In his major economic speech last week, Scott Morrison gave wages only a passing mention: “by focusing on delivering a strong economy we create the right environment for wages growth, which we are now beginning to see, and more will follow”.
Actually, you need a microscope to see any improvement. The microscope shows that most of it is explained by the Fair Work Commission’s hefty 3.5 per cent increase in minimum wage rates last June.
(And why was it so generous? To offset the effect on pay packets of its earlier decision to phase down Sunday penalty rates.)
Not, however, that Bill Shorten has had a lot more than Morrison to say about the causes and cure of weak wage growth. Presumably, Shorten fears that anything he says about changes to wage fixing will be used to feed yet another scare campaign about him being a patsy for a union takeover.
Two or three years ago, I was happy to entertain the view still publicly espoused by the Reserve Bank (and still happily hidden behind by Morrison) that the wage problem was simply cyclical: wages are taking longer than expected to recover from the ups and downs of the resources boom but, be patient, they’ll come good soon enough.