Page 5381 - Week 14 - Thursday, 19 November 2009

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of the Australian people; it is a tribute, indeed, to the reforms of the previous government. I pay tribute to Craig Emerson for actually having the honesty and the decency to acknowledge those things and to give an honest assessment, which I think was appreciated by those who attended the dinner last night.

Go home on time day

MS HUNTER (Ginninderra—Parliamentary Convenor, ACT Greens) (6.05): I would like to bring to the attention of the Assembly an event occurring on Wednesday 25 November—go home on time day. This event has been created and promoted by the Australia Institute, with the aim of drawing the nation’s attention to the large amount of overtime Australian employees work and the important industrial, health and social consequences that that can have. Each year, Australians work more than 2 billion hours of unpaid overtime and, according to the institute, we work the longest hours of any country in the developed world.

In its policy brief, “Something for nothing: unpaid overtime in Australia”, the institute notes:

Across the workforce, the 2.14 billion hours of unpaid overtime worked per year is a $72 billion gift to employers, equivalent to 6 per cent of all economic activity in Australia.

The amount of unpaid overtime worked in Australia is the equivalent of 1.16 million full-time jobs. The institute survey also found 45 per cent of Australian workers and more than half of all full-time employees work more hours than they are paid for in a typical work day. Some 44 per cent of people who work unpaid overtime say that it is compulsory or expected, and another 43 per cent say that it is not expected but also not discouraged.

Ongoing overtime has negative impacts on the work-life balance. While employers may gain short-term benefits from staff working regularly working late, it can cause long-term health and safety issues, not to mention an increasing number of sick days.

My colleague Australian Greens workplace relations spokesperson, Senator Rachel Siewert, has brought this matter to the attention of the federal parliament in relation to the Fair Work Act. I hope the federal government heeds her calls for action on this matter by reviewing the act to bring us more closely in line with best practice in other jurisdictions internationally.

Though the environment we work in here in the Assembly often requires overtime and long hours for ourselves and our staff, I think go home on time day gives us a useful reminder of the importance of a health work-life balance. So on Wednesday 25 November I will be making sure that my staff will go home on time, and I am encouraging all members to also look at the Australia Institute’s research on this matter and the go home on time day website and ensure that their employees and their staff do go home on time. I hope, also, that that extends to chamber support and the committee office and so forth—the wonderful staff that support us here in the Assembly—and that they also go home on time on 25 November.

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