Media Release by Senator the Hon Amanda Vanstone

What about the workers? Vanstone’s Bulldust Buster: Labor’s Reality Check

“I recently asked for fact sheets in graphic form showing what has happened to my portfolio’s constituency, generally speaking, over the last decade.

“The picture this paints is even clearer, starker and more revealing than I had expected.

“Labor pretends to itself and its supporters that it’s the party of the workers, unemployed and the poor.

“It’s time that Labor, its apparatchiks, supporters and sympathisers had a reality check.

“You don’t have to look far behind the somewhat academic analysis to see the devastating impact, not so much on the figures, but on real people’s lives, of Labor’s economic mismanagement.

“Labor has never understood that our commitment to sound economic management has got little to do with ideology, nothing to do with academia and nothing to do with interest groups. It’s got everything to do with what happens to real people, to workers, to the poor and to people on welfare when the economy is in disarray.

“Perhaps the coldest bucket of water to be thrown over Labor’s delusion of supporting the workers is the fact that Labor drove the real wages of low income workers down and the Howard government’s economic management has seen the minimum wage increase by over 8% in real terms.

“The odious and contemptible fact is that Labor shamelessly boasted about the decline in real minimum wages.

“As unpalatable, undigestible and unattractive as it may be to Labor, each page tells a particular story over the past decade. They tell the plain, simple facts with no bulldust.

  • Over 830,000 more people in paid work – compared with nearly a million unemployed under Labor’s recession “we had to have”.
  • The real wages of the lowest paid workers have increased by over 8% under us. This compares with a decline in real minimum wages of around 5% during Labor’s term.
  • More part time jobs in the economy and there is more government assistance with child care costs. This means that women, in particular, who want to work part time and raise their children have greater flexibility and choice.
  • Compared with Labor’s punitive peak interest rates of 17%, borrowers with a $100,000 mortgage are now saving $744 per month.
  • Government debt levels are historically low. The savings on interest payments means that much more can be spent on health, education, defence and welfare.
  • Fewer families on welfare payments, more families being assisted with child care and more sole parents in work. This means that more children are now growing up in households where at least one parent has a job.
  • More young people studying and working, and fewer unemployed. We have increased apprenticeships and traineeships by 79% since 1996.
  • The value of the pension has increased in real terms under the Howard government, unlike Labor who did little more than match the inflation rate (CPI) since 1990.
  • There has been no significant change in income shares over the five years of the Coalition government. The rich are not getting richer at the expense of the poor.

“Australians traditionally believe in a “fair go”. The Howard government has delivered a fair go to working men and women. We have rewarded work and we have rewarded families who are raising their children, buying their home and want to pay less income tax”.