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Monday, 4 December 2017
Page: 9431


Senator HANSON-YOUNG (South Australia) (10:28): I, of course, stand in support of this amendment. I think it's absolutely essential that we get it through the Senate today and we get it through the parliament this week. We are in the last sitting week before the Christmas break. While those of us here, in this place, will be able to go home and spend time with our families, we know that there are thousands and thousands of workers, right across the country, who will miss out on spending Christmas with their families because they are working.

In my home state of South Australia, we know that there are 270,000 South Australians who rely on some form of penalty rate. Most of those people, of course, are single parents who struggle every day, week in, week out, to provide for their kids and to put food on the table and rely overwhelmingly on those penalty rate wages to pay for the meals, the rent, the school uniforms and—heavens above!—some school holiday activities while they are at it.

We know that overwhelmingly penalty rates are relied on by women more than men, which is why, with the change by the Fair Work Commission, this amendment is absolutely essential to ensure we protect female workers across the country. Single mums, single parents and female workers rely over and over again on these penalty rates. Let's not forget about the thousands and thousands of young people right across the country who can't get full-time work or enough work to pay for their living costs and so rely, week in, week out, on those Sunday penalty rates.

It is just remarkable that, when we hear the government talk about doing the right thing by Australian workers, when we hear the government saying everybody should go out and get a job and do what they can and be as ambitious as possible, here we have them lining up with the Grinch of Christmas to strip penalty rates on Sundays and to not work with the Senate to fix this. Malcolm Turnbull has a choice. We're three weeks out from Christmas. Is he going to work with the Senate to make sure we protect penalty rates or is he going to allow workers on Christmas Eve to be stripped of decent pay? Will Malcolm Turnbull be the Grinch of Christmas or won't he? It's going to be his call once the Senate passes this amendment.