Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 12 Hansard (Thursday, 29 October 2015) . . Page.. 3832 ..
brothers, sisters, sons and daughters who give up their evenings or their weekends to go to work. Many of these workers earn among Australia’s lowest wages, and penalty rates are the only things that enable them to pay their rent, mortgages and bills and put food on the table. Parents still have to take their children to play sport on the weekend. People still have other responsibilities, and penalty rates are designed to make up for many of these workers having to miss out on such events. I do not know if members were out and about on the recent Family and Community Day or Labour Day public holidays, but I know from the reports that I have heard that those cafes, pubs, restaurants or shops that chose to open must have been doing a roaring trade.
Australians are for a fair go and want to support workers being paid penalty rates when they give up their weekends, their nights and their public holidays.
Employer submissions during the consultation on the proposal have flagged that increased costs would result in some operations closing on Easter Sunday, while union submissions have highlighted that with unrestricted trading hours businesses are increasingly trading on Easter Sunday. They have also raised concerns about workers not receiving public holiday penalty rates and not having the right to refuse to work.
I acknowledge the concerns raised by employer groups about the costs of additional public holidays—and, of course, the government has additional cost in this too—and the government has taken their concerns into account. Ultimately, though, I consider it important that the community and employees’ rights to public holidays be recognised by law. Making Easter Sunday a public holiday is consistent with the current New South Wales practice and will mean that the ACT observes between 13 and 15 public holidays a year.
In a world where the federal government and its Productivity Commission are creating so much uncertainty around workers’ rights and entitlements, particularly Sunday penalty rates, this measure gives workers back their certainty by ensuring rights are protected. I commend the bill to the Assembly.
Debate (on motion by Mr Smyth) adjourned to the next sitting.
Standing order 210
MS LAWDER: I seek leave of the Assembly to allow an Auslan interpreter to be present on the floor of the chamber during consideration of Assembly business order of the day No 1.
Debate resumed from 24 September 2015, on motion by Ms Lawder:
That standing order 210 be amended by inserting “or an accredited Auslan interpreter,” after “Member,”.