Aussies believe minimum wage is too low

Nearly 70 per cent of Australians believe the minimum wage is too low, including a strong majority of Coalition voters, a new poll has found.

Only one in five Australians believe the $17.70 an hour minimum wage is "about right" and just four per cent of people think it is too high, according to the polling commissioned by the ACTU.

Conducted last week, the Essential Research online poll of 1015 people found 69 per cent of Australians want a higher minimum wage, with 33 per cent of those respondents saying it should be "much higher". Nearly 60 per cent of Liberal National voters believe it should be higher, as do 77 per cent of Labor voters.

The ACTU has asked the workplace relations umpire to raise the minimum wage by $45 a week, triple the 2016 $15.80 increase. Such an increase would lift the minimum wage to $37,420 a year. 

However many in the business community have asked for a below-inflation increase. 

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry has recommended a 1.2 per cent increase of $8.10 per week and the Australian Industry Group is arguing for a 1.5 per cent rise, in line with inflation, of $10.10 per week.

The Turnbull government has urged the Fair Work Commission to take a cautious approach, warning an "excessive" rise in the minimum wage rise could imperil job creation in a changing economy.

The government's submission to the commission's annual wage review - which will result in a decision on the minimum wage by the middle of the year - angered low-paid workers already hurt by cuts to Sunday penalty rates.

ACTU Secretary Sally McManus said the government should focus on low-paid workers.

"Turnbull has been listening to his corporate friends in the business lounge for too long.  He won't support a real wage increase for low-paid workers, yet more people are working casual and part-time jobs and finding it harder to make ends meet," she said.

"The ACTU's submission that we should increase the minimum wage by $45 a week would not only boost family budgets, it would flow on to substantial growth across the whole economy," she said.