Ministers statements: penalty rates

Ms HUTCHINS (Minister for Industrial Relations) — I rise to inform the house of terrible developments for hundreds of thousands of workers in the state of Victoria. Now that the Queen’s Birthday public holiday has passed, workers in the fast-food, hospitality, retail and pharmacy sectors will have their pay slashed for all future public holidays. In addition to this their take-home pay is about to spiral down. As of 1 July their weekend penalty rates will be reduced, resulting in thousands of dollars lost per year for those workers.

This government is opposed to cutting penalty rates and opposed to creating an underclass of already low-paid workers, whose weekends and time with family is not valued the same as everybody else’s. I do note that this house does not sit on Saturdays and Sundays.

Honourable members interjecting.

The SPEAKER — Order! The member for Gembrook and the member for Warrandyte will cease shouting.

Ms HUTCHINS — One in six Victorian workers rely on award wages and penalty rates to make ends meet. This decision will cause hardship for low-paid workers, especially for women and rural workers. And, yes, I am going to talk about regional Victoria, because regional Victorians — —

Honourable members interjecting.

The SPEAKER — Order! The member for Eltham! The Attorney-General! The member for Burwood on a point of order, in silence.

Mr Watt — On a point of order, Speaker, the minister is clearly reading her speech. I ask you to get her to table it.

The SPEAKER — Order! Is the minister reading her speech or referring to notes?

Honourable members interjecting.

The SPEAKER — Order! The member for Hawthorn is warned. The minister, to continue.

Ms HUTCHINS — I know those on the opposite side get excited when I mention women workers and the effects on them. But getting to rural and regional workers and how they are affected by these penalty cuts, in terms of local economies and local communities that are going to be affected, when there is less take-home pay for workers in these sectors, there is less expenditure in local communities, in local cafes and in local economies. Who opposite will actually stand up for these workers, like Nationals MP George Christensen has done in the federal Parliament? I know who will stand up on this side. No-one stands up on that side for workers in this state.