Maurice Newman on the Unsustainable Cost of Wages

From a speech given by Maurice Newman on Monday:

Right now, one of the issues even for efficient producers is the high cost of getting goods to market. For example, the cost of sending products from Hobart to Brisbane is the same as transporting them from Amsterdam to Brisbane. This is largely due to anti-competitive coastal shipping arrangements in Australia which the previous government strengthened under union pressure and, relatively high wage costs. For example, some dockworkers can earn more than $150,000 a year while harbour pilots take home $250,000 a year for three days work. Locomotive drivers in Queensland are paid three times what their American counterparts receive. These examples are random and anecdotal but they do make the point. And if you think I have been selective, consider Australia’s minimum wage at US$33,355 for a 38-hour week against other countries with mature economies. For instance, Canada, our closest competitor has a minimum wage of US$22,766, for a 44 hour week. The European minimum is around $US 22,000, New Zealand is $ US23,000 and the United States, $US15,000, all rounded and for 40 hour weeks. A British worker receives about $US20,000 for a 38.2 hour week. On top of our minimum awards Australian employers must pay 10 per cent of their payroll in workers compensation insurance premiums, a 9.25 per cent compulsory superannuation surcharge, sick leave, overtime penalty rates and holiday loadings. Read more