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  1. 4,131 Posts.
    Doesn't it make you feel proud that Howard wants to hand over to Costello.fine human beings.

    MELBOURNE, July 5 (Reuters) - Australia's 1.2 million lowest
    paid workers will find it harder to make ends meet as the
    government's Fair Pay Commission on Thursday handed down a
    minimum wage increase below the rise in the cost of living.

    The awards of between A$5.30 and A$10.26 a week were well
    below the A$28 a week Australia's trade unions had called for and
    could help ease the central bank's concerns about wage and price
    pressures with unemployment at a 33-year low of 4.2 percent.

    The wage ruling comes into force on Oct. 1, 2007.

    The awards, which aim to compensate workers for a rise in
    costs of living over 10 months to Oct. 1, work out at an extra 27
    cents an hour, a 2.0 per cent raise, for those on the minimum
    wage up to A$700 a week. They add an extra 14 cents an hour or,
    1.5 per cent, for those on $700 per week.

    The central bank has forecast cost-of-living inflation for
    2007 of 2.25 percent.

    Australian Treasurer Peter Costello said the commission's
    decision balanced protection for the low paid with the need to
    keep price pressures in check.

    "It means that inflation won't be put under undue pressure
    and it won't interfere with job creation," Costello told

    But for the country's poorest workers the wage increase meant
    life just got tougher.

    Steven Jeffrey, a father of three teenagers and a storeman at
    a Melbourne furniture maker said he expected to increase his
    A$500 a week take-home-pay by A$10 once the wage rise kicked in.

    "I'm paying an extra A$40 a week on my mortgage (compared to
    10 months ago) plus extra in petrol, shopping, gas, rates,
    electricity. It never ends," he said.

    "They say the Australian dollar is worth more now. Well, I'm
    not seeing it. With A$10 you can't even go out to McDonald's."

    The commission said that taken together, its 2006 and 2007
    increases had delivered an additional A$37.62 per week to
    Australia's lowest-paid workers.

    In 2006, the commission increased minimum wages by between
    A$22.04 and $27.36 per week, though that was for an 18-month
    period rather than 12 months.

    "(The 2007 ruling) is not a particularly large increase and
    should help keep wage pressure subdued at the low end," said
    Stephen Roberts, research director at Lehman's Grange Securities.

    "For the RBA (Reserve Bank of Australia), it provides more
    breathing room to sit on interest rates and watch the economy

    The central bank held its monthly policy meeting earlier this
    week and decided to keep rates at 6.25 percent, though many
    analysts still think it will have to raise them eventually to
    restrain inflation in a stretched economy.
    Industry groups said the Fair Pay Commission decision, which
    will cost employers, mostly small and medium business owners,
    about A$625 million a year in extra wages, was affordable.

    The ruling would also find support from the country's major
    industry body, which had warned that a cautious approach was
    needed and a A$10 a week pay rise was more appropriate to avoid
    stoking inflationary pressures.

    The government did not set a target but had said the decision
    needed to reflect the valuable opportunity low paid work provided
    to less educated people and less skilled people.

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