Ministers statements: penalty rates

Ms HUTCHINS (Minister for Industrial Relations) — I rise to inform the house about some very important matters in my industrial relations portfolio, in particular some recent developments that I am very disappointed to announce to the house — the fact that the Fair Work Commission is looking to further cut penalty rates across new sectors that were not announced in the recent decisions. Those sectors will include — —

Mr Clark — On a point of order, Speaker, in relation to the sub judice convention, the minister in her statement said, as I heard her, that the Fair Work Commission was about to further cut penalty rates. Now, the president of the Fair Work Commission is a judicial officer and also a member of the Federal Court. I raise with you whether or not by asserting a state of knowledge or an assumption about the conclusions that are about to be reached by the Fair Work Commission on a matter currently before the commission the minister is in fact infringing the sub judice convention and ought to be instructed not to reflect upon — or indeed to anticipate or reveal any degree of insight or inside knowledge she may have — what the Fair Work Commission may be about to decide.

The SPEAKER — Order! I do remind all honourable members of the sub judice convention. I ask the minister to continue her statement.

Ms HUTCHINS — That further consideration being given by the Fair Work Commission will actually take place later this month. There will be hearings, and I anticipate that there will be a decision in both the hair and beauty industry and in the restaurant industry.

Honourable members interjecting.

The SPEAKER — Order! The member for Warrandyte!

Ms HUTCHINS — This comes on top of the last few weeks when we have seen such significant cuts — many of these $72 — that are going to affect so many workers out there. I draw the attention of the member for Kew with respect to a constituent of his who contacted my office this morning, John Weber, a university student who relies on working two jobs, one in a bottle shop on a Sunday.

Facing these penalty rate cuts, he is considering leaving university because he cannot make ends meet. He is constantly juggling whether he goes to class or whether he works, and those cuts to penalty rates, particularly those on a Sunday and a public holiday, will mean he loses on average around $117. We know that this is not going to stop just at this industry and that this is going to continue to roll out into other industries.

Mr Clark — On a point of order, Speaker, the member is defying your ruling and again infringing the sub judice convention and obligation by saying that these penalty rate cuts will continue to roll out across various sectors. She is anticipating a matter that is currently before the Fair Work Commission, and she should be instructed not to do so.

The SPEAKER — Order! I remind the member of the convention. I think it is relevant for the minister to be able to talk about the impact of cuts to penalty rates but not to reflect on the proceedings of the Fair Work Commission.

Mr Watt — On a point of order, Speaker, I fail to see how the minister’s statement relates at all to government business, and I would ask you to bring her back to a statement on government business which relates to her portfolio. I have listened to her for 1 minute and 53 seconds, and not once has she spoken about anything that relates to government business, and the whole purpose of ministers statements is to raise issues with regard to her portfolio and government business.

The SPEAKER — Order! I thank the member for Burwood for his point of order. I do not need the member for Burwood to shout his points of order. I am quite capable of hearing his points of order.

Ms Allan — On the point of order, Speaker, the member for Burwood is very quick to jump to his feet on frivolous points of order. It is a shame he would not rise to his feet to support Rosie Batty when she addressed this Parliament. I ask you to rule it out of order.

Honourable members interjecting.

The SPEAKER — Order! Members on my right! The Minister for Tourism and Major Events is warned.

Mr Gidley — On the point of order, Speaker, I rise to support the point of order made by the member for Burwood. Not only has the minister not been relevant to Victorian government initiatives, I fail to see how detailing hypotheticals that the Labor Party may seek to celebrate, and that is proceedings ahead in the Fair Work Commission — hypotheticals in relation to outcomes — can have any bearing whatsoever on her role and current Victorian government business.

Ms HUTCHINS — On the point of order, Speaker, the relevance of my comments go to the fact that this government has put in a submission not only to the Productivity Commission, not only to the Fair Work Commission but also on minimum rates of pay, and they are very significant pieces of this government’s business.

Honourable members interjecting.

The SPEAKER — The minister would have been wise to mention that at the start of her statement. I draw the attention of members to sessional order 5:

Ministers statements

After each oral question without notice and any related supplementary questions, any minister may seek the call to make a statement of up to 2 minutes to advise the house about matters related to their portfolio.

This matter is within the minister’s portfolio, and as there is a government submission being made to this process, I allow her to continue, noting there are only 7 seconds on the clock.

Mrs Fyffe — On a point of order, Speaker, chapter 20 of Rulings from the Chair highlights the main principles of taking points of order, and I would bring you down to paragraph (5), which says:

Members must not use points of order to make imputations or reflect on a member.

The Leader of the House did that in making her point of order and reflected on the member for Burwood.

Honourable members interjecting.

The SPEAKER — Order! Members on my right! The member for Eltham is warned.

If the member for Burwood had an issue with that matter, it was within his right to seek a withdrawal.

Ms HUTCHINS — I am happy to inform the house that this government will continue to stand up for penalty rates, unlike those opposite, who had nothing to say on this issue.

Honourable members interjecting.

The SPEAKER — Order! The member for Warrandyte seems to want to assist the Chair in the performance of his role. If he persists with that, he will leave the chamber.