The Labour Party claims its work and wages policy, which it released this week, will boost the country’s economic performance and generally provide a better future for workers. That is very unlikely. The policy’s strange mish-mash of bureaucratic centralised wage-setting, legislated higher minimum pay and repeal of some of the present Government’s liberalising workplace reforms has gruesome echoes of the unlovely 1970s. Far from being a forward-looking policy, as the Labour leader, Phil Goff, has declared it to be, it recalls policies long thought dead and buried.
The policy has been welcomed by unions, as well it might be. It could well have been written by them.
I shudder at the thought of a union being able to go to a group of mates appointed by Labour and get them to set terms and conditions for an entire industry. Employers, no matter what their size or location or profitability, will suddenly have to comply with the dictates of this new commission.
According to Goff, the policy would help stem the flow of people to Australia. Given that the effect of much of it would be to price some jobs out of existence, quite how it would do this is unclear. Labour still does not appear to understand that it cannot legislate its way to prosperity.
It’s a basic concept, but one which seems alien to them.