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Monday, 20 March 2017
Page: 1360

Workplace Relations


Senator MOORE ( Queensland ) ( 14:00 ): My question is to Senator Brandis, the Minister representing the Prime Minister. Last week, Liberal-National party senator Ian Macdonald told the Townsville Bulletin that cuts to the penalty rates were 'a step in the right direction'. Does the minister agree with Senator Macdonald?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:00): Thank you very much, Senator Moore, for that question. I have actually been away for the past week, and I have not been reading the Townsville daily bulletin. Senator Macdonald is not here, but I very seldom disagree—

Senator Wong interjecting

Senator BRANDIS: Senator Wong, can you just be silent for a moment, so I can concentrate on your colleague's question. I very seldom disagree with anything that Senator Ian Macdonald has to say, because I find him to be a very wise member of this chamber. But, Senator Moore, since you raised the question about penalty rates, let me remind you what the effect upon the penalty rates of certain categories of workers has been as a result of the kinds of dirty, behind-the-shed union deals of which the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Shorten, is such a champion.

We learned in the press this morning that a typical KFC worker would, as a result of the Fair Work Commission's determination of some days ago, receive an hourly rate of $24.30, but they will not be receiving that, as a matter of fact, because the relevant union has traded away their penalty rates so that they only receive an hourly rate of $21.19. As a result of the dodgy deals over which Mr Shorten and his mates in the trade union movement preside, those workers at KFC are more than $3.10 an hour worse off than they are under the new rates set by the Fair Work Commission for Sunday penalty rates.

And it is not just KFC. Let me give you another example from the fast food sector, and that it is a McDonald's worker— (Time expired)

The PRESIDENT: Senator Moore, a supplementary question.




Senator MOORE (Queensland) (14:02): No matter where you are, Senator Brandis, it is always a good idea to read the Townsville Bulletin. Given that the Fair Work Commission will now review penalty rates in the hairdressing and beauty industries, does the minister think that a pay cut for these workers is the next step in that 'right direction'?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:02): That is not what we say. What we do say is that we respect the independent umpire, the Fair Work Commission, and so should you. I do not feel abashed at all in saying that you too, on the Labor side, should respect the independence of the Fair Work Commission, because it used to be the position you all took. It used to be the position you all took. In fact, it was the Gillard government that set up the Fair Work Commission in 2009, and Mr Shorten as a minister in the Gillard and Rudd governments is on the record on numerous occasions saying that the Fair Work Commission is an independent arbiter, it is an independent umpire and its decisions ought to be respected by all parties. So it is not the government that has changed its attitude to the Fair Work Commission, Senator Moore—through you, Mr President. It is you and those on your side of politics who used to say the Fair Work Commission's determinations should be respected and now you say they should be legislatively reversed.

The PRESIDENT: Senator Moore, a final supplementary question.



Senator MOORE (Queensland) (14:04): Given that 359,000 Queenslanders work in retail, accommodation and fast food, where workers will see pay cuts of up to $77 every week, why does the Liberal-National party consider that a pay cut for these Queensland workers is a step in that really valuable 'right direction'?


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:04): Senator Moore, once again, I am surprised that you raised this issue, because it is the union that represents hospitality workers and workers in the food sector which has bargained away their penalty rates to a level significantly lower than they would have received under the new determination by the Fair Work Commission some weeks ago. I gave you an example of the KFC worker who will be $3.11 worse off as a result of the agreement the union negotiated than he or she would be under the new Sunday penalty rate arrangements determined by the Fair Work Commission.

Let me give you another example from the same sector—a McDonald's worker. Under the Fair Work Commission's penalty rate determination, a McDonald's worker would receive a Sunday penalty rate of $24.30 per hour, but, under the arrangements negotiated for them by their union, the union-sanctioned pay rate is only $21.08 an hour—$3.22 an hour less. (Time expired)