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Below is a letter I had published in the Herald Sun following that paper’s publication of an article centred on points made by the Australian Retailers Association, including that its members are the largest employer of any other private sector and that they employ many young people who are less skilled. Regrettably, other business associations have not opposed an increase but have suggested it be “moderate” or much less, while Minister Shorten has implied the claim may be “a bit high”. This provides Fair Work Australia with a compromise “solution”.

The minimum wage is the most important component of Australia’s regulatory system – and the least justified. That may seem an overly radical statement. The key point here is that, if a worker cannot get a job at the minimum wage (Australia has the highest among OECD countries), he or she cannot (legally) offer their services at a lower wage. This means that there is an enormous “gap” for the relatively unskilled – the only alternative to a minimum age of about $33,000pa (as claimed) is to go on the dole of about $12,000 pa. Why, in fairness, cannot a worker agree to work at ,say, $20,000pa? One answer is that to allow that would “undermine” the regulated wages obtained by our powerful trade unions.

Other criticisms of the minimum wage will be made in a submission by the HR Nicholls Society.

Des Moore

Anger at Pay Push
(Letter published in the Herald Sun, 4 April 2013.)

Re “Job loss warning with $30 pay rise”, April 2, where the Australian Retailers Association has warned that job losses would occur if the minimum wage increase of $30-a-week claimed by unions is granted. Given that this would increase the minimum wage to about $33,000 a year, the warning is fully justified.

The union claim is the more outrageous when a significant proportion of the labour force receives no wage at all because they are unemployed or have had to give up looking for a job because they are unskilled.

It is absurd that the unskilled are not allowed to offer themselves for employment at a wage lower than the existing minimum of about $31,500. This rule is but one example of unfairness in the present regulatory arrangements under Fair Work Australia.

Des Moore, South Yarra

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