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews has walked away from his own Government's submission that the $27 a week AFPC minimum wage rise will cost 236,000 jobs.

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Workplace Relations Minister Kevin Andrews has walked away from his own Government's submission that the $27 a week AFPC minimum wage rise will cost 236,000 jobs.

The Government's submission to the Commission was that for every 10 cents an hour increase there would be a loss of 32,800 jobs - or about 236,000 for the $27 increase.

Asked: 'Are you now walking away from your own submission?' on Channel 10's Meet the Press program yesterday, Andrews ducked the question and instead launched an attack on the ALP.

'This is a matter of balance and the Fair Pay Commission took any likely impact on unemployment into account and specifically did so in its decision,' Andrews said. 'But can I remind you the Labor Party was running around the country deriding the Fair Pay Commission for the last 12 months, saying that this would lead to a slash in wages when indeed the opposite has occurred and they've got egg all over their face this week.'

The Australian Retailers Association on Friday forecast significant job losses and a move to cut penalty rates through AWAs in the retail and service sectors as a result of the decisions.

Avoided accusation

Andrews also avoided the accusation that if the same decision had been brought down by the AIRC 'you would have bagged it up hill and down dale'.

'Well, this decision when worked at, looked at on an annual basis, is in the range of about $18 to $20, $27 over 18 months,' he said.

'We have got a prosperous economy at the present time and I believe it was a fair decision. The change here is that we've got an analytical, researched approach to the way in which minimum wages are set in Australia. In the past, we had an ambit claim by one side and an ambit counterclaim by the other side equally and an arbitrated outcome.'

Pointing out that the decision is in 'directly equivalent to headline inflation', Andrews was asked: 'Why don't you save yourself the price of a commission and just index wages if that's the case?'

'Well, I think it's important that we do have a commission,' Andrews replied. 'We made a policy decision that there should be an independent body, which looks at minimum wages.'

Election decision

Retiring AWU National Secretary and ALP candidate for the Federal seat of Maribyrnong at the next election, Bill Shorten, claimed at the weekend that the pay rise was granted to boost the Howard Government's re-election chances.

'It's an extra $27 you wouldn't get unless there was an election next year,' Shorten said as he farewelled union members to begin campaigning.

However Prime Minister Howard has already foreshadowed an increase in interest rates by the Reserve Bank on 7 November, which, if true, will claw back a lot of what is left of the rise after tax and superannuation.

As well, the AFPC has said there will be another minimum wage decision in mid 2007, which is likely to be before the next election and therefore have a greater impact on its outcome.

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