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Thursday, 15 March 2012
Page: 3186

Mr CHAMPION (Wakefield) (12:46): I do not think I can match the contribution of the member for Canning and his extraordinary attack on a minister in the Western Australian government who is unknown to the rest of us. It was very entertaining and quite extraordinary. I am sure that Mr Probyn or someone in Western Australia will take notice of such a speech.

But I rise to talk about fairness for families and fairness for communities. This is a particularly important issue. We hear politicians talking about families and communities all the time. We know that people out in the community are working harder and harder. They often have to have dual incomes and put kids in child care. There is an extraordinary range of pressures on small businesses and workers around the place. The number of hours worked is higher than ever before and the share that goes to profits, as opposed to wages, is at historically high rates. Of the benefits that the economy provides to the community, a disproportionate amount now goes to business, as opposed to workers.

In South Australia the Weatherill government has taken some small initiatives as part of a deal to deregulate trading hours in the city to give some time back to families and communities by declaring part-day public holidays after 5 pm on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve. This is a matter that is very dear to my heart because, in a previous life, I was an official of the shop assistants' union and a very proud member of that union beforehand. I remember working as a trolley collector in the industry. I have vivid memories of one Easter at Coles Burnside when we ran out of trolleys because there were so many people. They were pretty different times then and it was a different sort of work. I know there is a small army of night fillers and department store workers and fast food workers who have to work on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve to set up for sales, make sure the shelves are full and the ticketing is right and make sure people get served their hamburgers and french fries. These are profoundly antisocial and difficult times to work. They are times when you would prefer to be with your friends and family out in the community celebrating like the rest of us.

I have seen some of the debate in the South Australian parliament. A lot of the speeches by Liberal Party members of the state parliament focused not so much on the proposition before them but more on attacking the union and its legitimate influence in the community. It is more about attacking Mr Peter Malinauskas, who I think is a great union leader.

Mr Ramsey: A great numbers man!

Mr CHAMPION: He is a great union leader, and he was a night filler himself so he knows what he is talking about—not like many in the Liberal Party. My friend the member for Grey at least worked on a farm and did some real work, but there are an awful lot of people in the Liberal Party who have never had a real job in their lives and have never met a real person in their lives. They are too busy lounging around with their business mates and their pokie mates and rolling into the House of Assembly down there in South Australia and getting stuck into Peter Malinauskas. It is a great shame that it has happened in this forum as well. The member for Mayo, in the past, has had much to say about Peter Malinauskas—much that is wrong. Again, I think that is a great shame. This is a unique proposition, the idea that Christmas Eve and New Years Eve are community times and should be public holidays so people have the right to work or the right to not work. That is, to make it voluntary and to pay an additional penalty rate to that vast army of workers—shop assistants, hospitality workers, and ambulance and police officers—who make us have a happy and safe New Years Eve. If this proposition is adopted by the South Australian parliament then I am sure it will spread over time to other states in Australia because it is only fair to provide workers who work at these times with public holiday rights. It is a fair thing to do, it is an appropriate thing to do, it is an affordable thing to do, and we should do it because it is the right thing to do.