The federal opposition has come under fire for hinting that it may push for a substantial hike in the minimum wage, with suggestions such a move would “savage” SMEs.
Earlier this week, Shadow Employment Minister Brendan O’Connor told Sky News that Labor is looking into the possibility of legislating the minimum wage be “pegged” to a percentage of the Australian median wage.
That figure has been suggested as being 60 per cent, which The Guardian reported would be an increase from its current level of around 54 per cent, and result in a minimum wage increase of around $80 a week.
Opposition leader Bill Shorten repeated his commitment to exploring means of increasing wages for low-paid workers during a speech at the Press Club in Canberra.
“Let’s be quite clear that this proposal is a war on small business, not big business,” Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO) Kate Carnell declared boldly.
“The greatest impact would be on businesses that use awards, and that is small to medium businesses, which make up more than 97 per cent of businesses in Australia.
“Nearly half of our small business owners already earn less than the minimum wage and for these people, an increase in awards will mean job losses, limited employment opportunities and businesses closing.”
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.