Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 17 November 2015) . . Page.. 4070 ..

The commission argues the changes would act as a floor to the penalty rate and employers may decide to pay more if they find it hard to attract employees on Sundays. The commission stated that while penalty rates have a legitimate role in compensating employees and should be maintained for working long hours or at unsociable times, Sunday penalty rates for cafes, hospitality, entertainment, restaurants and retailing should be aligned with Saturday rates.

The ACT government opposes the commission’s proposal to change the Fair Work Act to establish a minimum standards division within the Fair Work Commission that would have responsibilities for matters including setting minimum wages and is also concerned with the recommended changes to the unfair dismissal system such as removing the emphasis on reinstatement as a primary goal.

The income of lower paid workers needs to be protected. Lower paid workers contribute to the incomes of entire families and this government is committed to protecting those workers. The bill is the perfect opportunity to remind all Canberrans of the broader impact of penalty rates on cost of living issues for families and full-time students, equity for low paid workers and how penalty rates allow working single parents to manage the complex challenges of income stability and child care.

Penalty rates are a representation of our social contract and an understanding of the economic foundation of our standard of living that includes a minimum wage, pensions, public transport, accessible education, universal health care and welfare that is there when you need it. This is the basis for a shared prosperity that all of us can enjoy.

There are benefits from public holidays that are not captured by traditional economic indicators. There is the literature that supports the fact that there are substantial benefits from the coordination of leisure time and it is contended that there are benefits from increasing the number of public holidays to within the range of 13 to 17 per annum.

Productivity, health and socioeconomic benefits increase when citizens are given more opportunity to coordinate their leisure time with more public holidays. Madam Deputy Speaker, as you would know and as Minister Burch would know, as shiftworkers previously, it is important to have some coordinated family time in your life. This also increases the utility of leisure time on holidays and normal weekdays and weekends. In fact, it is reported that a person’s wellbeing is improved in anticipation of taking a holiday. Further, this literature highlights that countries such as the United States and Australia, where there are lower numbers of public holidays than in the European Union, would benefit from increasing the number of holidays.

In conclusion, it is vital that we value the interests of those members of our community that have to work in retail or hospitality sectors or at hospitals or emergency services or who have family members working in these industries. These members of the community should also be entitled to unite as families over holiday periods like Christmas and Easter; if they have to work, at the very least they should be properly compensated for the time spent away from those families on these important occasions. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . . PDF . . . . Video