Minister coy on inflation-linked minimum wage rise
Finance Minister Katy Gallagher has called for workers to receive a sustainable pay rise, but won't say whether the government backs an inflation-matching minimum wage increase.
With submissions to the Fair Work Commission on next financial year's minimum wage rise due to close, unions have called for an increase above seven per cent.
Media reports suggest unions will advocate for a wage rise for low-paid workers that matches inflation.
Inflation stood at 7.8 per cent during the December quarter.
However, Senator Gallagher declined to say whether the government would push for a wage rise in line with inflation when it makes its submission to the Fair Work Commission.
Submissions are due by the end of the month.
"For low-income workers, we want to make sure that they are getting sustainable and affordable pay rises," she told ABC Radio on Monday.
"Last year (we) didn't put a pay figure on (the last submission). I think we made the argument that, particularly for low-paid workers, we wouldn't want to see them go backwards, but we left it to the commission."
The commission raised the minimum wage by 5.2 per cent for the current financial year in its most recent decision.
Consultations are set to begin in coming weeks between the commission, government, unions and business groups on the minimum wage before the decision is handed down in June.
ACTU secretary Sally McManus said the union would finalise its submission in due course.
"When making our claim, the union movement will carefully consider all the pressures on the lowest-paid workers who are suffering through the biggest cost-of-living crisis in memory," she said.
Opposition workplace spokeswoman Michaelia Cash said the coalition backed the decision-making process of the commission on minimum wage levels.
"This process takes into account all relevant information which should lead to a balanced and appropriate outcome," she said.
"Labor promised to increase wages for Australian workers and have so far failed to deliver with real wages going backwards."
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said before the last election he "absolutely" backed a rise in the minimum wage to support the cost of living.
Senator Gallagher said the government was in the process of finalising its submission.
Opposition immigration spokesman Dan Tehan said any rise in the minimum wage needed to put downward pressure on rising inflation.
"Anything which is just going to raise and increase inflation growing in this country is to the detriment of our long-term interests," he told Sky News.
"We have to get inflation under control in this country."