PM Edition 30 March 2017
When I saw the headline I had to read it twice. The Government had apparently made a submission about the minimum wage that in part said:
Melbourne broadcaster Neil Mitchell in an interview with Michaelia Cash attempted to make sense of it.
MITCHELL: But Minister, please, please, I understand that, I think we all understand that. The point is, in political terms this line from your department, this line from the Government about low-paid workers being found in high-income households is poison. The electorate will look at that and say ‘You elite lot’. I mean, how many of the middle-aged women going and cleaning toilets in hotels today are going home to a rich sugar daddy?
CASH: No, no, no, please…
MITCHELL: That is what you’re saying here.
CASH: No, no, I really… No, no, no. I do take issue with that because that is not…
MITCHELL: Quote, “are often found in high income households”.
CASH: But again, what you would do, you are taking one sentence and you are distorting the fact.
MITCHELL: Alright, I give up.
MITCHELL: Well you tell me. What does it mean “are often found in high-income households”? How many of the 200,000 people struggling along on $17.70 an hour are coming from high-income households, how relevant is the minimum wage in that case?
CASH: Oh look, can I tell you, the minimum wage is absolutely relevant and no one denies that.
MITCHELL: Minister, you don’t have a figure here, do you?
CASH: No, no, no…what is…it’s not that we don’t have a figure Neil…
MITCHELL: You do have a figure? Give it to me!
CASH: It’s very much that you need to look at the minimum wage review as a whole, okay?
MITCHELL: You’ve put this argument that – I agree you’re putting other arguments as well – but you’ve put this argument that many of the people on the lowest wage are actually coming from wealthier households. How many of them?
CASH: OK, OK.
MITCHELL: That’s a simple point, how many, what percentage?
CASH: No, OK, I don’t have the figure, OK, but it’s not as simple as that, as I said, you pick and choose a particular line from the submission and then what you then lose is the totality of what the submission…
MITCHELL: What’s this line mean, quote “low income workers are often found in high income households”. What does that mean?
CASH: Again, often what it is that they will have another partner that has a high income but and they are part of the contribution to that household’s income.
MITCHELL: And what percentage of the low income workers are in that position?
CASH: Well as I said there’s only about 200,000 workers that are actually paid at the minimum wage and that is why when you actually look at where the majority of workers lie, the vast majority of people are paid under awards and they actually receive more.
MITCHELL: I understand that, but what percentage of the 200,000 as you say in your submission found in high income households?
CASH: Well, it’s not so much what percentage…
MITCHELL: Well of course it is!
CASH: No no no, because you’ve actually got to look at the minimum wage review in to…to you can’t just literally pick and choose one sentence. So when you look at all of the information that the Government has provided to the minimum wage submission, and again it doesn’t matter who is in power, it’s contemporary economic information.
CASH: Basically the role of the government when it comes to providing information to the commission on the minimum wage review is to put in contemporary economic information to help the Commission determine what level of increase …
MITCHELL: I understand all that, what do you mean by the low paid workers are often found in high income households?
CASH: Well basically, what we look at is completely all of the information that is provided and what we say to the commission is you need to ensure that you take in to account the economic outlook that in particular, in particular, how we are going to support employers…
MITCHELL: Yes, I understand all that. But what do you mean by…
CASH: … you have high income person in the household…
MITCHELL: Oh dear…
CASH: … but then you’ll often have a second person in the household that doesn’t necessarily earn as much money.
Senator Cash could not say how many people were in this position; So there you have it. I hope it all made sense to you.
Another thought for the day.
“If we did everything perfectly the first time, we would have nothing left to improve on”