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Monday, 29 February 2016
Page: 2544

Ms HALL (ShortlandOpposition Whip) (12:03): I congratulate the member for bringing this to the parliament. It is a very important issue and one that impacts on the lives of the people I represent in this parliament. It is no surprise that 97 per cent of Australians think that the weekend is an important part of family time. Most of us have that weekend. In 2012, the ABS found that 68.9 per cent of Australians in work worked Monday to Friday, and that is not falling over time. In 1997, 69.7 per cent worked Monday to Friday and in 2006 it was 69.8 per cent—higher than in 1997. So around 70 per cent of Australians work Monday to Friday, and that is a pretty stable number, so it is no surprise that the majority of Australians want Sunday penalty rates to stay the same or increase.

A ReachTEL poll last December found that in Warringa, the seat of the former Prime Minister, 51 per cent wanted Sunday rates to stay the same and 13.7 per cent wanted them increased. In New England, the seat of the Deputy Prime Minister, 55 per cent of them wanted them to stay the same and 15.4 per cent wanted them increased. I would like to see them represent their constituents in this parliament. In the seat of Dickson, 60 per cent wanted Sunday penalty rates to stay the same and 18.7 per cent wanted them to be increased. I hope the members of the government are listening to the people who elect them. I hope they are going to do their jobs of representing their communities and put an end to any proposal to reduce penalty rates.

Australians support penalty rates because we understand the sacrifices people make to work on weekends, late hours and on public holidays. If you work Monday to Friday, you do not have to explain to your kids that, yet again, you cannot come to their weekend cricket match. If you work Monday to Friday, you do not need to watch your kids open their Christmas presents on the screen of your iPhone. If you work Monday to Friday, you can catch up with friends and family for Sunday brunch at a local cafe. You can catch up with friends over a meal cooked and served by people who do not get the chance to catch up with their friends on the weekend, because they are working. When we need to take a child to hospital at 10 pm, we can, because of the nurses and other staff of that hospital who are not at home to read to their own children at bedtime—something that my daughter-in-law has experienced, on many occasions, as a nurse.

Penalty rates compensate people for time lost with family and friends; for the lost chance to take part in community activities. The time lost working unsociable hours is a real and ongoing issue. But penalty rates also compensate people for the financial costs of working outside the usual hours that 70 per cent of people work. Try getting child care on a Sunday for the same price as on a Monday. Try getting to work on public transport as quickly on a Sunday as on a Tuesday. Try getting home from work without a car an hour after the last bus. Cuts to penalty rates will shift the financial cost of unsociable hours onto workers. Cuts to penalty rates will rip money out of the pockets of family budgets.

Last week, debating this motion, the member for Fowler referred to a study by the McKell Institute on the effects of cuts to penalty rates to retail workers in New South Wales. Retail workers in rural areas would see their penalty rates cut by 4.6 per cent to 16.5 per cent. Cuts to penalty rates will hurt businesses as well, because the McKell Institute found that pay cuts equal up to $111 million not being spent in those rural and regional towns. Penalty rates make it possible for many Australians to make ends meet. Penalty rates mean that they do not carry the costs of working unsociable hours themselves and are fairly compensated for the sacrifice of time with friends and family. Labor understands this and—with our friends and colleagues in the union movement—will always defend penalty rates for Australian workers. I call on those on the other side of the House to support their constituents and support the workers of Australia.

Debate adjourned.