Labor Leader Bill Shorten is vowing to give 2.2 million workers a pay rise if he is elected and hire “the best lawyers in the country” to argue for wage increases to the Fair Work Commission.
Mr Shorten spent today campaigning in the the seat of Leichhardt in Cairns, Queensland which is currently held by veteran Liberal MP Warren Entsch with a margin of 3.9 per cent.
Mr Shorten and his wife Chloe took a ride on the Skyrail Rainforest Cableway Kuranda Range before holding a press conference where the Labor Leader made his wage increase pledge.
“We’re going to use the full force of Commonwealth advocacy to support a wage increase for 2.2 million Australians,” Mr Shorten said.
“We’re going to restore the penalty rates, and a government I lead will make a full-throated, full-bodied submission to the independent umpire where the Commonwealth of Australia, the Government of Australia, elected by the people, is going to back the people and support wage rises for everyday Australians.”
Mr Shorten had previously been promising 1.2 million low paid workers a pay rise through the party’s living wage policy.
Today, Mr Shorten would not answer how much the pay rise would be, stating it would need to be decided by the Fair Work Commission.
Later in the day, Mr Shorten visited Cairns Hospital where he told workers costs of living and health care were his priorities.
“The Government is running a scare campaign that if you get a wage rise someone else loses their job,” Mr Shorten said.
“It’s not class warfare to say you can have a three or four per cent wage rise instead of one or two per cent.
“This country works best when working and middle class people get a fair go.”
The focus on wage growth is a change of tactics from last week where Labor had focused its campaigning around health.
Modelling conducted in 2017 by Labor-aligned think tank the McKell Institute found workers in Leichhardt were forecast to lose the most in disposable income as a result of the Fair Work Commission’s decision to cut penalty rates.