Aussies march for higher wages - GulfToday

Aussies march for higher wages


People take part in a march for better work conditions and higher wages in Melbourne on Wednesday. Agence France-Presse

MELBOURNE: Tens of thousands marched for better work conditions and higher wages in Australia on Wednesday, bringing the city of Melbourne to a standstill, ahead of national elections in May.

The opposition Labour party wants to make stagnant wages a focus of its election campaign, with its union allies claiming “Australians have seen the largest fall in their living standards in 30 years.”

The governing conservative Liberal-National coalition has argued the best way of boosting wages is through company tax cuts.

Many demonstrators wore fluorescent “hi-visibility” work wear and carried banners with “Change the Rules” written on them.

State premier Daniel Andrews said the rally should remind Canberra that Australians are demanding a proper “living wage.”

“People are angry. They are out in the streets. They are out in force but they are campaigning for something very simple: ‘a fair go’,” he told reporters as he joined the mass rally.

City commuters endured a second day of disruption in less than a week, after animal rights activists blocked busy streets on Monday during a surprise peak hour demonstration.

Some Labor supporters have argued for a slew of workers to receive higher minimum wages and a cap on the number of foreign workers entering the country.

Meanwhile, a Chinese billionaire barred from Australia on suspicion of mounting a years-long influence campaign was thrust to the centre of the country’s increasingly bitter election campaign Wednesday, with major parties trading accusations of improper contacts.

The conservative government − facing revelations the home affairs minister had lunch with prolific political donor Huang Xiangmo to discuss his residency at a lobbyists request − fired back with accusations of its own.

In an unusual press conference, Attorney General Christian Porter released photographs of opposition Labour leader Bill Shorten attending Huang’s daughter’s wedding. Shorten’s attendance at the event has been publicly known since 2017, but the photos are believed to be new.

“To know you are attending the bloke’s daughter’s wedding at the same time you are criticising a business lunch seems to be extraordinary,” Porter said.

Agence France-Presse

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