Business can afford wage increase: Qld Govt

Queensland Government urges Fair Work Australia to increase the state and national minimum wages, claiming businesses can afford it

By Brad Gardner | March 29, 2011

The Queensland Government is urging Fair Work Australia to increase national and state minimum wages, claiming the state’s businesses can afford it.

The Government has written to the industrial relations umpire as it conducts its annual wage review, saying a "reasonable increase" will have a positive effect on consumer confidence and help maintain household incomes.

In its submission, the Government says Queensland’s weekly minimum wage should be increased to the level of the national wage which is currently $569.90. The state wage is currently $568.20.

"The national and Queensland economies, although affected by the recent floods and cyclones, are capable of accommodating a moderate increase to minimum wages," the Queensland Government’s submission reads.

"A moderate increase to minimum wages is sustainable and affordable."

The Queensland Government says workers reliant on the state minimum wage, such as apprentices and trainees, were denied a pay increase during the last wage review because Fair Work Australia declined to vary state arrangements.

"The Queensland Government submits that the 2010-11 annual wage review should specifically address the wages applying to Queensland apprentices, trainees and labour market program participants," the submission says.

The Government wants Fair Work Australia to increase the state wage to take into account its decision to raise the national minimum wage by $26 in its 2009-2010 review.

The ACTU wants Fair Work Australia to lift the national minimum wage by $28 per week to $597.90 from July 1 and increase pay for award workers by 4.2 percent.

Business groups have opposed the union’s proposal, with the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry claiming a $9.50 increase is more than enough.

The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) has recommended a $14 rise and for a six-month exemption for businesses affected by recent natural disasters.

"Fair Work Australia needs to take a cautious approach this year in adjusting minimum wages," Ai Group CEO Heather Ridout says.

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