Penalty Rates

07 September 2017

Wednesday 21 June 2017

House of Representatives

Ms McBRIDE (Dobell) (15:44): I rise to speak about this matter of public importancethe unfairness being inflicted on Australians in just 10 days time on 1 July. Is it fair that, in pockets of my community, around a third of households have a combined income of less than $600 per week? Is it fair that 16.6 per cent of young people in my community are looking for work? Is it fair that one in two students in my community have the opportunity to complete high school? Is it fair that, on 1 July, 15,000 workers on the Central Coast will get a pay cut of up to $77 per week?

Budgets are about priorities, and this government's budget is just not fair. At the heart of every government should be a sense of fairness, making sure that people and families most in need are helped and never left behind. This government abandoned any sense of fairness a long time ago. In 10 days time, on 1 July, it is going to get a lot worse for many Australians. Fairness should be at the heart of all government decisions. The Turnbull government is ideologically drivendetermined to return favours to its supporters in the big end of town at the expense of those who can least afford it in regional Australia, like my community. On 1 July, the Turnbull government will deliver a $16,400 tax cut to millionaires and, the very next day, cut the penalty rates for 700,000 of Australia's lowest paid workers, resulting in a pay cut of $6,000 every year for half a million Australians working in the retail and hospitality industries. On top of this, the government intends to increase income tax for all PAYE taxpayers who earn over $21,000 per year. Is that fair?

The cut in penalty rates is a cruel blow to hardworking Australians. It comes at the same time as the Reserve Bank sounds the alarm bells on slow wages growth and the very real impact this will have on Australians' standard of living.

Ms Price: What about those Coles workers? Where was Labor then?

Ms McBRIDE: I will take your interjection about Coles workers. Retail workers in my community are worse off. They are worse offup to $77 per week worse off. The cut in penalty rates is a cruel blow to hardworking Australians, and it comes at the same time as the Reserve Bank sounds the alarm bells on slow wages growth and the very real impact this will have on Australian standards of living. The government can no longer claim that this is the work of an independent judicial body. They had a chance to support Labor's legislation overriding this decision, and they did not. The Turnbull government made its position very clear by voting to support this massive cut to the wages of low paid Australians. To make matters worse, Australian families will be confronted by massive hikes in their electricity bills from 1 July, thanks to this government's flip-flop on energy policy.

But Mr Turnbull's attacks on fairness do not end there. While he constantly asks Australians to tighten their belts, he and Treasurer Scott Morrison have completely lost control of the country's finances. Gross debt will shortly reach three-quarters of a trillion dollarsthat is three-quarters of a trillion dollars! And the projected budget deficit has risen on 10 occasions since the confected 'budget emergency' was first mooted. He will not address the exceedingly generous tax concessions which heavily favour wealthy Australians and is committed to a $65 billion tax cut for big business.

We may now have a real budget emergency, thanks to this government, but, rather than saving money by not giving tax cuts to millionaires and big business and not subsidising the private investment which is driving up house prices, the government continues along the road of unfairness by cruel cuts to school funding. The government is trying desperately to push through $22 billion in cuts to the nation's schools. I quote from the minister representing the Minister for Education:

The member for Dobell has 44 schools in her electorate, which miss out on an average of $7.1 million each under the coalition's program, so she must go to the people of Dobell and explain why they are better off.

They are shameless! This is not even sham fairness from this government.