Ministers statements: penalty rates
Ms HUTCHINS (Minister for Industrial Relations) — I rise to advise the house of the disappointing further news around the Fair Work Commission’s decision to cut penalty rates, affecting Victorian workers in this state. We are considering making a further submission to the commission on the transitional provisions as we go ahead.
I would like to reflect on the fact that I had the ability last week to visit Westfield Doncaster in the seat of Bulleen and talk to a range of retail workers there who rely on their incomes on a Sunday and who are going to be affected by this cut of up to $72 per week. Now $72 might be a bottle of wine for those on that side, but for retail workers, that is $72 per week.
Mr Clark — On a point of order, Speaker, this issue will be an important test of how you intend to conduct your rulings on this matter as Speaker. The Minister for Industrial Relations is proceeding to debate a matter and is proceeding to call upon the opposition in relation to certain matters. Her responsibility is to advise the house about various matters, not to debate it and not to make calls upon the opposition. I ask you to rule that the Minister for Industrial Relations is out of order and require her to comply with sessional orders.
Ms HUTCHINS — On the point of order, Speaker, I was not calling on anything from the other side. I was actually stating the facts of how these decisions are affecting Victorian workers.
The SPEAKER — Order! The minister to continue, but I ask the minister to confine her comments to making a statement about those matters relating to her portfolio, just as is declared in the sessional orders.
Ms HUTCHINS — In visiting those workers at Westfield Doncaster, they spelled out for me that that $72 a week that is going to be slashed — that is at least $72 a week — will be all the difference for them in being able to pay their rent, in being able to get to work and cover their travel costs.
Honourable members interjecting.
The SPEAKER — Order! The member for Eltham will come to order, as will the members on my left.
Ms HUTCHINS — Of course I am extremely disappointed in the Turnbull government’s actions in not standing up and making a submission to the Fair Work Commission’s inquiry into this. They do not care about retail workers. They do not care about hospitality workers, fast-food workers or pharmacy workers.
Mr Clark — On a point of order, Speaker, the minister is defying your ruling. She is now proceeding to make reflections upon the opposition rather than complying with your ruling to advise the house about matters relating to her portfolio. It would be in order to talk about Mr Shorten’s contribution to this issue about the Fair Work Commission, but it is not in order for her to make reflections on the opposition.
The SPEAKER — Order! The minister to confine her comments to matters related to her portfolio.
Ms HUTCHINS — Those opposite are not listening, as usual. I was reflecting on the commonwealth, but let us talk about your stance. We had the Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, who came out last week — —
Honourable members interjecting.
The SPEAKER — Order! I do not think it assists any members if people are shouting across the table at each other.
Mr Clark — On a point of order, Speaker, you have twice counselled the minister to comply with sessional orders. It is difficult for you to hear above the noise from behind her, but she is continuing to defy your ruling. I ask you to have her either comply with your ruling or to cease her statement.
The SPEAKER — Order! I again ask the minister to come back to talking about issues related to her portfolio.
Ms HUTCHINS — We have heard confusion from the other side. Will they stand up for workers? Will they defend penalty rates?
The SPEAKER — Order! The minister will resume her seat.