Earlier this week, Maurice Newman, chairman of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council, gave a speech, largely blaming the high minimum wages in Australia compared to other similar economies globally.
Is this a fair assessment?
As always, when someone gives a simplistic relationship like this, alarm bells went off in my head. So I thought to look up Rent Index of the cost of living index as lower income earners are largely renters to see how these countries compare. No surprises, Maurice Newman overlooked this to make his point.
The index value for 2013 in New Zealand is 46.06, Canada, 39.85 and the US, 37.39. And Australia? Well, we scored 4th highest, at 72.72.
With the groceries index for 2013, there is the same trend; New Zealand is 111.78, Canada, 101.24, the US, 80.74 and Australia again at 4th with 128.69.
So it’s clearly expensive to be an Aussie.
What strikes me as short sighted here is, if Australia is expensive, it is obviously expensive to be a consumer here. Without forking out on wages, Aussies can hardly be consumers and thus local business dies.
What does Maurice want; Aussies to work for bread crumbs so that business can sell it off dirt cheap (well, as cheap as they need to, to be competitive while maintaining profits for shareholders) in other countries? Without homes and a full belly, your bread-crumb workers would soon drop dead as well.
This is entirely the problem with big business. It forgets that it is part of a Anthroposystem (ie. a human built “ecosystem”). All self-sustaining systems are cyclic. What Maurice and many like him really want is a concentration of wealth – like a bunch of giant Redwoods stubbornly holding all the resources in the canopy indefinitely.
Without the flora and fauna elsewhere in the system, sustained by a return of resources, eventually there is nothing to convert matter (or no matter to convert) into further nutrients that feed the Redwoods.
Just like Rinehart’s comments about African’s wanting to work (for a dollar a day), the comments by Maurice represent a complete denial of the daily struggle for the average working family in Australia. Both and others that make similar comments are detached from reality and unfairly yield more sway in politics compared to the average Australian.
Such comments ought to be seen for what they are; obscene and immoral to the majority of people trying to make ends-meet in our country. And these comments were made by the chairman of the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council. That alone should concern Aussies. He might be able to advise business, but only in a detached irrelevant context.