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John Key covers up the facts on minimum wage

Phil Goff
Labour Leader

11 November 2011

John Key covers up the facts on minimum wage

Prime Minister John Key has been caught out sitting on a report from his top economic advisers that says a higher minimum wage does not cost jobs, Labour Leader Phil Goff said today.

“John Key has repeatedly told New Zealanders that lifting the minimum wage to $15 an hour would cost jobs despite getting Treasury advice 18 months ago that would not happen.

“The Treasury report from March 5, 2010, says: ‘We have evidence that has not been true in the past, so without new evidence the balance of probabilities is that a higher minimum wage does not generally lead to higher unemployment’.

“John Key has known this for 18 months. But that has not stopped him repeatedly telling New Zealanders that Labour’s plan to lift the rate to $15 an hour in its first year in government would cost jobs. He based this on a report from the Department of Labour.

“He said it numerous times in May after Labour made the announcement and twice last week during lives debates,” Phil Goff said.

“In the Christchurch debate he couldn’t have been clearer when he said to a live audience of 600 people: ‘Lift the wage overnight from $13 to $15? What that'll see is some people paid more, and another chunk of New Zealanders lose their job’.

“It is outrageous that he’s sat on this advice all this time and tried to fool people by talking only about one report, instead of putting all the facts on the table,” Phil Goff said.

“He should stop playing games with Kiwis. Raising the minimum wage does not cost jobs.

“It is the right thing to do because working families are struggling. With costs increasing four times faster than wages and National putting GST up to 15% life is getting much tougher. People just can’t get by on $13 an hour.

“That’s why Labour will make this change happen. It gives families more money to live on and puts more money into the economy, which means more jobs.”

The Treasury report, released under the OIA to TV3, is available here.


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