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Wage gap with Australia wider -- report

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington, July 28 NZPA - Australian workers are being paid even more than their Kiwi cousins since National became the Government.

The Dominion Post newspaper reported that while Economic Development Minister Gerry Brownlee was saying the wage gap had reduced since his party came into office, figures it obtained comparing average weekly earnings in November 2008 and February this year painted a different picture. They showed New Zealand wages grew by 5.2 percent compared to 6.17 percent for Australia.

Australia's ordinary average wage rose from $A1165 to $A1243 ($NZ1433 to $NZ1529) while New Zealand's went from $NZ891 to $NZ947. On yesterday's currency rates, the gap widened from about $540 a week in December 2008 to around $580 in March this year.

Australia weathered the global financial crisis in better shape than New Zealand, avoiding recession while New Zealand did not.

Yesterday in Parliament Mr Brownlee said it would take time to work out exactly how much the gap would close by after the October 1 tax cuts, but the gap between the two countries "is certainly a lot less" than under Labour.

Closing the gap with Australia was something National campaigned on. In a May speech reported by NZPA Labour leader Phil Goff ridiculed the Government's pledge to do that.

"To the contrary, wages have risen faster in Australia over the last year. Our unemployment is higher than Australia's by a significant margin for the first time in a decade."

Mr Goff said while Australia was boosting employer contributions to superannuation the Government here had done the opposite.

Australia's top tax was higher than New Zealand and the reason New Zealanders were going to live there was wages, which the Government had not managed to lift. He said GST, ACC increases, higher power bills, and increasing mortgage rates would also hit New Zealand workers.

At the time Finance Minister Bill English said Labour advocated more debt and higher taxes at a time of financial constraint.

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