Workplace Relations

28 February 2017

This is a government that is out of touch, out of ideas and out of options. It chooses to

stand by and do nothing whilst penalty rates are cut and the pay of hardworking Australians is slashed. We know

that from listening to the Prime Minister and the government, who confirmed that they support the decision today.

The government is quite happy to see the wages of hardworking Australians, residents in my electorate of Oxley,

cut whilst at the same time handing out $50 billion worth of tax cuts to big business—and cutting payments to

families, soon-to-be parents, pensioners and job seekers. We know from analysis done recently by the Grattan

Institute that the fact of these tax cuts will mean, even assuming that you get those things in the long run, that there

will be a period of time in which national income will fall. We know this because we will see the government

giving a tax cut to foreigners, meaning the benefit at first goes overseas.

I know that in my own electorate there are 10,500 retail, food and accommodation workers who are looking down

the barrel of cuts to their take-home pay. They are part of the almost 700,000 Australians in the same situation—

facing the same pay cuts. We know they are going to be $77 a week worse off. We know that is not a lot of money

to the Prime Minister or the members of the government. For the workers in my electorate, that is a huge deal.

But do the government stand up for these workers? Do they stand by them? No, they sell them down the river.

They shift the blame. They run away with excuses. But we have heard today—the cat is out—that the Prime

Minister supports the decision. There was a concerted campaign by the PM and members of the government,

time and time again, supporting this decision—encouraging and urging this decision. So now we have a situation

where some of the lowest paid Australians will go to work on Sunday one week, do the same job and the same

hours the next Sunday, and be short-changed $77 per week, and what has this government done? Absolutely

nothing. It stood by and allowed it to happen.

The fact is that penalty rates put food on the table and books on school desks and go some way to compensating

hardworking Australians who forgo family and leisure time to work on Sundays. If the government were truly

looking after Australians, they would join with Labor to stand by Australian workers and support our bill to stop

the cutting of the take-home pay of hundreds of thousands of Australians. I know that the 10,500 workers in

my electorate deserve much better than they are getting from Malcolm Turnbull and this government. I stand

shoulder to shoulder to shoulder with them. Australians deserve better than this poor excuse for a government.