Wages, Prices and the Federal Election

by Lily Raynes

The recent federal election featured important debate regarding the rising cost of living in Australia, and whether and how wages should be boosted to keep up with higher prices. One exchange, late in the campaign, occurred when ALP leader Anthony Albanese stated his belief that wages should keep up with prices — but then was strongly criticised for that view by Coalition leaders and some business commentators.

New exit poll results from the Australia Institute indicate that a very strong majority of voters (83%) in fact support the idea that wages should at least keep up with prices. This opinion was shared broadly across the political spectrum. Even 79% of Coalition voters supported lifting wages to at least keep up with inflation.

It seems likely, therefore, that this debate over wages and prices worked to the advantage of Mr Albanese. The exit poll indicated that voters identified the ALP, by a large margin, as having enunciated the best position on the problems of wages and the rising cost of living. 39% of voters (including 11% of Coalition voters) indicated the ALP had the strongest position on this issue, compared to 26% who thought the Coalition had the best policy.

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