Transcript – First Edition with Peter Stefanovic, Sky News
Subjects: wage increase, friendlyjordies
PETER STEFANOVIC: Well, joining me live now is Senator Amanda Stoker, the Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General. Amanda, good to see you. Thanks for your time this morning. What do you make of that rise? It's not much in the grand scheme of things. It's only 20 bucks per person. The unions wanted more. But what do you make of where it's settled?
AMANDA STOKER: It represents a 2.5 per cent increase in the minimum wage for about 2.2 million Australians. That's significant for the people who need it most and it reflects a balance between acknowledging that there's some industries that have been doing it really tough, but also acknowledging that there's been some really good work done by this Government to get the economy firing as quickly as it possibly can, post the initial COVID shock. And it shows that we have the drivers of wage growth in place that are there to make sure that we are getting the best possible wages and the best possible opportunities to the Australians who go to work every day and do their very best.
PETER STEFANOVIC: Why did there need to be a delay, though? I mean, you get the small business part of it, for the vulnerable sector. But why did there need to be that pause, I suppose, for the larger retailers, where, you know, people work in supermarkets and what have you?
AMANDA STOKER: There's a couple of sectors that have a delayed kick in. Some of them were really obvious, like, for instance, aviation and tourism that are affected by the international border closure. You'd expect those to have a slower recovery. The recovery in retail has been kind of lumpy. Some retailers haven't been affected as much - you think of Bunnings and Woolies. But then there's a lot of, a lot of other smaller retailers and particularly high street and small business retailers that have suffered pretty badly during this time. The important thing, though, is that all of those workers can expect, in the relatively short term, a 2.0- more than 2 per cent increase in their wages. And that's something they can count on and bank on. And importantly, for the long term, it reflects our continued commitment to the independence of the expert panel who determines these things-
PETER STEFANOVIC: -But is it fair?
AMANDA STOKER: Remember at the last election, Labor wanted to politicise this. They really want to make this a political issue that gets decided by politicians, how much wages you get to take home of a week. That's an appalling thing to do.
PETER STEFANOVIC: Is it fair, though, for those workers in those larger companies who've now got to wait four to five months, though?
AMANDA STOKER: Look, I understand there might be some frustration, but these things are a balance. They're a balance between making sure we have viable employers and making sure we are paying people what they're worth and what they need. And so I understand there's sometimes a little bit of tension as these things kick in. But the important thing is that it's going to be delivered in accordance with the expert panel's decision. And that reflects an assessment of the best available economic data, the best understanding of what's going on in all of those industries. And importantly, it's a reflection of the work we've been doing to get the economy firing again.
PETER STEFANOVIC: Given that you've got the scheduled super rises, the half a per cent super rise that's coming up. And now, with the minimum wage growing slightly, more than 2 per cent as you mentioned there. Is it your fear that businesses won't be able to afford this? Do you think that business or jobs will be lost?
AMANDA STOKER: We always have to be careful that in helping, at least, you know, at a surface level, one group, we don't, in fact, have unintended consequences that harm them. That's why we have experts do this. It's why we
have people who are right across the data that drives the balance in our economy, responsible for making non-political calls about where the right sweet spot is. I'm comfortable that this reflects about the right amount and that it will be something that's sustainable for people in the long term. Remembering that if we get too carried away in one go with wage rates jumping too fast and too high, it is the most vulnerable people in our community who suffer most, the people who are most vulnerable to losing their job. And we don't want to see that happen.
PETER STEFANOVIC: Jordan Shanks, the friendlyjordies-
AMANDA STOKER: Hmmm.
PETER STEFANOVIC: What do you make of this bloke?
AMANDA STOKER: Look, I don't really want to give a troll like him too much oxygen. The problem, though, is that despite the fact that Labor have pretended to be strident on doing the right thing when it comes to respecting their colleagues and particularly respecting women, you've got senior Labor figures like Senator Keneally, like Ms Plibersek, like Bill Shorten, having sit downs with this fellow, serving him tea and scones. And then in the next breath, he engages in the most vile and base- and not based in substance or performance at all, slurs on people who are particularly female and particularly conservative. And I mean, you've got to practice what you preach. These are the same people who try to pretend that you have the same views as anyone you might have a meeting with, that anyone you might have a cup of tea with or listen to, you've automatically absorbed all of their perspectives on things. We know that as a matter of logic, that's rubbish. But they're engaging in the same thing here. It's incumbent upon them to answer the question now - well, do you believe all of the things that friendlyjordies has to say? And are you prepared to practice what you preach and denounce the terrible things he's had to say?
PETER STEFANOVIC: Yeah. Well, I was going to say, do you denounce- do they have to denounce or disassociate this bloke? And you did mention some of the senior conservative women, including the New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who is targeted.
AMANDA STOKER: And in a really revolting kind of way, my colleague Nicolle Flint, who has been subjected to relentless harassment and abuse by people on the Labor side, trolls like friendlyjordies, the consequence is that she's leaving Parliament. I mean, let's put this in perspective. We are denying this Parliament the talent of some of the, you know, the most talented women in the
country, 50 per cent of this country now look at this place and go, well, I'm not sure I'm up for that. I can have a perfectly nice life in the private sector. And when they have to put up with this kind of garbage, you kind of can't blame them.
PETER STEFANOVIC: Amanda Stoker, live in Canberra, thanks for your time. Talk to you soon.
AMANDA STOKER: Thanks. Bye.
Media contact: Valeria Cheglov 0438 494 351 / Patrick Hannaford 0424 625 518