Wednesday, 21 June 2017
Private Members' Business
I second the motion. I am very pleased to follow the member for Lindsay, a wonderful representative for her electorate and an advocate for families and working women. I am very pleased to follow the member for Lindsay. I am pleased to join her in opposing this government's cruel and vicious cuts to the penalty rates of workers in Australia that they seek to implement on 1 July. It means that in less than two weeks this government will be cutting the take-home pay of up to 700,000 hardworking Australians.
Today I stand in solidarity with those workers to oppose this government's changes to the Fair Work Act because these changes are anything but fair. How could it be fair that the government looks to cut the take-home pay of ordinary Australian workers while at the same time giving a huge tax cut to big business? How could it be fair that workers have to miss out on countless weekends with their families—barbecues, birthdays, going to sporting matches or spending time with friends? How is it fair that they will lose a little bit of the compensation they receive for working on those Sundays? How could it be fair that the government's cuts to penalty rates will further widen the gender pay gap which really should have been left behind in the ancient past?
This decision will have a disproportionate effect on women. Women make up 54 per cent of the workforce in the fast-food industry, 55 per cent of workers in the general retail industry and 77 per cent of workers in the pharmacy industry, and in the hair and beauty industry—for which this government refuses to rule out these same cuts—women account for 87 per cent of the workforce. It is obvious that thousands more women will be affected by this penalty rates cut, and they will be affected more than men will be. Thousands of women rely on their penalty rates, not just to meet household expenses. They use that extra income to pay the rent. They feed their families. The question is: will they have their take-home pay cut by this government? There are two weeks to go, two weeks for the government to make this change and save this.
I am just astonished by this decision. I really am. On 2 July, the very first Sunday that these workers will see the penalty rates cut, it will be exactly one year since Prime Minister Turnbull and his government won the 2016 election. Since then, they really have done nothing. They have done nothing to support our families, nothing at all, and nothing to support workers. They have done nothing to create jobs, and they have done nothing to protect Medicare.
A division having been called in the House of Representatives
Sitting suspended from 17:31 to 17:44
We are here today to speak about penalty rates, and women in particular. We know that they disproportionately affect women. Around 77 per cent of our pharmacy workers are women, and on 2 July they are going to be faced with a cut to their take-home pay. As I said earlier, these are women who are paying the rent and they are feeding and raising their families. They need this money and they deserve this money. They are giving up their weekends, they are giving up family time. Paying them penalty rates is not just the right thing to do, it is also what they deserve.
We have got to look at who is making this decision to cut penalty rates. It is the Turnbull government. On 2 July, they will celebrate 12 months since the 2016 election. What else have we seen? We have seen nothing, basically. They have done nothing to create jobs and nothing to protect Medicare. Let us look at Medicare. The first thing they did was actually a really cheap and cowardly attack on Australian workers. This is a government that really does stand for the rich and for big business; it turns its back on ordinary workers and ordinary Australians. What sort of government gives big business a huge tax cut that will leave millionaires $16,400 better off while, at the same time, cuts the take-home pay of workers? They know it is wrong.
There are two speaking spots left on this motion and there are two government members over there. I wonder if they are going to take the opportunity to hop up and speak about penalty rates and speak in support of the member for Lindsay's motion, speak in support of penalty rates and the women in their electorates. I wonder if they are going to get up and do that. I doubt it very much. It is time to stop these cruel cuts. They have got two weeks to do it and I hope by the time we rise on Thursday night that is what they do. (Time expired).