Wage rises will be irrelevant if inflation runs fast and furious over the next 18 months.
The cost-of-living debate central to the May 21 election reared its head again on Wednesday, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison saying Anthony Albanese was a "loose unit" for backing a 5.1 per cent wage increase.
But a commitment to a wage increase by either major party is null and void if inflation pressures continue to run at double the speed of the Reserve Bank's target.
The RBA expects wages will rise 3 per cent by the end of December, while inflation is expected to grow at a rate of 6 per cent through 2022.
In real terms, it translates to prices doubling the rate of an increase in take-home pay. It's a scenario which will place added price pressures on an economy already seeing cost-of-living stress fractures.
For the everyday consumer, this means their pay won't keep up with the rising costs of staples such as bread, milk and fuel.
Economists and business groups condemned Mr Albanese's pledge to push wages up at a rate above inflation. And they are mostly correct. A sharp wage increase would add further pressure to inflation and potentially fuel a sharper and steeper interest rate hike by the RBA.
The political debate over the cost-of-living crisis is yet to address how the government can use its levers to try and curb rising inflation. Easing supply and material constraints is crucial, however ongoing global constraints will inhibit this.
Westpac's most recent consumer survey showed confidence levels had hit their lowest point since August 2020, as a result of rising rates and building cost pressures.
Perhaps the wage debate won't be struck out as an option this election if current measures to relieve hip-pocket pressure don't work.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.