Page 868 - Week 03 - Wednesday, 22 March 2017

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celebrating: their fellow Canberrans are copping a 10 per cent pay cut. The Fair Work Commission itself acknowledges that the effect of this decision will be to cut workers’ wages. The commission’s decision explicitly states:

A substantial proportion of award-reliant employees covered by these modern awards are low paid and the reductions in Sunday penalty rates we have determined are likely to reduce the earnings of those employees who currently work on Sundays … most existing employees would probably face reduced earnings as it is improbable that, as a group, existing workers’ hours on Sundays would rise sufficiently to offset the income effects of penalty rate reductions.

This is not hyperbole from some media commentator or a union. This is the Fair Work Commission’s own ruling. Many people working in retail and hospitality simply cannot afford to take that financial hit. They are already stretched to breaking point or past that point.

We know that Australians in the bottom 60 per cent of incomes already spend as much as or more than they earn each week. So these workers are going to have to work more in order to make up this gap: more hours, just to make the same pay; more time away from family and friends; more missed birthday parties and school assemblies; more early starts and more late finishes; working harder, only to stand on the spot financially.

The fact that the Fair Work Commission’s decision will hit low paid workers so hard would be reason enough for any government, or any sensible local member who is in touch with their community, to stand against it. Sadly we have seen just the opposite from Liberal members in this chamber like Mr Wall. When the decision was announced, Mr Wall posted on his own wall on Facebook that the announcement would “provide much relief to retail and hospitality businesses in the ACT”. He went on to suggest that it would “create new employment opportunities for many Canberrans”. I do not think there is any way of looking at this other than to say that Mr Wall welcomed the decision.

But challenged in this chamber yesterday to provide a shred of evidence for his views or even to repeat them for posterity, Mr Wall was suddenly crab-walking away. This motion is an opportunity to put on the record what people really think about these penalty rate cuts. Mr Wall, the invitation is here in the next few hours for you to come down and repeat in this chamber what you said on Facebook.

Those opposite have proven time and time again that when it matters they will not stand up for workers. But at the very least you would expect them to do what is best to keep the territory’s economy thriving and growing. Sadly they are not, though, because they are still supporting this cut, despite the fact that reducing penalty rates is also bad for our economy. All of those workers in Canberra’s cafes, bars, shops and pharmacies who are going to cop a pay cut are also the consumers who buy from other shops across this city, who eat and drink in other bars and cafes. You take away 10 per cent of their income and their capacity to spend, and their capacity to spend and to support local businesses will drop away dramatically.

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