WAGE WAR: Labor leader Bill Shorten joined by Labor candidate for Flynn Zac Beers at Smit Lamnalco on April 23 to discuss the NADF, a 457 Visa reform and minimum wages.
WAGE WAR: Labor leader Bill Shorten joined by Labor candidate for Flynn Zac Beers at Smit Lamnalco on April 23 to discuss the NADF, a 457 Visa reform and minimum wages. Liana Walker

Fair go? Concerns raised over minimum wage rise

OPPOSITION Leader Bill Shorten spruiked a "fair go for workers" during his visit to Gladstone last week, but some question how much of a fair go the promise is.

Mr Shorten made a pledge to increase the minimum wage, and said the current $18.93 per hour - or $719.20 per week - was "too low" for someone to look after their family.

But after facing years of challenges, some Gladstone businesses worry about the impact the increased wages could have.

Mr Shorten stopped short of revealing how much he wanted the minimum wage to be increased - however if he was to follow Australian Council of Trade Unions demands the minimum wage could be increased by 10 per cent.

UHY Haines Norton Gladstone director Steve Marsten said a 10 per cent increase - about $70 a week - would be damaging to Gladstone businesses.

"Right now I don't think small businesses can afford that," he said.

"This is an additional overhead they're going to be asked of... and I don't think small businesses are in that position right now."

Mr Marsten said while there were signs confidence was returning to the economy last year, there had been a slow start to 2019. He said a reduction in heavy industry shut downs during the first quarter of 2019 had caused a flow-on effect to local spending.

"When (shut downs) are happening the money spins around the town more, cafes improve, every business improves, but we're not seeing that uplift at the moment," he said.

Mr Marsten, whose business offers financial advice to more than 250 Gladstone region businesses, said instead there should be a requirement for wage rises to increase with CPI.

But Gladstone carpenter Bron Goodluck said businesses could benefit from an increase to the minimum wage.

The Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union member, and an active campaigner for ACTU's Change the Rules campaign, Mr Goodluck said residents did not have money to afford luxuries.

Owner of Goodluck Carpentry, the father-of-two said he noticed a decline in small renovations.

He believes this is because residents are not splurging on upgrades to their homes because they are not in a financial position to do so.

"An increase to the minimum wage would have a flow- on effect throughout the whole economy," Mr Goodluck said.

"If every person on the minimum wage has that extra $70 a week they would spend that ... whether it be on going to the butcher to buy nicer meat or eating out, or saving up to buy that nicer TV."

Mr Shorten said, if elected at the May 18 election, Labor would instruct the Fair Work Commission, which sets the nation's minimum wage, to determine a new "living wage".

He said this would take into account the views of all stakeholders, including businesses and unions.