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Fair Pay Commission’s minimum wage logic ‘flawed’ - Greens

The logic behind the decision to freeze wages for 1.3 million Australian workers on the minimum wage is 'flawed' and the commission failed to take into account the true cost of living, say the Australian Greens.

"Make no mistake, this decision will see a rise in the numbers of the 'working poor' in Australia - working families who are struggling to keep up with the rent and keep their heads above the poverty line," said Senator Rachel Siewert today.

"The argument made by the Fair Pay Commissioner that recent cash 'stimulus' payments offset the need for an increase in basic pay to keep up with rising living costs is both illogical and unfair."

"This effectively discriminates against the lowest paid - workers on agreements don't have the tax transfer system taken into account when their wages are set," said Senator Siewert.

"Working families were pushed by the Rudd government to spend their stimulus money quickly for the good of the economy - now they are being told that there was still enough in the budget for tax cuts for the well-off, but nothing for those struggling on the minimum wage."

"This is grossly unfair and very shabby."

"Meanwhile CPI has risen 2.5% and the costs of many essentials - such as rent, power and water, medicines and vegies have risen by substantially more."

"At the same time, we see that in making its minimum wage decision, the Fair Pay Commission is failing to take into account the real cost of living in making its decisions by significantly underestimating the cost of housing in its calculations."

"The errors caused by not using real rental cost data and relying on maximum rather than average rates of rent assistance were pointed out to the Commission in the submission by ACCER, and the Greens have pursued the release of this data through Senate Estimates - but still this significant problem is being ignored."

"As ordinary Australians struggle with the impacts of the financial crisis, it is no wonder they are becoming disillusioned with a Labor government that talks about 'fairness' but fails to tackle executive bonuses or regulate shoddy lending practices - while failing to deliver a fair go for Australia's working poor," concluded Senator Siewert.

For more information or media enquiries please call Tim Norton on 0418 401 180

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