by Alan Thornhill
Julia Gillard has pledged an extra $1 billion to help move social workers towards equal pay.
The Prime Minister also called on the States to match her action.
She made the commitment while addressing the New South Wales State Labor Party conference in Sydney.
“This takes our total commitment for equal pay for social and community workers to around $3 billion through to June 2021, as part of the phase in period,” Ms Gillard said.
“From 1 December 2012, 150,000 of Australia’s lowest paid workers will benefit from substantial pay rises of between 23 and 45 percent as a result of Fair Work Australia’s decision to lift the wages of some of Australia’s lowest paid workers,” Ms Gillard said.
About 120,000 of these workers are women.
Ms Gillard said said her Government its committed to meeting its share of the costs associated with “this historic decision.”
“It was this Labor Government who allowed the case to be brought to the independent umpire through our introduction of the Fair Work Act,” Ms Gillard said.
“And this Labor Government will continue to support this historic pay increase at every step of the process as it is phased in,” she added.
Ms Gillard said she expects state and territory governments to meet their obligations and commit their share of funds.
“Employees in our social and community sectors work in some of the most challenging of jobs such as counselling families in crisis, running homeless shelters, working with people with disabilities and with victims of domestic violence or sexual assault,” the Prime Minister said.
“These employees make a real difference to lives of some of our most vulnerable community members and they deserve to be properly rewarded for their efforts,” she added.
by Alan Thornhill
Seven million Australian workers will find, over the coming fortnight, that they have extra money in their pockets and purses.
That will be a direct result of the tax changes the government has made, to offset price rises that will come with the new carbon tax.
The most significant of these is the trebling of the tax free threshold.
Senior ministers were out at the weekend, selling these changes.
Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan worked the crowds together in a double act, at a barbeque in Brisbane.
“It’s a week now since carbon pricing started,” the Prime Minister said.
“And it’s very clear that the sky hasn’t fallen in.”
Ms Gillard said Australians now have an opportunity to “judge for themselves.”
“Seven million Australians are going to see a tax cut in the pay packet they are getting this week or the next,” she added.
Mr Swan implicitly acknowledged that Australians are worrying most, about the power bills that will come in the wake of the carbon tax.
“We all know that power bills have increased a lot in recent years – long before the price on carbon,” he said.
That had happened mainly because billions of dollars had been spent upgrading the towers, poles and wires, that bring electricity to our homes.
But Mr Swan acknowledged that power bills will rise again, in the wake of the new tax.
On average, they would go up by about $3.30 a week, for each family.
But he said the government will be offsetting this with assistance worth an average of $10.10 a week, through tax cuts, extra family assistance and pension increases.
Mr Swan even got personal, with some extra advice on what you can do to keep your power bills down.
Washing clothes in cold rather than hot water could save you around $115
Getting rid of the second fridge could save you around $140;
Using a clothesline instead of an electric dryer once a week could save you around $63; and
Switching off gaming consoles at the power point could save you up to $150.
“This shows you can do your bit to help the environment and help your family budget at the same time,” Mr Swan said.
by Alan Thornhill
Australians are quick to spot a bargain.
And we respond quickly to economic changes.
These developments – evident in a new study – are radically changing the way we shop.
The study, by the ANZ Bank, shows steady growth in the small business sector.
It revealed that small business sales a grew by 6.9 per cent, in the 12 months to the end of May.
The sector also chalked up 3.8 per cent growth, in the first five months of this year.
In the current economic climate, these are strong figures.
As always, though, it’s the detail that really counts.
The study also shows, for example, that many traditional shopkeepers are still going through tough times.
Those selling electrical goods and appliances, for example, saw their sales shrink by 2.6 per cent, in the 12 months to the end of May.
Sales in clothing and fashion stores also fell, dropping by 1.2 per cent.
Home wares and furniture sales were down, over this time, too, falling by 1.9 per cent.
So what is happening, here?
Ivan Colhoun, who heads the ANZ’s economic and property research, notes that the electrical and clothing sectors are “heavily exposed to the high Australian dollar.”
This makes local shopkeepers, in these areas, “vulnerable” to competition from internet shopping sites.
The high Aussie dollar has also made foreign cars cheaper, in this country, over the past year.
Australia’s car dealers have done very well, out of that.
The bank’s survey showed that the automotive sector increased its sales by a truly impressive 7.8 per cent over the year.
It also showed that we are eating out more, with restaurant sales rising by 6.9 per cent, in the same time.
The business service sector performed well too, with its sales rising by 5.9 per cent over the year.
Where we live matters, too.
Small business sales in resource rich regions have generally been rising most strongly in the nation’s resource rich States and Territories.
Those in Western Australia, for example, rose by 6.5 per cent in the year to the end of May, while small businesses in Queensland saw a 5.1 per cent increase, and small business sales in the Northern Territory jumped by 6.1 per cent.
by Alan Thornhill
About 150,000 low paid, child care – and other community sector – workers are to get big pay rises – staged over eight years.
Most are women.
In a statement today, the Federal government said these workers – who include some of Australia’s lowest paid – will benefit from regular pay rises totalling between 23 and 45 per cent from 1 December this year.”
The statement, signed jointly by several ministers, led by the Acting Prime Minister, Wayne Swan, said this follows Fair Work Australia’s “historic decision” in February, ordering equal pay for social and community services workers.
The ministers said this recognises “the tireless work they do for the Australian community. “
In its ruling Fair Work said the highest paid employees would receive a 41 per cent, or $24,000, pay rise, bringing their annual salary to $83,000.
Workers on the lowest award rates will receive a rise of 19 per cent, an increase of around $6,000 a year.
The Federal Government says it “remains committed” to providing additional Commonwealth funding of more than $2 billion to pay its share of the increases.
It said State and territory governments must also pay their share.
Mr Swan said FWA’s decision was the first successful equal remuneration claim in the national system and a significant advance for equal pay for women.
“In coming years, we will need to attract and retain more workers in the services sectors of the economy and especially in ‘caring’ work which has historically been dominated by women,” he said.
“Properly valuing caring work and providing decent wages in industries dominated by women is an important part of keeping our economy strong and resilient,” Mr Swan said.
The first instalments will be paid on December 1.
Weathercoast by Alan Thornhill
A novel on the murder of seven young Anglican Christian Brothers in the Solomon Islands.
Available now on the iTunes store.
Alan Thornhill is a parliamentary press gallery journalist.
Private Briefing is updated daily with Australian personal finance news, analysis, and commentary.
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