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Australian Workers $10,000 Poorer After a Decade of Coalition Government

Updated: Jul 20

The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) revealed in May of 2022 that the average Australian worker would have earned $10,000 more since 2013 when the Coalition government came into power if wages had been matched to growth in productivity. This translates to an extra $74 per week for the average Australian worker. Furthermore, it has been argued that this correlative wage suppression was a deliberate feature of the Coalition Government's economic management.

An open, empty wallet.

"Morrison Missing in Action on Wages" Report

The press release by the ACTU coincided with the release of the "Morrison Missing in Action on Wages" report which demonstrated that wages in 2022 had experienced their largest decline of the 21st century, with inflating reaching 5.1% while wages had only grown 2.3%.

A line graph showing the Australian Wages Price Index from 2004 to 2022, titled "The lost deecade of wages growth". The chart shows an average of roughly 3.7% between 2004 to 2013, with a decline in 2013, and then a new average between 2014-2021 of just above 2%.
Source: ACTU's "Morrison Missing in Action on Wages" Report, Page 8

While productivity had grown by 10.3% since 2013 real wages had only grown by 1.6% over this same period within the private sector, a six-fold disparity. This translates to a real pay cut of $800 in 2021 and an expected real pay cut of $2000 for the first half of 2022.

A line graph showing Australian Private Sector Real Wages against Productivity from 2012 to 2022, demonstrating a considerable increase in Productivity while Real Wages has remained comparatively stagnant.
Source: ACTU's "Morrison Missing in Action on Wages" Report, Page 10

The report argues that these lower wages, when compared with the growth in productivity, is a "deliberate design feature" of the Coalition government. The report quotes the 2019 Finance Minister, Mathias Cormann, who claimed that low wage growth was a “deliberate design feature of our economic architecture.”


According to the ACTU, the Coalition had entrenched low wage growth by:

• Promoting insecure work and the rise of underemployment.

• Refusing to support real wage rises for 1 in 4 workers in the Annual Wage Review

• Capping Commonwealth public sector pay rises

• Failing to act on the gender pay gap and refusing to help the underpaid and overworked predominately women workforces in aged care

• Trying to remove the Better Off Overall Test (BOOT) in collective bargaining while allowing employers to tear up enterprise bargaining agreements by using loopholes in the law

• Failing to act on wage theft

• Creating the smallest share of national income going to workers on record

Sources & Further Reading

https://www.actu.org.au/actu-media/media-releases/2022/decade-of-coalition-government-costs-workers-10-000


https://www.actu.org.au/media/1449999/morrison-missing-in-action-on-wages.pdf


https://www.actu.org.au/media/1449998/actu-media-release-020522-morrison-missing-on-wages.pdf


https://www.9news.com.au/national/low-wage-growth-not-all-bad-minister/03da13ba-dd1c-4ea6-9184-e82196e433df


https://www.news.com.au/finance/money/wealth/actu-says-average-australian-has-lost-out-on-10000-in-wages-since-2013/news-story/eaedf4dcbbd39a8c7c16e76ace5b2d19

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