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Transcript of doorstop interview: Canberra: 1 March 2017: penalty rates;

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SUBJECT/S: Penalty Rates

NICK CHAMPION: The Government began this week and the Prime Minister began this week by telling parliament that over 600,000 workers are going to suffer penalty rate cuts as a result of the decision of the Fair Work Commission. A decision that was cheered on by the Government with over 60 Liberal MPs in the run up to this decision backing in cuts to penalty rates. All week we've seen Liberal Party backbenchers say that it's a gift, we've seen Liberal Party Ministers say that, because they work or own a small business, that they back in these cuts. We've seen Liberal backbencher after Liberal backbencher on Sky News and ABC backing in these unfair cuts.

The Prime Minister could stop these cuts if he wished to. The Prime Minister has the power to. The Parliament has the authority to. But they choose not to save the pay and conditions of 600,000 workers in this country. That is not my figure that is the Prime Minister's figure. It is the figure the Prime Minister used on Monday.

What we have is a Government beset by division, they desperately want to implement this WorkChoices style cut. But half of them have the courage to admit it and the other half are dissembling and desperately trying to spin their way out of this brutal attack on working people's condition. So we're going to stand strong with the service workers of this country, protecting their wages and conditions and we're going to continue our protection of people’s penalty rates. We will do it in this Parliament and we will do it at the next election and we will get the right result for Australian workers.

JOURNALIST: The Government has consistently turned around and said that it's Labor's fault and that Bill Shorten appointed the Commissioner before the inquiry. Why do you think the Fair Work Commission decided to cut penalty rates?

CHAMPION: Fair Work Commission and its predecessor the IRC don't get every decision right. In 1991 I think Kelty and Keating had to change a decision relating to enterprise bargaining. So they don't get every decision right over the history of their existence. Where they don't get things right you would expect strong leadership, and that's what Bill Shorten’s showing. Protecting people's wages and conditions. Protecting people who work in cafes, people who work in pubs, and people who work in shops. These are the service workers of our country and increasingly the face of a modern workforce and they deserve the protection of their wages and conditions.

JOURNALIST: What do you make of this suggestion that the harm could be mitigated by grandfathering?

CHAMPION: These sorts of provisions that are thrown up by the Government are part of a desperate dissembling the Government. A desperate attempt to try and spin their way out of what is a brutal cut. If you had some sort of grandfathered provision it would be an administrative mess and it would not please the Liberal Party backbench and their backers who want to cut rates. So what you would find is that old workers on grandfathered rates would be displaced by new workers on the lower rate. Everybody knows that would be the practical effect of it. The story of today is that you can't fix a cut to penalty rates except by passing legislation to prevent it.