ABC 612 Drive, 27 February 2017




SUBJECT/S: Penalty rates.

EMMA GRIFFITHS: Graham Perrett is the Federal Member for the South Brisbane seat of Moreton.  Graham Perrett, is Labor running a scare campaign over this?

GRAHAM PERRETT, MEMBER FOR MORETON:  G’day Emma.  Well it’s important that we do get some facts out and, obviously, when you are going to be impacting on the pay packets of nearly 600,000 to 700,000 people, it’s important that they do understand the context.  And I know that Trevor Evans made a few comments there, but he didn’t say that nearly 60 or 70 of his own colleagues had called for cuts to penalty rates before this decision was handed down.

GRIFFITHS: But how do you know Graham Perrett exactly how many people are going to be affected by this.  Trevor Evans said those figures are not going to be borne out?

PERRETT: Well, we look at those covered by the awards - the four awards that have been affected by this decision by the Fair Work Commission - so that’s a pretty good starting point.  Obviously, enterprise bargaining rates, which are always above award rates, means that some won’t be counted, but it will change the flavour of negotiations.  Not just for the hospitality, retail and fast food sectors but for all employers that are sitting down with their employees.  It will change the flavour for those that do weekend work.  You can’t tell me that it won’t.  It is going to send a message to employers about what should be on the table.  Whereas once upon a time it was accepted by all in Australia that Sunday was a special day.  I know that when Trevor worked for the Retailer’s Association, if you phoned them on a Sunday you got their answering machine.  They weren’t at work on a Sunday.  Why?  Because society has said that Sunday is a special day and if you have to work you should be remunerated differently.

GRIFFITHS: Graham Perrett, isn’t it more important to hire more people?  If what this results in is lower unemployment around Brisbane, isn’t that better?

PERRETT: Look, unemployment is an issue, a serious issue.  We have had nearly 40,000 more unemployed people in those recent figures.  I don’t think there has been a full-time job created under the current Liberal Government.  So yes, unemployment is an issue, but it is going to be no comfort to the majority of women that are employed in these sectors or the Uni students by saying ‘oh guess what, your pay packet is going down $77 a week but someone else will get a job’.  Now, that is good that someone else gets a job if that is in fact what takes on and businesses don’t just pocket this as profit.  Obviously, I want to see people off the unemployment queues, but it is a slightly specious argument to say that it is one or the other surely.

GRIFFITHS: Isn’t there also an issue essentially with Labor arguing against this now?  It’s an independent body, Fair Work Australia, and it was Labor that first asked the Fair Work Commission to look at penalty rates and now you’re claiming what, review?  Or the umpire’s got it wrong?  Isn’t that quite opportunistic?

PERRETT: Well look any legislation that comes in should be reviewed sporadically, regularly just to make sure that it is doing the right thing?  That’s nothing.  All good governments do that.

GRIFFITHS: But Bill Shorten said he would accept the decision of the independent umpire?

PERRETT: Well look we had some independent umpires hand down some decisions on safe rates when it came to trucking.  Malcolm Turnbull turned around and said I didn’t agree with that umpire - threw it out.  We had the independent umpire make some decisions when it comes to the Victorian Country Fire Authority, Malcolm Turnbull didn’t agree with that decision and threw that out.  Suddenly for this, where we’ve had a decision that is going to affect incredible numbers of people – 600,000, 700,000 people – and they’re the people in our society who need money most.  They’re the lowest wages – as I said a majority of women – that’s why we’ve said, alright we obviously believe in the umpire but, you know in cricket you sometimes send something off to the third umpire and rugby league you send something off to the bunker just to have a look at the decision of the referee or the umpire.  And obviously we’re the Labor Party so when you’ve got a decision that’s going to have a great impact on so many poorer people we’ve got to have a look at it.  Have a look at that decision and the circumstances that created that decision.  That’s why Bill Shorten introduced the legislation today that would mean that we weren’t cutting up to 700,000 ordinary workers’ wages.

GRIFFITHS: Ok.  Graham Perrett thanks very much for your time.

PERRETT: Alright, thanks very much.  Good to talk to you Emma.

GRIFFITHS: That’s the Labor Member for Moreton.


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