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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 21 March 2017) . . Page.. 793 ..

MS BERRY: In fact I have asked for this consultation to be extended so that residents have a really good opportunity to have a conversation about the public housing that we hope to build in these new areas that we have announced recently. These new public housing dwellings are not like anything else that anyone would imagine them to be. I have heard people talk to me about walking up streets where there has been new public housing built, to try to find it, and they could not identify it because it is such good quality housing that is being developed.

As part of this conversation we want to talk with the community about the amenity of the public housing that is being built, which is very high quality and will fit nicely within the existing suburbs. If there are issues around traffic or numbers of dwellings, if there is a worry about that, or about other things that residents within the existing communities might want to raise, we do want to hear about that. So, yes, it is important that they get a chance to say what is on their minds. It is also a chance for us to talk to them about the renewal program and the chances and options it gives to people that they would not ordinarily have had, if they did not have decent housing that actually meets their needs.

Industrial relations—penalty rates

MS ORR: My question is to the Minister for Disability, Children and Youth. Minister, how many young Canberrans will be impacted by the cuts to penalty rates?

MS STEPHEN-SMITH: I thank Ms Orr for her question and her interest in this issue. As colleagues have already highlighted, the Fair Work Commission’s penalty rate decision will affect many of the ACT’s most vulnerable workers by cutting Sunday penalty rates in the hospitality and retail sectors. This will affect a large number of award-reliant hospitality and fast food employees and will only increase the existing difficulties of low income workers who are already dealing with stagnant wage growth.

This will have a significant impact on young workers, including students, who disproportionately rely on weekend work. Research tells us that while one-third of Australians rely on regular Sunday shifts as part of their wage, nearly 40 per cent of young people rely on penalty rates to survive. In the ACT alone, there are approximately 6,900 people aged between 15 and 24 working in accommodation and food services and approximately 4,900 people aged between 15 and 24 working in retail trade. These are two industries affected by the penalty rate cut.

Labor will stand up for these workers, in contrast to those opposite, who have celebrated the decision to cut the take-home pay of some of our lowest paid and most vulnerable workers, including many young workers in our community. Labor will stand up for these workers, because we believe that workers, including young workers, deserve to be compensated for working unsociable hours. Sundays remain, for most of us, a time for socialising, spending time with family or playing sport, and this applies particularly to young people.

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