Federal Labor's Business Rhetoric is as Craven as is its Misrepresentation on Wages: CCIQ

Wednesday 13 March, 2019 | By: Dan Petrie and Marcus Smith

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) has called on the Federal Opposition to engage factually in matters of real wages in Australia and cease with the demonisation of the business community where the term, ‘Fat Cat’ smears many small businesses currently struggling to keep staff in jobs as well as enduring the burden of increased taxes and levies.

CCIQ Chief Economist, Dr Marcus Smith said opposition Leader, Bill Shorten has received appropriate widespread odium from the nation’s peak employer groups regarding his recent economic ‘tomfoolery’ around the earning power workers in Australia currently enjoy.

“The opposition leader’s narrative around a ‘living wage’ absolutely disregards the economic reality that Australia already has one of the highest real minimum wage rates in the world in relative terms.

“Mr Shorten clearly doesn’t comprehend that small businesses are the predominant type of business in Australia, and many owners of small businesses take home less than their employees each week while at the same time carrying all of the financial risk in the business.

“Queensland businesses with less than 20 employees provide the largest number of the state’s jobs (44%) and medium size businesses employ between 20 and 200 (23%), so together SMEs make up two-thirds of all jobs

“The economic reality is that, where theory meets practice, it is reckless to legislate the highest wages in an idealistic world when in the real world you will have no employers able to afford to provide these jobs”, Dr Smith said.

CCIQ notes if a living wage were introduced, it will put state governments under further pressure to raise the payroll tax threshold to prevent significant job losses.

Payroll tax is already an issue for businesses and arguably the most insidious of imposts any government can impose on any employer, especially at a time when sentiment has deteriorated in the last 12 months.

Business confidence in Queensland is disappearing rapidly across the state - business owners are struggling to absorb minimum wage rises in consecutive years that have been far beyond the level of inflation (which reflects the prices of the goods and services provided by businesses) as well as paying their operating costs, which Labor’s energy policy will certainly only serve to put further pressure on business margins.

ABS statistics on business counts in Queensland show that business survival rates over five years to 2018 were a paltry 63%, and it was worse for business entries with a 53% survival rate over that time.

CCIQ Head of Media and Industry, Dan Petrie said the standard of debate in Australia around wages and the assertion that business is denying workers pay increases is an insult to the private sector and does nothing to advance the Australian economy.

“The unions love to invoke the spectre of industrial relations debate cast against a backdrop of dark skies and satanic mills running 24/7 as children work tirelessly in the factory despite the reality being somewhat different,” Mr Petrie said.

CCIQ points to evidence that has started to emerge in the ABS statistics that average incomes in Queensland have fallen in those sectors that are most affected by rises in the minimum wage, particularly the retail sector, where average hours of work has fallen in line with rises in average hourly incomes (awards and penalty rates)

(CONUS, 2019 - https://www.conus.com.au/blog/).


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