Highly passionate reactions have been stirred among business owners following the federal opposition’s suggestions it may intervene to deliver a significant hike to the minimum wage.
One of the suggestions put forward would be to automatically set the minimum wage as a fixed portion of Australia’s median wage, with the figure of 60 per cent being mooted. That would mean that the minimum wage would rise or fall in tandem with overall wages.
Many My Business readers railed against the idea, saying such a move would lead to massive job losses as SMEs shed staff to avoid the “unaffordable” impost.
“The strategies they are proposing are ludicrous to say the least. This latest one of pegging the minimum wage to a percentage of the medium wage is suicidal,” said one reader.
“It will raise the unemployment rate considerably as SMEs let go [of] staff, which in turn will damage the countr[y’]s economy … I am the owner of [an] SME and I am earning below the minimum wage. I employ nine people and an increase like Labour is proposing would see me reduce my staff levels as I simply could not afford it.”
Agreed another: “Higher wages will lead to fewer jobs … Economically Australia is pricing themselves out of the market due to high wages. This is why there is so much outsourcing to Asia.”
A third claimed the proposal highlighted how out of touch many politicians are with the realities of operating a business:
“Have these pollies lost all grip on reality? Every time they propose a new strategy to save the nation (and their seats) they should be compelled to spend an absolute minimum of one day with small business owners, and see the difficulties that their nonsensical policies re wages, red tape etc. affect us all.”
However the debate wasn’t all one sided, with at least one business owner applauding the move.
“It is about time one of the major parties looked at helping fix one of the fundamental problems with the Australian economy; congratulations are in order for the Labor party,” the reader said.
“We need more people spending more money on basic goods and services so that all of us SME operators have paying customers... it is about growing the pie. People on minimum wages spend every cent they get, every pay period. They are a fundamental driver of the economy: the more they get the more they spend, which means more money through the tills of all the SMEs.”
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.