Wages growth virtue signalling sweeps the oligarchs

There is nothing like a new fashion among the elites. It could be Teslas, a shift to Vale from Whistler for winter breaks or a move from Bulgari to Channel couture.

But this Spring it is none of those. No. The latest trend among the wankers is wages growth virtue signalling! To wit, from Bill Shorten today as he begs business for pennies:

Right now – for one of the very few times in Australian history – we’ve got union leaders, business leaders, economists and analysts of every stripe on the same page…For everyone’s sake – working Australians need a pay rise.”

This followed last week’s effort by the Real Estate Treasurer Scott Morrison as he cuts penalty rates:

…increasing what Australians earn is one of my most important objectives.

And, of all people, CEO of the The Big Sleazy, and employer of 50k people who he is not giving a pay rise to, Ian Narev:

The absolute key and No.1 question we should be demanding of policymakers is for households to feel better off, and the No.1 metric is wage growth.

It was all kicked off by none other than the million dollar man himself, RBA and fashion governor, Phil Lowe, as he defends mass immigration and pumps house prices:

The crisis is really in real wage growth.When any of us feel like there is more competition out there you’re less inclined to put your price up. People value security and one way you can get a bit more security is not to demand a wage rise. At some point, one imagines that’s going to lead to workers being prepared to ask for larger wage rises. If that were to happen it would be a good thing.

To actually see higher wages growth we’ll need:

  • lower immigration and closed visa loop holes;
  • wholesale productivity reform;
  • competition, industrial relations and tax system reform, plus
  • some actual inflation.

None of which is coming. So you can expect the virtual signalling trend to accelerate while nothing is actually done to raise wages which, for the first time in modern history, are falling in nominal terms:



  1. The word on excessive immigration is already out amoungst the broader working class population – they already see it in cost of living and commute times. And they already know their salary sucks.
    When the finance and business community tells them they deserve a payrise, and it doesn’t eventuate, there is only one outcome. As long as there are alternative options at the polling booths, the masses will seek it out.

    • Classic throwaway, vote-seeking line “you all deserve a pay rise” when actually thinking “not bloody likely”

      • You all deserve a payrise … as long as someone else pays for it, not me… Though we can give you these “Attaboy! Certificates”, which you may need to print and frame yourself…

        In the mean time, ain’t I grand that I *do* recognize that you *deserve* a payrise?! FIGJAM!

      • Jumping jack flash

        Exactly Ino

        We’ve sunk to the level of “someone else’s problem” and it is no more apparent than with debt. When debt rules the economy, the definition of success is when someone hands you a pile of debt they are responsible for paying back.

        Unfortunately it doesn’t work with wages, they’re a liability that the employer is responsible for. Raising wages? No way! That means I have to be responsible for paying them. And nobody got time for that when they and everyone else is in the mindset of collecting piles of other people’s debt to get instantly rich from.

        It is a complete paradigm shift that has been caused by the transition to banks ruling the world, and converting everyone over to thinking about assets and liabilities like banks do.

    • You Australians don’t realize that a large proportion of your population:
      – Will never afford houses
      – Cannot compete with the rest of Asia, because your economy is stuffed because of rent seekers and low productivity.
      – Are badly educated, with your educational standards dropping fast.
      – Your Internet speeds are slower than many third world countries.
      – You will battle to prevent blackouts this summer.

      Your country is becoming third world, sure if you are rich you can buffer yourself from this, but you are already the “poor white trash of Asia” thanks to your corrupt political system.

      • A bit harsh but I can’t really see major flaws in your arguments except for an observation. Firstly, not being close to a war theatre might be advantageous 10-20y down the road. Nobody but large multinational corporations will ultimately benefit from the automatisation taking place. The end game (much closer than you think) is a situation where labour is free, manufacturing is just the cost of materials and energy (also dropping to practically free) and the means of manufacturing as well. This is a paradox that no past or current social or economic model can account nor solve. It will lead to widespread social unrest and wars as countries counter the social effects with jingoism. China and India are already doing so and the rest seem to be picking sides. Food for thought (NK is just a distraction BTW).

      • TailorTrashMEMBER

        Been saying that for years ….Straya will be the first “first world country ” to turn its self into a “third world ” one …….progressing nicely in that direction …..unless of course enough Chinese get in, take over , pull up the drawbridge and turn this place into a bigger version of Singapore

      • I visited South Africa two weeks ago, where I used the Internet at my brother’s house. The average download speed was around 30Mbps, I live in Karrinyup, Perth, where my (NBN) download speed is about 3 Mbps (and 7 Mbps occasionally, when I’m lucky).

        Third world? Well, actually a lot of the third world has faster Internet than Australia:
        “… our internet connection speeds are now slower than 50 other nations, including Thailand, Estonia, Bulgaria and Kenya.”

        It’s a disgrace. One of many.

      • Got to agree with you. A couple of world-class teams and restaurants do not a first world country make. The red tape is horrendous, infrastructure pathetic and vision non-existent.

