Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has stressed the importance of wage growth slowing down or speeding up to match global economic growth.
As a national debate rages about the best way to improve Australians' pay packets, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has argued that sluggish wage growth in recent times hasn't been all bad.
More Australians would have lost their jobs if wages had continued growing at the rate they did during the Howard era, despite global growth slowing down, Senator Cormann says.
Instead, he has stressed lower wage growth - matched with lower inflation - has helped push down the unemployment rate.
"The whole point - it is important to ensure that wages can adjust in the context of economic conditions - is to avoid massive spikes in unemployment, which are incredibly disruptive," he told Sky News on Friday.
"This is a deliberate feature of our economic architecture."
The minister's comments came after Labor leader Bill Shorten this week declared the upcoming federal election will be a "referendum on wages".
Labor wants to restore penalty rates, review the wages of feminised industries typically paid less, and clamp down on wage theft.
Mr Shorten also wants the minimum wage to be higher and believes the enterprise bargaining system should be overhauled.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison argues Labor won't be able to improve wages while taxing Australians more and that wage growth will come quicker as economic growth ramps up.
Senator Cormann said if Mr Shorten wanted to mandate a particular wage level, he would be removing necessary flexibility in the system.
"He will force more Australians onto the unemployment queues," he said.
Labor workplace relations spokesman Brendan O'Connor said Senator Cormann's comments showed the coalition didn't have specific policies designed to grow wages and reduce inequality.
"They simply have a plan to keep wages low," he said in a statement.