Australia's Minister for Employment, Julia Gillard welcomed the decision by a special Minimum Wages Panel to ease the cost of living by raising the minimum wage.

The decision by the independent panel lifts the national Minimum Wage by $ 26 per week or $0.69 per hour, a jump of 1.2 percent since it was last raised two years ago.

Workers will see the increase in their first paycheck after July 1.

The Premier said that she was happy with the decision. She further stated that those who are having a hard time paying the mortgage or rent, as well as those with limited capacity to provide for their family's basic needs would welcome the increase.

Last year at the height of the global economic crisis, the same Special Wages Panel denied the petition for increase as they cited the difficult economic condition and harsh business climate prevailing at that time.

She said the Government believes that the process in granting the minimum wage hike taken by the panel is economically responsible and fair.

The decision will benefit the more than 1.45 million Australian minimum wage earners ensuring that they get a fairer share of the benefits of the country's economic recovery.

The Wage Panel said Australia's strong economic performance was a key reason for awarding the increase. A recent economic figure shows that the Government's stimulus package helped Australia avoid an economic downturn this year.

Their review of economic conditions they explained, "Indicates that since March 2008 the Australian economy has performed much better than expected. During that time, productivity, prices and real earnings have grown but minimum wages have not. There is a strong case for a rise in minimum wages to provide a fair and relevant safety net, protect the relative living standards of award-reliant employees and assist the low paid to meet their needs."

The Fair Work Act provides the Wage Panel with a more balanced set of wage setting criteria taking into account not only the economic environment, but also the concept of fairness, social inclusion, and the prevailing living conditions of the low-income workers.

They said that, "The forecasts for 2010-11 give strong grounds to conclude that such an increase could be awarded without threatening business viability, employment growth or adding to inflation. We have concluded that a significant increase in minimum wages is warranted."