      • Sorry what World Class teams? Cricket down in the rankings, rugby union an embarrassment. Soccer, well we all know how mediocre things are there. Our only world class team is in the AFL, we could leave Dangerfield and Martin on the bench and still easily defeat any other country’s AFL side.

      • @JasonMNan:

        Problems with mass automation will be much larger than that. Robots and AI can totally replace human workers on the production side of the equation but there is one thing they cannot do either now or in the forseeable future – they cannot CONSUME.

        We cannot simply make large swathes of the human labour force redundant in this way because the whole idea of production of goods and services is that they be consumed – by human beings.

        The robots will simply make themselves redundant by replacing human beings who then cannot afford to consume the output of the machines that replaced them.

        Thats the problem I see with the “machines will soon replace half the workforce” argument.

      • migtronixMEMBER

        “The end game (much closer than you think) is a situation where labour is free, manufacturing is just the cost of materials and energy (also dropping to practically free) and the means of manufacturing as well. This is a paradox that no past or current social or economic model can account nor solve. ”

        LOL!!! Funny, the highest paid workers in IT, besides security, are the automation wiz’s.

        When you can scale your architecture in minutes to meet demand you aren’t putting anyone out of a job, you’re creating jobs because demand can be fulfilled quicker.

        As usual nobody here apparently groks automation.

    • When referring to immigration in conversation I try to always preface it preface it with, extreme, reckless or excessive.

  2. GunnamattaMEMBER

    Exactly. The only way a Grand Bargain works at the moment is by taking money out of the hands of the 1% and corporates and slipping it into the hands of employees

    The one percenters bend over backwards – everything from West Indies tax domiciles to marketing operations in Singapore, as well as Australian taxation policy encouraging straight out speculation – to avoid paying tax.

    and getting it into the hands of employees requires getting past the clippers of the banking lobby, the insurance world, the medical fraternity, and need we mention the real estate lobby which may see any grand bargain delivering crumbs into the hands of workers – as they get threatened with automation.

    The only real grand bargain will happen when a vested interest is sacrificed…………Bill(and all those ‘wages’ spouting oligarchs and faux caring industry lobby groups) bargains and negotiations are best conducted with a head in a jar upon the table.

    As the Harvey Weinstein issues tells us for the umpteen thousandth time…… Power likes to get its rocks off with people of less power facilitating the process (lending a hand or feeling the love) ……any Grand Bargain without addressing the power balance is just a reward for being ‘nice’ to something or someone who believes they have the power and is highly likely to leave the ‘beneficiaries’ feeling a tad tarnished as a result

    It is corporate Australia, most of its ‘elites’, any industry group, all banks standing before you wearing nothing but a dressing gown, with something tumescent and fleshy poking through, making soothing noises for you in expectation you will reciprocate by helping soothe them, and suggesting a backrub might be nice.

    • >(…) any Grand Bargain without addressing the power balance is just a reward for being ‘nice’ to something or someone who believes they have the power and is highly likely to leave the ‘beneficiaries’ feeling a tad tarnished as a result(…)

      This may well be the “Social License” Do Nothing Trimble kept mentioning…

    • Why just workers? Driverless trains can seat more passengers than human-driven trains. So unemployment is a good thing in some situations. We should be paying the unemployed for making room for 24 extra passengers per train!

      And what about injured Aussies who can not work?

      Not to mention, the ALP thinks AUS will have “too much” inflation if the unemployment rate falls to 5%.

  3. Oh, great to see that I’m not the only one who’s noticed this cognitive dissonance in these b*st*rds! It is really doing my head in, since it started infiltrating the public discourse for the past nearly 10 months: “Oooh you poor-poor guys, you need, nay, you deserve a pay-rise, since you haven’t had good one in decades …… buuuuuut we couldn’t possibly afford one, too bad, soo sad!” … “Hey, tell you what, why don’t we dog-whistle each other now, government dogwhistling the business to give out payrises, business dogwhistles government to give income tax cuts”

    W*nkers indeed…

    • bolstroodMEMBER

      Sooooooo, the Neo -liberal chickens come home to roost.
      After 4 decades of destroying working folks wages and conditions and indebting them to nose bleed levels, it suddenly dawns on these Captains of Industry and their Leiutenants of Big Unions that their policies and connivance have deprived the workers / slaves of enough money to live on, so the whole ediface starts to crumble.

  4. sydboy007MEMBER

    Just a bunch of peacoks. Strutting around bemoaning the problem when they know full well they ARE the problem.

    • Well – come to think of it – there may be a couple of “under currents” on this one, now that I think of it:

      1). own the discourse so that you can change the discourse
      2). confuse the matter and misdirect the anger at someone else, early enough so that when it does blow up, you’re in the clear.

  5. Yep. As that chart shows, we’re all getting poorer. A modern, industrialised, secular liberal democracy with vast natural and human resources should be a world powerhouse of innovation and production. Instead, we sell each other houses and coffee while the FIRE bastards make bank by clipping their tickets, and we’re all getting poorer. It’s very likely that my children will lead worse lives than me. Historical societal progress has stopped, and civilisation has gone into reverse.

    I never thought I’d see the bloody day. Really, the heads of the people responsible for this debacle should be on pikes, with the remaining bits fed to the pigs.

