Posted on Monday, 19 June, 2017
Mr RAMSEY (Grey—Government Whip) (11:33): I want to focus particularly today on some propaganda that has been circulated in my electorate by the Australian Labor Party—by Senator Gallacher, in fact. Recently, people in the cities of the Spencer Gulf—Whyalla, Port Augusta and Port Pirie—received a DL in their mailboxes. There are a number of very ambitious claims in this DL around this issue of penalty rates. Firstly, there is an outright mistruth, in that it says that Rowan Ramsey has voted in favour of cuts to penalty rates. In fact, we have not had a motion in this House that has come to a vote. While I may support the decision by Fair Work Australia in principle, I have not voted on this issue. It is a lie. It is simply not true. But, probably more instructively—and it is always very interesting to look at how these claims on propaganda are phrased, how they are couched—there is a claim that up to, and I emphasise the words 'up to,' 10,818 people in the electorate of Grey are going to lose wages as a result of the penalty rate decision. Clearly that is not completely wrong. 'Up to' could mean anything from zero to 10,818. I had a look at the figure of 10,818. Remember that the independent organisation Fair Work Australia, staffed largely by people appointed by the previous regime, the Labor government—the five commissioners who sat on this decision were appointed by either Julia Gillard or the now Leader of the Opposition, Mr Shorten—came to this independent decision, but it only relates to the hospitality and retail sector. I think to myself, 'How on earth will I find 10,818 workers in hospitality and retail working on a Sunday or holiday Monday?' considering that those who work for McDonald's, KFC and other large national chains are not affected by this decision because the union has already cut a deal on their penalty rates and they work at a lower rate than those who are working for small business.
Grey is a regional country electorate. There is not much open on a Sunday and there is even less open on a holiday Monday. In the larger centres—those being the four small cities of Whyalla, Port Augusta, Port Pirie and Port Lincoln—stores like Woolworths and Coles are open, but, blow me down, they are unaffected by this decision as well. So, on Sundays and holiday Mondays, the largest employers are not actually affected by the decision. The small cafes—the family type cafes—are affected by the decision, but unfortunately they are largely already shut. I could drive from town to town and would find one outlet open—maybe a roadhouse or maybe a hotel. In the case of the small towns, the hotels and roadhouses have their families working on the weekends. I wonder why that is. Perhaps it has something to do with penalty rates. In fact, I was talking to a pizza shop owner in Port Augusta a couple of years ago. He told me that on a holiday Monday he had to pay his pizza delivery boy $48 an hour. What a preposterous arrangement that is. I wonder how many pizzas he would have to buy the ingredients for, make, sell and deliver just to pay his driver's wages. He too was using his family to staff his pizza shop on those Sundays and Mondays.
The decision by Fair Work Australia is fairly justified. It is a moderate reform and it must help to generate more jobs. Perhaps that pizza shop owner will take a Sunday or holiday Monday off, spend it with his kids and put some staff in the shop as a result of it. It is an opportunity for young Australians. The decision by the Labor Party to oppose the reforms of their Fair Work Australia is disgraceful.