Scott Morrison has been slammed as ‘desperate’ and ‘unhinged’ for opposing a $1-an-hour wage hike despite pocketing thousands more every year.
The prime minister branded Anthony Albanese a ‘loose unit’ on the economy after the Labor leader on Tuesday said he would ‘absolutely’ support hiking the minimum wage by 5.1 per cent in line with inflation.
The leaders locked horns over the contentious wage increase in the early stages of the final election debate hosted by Channel 7 on Wednesday night.
Mr Morrison again blasted the Labor leader for being ‘loose with the economy’ and said such a large increase would stoke price rises further.
‘You’ve got to understand how the economy works, and if you just say 5.1 per cent and try to jawbone the Fair Work Commission, that puts Australia’s economy at great risk and we can’t afford that sort of lack of understanding about how our economy works,” the PM said.
Labor’s treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers called Mr Morrison ‘unhinged’ for failing to address the cost of living and refusing to bolster low-income workers.
Scott Morrison (pictured on Wednesday) has been slammed as ‘desperate’ and ‘unhinged’ for stubbornly opposing a $1-an-hour wage hike despite pocketing thousands more every year
‘This prime M=minister is desperate, unhinged and doing all this name calling as a desperate attempt to distract from the cost of living crisis and from the policy of real wage cuts,’ he told news.com.au.
Mr Chalmers said Mr Morrison was trying to distract from the cost of living crisis by coming up with ‘desperate distractions’ from the real issue of wage cuts.
‘Scott Morrison in one press conference says that the government shouldn’t indicate a view at the same time as he’s saying 5.1 per cent is too high,’ he said.
“He can’t have it both ways.”
Mr Chalmers added the Labor leader had not entered a formal submission to the Fair Work Commission to support a 5.1 per cent pay rise.
‘We have already made the case that Australia’s low paid workers shouldn’t be going backwards. Whether that’s in a formal submission or not, our view is already incredibly clear,’ he said.
Mr Morrisons’ opposition of the price hike for minimum wage workers comes after the salaries of politicians soared by 30 per cent over the past decade.
Mr Albanese said on Tuesday said he would ‘absolutely’ support hiking the minimum wage by 5.1 per cent in line with inflation (pictured, a cafe worker in Perth)
The leaders locked horns over the contentious wage increase in the early stages of the final election debate hosted by Channel 7 on Wednesday night (pictured)
Their base pay has been boosted from $140,000 a year to $211,250 over the past 10 years while the PM’s wage jumped to $550,000.
Mr Albanese stood by his position on Wednesday night, saying an extra dollar an hour for people on the $20.33 minimum wage would not damage the economy.
“The idea that two cups of coffee a day is something that would damage the economy is, I believe, just not the case,” he said.
‘We need to look after people who are vulnerable. We need to do more than say thanks very much for everything you did in the pandemic but now we are going to cut your wages.’
But the prime minister hit back, saying small businesses would not see it that way and may have to lay people off if wages go up too much.
‘Well, if Mr Albanese thinks small businesses around the country can have a five per cent increase in their wages bill on top of all the other things they’re facing then people won’t be worrying about what their wages are, they will be worrying about whether they have a job,” he said.
Mr Albanese stood by his position, saying an extra dollar an hour for people on the $20.33 minimum wage would not damage the economy (pictured, a cafe in Bondi, Sydney)
Overall it was Mr Albanese (pictured) and Labor who dominated the pub test, earning 50 per cent of the vote in contrast to Mr Morrison’s 34 per cent
Next the pair clashed over character – with Mr Morrison laying into his opponent and again labeling him a ‘loose unit’.
‘This is a Labor leader who comes from the far left of the party and has been very loose, he is a loose unit when it comes to the economy,’ he said.
He makes things up as he goes along. The policies he comes up with he doesn’t think through.’
Mr Morrison pointed out the Mr Albanese did not know the unemployment rate on day one of the campaign.
The name-calling came after Mr Albanese in a press conference on Tuesday said wages should ‘absolutely’ keep up with the 5.1 per cent headline inflation rate.
The comment was immediately slammed by economists and business groups who fear such a big wage rise will stoke inflation and cause household bills to surge.
The minimum wage in Australia is $20.33 an hour with some 2.7million Aussies earning the base pay (pictured, hospitality workers in Sydney)
Some of them claimed it could mean the Reserve Bank would be forced to hike interest rates more than otherwise, pushing up mortgage payments for millions.
It could also increase unemployment because businesses may find it too expensive to employ as many people, they claimed.
Mr Morrison slammed his opponent’s comments and said he was not up to the job of running the country.
‘Mr Albanese showed yesterday that he is a complete loose unit on this stuff. He just runs off at the mouth,” he said in Newcastle on Wednesday.
‘It is like he just unzips his head and lets everything fall on the table.’
Mr Morrison refused to say what level of wage increase he favors – instead insisting the independent Fair Work Commission be left to decide without political pressure
Mr Morrison refused to say what level of wage increase he favored – instead insisting the independent Fair Work Commission be left to decide without political pressure.
Overall it was Mr Albanese and Labor who dominated the pub test, earning 50 per cent of the vote in contrast to Mr Morrison’s 34 per cent.
There were 16 per cent of voters who remained undecided, however several punters in attendance who spoke to Channel Seven after the event gave telling answers indicating they had made up their minds well before the debate.
The minimum wage in Australia is $20.33 an hour. It gets reviewed every year, with a decision expected in June. Some 2.7 million Australians earn the minimum wage.
The Coalition believes the best way to prompt wage rises is to keep down unemployment – currently at just four per cent.