    • Unfortunately and generally many australians have become a bunch of pudgy arsed, ignorant, greedy bastards who like to whinge but do nothing about their plight, in case they lose what they have !
      The number of people i speak to that have no idea of any underlying issues that affect our country’s future is amazing, including those that openly say they dont want to know !
      This will be a slow grinding decline….. unless we get the collapse we might deserve !
      Our current political choices will ensure the slow melt and the current alts have too narrow a focus, so will have differing views on bigger issues of which there are many.
      Any real alternative direction will need to be independent, disciplined, well organized and well funded. Im not sure things are bad enough for that revolution yet !
      …….. and they’ll need a simple, coherant message and access to mainstream media too !

    • Shhhh… don’t mention the leaners man!! Nobody cares about Leaners… just the other day we were told that more and more oztrilians are dobbing in their leaner family, relatives and friends to Centerlink for .. well .. leaning too hard.

      • Not surprised, as stress builds for those lifters working longer hours but still falling short, they’ll look at the learners with more disgust while they bust their arses.

  6. Or.. we are getting paid well compared to other countries, but most of it is going towards servicing world record household debt and not spending. Seems like creators of this ‘brilliant’ easy credit economic model running out of options on how to extend easy credit.

    • that’s why we need a wholesale across the board super deep crash. The whole system needs to be reset. Simply just arming the punters or government for that matter with more revenue (wages and tax receipts) just means they will spunk it on useless shitt that doesn’t improve our overall living standard one bit. The concept of extra leverage per incremental dollar earned needs to be smashed to bits.

      • Should the currency drop to mid-high fifties then you would at least get inflation. Then strangle the banks (not to suffocation) and in 10-15y you will see the light. But try telling that to the voters. Pollies are psychos, they know who they are screwing and how they will react.

    • Philly SlimMEMBER

      Exactly my point on another post here. We are already high wage. Increasing wages will just make offshoring even more attractive.

      We need to give everyone a “wage rise” by reducing the cost of living in this place. Politicians should target the ‘Australia tax’ – why does everything cost more here, and they need to address the elephant in the room – high land prices. This makes commercial rents higher than they should be = higher shop prices. Etc etc.

      • Jumping jack flash

        Hear Hear! Reduce cost of living.

        It is a shame that cost of living is now dictated by gouging oligopolies who look at their “duty” for providing an essential service or product for life to Australians as an opportunity for gouging the living s*t out of it.

        Government has no control. They sold it off.

        There’s a good reason for the gouging, though.
        So many here realise: it is the debt.

        Companies are a collection of people, and people have enormous debts that need to be repaid, and people like nice things.

  7. As my gf knows, I love that word (wanker). It says so much, so little and works for so many situations. A truly great word.

  8. You can have wages rises without inflation, particularly in non-tradables, if productivity is growing and margins have become abnormally high provided you cut off additional labour force by limiting immigration/visas and extending time in education or making retirement/unemployment/sickness/disability easier. Then, with a bit of a lag, inflation will follow wages up.

    • The bottom line is that if the economy was that strong real wages increases would have happened. Instead, productivity has cratered and everyone in the country now has aspirations to be a property-flipper or rent-seeker which does precisely nothing for the overall wealth of the country. The economic ‘growth’ that you see is people spending the ‘wealth’ that has arrived courtesy of the property bubble i.e. illusory wealth.

      Classic credit bubble scenario: the citizenry are not generating wealth, they are consuming it and boy is it going to hurt when the tide runs out.

    • Of course. Germany had a shrinking population from 1997 till 2011! Did German products get more expensive or less competitive over that time? No!

      Japan too has a shrinking population. Are Japanese products uncompetitive? No. The best selling cars in AUS are Corolla and Mazda.

  9. As I used to say to my colleagues in jest regarding our company’s somewhat conservative nature in the salary review department, “You’re worth more money; but you’re not going to get it!”

  10. Just going through the usual BS at work. Record profit, up 10%, but guess what the payrise budget is tiny and the bonus pool has shrunk (again).

  11. Jeezo. You can’t keep complaining about the high cost of living here and simultaneously argue for wage rises. Talk about cognitive dissonance.

    • You can’t keep complaining about the high cost of living here and simultaneously argue for wage rises.

      You can if the high cost of living isn’t the product of high wages.

      • Increasing real wages (ie: wages rising while prices don’t) are pretty much the foundation of the contemporary middle class. It’s certainly _possible_ even if hardly anyone in power today wants to do it.

        Our high cost of living is mostly driven by monopolies, oligopolies and, of course, the massive property bubble. An Audi doesn’t cost 30-100% more here than it does in the UK because of shipping costs, design differences, local labour costs, or even the land rent, it costs that much more because someone in the supply chain is making a enormous unearned windfall. Lather, rinse, repeat for pretty much everything you notice the “arsehole tax” on.

  12. Sounds a lot like Joe ‘the Leaner’ Hockey with his farewell speech lamenting the evil of negative gearing.”I told everyone it needed to be changed…” he’ll tell his grandchildren.