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Tuesday, 9 October 2012
Page: 11679

Ms VAMVAKINOU (Calwell) (16:41): I rise to present a petition to the House requesting the amendment of the employment standards in the Fair Work Act to recognise the Monday and/or the Tuesday following Christmas, Boxing Day, New Year's Day and Easter Sunday as additional public holidays. The principal petitioner is Michael Donovan of the SDA Union, and he has submitted this petition, signed by residents in my electorate, to draw the attention of the House to this matter. The petition was considered at a recent meeting of the Standing Committee on Petitions and certified as being in accordance with standing orders. I therefore wish to present this petition to the House for tabling.

The petition read as follows—

To the Honourable The Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives

This petition of certain citizens of Australia draws to the attention of the House that:

Weekend and shift workers are disadvantaged whenever Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year's Day falls on a weekend and the public holiday substitutes (is moved) to the following Monday or Tuesday.

When substitution occurs workers rostered to work on the actual special day falling on the weekend don't receive a public holiday whilst workers rostered to work on the substitute day do.

This is unfair to weekend and shift workers.

Some States have legislated for Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day to be public holidays when they fall on a weekend plus provide an additional public holiday on the following Monday. or Tuesday.

Weekend and shift workers are also disadvantaged because Good Friday, Easter Saturday (in most states) and Easter Monday are public holidays but Easter Sunday (except in NSW) is not. (The NSW Parliament unanimously legislated for Easter Sunday to be a public holiday.)

This is unfair to weekend and shift workers.

Parliament should legislate a uniform standard across Australia.

We therefore ask the House to:

Amend the National Employment Standards in the Fair Work Act to include:

1. An additional public holiday (not a substitute day) on the following Monday and/or Tuesday whenever Christmas Day, Boxing Day or New Year's Day fall on a weekend.

2. Easter Sunday as a public holiday.

from 39 citizens

Petition received.

Ms VAMVAKINOU: Further, I would like to talk about an event that I attended in my electorate a couple of weeks ago. It was an event that I am an annual attendee at, and I look forward to receiving every year the invitation from the Brunswick Sinhala Language School, which conducts Saturday morning classes in the Sinhalese language in my electorate. This particular event is conducted annually but, on this occasion, we were celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Brunswick Sinhala Language School. It is a significant milestone in the history of this remarkable Saturday morning school, which now boasts a growing enrolment of up to 550 students this year, which is tremendous; it is the size of a medium-sized school. This school is a testament to the success of teaching children a language other than English, and it showcases the benefits that can be obtained for the broader community but, in particular, for those children who go on to study, often, the languages of their parents.

Mr Deputy Speaker Georganas, I am sure you would agree that in Australia multiculturalism is one of our greatest resources, and with multiculturalism comes a great wealth of multilingual capacity. It is absolutely important to encourage young Australians to learn languages other than English. We live in a global community. We have amongst us the very linguistic capacity, the resources, that we and this country need in order to help our younger generations move with greater ease in the global community. So I want to congratulate the Sinhalese community in my electorate, who do such a wonderful job—because most of this, of course, is done on a voluntary basis: getting the school together and actually running it. They do a wonderful job in teaching the children of Sinhalese background the Sinhalese language. (Time expired)