Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 21 March 2017) . . Page.. 816 ..
this change also sets a precedent for the removal of working rights and conditions more broadly.
While the Turnbull government continues its attack on workers across the country, the ACT Labor government is committed to protecting the rights of workers in our community. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for those opposite. Despite the opposition’s promise before the 2016 election that they would not support a cut to penalty rates, we have recently seen members of the Canberra Liberals, including Mr Wall and former opposition leader and now senator Zed Seselja, speaking out in support of slashing the wages of local Canberrans.
It goes to show that the Canberra Liberals cannot be trusted when it comes to protecting the rights and conditions of Canberra’s shift and weekend workers. Once again, they are failing the Canberra community that they are meant to represent. The ACT Labor government will always stand up for workers and the most vulnerable in our community.
In 2015 the ACT government made a formal submission to the Fair Work Commission urging the commission that there was no valid case for a change in Sunday and public holiday penalty rates to be made. Recently, students from the ANU held a snap action to protest against the cuts. I note that the Deputy Chief Minister reaffirmed the government’s commitment to standing up for workers at the event. These students expressed their deep concerns about the impact the cuts will have on their ability to pay for rent, groceries, textbooks and even public transport.
As a former hospitality worker, I know the difference that penalty rates have on a week’s wage and I share the concerns of Canberra students and other shift and weekend workers. I am proud to stand with Canberrans in calling on the federal government to take action to protect them from the brutal and unfair cuts to their take-home pay.
I know all of my colleagues in the Barr Labor government oppose the changes to penalty rates. It is time for the Leader of the Opposition and the Canberra Liberals to stand up for Canberrans by opposing the brutality of the current federal coalition government.
MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (4.15): I welcome the fact that this matter is up for discussion today. I think there are some important matters to discuss here. It was somewhat disconcerting to see Mr Wall dismiss this matter out of hand. He may have his political views on it, but I think there are substantive topics to be talked about here. Certainly, when it comes to talking about the income security of Canberra shift and weekend workers, two particular issues spring to my mind: one is casualisation of the workforce and the other is cuts to penalty rates.
Clearly, many people who are working weekends are working on a casual basis. But right across the workforce we are seeing people’s income security being cast into doubt or people having lack of certainty because of casualisation or underemployment. There was a really interesting article in the Sydney Morning Herald in the last couple of days discussing this exact issue. I discovered something new, which is that there is