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Thursday, 28 June 2018
Page: 6875


Mr PERRETT (MoretonOpposition Whip) (10:47): This Sunday is 1 July. It marks a couple of things. I think it's Canada's national day, and it's the first day of the new financial year, but for 12,791 workers in my electorate of Moreton, it will deliver a slap in the face as their penalty rates are cut again. And this cut is even deeper than the last one. For those 12,791 workers in Moreton, it will mean they won't have as much take-home pay as they did last week. This means one in six workers in Moreton won't have the same money to pay their bills, to put food on the table and to put petrol in their tanks. What sort of heartless government allows low-paid workers to be hit with another pay cut at a time when wages growth has actually hit record lows? This is the same out-of-touch Turnbull government that today is trying to give big business an $80 billion tax cut that would include the big banks pocketing an extra $17 billion in this bizarre tax giveaway the Liberals are committed to.

Governing is all about priorities and the choices you make. The Turnbull government's priorities are all about the top end of town, a sector that is actually doing well at the moment. This out-of-touch government does not understand the difficulties facing working families and young people who rely on penalty rates to help pay their bills. It is not a luxury—they pay their bills. The Liberals think it is commendable to cut penalty rates. One coalition MP even famously said it was 'a gift for our young people'. These cuts to penalty rates affect industries where the majority of workers are female, such as retail and hospitality. Women who already suffer from a gender pay gap will further be hit by cuts to penalty rates that they rely on to pay their bills. I talk to people all over my electorate, and I know how hard it currently is for low-paid workers to make ends meet.

It's going to get even harder for the more than 12,000 workers in my electorate from this Sunday, 1 July. That is why the opposition leader, Bill Shorten, introduced into the parliament this week a bill that would actually protect penalty rates. Labor's bill would stop the cuts to penalty rates and ensure they can never be cut again. Labor will protect a principle as old as the Labor Party and the trade union movement: a fair day's pay for a fair day's work.

I and all of my Labor colleagues support this Labor legislation, because we support penalty rates. If the Prime Minister really cared about low-paid workers, he would bring our bill on for a vote. He would join Labor and vote to stop this cruel cut to penalty rates, but he won't. This LNP coalition government doesn't care if Australian workers get a pay cut. They only care about giving big businesses an $80 billion tax cut. They say they care—they put out information saying they care—but they actually do nothing. Caring is doing. I will always support Australian workers. I will always support penalty rates. The Labor Party will always stick up for people in low-paid work.