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Thursday, 16 May 1985
Page: 2037


Senator AULICH(10.39) —I rise to comment very briefly on this matter. I oppose the disallowance of this Trading Hours (Amendment) Ordinance for a very good reason. Senator Vigor seems to have some view about the future of Australia being a matter of changing the nature of people's work. Senator Vigor's view of the future is not a view that I agree with. If he believes, for example, that Sunday is something that should be turned into a Dalek holiday where families, instead of going on picnics, playing sport and moving out into the big wide world, in fact spend their day in a K-Mart waltzing around buying goods, then he has a different view from what I believe families ought to be doing. Also, he has tended to underestimate the whole problem of what happens when a whole industry is casualised. If Senator Vigor believes that the whole question of shopping should be one in which a section of the working population is forced to be available seven days a week on a casual basis, when and where employers decide, that is his view. It certainly does not agree with mine.

Senator Harradine has already referred to the casualisation of the industry around Australia, where about half a dozen major conglomerates are deciding the work patterns of a very significant proportion of the population. Something like 16,000 people in Tasmania alone work in the retail trades industry and their livelihood is dominated by about five or six major companies. The same pattern applies in all other States. Those companies wish to have seven-day a week trading because it suits them ultimately to knock off penalty rates. They want to ensure that they can bring people into and out of work when it suits them and run their operations on the basis of employing a very high proportion of juniors. They want to run their operations on the basis of employing casual employees who are brought on for two days at the heaviest time of the week and then put off, let us say, on Monday and Tuesday. Those companies, in fact, do not really care about their employees. Employees are put off, for example, when they turn 18 years of age. There is a pattern there that I find reprehensible. If that is the sort of society which Senator Vigor wants, if that is what he wants in the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia, he is entitled to support that type of approach. That is not the vision that I have of the future.

It is all very well for people who have some American and European ideas and who believe that somehow or other the people of this country are going to move towards a total free market flexible labour situation to have their say. Such a concept looks pretty good but over the years a family and work pattern has been built up in this country which I find appropriate. In other words, if one wishes to operate as people do in certain parts of London and take Thursday off, work Saturday morning and then take Saturday afternoon and Sunday off-and it is almost impossible for a fairly large family actually to go anywhere as a family on a weekend-that is one's choice. I just happen to believe that by historical accident and by a certain amount of activity on the part of the union movement in this country, weekends have been made an important part of family life and of people's personal development.


Senator Chipp —Penalty rates have also made thousands of workers unemployed-thousands and thousands.


Senator AULICH —I do not believe that that is the case. The honourable senator indicates that penalty rates in fact have prevented further employment in certain industries. I believe that he ought to look very carefully at the cost of penalty rates in the tourist industry. I understand that three years ago the figure quoted for the on-cost of penalty rates in the tourist industry was 50c a room per night. Is that a cost which is going to disemploy people, if I can use that term? Is that a cost which is going to prevent further employment in the tourist industry? The situation certainly has not changed.


Senator Chipp —How many restaurants have closed at weekends because of that? How many restaurants remain open on Sundays?


Senator Lewis —You try to get a feed on a Sunday.


Senator AULICH —Mr Acting Deputy President, I believe that the interjections are getting too strong at this stage. People are simply dropping one line prejudices into this chamber and that is not the kind of debate in which I wish to be involved.

I wish to indicate clearly my total opposition on a personal basis to the disallowance proposal we are now considering because it is inconsistent with the approach of the Australian Labor Party that has been taken in every State of Australia. I had a personal responsibility in Tasmania for bringing in shop trading legislation. I suggest that in fact other States have a look at some of that legislation which combines both the flexibility that some people in this chamber want with a protection for families and workers that I believe is appropriate. I have made plain my personal disagreement with the proposal that Senator Vigor has put forward. I indicate clearly that there are broader ramifications for some of the issues that he raised which will certainly be raised in State parliaments in the near future.


The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Tate) —I call Senator Lewis.