Posted on Monday, 27 March, 2017
Mr RAMSEY (Grey—Government Whip) (10:58): This bill put forward by the Leader of the Opposition—the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Take Home Pay) Bill 2017—is entirely disingenuous. He seems to not remember that he was responsible for setting up the Fair Work Commission, for staffing the Fair Work Commission and for triggering this inquiry. It really is the height of hypocrisy. One could not accuse the Leader of the Opposition of being cursed with a strong memory. In fact, in so many instances he has totally deserted the position that he took as little as 12 months ago. On a number of occasions in this chamber, the Prime Minister has highlighted where the Leader of the Opposition and the union movement have done deals with big business that cut penalty rates—deals with no reward for the workers but rewards for the unions, and a lot of those rewards are monetary. The other one, of course, is access to new workers for the purpose of recruiting them to the union. I am brought back to an occasion where a mother came to me, and her son was commencing work as a 16-year-old with KFC. KFC is one of those companies that has done a deal with the unions on penalty rates. As part of his first day induction, he was met by the union official with a view to signing him up to the union. This union official happened to be an ex-senator, an ex-member of the other place, in his 60s. What kind of power imbalance is that? You have this ex-senator, a man who had great authority in his own community, sitting on the other side of the desk from a 16-year-old and telling him that he must join the union. That is a standover tactic, and that is the deal that the union has done with, in this particular case, a big employer.
Since the announcement by Fair Work Australia that penalty rates for Sunday and Monday would be reduced by a margin—it must be said; if you read some of the emails, you would believe that they were actually getting rid of penalty rates, but that is far from the truth—basically, the only contact I have had complaining about this decision has been the formula emails, the campaign emails, that have come out of groups like GetUp! But I have not actually been contacted by a real-life individual telling me that this is going to be great problem to their existence. But, virtually daily, when I am in my electorate, I am contacted by young people who cannot get a job. They say, 'Mr Ramsey, do know anywhere I can get a job? Can you point me to someone who is taking on people?' When I look around and see some of the establishments that used to operate on Sundays and holiday Mondays that no longer do, I say, 'A few years ago, you could've got a job there.'
It is pretty tough. I remember speaking to a pizza shop owner, for instance, and he told me that on holiday Mondays he had to pay his pizza delivery boy $45 an hour to drop off pizzas. I do not know if any members of the Labor Party have bought a pizza lately. Perhaps you have, Mr Deputy Speaker Mitchell. But I can tell you, you have to sell an awful lot of pizzas to be able to pay someone $45 an hour to deliver them around the community. He said, 'On Sundays and holiday Mondays, my family are my staff.' They do not have any choice about the matter. He said, 'If I need to keep my doors open, and I do because I am a pizza shop, my family all have to work on those days.' So he does not really have the liberty to employ anyone, whether or not it be on penalty rates.
Penalty rates have robbed jobs from other people in the community already. Recently I was talking to a restaurant owner. This man employs around 30 people and he opens 365 days a year. I said to him, 'Chris, do you lose money on those high-operating-expense days?' He said, 'Yes, absolutely. We go backwards.' I said, 'Why do you open?' He said, 'Just so I can say that I open 365 days a year.' The reduction in these penalty rates does not affect the restaurant industry, and he said to me, 'Why aren't we in this as well?' What I can say is that those jobs, those 30 people he employs, are dependent on his pride—so he can say, 'We open 365 days a year.' But if he sells that restaurant, there is no guarantee that the next person will have that