Panel with Jane Azzopardi and Scott Emerson, Weekend Today
3 June 2023
JAYNE AZZOPARDI: Welcome back to Weekend Today. Millions of Australians will get a pay rise next month after the Fair Work Commission decision to increase the minimum wage by 5.75%. But many small business owners are worried, saying it will only add to the financial squeeze they already face. Let's bring in Today's Talkers, Victorian Senator Jane Hume and media commentator Scott Emerson. Good morning to you both. Jane, did the Fair Work Commission get this right? Do the workers deserve a pay rise?
JANE HUME: The Fair Work Commission said they have taken into account as much information as possible and the decision they've made is based on the best at the time. A lot of people on minimum wage will be grateful to hear their wages are growing up but as long as inflation remains persistent, that will erode away those increases and your real wages will be going backwards. When Tony Burke said this means you'll feel a change of government in your hip pocket or bank account, he is right, but the problem is you still feel worse off than a year ago. Small businesses are rightly concerned because when wages go up, that's cost of their business. Picture a cafe, only got a couple of choices - they can lay off staff, they can have a lower profit or potentially they can push up prices further and that makes inflation worse. That's the wage price spiral that economists are so nervous about and the RBA will have to take into their thinking when they make a decision about interest rates next week.
JAYNE AZZOPARDI: It is a very difficult balance to strike. Do you think, first of all, do small businesses need more protection?
SCOTT EMERSON: There has to be champions for small business. A lot of small businesses, mum-and-dad businesses, this is a body blow. They can't keep putting prices up, customers won't accept that. Some of them will have to lay off staff, unemployment will go off. I appreciate there are people doing it tough on low wages but next week the RBA meets again, interest rates goes up next month, the month after, or both, that hits everyone across Australia.
JAYNE AZZOPARDI: We will be talking to the Minister Tony Burke later in the program but another issue now because experts are calling on schools to better monitor the academic performance and wellbeing of students who have experienced head trauma. A new study has revealed children who sustain a concussion are 77% more likely to not complete Year 12. We know one in eight children will experience a concussion. This is something that we all need to be thinking about and taking seriously?
SCOTT EMERSON: It is interesting how much this has come on the radar. Starting with sports, particularly overseas but now in NRL and AFL but then coming down to kids as well. Often we think kids can bounce back easily but we're seeing more and more evidence there that concussion can have long-term impacts and we're finally taking it more seriously in the past.
JAYNE AZZOPARDI: We don't want to stop children from playing sport, what do we need to do to protect them better?
JANE HUME: The Senate is taking this seriously and has established a committee to look into the long-term effects of concussion, what you can do as a preventive side but also the types of treatments that are available. That's important. How can we modify sports to make it safer for children to play? I was speaking to a woman last weekend whose granddaughter had three concussions during Year 10. She was on a trajectory to do medicine at university. She couldn't even finish Year 12. She is 20 years old and is nannying and has been to see over 40 different specialists in Australia and around the world to help because she's got brain fog from all of the concussions back in Year 10. It is a really serious issue and one I think the medical professional as well as government needs to take seriously.
JAYNE AZZOPARDI: Do you think parents need to be thinking about what sports they put their children into?
JANE HUME: Certainly. My daughter was playing AFL for a while and she's built like a baby giraffe. I was so worried about her going into the scrums, the damage she might cause herself. She is her mother's daughter, she was more cautious about getting hurt, which is a good thing. It makes me very nervous.
JAYNE AZZOPARDI: I have two boys, I'm very nervous about contact sport although they get plenty of that at home with each other. Lots of things for parents to worry about. Thank you both for your time this morning.