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Federal Government report: Cuts to the minimum wage every year for 10 years

01 May 2014 By ACTU

The Federal Government's Commission of Audit report released today in Canberra recommends a real cut to the minimum wage every year for a decade, and then for it to be scrapped.

The ACTU attacked the Commission of Audit report as a blueprint written by the big business lobby for the Government.

ACTU President Ged Kearney said that the report was genuinely shocking and flagged dangerous and radical changes to important Government services, Australia's universal health system, the education system and the foundations of decent wages, while delivering a privatisation agenda for the benefit of business.

"Joe Hockey's so called 'Age of Entitlement' is over for workers and their families but is just beginning for business, with 10 Government services flagged for privatisation," Ms Kearney said.

"Shockingly, the Government's report from big business recommends a real cut to the minimum wage every year for ten years.

"The cut to the minimum wage is attacking the foundations of Australia's decent wage system.

"The Government's report is telling workers that the cost of living will grow, that you can't rely on our universal health system anymore, and the minimum wage will be cut.

"This is a recipe straight out of the United States – pushing down the minimum wage, getting rid of decent health services and privatising core Government services.

"Will Mr Abbott continue to be the puppet of Tony Shepherd and the Business Council of Australia and drive down wages and conditions for big business?

What Tony Shepherd has announced today is a series of recommendations for savage spending cuts that will hurt ordinary Australians but leave big business untouched.

The report makes a series of alarming recommendations including:

  • Cutting the real value and tightening eligibility to the age pension, disability support pension, carers' allowance and other payments.
  • Privatising 10 government agencies, including Australia Post, which will result in higher costs and less services for consumers, particularly those in regional Australia.
  • Charging $15 for every visit to the doctor, while forcing more people to take out private health insurance.
  • Recommending a 'minimum wage benchmark' of 44% of average earnings, which would widen the gap between the low-paid and the rest of the workforce, and entrench pockets of working poor in parts of Australia.
  • Reducing protection for workers from unscrupulous bosses by winding back redundancy payments under the Fair Entitlements Guarantee.
  • Abandoning the Gonski reforms to school funding by reverting to a system that will not recognise the needs of individual students and schools, particularly those in disadvantaged areas.
  • Putting in doubt the full commencement of the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
  • Scrapping or reducing funding to a range of industry and trade promotion assistance programs, including those for the auto and steel industries, and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation.
  • Slashing at least 15,000 public sector jobs, or 5% of the Commonwealth workforce.
  • Requiring young job seekers to move to different parts of the country, even interstate, or lose their allowance.
  • Expecting the elderly to pay more of their aged care costs themselves.

Ms Kearney said the report and the pre-Budget announcements have said a lot about the priorities of this Government and who they're looking out for and which Australians they're happy to leave behind.

Media Contact: Carla De Campo, 0410 579 575 and Eleni Hale, 0418 793 885

Contact Details
Name: David Smith, ASU National Secretary
Telephone: 03 9342 1400