Australian Election 2022

Scott Morrison Has Called Anthony Albanese a 'Loose Unit' for Pushing Higher Wages

Wait, he thinks that's an insult?
Screen Shot 2022-05-11 at 4
Jenny Evans

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has launched a multi-pronged attack on Anthony Albanese, after the opposition leader threw his support behind an increase to the national minimum wage. 

At a press conference on Wednesday, the Prime Minister called Albanese a “loose unit” – probably dim to the fact the phrase is broadly interpreted as a compliment – for committing to supporting an increase to the minimum wage of at least 5.1 percent as part of a recommendation to the Fair Work Commission. 


Morrison (reliably) suggested Albanese doesn’t have “a clue about the economy”, and that he just “runs off at the mouth,” making erratic commitments that put the health of the Australian economy at risk. 

“It is like he just unzips his head and lets everything fall on the table,” Morrison said. “That is no way to run an economy, because that only leads, if you vote Labor, to having a leader who can make interest rates worse, who can make inflation worse.”

The Prime Minister’s attack comes less than 24 hours after Albanese made the specific wage increase endorsement to ensure that wages increase in line with inflation. 

If Labor wins at the federal election on May 21, Albanese has promised to table a submission to the Fair Work Commission’s annual wage review - but Morrison has been notoriously reluctant to make an endorsement of his own, centring Coalition submissions around economic conditions instead. 

As a result, some unions, as well as the Labor party, have claimed the Morrison government is not only opposed to advocating for higher wages but is actively keeping them low. 

In a statement on Wednesday, the Australian Council of Trade Unions doubled down on the suggestion, as it has for much of the election campaign. 

The ACTU pointed to a chapter of the Morrison government’s most recent wage review submission, titled “The importance of low-paid work” which argues that upping wages would cost jobs, and that low-paying jobs should be reserved for “low-skilled people, the long-term unemployed, people with disability, Indigenous Australians, and youth.”


In the same statement, ACTU secretary Sally McManus suggested Morrison has spent the better part of the campaign misleading low-paid workers around the country, whose wages he is actively trying to hold back. 

“The Prime Minister is active in this year’s annual wage review, and he’s arguing that the wages for the lowest paid workers in the country should be kept low,” McManus said. 

“These workers are the cleaners, aged care workers and retail workers, along with millions of others, who carried this country through the pandemic. The Prime Minister should explain to them why he doesn’t think they need a pay rise,” she said. 

The Prime Minister couldn’t be drawn on his government’s position for what would be a reasonable increase, if 5.1 percent is too high, saying instead that the Fair Work Commission should be left to review wages independently. 

Governments have, historically, moved in the same direction Albanese wants to. Even former Prime Minister John Howard - whose shadow Morrison has spent three years trying to fill.

According to law academic professor Andrew Stewart, Labor governments of the late 1980s and early 90s each nominated pay rises in their submissions to annual wage reviews, in step with the increases called for by unions. 

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