Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 21 March 2017) . . Page.. 815 ..
children. I fear that they will never experience the security of a regular income such that they can have children.
Far too often, politicians are accused of not seeing the big picture, and I think they are right. I think we are letting down a generation who cannot get a foothold into adulthood. We want people in our community to be responsible. We encourage people to save for emergencies and for retirement. It is impossible to save for these important things when you have to dip into savings to make it through this week’s bills because you were not called into work.
There has been a grand theft in our society. Businesses have shifted risk onto their employees without any increase in benefits. Increasingly, workers are getting called in for shifts when it suits the boss. Workers are getting sent home early from shifts when it suits the boss. You cannot sustain a wholesome life if your roster is constantly changing. How is it that we hope people volunteer for local community groups or participate in local sporting teams when people are on call or, worse, rostered on and cancelled on when they are trying to make ends meet?
This change has not happened quickly. It is a process that has occurred over decades. We did not go to bed one night with secure jobs and wake up the next morning with insecure employment. But there are times when things do happen quickly, and we saw that just the other week with the Fair Work Commission’s decision to cut penalty rates. This decision will have a disastrous impact on these workers. The federal Liberal government could fix this if they wanted to. It would not be difficult. They could bring forward the legislation at the next sitting period, but they will not.
It is that hypocrisy I find truly galling. This is a Liberal government who have offered no support to people on low incomes and irregular incomes. In the midst of a housing crisis, we see the Assistant Minister to the Treasurer telling young people that if they want a house they need to get a highly paid job. We saw similar comments from the former Treasurer, Mr Hockey. Mr Hockey’s advice to people wanting to own a home was to get a good job. Well, it is a little galling to see, on the one hand, this Liberal government saying that if you want a house, get a good job, get a high-paying job, but then on the other we see them sitting on their hands while workers are given the largest pay cut since the Great Depression.
MS ORR (Yerrabi) (4.12): I am pleased to speak on the importance of income security for Canberra shift and weekend workers. Penalty rates were first implemented to fairly compensate employees for working on weekends and unsociable hours, often having to sacrifice time with their families. The slashing of Sunday and public holiday rates will see the take-home pay of full- and part-time hospitality and fast food workers cut by 25 per cent, with retail and pharmacy workers facing a staggering 50 per cent pay cut.
Canberra’s shift and weekend workers do not deserve to be treated so unfairly. They also cannot afford to be treated so unfairly. These are some of the lowest paid people in our community and they should not be forced to work more hours than they currently do just to make ends meet. The slashing of penalty rates will obviously have an effect on workers in the retail, fast food, hospitality and pharmacy industries. But