Order Paper and questions

Questions for oral answer

7. Minimum Wage—2014 Review

[Sitting date: 11 December 2013. Volume:695;Page:15479. Text is incorporated into the Bound Volume.]

7. DARIEN FENTON (Labour) to the Minister of Labour: What factors will he take into account when considering whether the minimum wage should be increased in 2014?

Hon SIMON BRIDGES (Minister of Labour) : The Government’s objective is to keep increasing the minimum wage over time to protect the real income of low-paid workers while minimising job losses. In line with that I will consider inflation, wage growth, restraint on employment, and other relevant factors. I have yet to receive recommendations from officials, and no decisions have been made.

Darien Fenton: How will he take into account that 40 percent of the parents of the 265,000 children living in poverty are in paid work yet not earning enough to feed their families?

Hon SIMON BRIDGES: Well, I take into account the fact that we have raised the minimum wage every single year that we have been in Government. We have the highest minimum wage in the Western World relative to the average. But, of course, we continue through great pieces of legislation like the Employment Relations Amendment Bill to do everything that we can to raise wages overall, which, of course, does have an impact on poverty.

Darien Fenton: Will his consideration include the fact that the minimum wage has declined by 5c an hour in real terms since his party has been in Government?

Hon SIMON BRIDGES: I dispute that, given, as I say, we have raised it every single year. We have the highest minimum wage relative to average wages in the Western World. I think, of course, I do not want to pre-empt where we go with the minimum wage early next year, but I will take into account a wide range of factors.

Andrew Little: Will the Minister factor in the likely drop in wages for low and middle income workers as a result of his Employment Relations Amendment Bill, reported back today, with its emphasis on reducing collective bargaining rights and loss of protections for vulnerable workers?

Hon SIMON BRIDGES: The premise of that question is entirely wrong because that bill will not have that effect.

Carol Beaumont: In light of the news today that the median wages in South Auckland have fallen by up to 17 percent and that income inequality is growing, what measures will he take to ensure that working people get to share in the productivity gains and wealth they have created over many years?

Hon SIMON BRIDGES: The questioner is simply wrong in literally everything she said in her question. The fact of the matter is, as I have said, we have lifted the minimum wage every single year. We have the highest minimum wage in this country relative to average wages in the Western World, and in absolute terms it is higher than everywhere else except, I think, four other countries.