So Much For Social Justice

The Australian

21st September 2005



The ACTU's announcement that it will apply for another increase in the

minimum wage to over $26,000 per annum coincides with the publication of

employment data showing a reduction over the past year of 27,400 in the

employment of labourers and an increase of only 6,800 in employment of all

low-skilled workers at a time when total employment rose by 236,000. Why do

the low-skilled find it so difficult to get jobs?



Part of the answer is that Australia's minimum wage is set at a level (the

second highest relative to the average in OECD countries) that seriously

deters their employment. But in addition to our 550,000 unemployed there are

over 800,000 who say they would like a job. Yet (astonishingly) the

Australian Industrial Relations Commission admitted when it last increased

the minimum wage that its decision did not take account of those who are not

employed. Nor of course does the ACTU: it is only concerned with "the

workers". So much for social justice.