Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 March 2017) . . Page.. 870 ..
MS CODY (Murrumbidgee) (12.14): I rise today to condemn the decision to cut penalty rates. My Labor and Greens colleagues have already raised many pertinent issues and many pertinent points, some of which I will be reinforcing, as this issue affects our local workers. It is an attack on tens of thousands of hardworking Canberrans and their take-home pay. Why is these workers’ pay being cut? Whilst the bosses lobby their parliamentary lackeys in the Liberal Party, trying to dress it up as high-minded, it is all simply greed.
The workers who will be hit hardest by these cuts are already among the lowest paid in the country. Making the poor poorer is not an economic policy. It does not produce economic growth, and it does not help our economy. It is just being cruel for the sake of it.
In its submission to the Fair Work Commission, the shoppies union, also known as the SDA, noted that “there are real disabilities associated with working on Sundays”. The SDA represents hundreds and thousands of workers, many of whom are, for example, students; students who are already juggling part-time work with their studies.
In harsh contrast to the SDA submissions, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia stated that “the current penalty rates for Sunday work reflect out-dated cultural norms”. Sometimes I wonder what other norms this mob would declare outdated if they got the chance. Whatever will come next from the big business lobby and the Liberal Party? Will they declare paying people for work outdated?
I saw the coverage from Sydney Airport earlier this week where the boss thinks it is okay to make people sleep on hard concrete under the airport by the use of tricky shift structures. Whilst these stories have come from interstate, it is critically important that this Assembly and this government pay close attention to these examples of bad bosses abusing workers.
This Assembly and our government should be paying close attention to these examples, as I have already stated. Whilst industrial relations is largely a federal matter, at times like this, when we have a federal government committed to making the poor poorer, we need to use whatever tools we have at our disposal to protect working Australians.
People in my community rely on penalty rates to stay on top of rent, to fill up the family car with a week’s worth of fuel, or to buy textbooks for studying. The Liberals across the lake do not understand what it is like to live pay cheque to pay cheque, and that is grossly obvious in their support of these latest attacks. The reality is that the Liberals have a longstanding, pathological hatred of penalty rates, along with other vital services such as Medicare, employer contributions to superannuation and public education. This attack is not a new one. We are seeing, from the Liberals across the lake, that it is a continuation of their longstanding attack on vulnerable, hardworking people and their right to the fair go.