Senator the Hon. Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance and the Public Service
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
QUESTION: If low wages growth is the biggest issue affecting households, why is it a deliberate Government strategy to keep them down?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Bill Shorten’s anti-business, high taxing agenda will harm the economy, kill jobs and drive wages down. It is our agenda to deliver stronger growth, more jobs and lower unemployment that will drive wages up. There is only one recipe for stronger wages growth, which we want and which we are pursuing and that is more investment, stronger growth, more jobs and lower unemployment.
QUESTION: Why is it a deliberate strategy though?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Our agenda is all about delivering stronger growth, more jobs, lower unemployment, which is a key ingredient to higher wages growth. When Bill Shorten was last in Government, his anti-business, high taxing agenda back then delivered a weakening economy, rising unemployment and a rapidly deteriorating Budget position. Bill Shorten’s anti-business, high taxing agenda today would harm the economy, would kill jobs, would harm families, would drive wages down. There is no question about that.
QUESTION: Will the Budget have any specific measures aimed at increasing wages?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Our Budget will be the next instalment in our plan to deliver a stronger economy, creating more jobs, where people across Australia have the best possible opportunity to get ahead. Wages growth has been picking up. The worst thing to do for wages growth is to pursue an anti-business, high taxing agenda, as Bill Shorten is proposing, because a high taxing, anti-business agenda a la Bill Shorten will harm the economy, it will kill jobs and it will drive wages down.
QUESTION: But what will the Coalition do to increase wages?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The Coalition will continue to pursue a pro-growth, pro-business agenda, which will deliver stronger jobs growth, as we have been, which will continue to drive the unemployment rate down. The additional investment in productivity growth, in economic growth will lead to stronger wages growth into the future. Whereas Bill Shorten’s agenda will drive wages down, there is no question about that.
QUESTION: How can there be economic growth if people do not have money to spend?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Stronger growth comes from additional investment into our future economic success. It comes from businesses across Australia selling more products and services. Businesses across Australia that are more successful will hire more Australians. Business across Australia that are more successful will be able to pay them better wages. When there is increased competition for workers, wages go up. Under Bill Shorten, when Bill Shorten was last in Government, the unemployment rate was rising and a rising unemployment rate drives wages down. If Bill Shorten gets elected at this next election, Bill Shorten’s anti-business, high taxing agenda would harm the economy, it would kill jobs and it would drive wages down. It is the last thing that Australian families need.
QUESTION: So your message to Sally McManus and Bill Shorten today?
MATHIAS CORMANN: Our message to the Australian people is we are on your side. We want to see wages grow more strongly, but do not be fooled by Labor’s hoax. The only pathway to stronger wages growth is stronger economic growth, is stronger productivity growth, is additional investment in our future economic success. It is our agenda which has been successful in delivering stronger growth, stronger employment growth, a lower unemployment rate, which will lead to stronger wages growth moving forward.
QUESTION: Just finally, is $18.93 an hour enough to live on in this day and age?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We want to continue to see the economy strengthen into the future. We want all Australians to have the best possible opportunity to get ahead and our Budget position today, our economy today, our Budget position today is in a stronger, a better position than it was when we came into Government, because we inherited from the Labor Party, from Bill Shorten, from Chris Bowen and the Labor Party back in 2013, a weakening economy, rising unemployment and a rapidly deteriorating Budget position. The Labor Party was not even able to fund important medicines on our Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme anymore. That is what happens when Labor makes a complete mess of our Budget.
QUESTION: So, will you increase wages?
MATHIAS CORMANN: We will deliver our Budget on the 2nd of April and the way to increase wages is to continue to strengthen the economy, to continue to create more jobs as we have done over the last five and half years.