Anthony Albanese backs wage growth at rate of inflation

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Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese says he “absolutely” supports a 5.1 per cent wage rise to keep up with the current rate of inflation after earlier declining to be pinned down on a figure.

It is the first time a leader has explicitly stated what they believe wage growth should be during this election campaign, which has focused on cost-of-living pressures and is occurring as the workplace umpire undertakes its annual minimum wage review.

Anthony Albanese says he “absolutely” backs an increase in wages to keep up with the current 5.1 per cent inflation rate.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

“I believe the minimum wage should at least keep up with the cost of living,” Albanese told a press conference in the Melbourne seat of Chisholm on Tuesday morning.

During an earlier interview with ABC radio, Albanese declined to specifically endorse the Australian Council of Trade Unions’ call for a 5.5 per cent increase to the minimum wage this year.

“I’ve said that the Fair Work Commission, in my view, should not allow people to go backwards when people are really struggling, and the idea that the minimum wage can’t keep up with the cost of living in terms of inflation, in my view, is something that the Fair Work Commission should bear in mind,” Albanese told the ABC’s RN Breakfast.

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However, he honed his position when asked by a reporter later in the morning whether he would support a wage hike of 5.1 per cent “just to keep up with inflation”. Albanese responded: “Absolutely.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison was also asked during a press conference in Sydney on Tuesday morning whether he supported a wage increase to keep pace with the cost of living.

“I support the process we’ve always had for the setting of the minimum wage in this country, and that is that it be independently assessed in a proper process, based on the best facts and information about the economy,” Morrison said, having last week declined to support an increase.

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