Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 March 2017) . . Page.. 896 ..
everyone to do what they can to achieve gender parity, there is a decision that disproportionately affects women’s pay in Australia.
MS STEPHEN-SMITH (Kurrajong—Minister for Community Services and Social Inclusion, Minister for Disability, Children and Youth, Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations) (3.37): I am pleased to stand today to speak in support of Mr Pettersson’s motion, for the simple reason that Canberra’s workers will be hurt by cuts to penalty rates.
It should be no secret by now that the ACT government is bitterly disappointed by the decision of the Fair Work Commission to cut Sunday and public holiday penalty rates. As my colleagues have said, this decision will cut the take-home pay of some of our lowest paid and most vulnerable workers, those who work in the retail, fast food and hospitality sectors.
Hardworking Canberrans in these industries will see a significant reduction in their pay packets. For many, this will mean they are now looking at their household budgets and working out what they will no longer be able to afford. For some this will mean no longer being able to pay for essentials like rent and utilities. For others it will mean giving up school excursions, trips to the movies or the occasional takeaway.
This decision will also have implications reaching beyond just reducing the take-home pay of those affected. According to the McKell Institute, cuts to penalty rates will hasten the “mass casualisation” of Australia’s workforce, leading to a decrease in job security, less paid leave and more workplace stress.
Yesterday in the chamber we heard the views of colleagues on both sides about the importance of income security for Canberrans. This Fair Work decision, by targeting retail and hospitality industry weekend workers, will exacerbate insecure work issues in industry sectors where the rates of insecure work are already high.
Labor strongly believes that all Australians should be able to feel secure in their lives and communities. For many people a job with a steady, reliable income is one of the most important considerations when looking for work. The prospect of finding a secure job with fair pay is one of the things that attract people to the ACT.
Australian Bureau of Statistics data indicates that almost six million Australians held a paying full-time job with basic leave entitlements. That is less than half of the labour force and less than one-third of the working-age population. The persistence with insecure work leaves many households at continued risk of economic shocks and being unable to plan for the future. Insecurity at work is more of a problem for people working in smaller organisations, part-time workers, and, as my colleague Ms Cheyne has mentioned, women.
The Fair Work Commission’s decision to cut penalty rates in the hospitality and retail industries is a further blow to many Canberra workers already facing the challenges of casualisation, insecure work and underemployment. Some have suggested that the real effect of this decision will be minimal, because many employees in the affected