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Monday, 20 August 2018
Page: 7848

Ms LAMB (Longman) (12:08): I rise today to speak on the Leader of the Opposition's bill, the Fair Work Amendment (Restoring Penalty Rates) Bill 2018, to restore the hard-earned penalty rates of hundreds of thousands of Australian workers that have been cut by the Turnbull government. Once again, this is Labor showing leadership where the government won't. In fact, after reading today's headlines, it seems that the government isn't even sure who the leader is anyway.

The by-election that I recently contested afforded me the opportunity to spend more time out in my community. It meant that I was able to go to local sporting matches, meet with community groups and speak with people and their families about the issues that matter to them. I heard all manner of issues. People are not happy with this government. But no matter where I went, I always heard three key concerns: people are worried about the government cutting vital funding from our local schools and hospitals; people are angry that Prime Minister Turnbull wants to hand out $17 billion of taxpayers' money to the big banks; and people are furious that Malcolm Turnbull is doing all of this while cutting the take-home pay of ordinary Australian workers. It just shows where this government's priority lies—and it is not with regular people.

A few weeks ago, while I was out doorknocking in Bellmere, I met with a family that rely on penalty rates to pay their bills. It was a typical family in the area of Bellmere, good people getting by on a pretty modest income—a modest income that included penalty rates. The lady I spoke to in Bellmere—I won't mention her name in the chamber—works at a retail store at a local shopping centre and has worked there for 10 years. In those 10 years she has never taken one day's holiday. Even after giving birth to her child, she was back to work within days. Despite this, last year on 1 July the Turnbull government cut her take-home pay. It had an impact on her immediately. Just last month she felt it again, because this government cut her penalty rates once more. She has been 10 years in retail and never had a holiday, and for two years in a row this government cut the penalty rates that make up the very modest income of her family.

Under this government, wages growth has flatlined and the cost of living has exploded. It's become more and more difficult for an ordinary Australian to get by. These are members of our community who send their kids to the local school, use the local healthcare system and spend their money in local small businesses. But the government is cutting billions from their schools and hospitals and reducing their buying power. Less money in their pocket means less money to spend in local small businesses. Prime Minister Turnbull really has got his priorities all wrong. He gives millionaires a tax cut—in fact, he's giving himself a tax cut—and he's giving a huge multibillion-dollar handout to the big banks. But, as for regular Australians who keep this country going, he is doing nothing; in fact, if anything, he's pushing us backwards.

A Shorten Labor government will fix this government's mess. Even in opposition we are looking forward. We are developing policies to take to the next general election—policies that will make it easier for Australian workers, policies that will strengthen our health and education systems, and policies that prioritise Australian people over banks. Labor will restore the billions cut from Australian schools. Labor will restore the vital funding that has been ripped out of Australian hospitals, like the $2.9 million ripped out of our Caboolture Hospital—the hospital used by the worker I was just talking about for her health care and that of her family.

Labor will restore the hard-earned penalty rates of Australian workers. Labor can afford to make these decisions, of course, because of the strong decision we are making in not giving billions of dollars to the banks. We believe in Australian people. Under our leader, Bill Shorten, we're united as a party to stand up for each and every Australian every time the government makes it harder for them to get by.