Penalty Rates

22 March 2017

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I thank Mr Pettersson for moving this motion today.

Canberrans working in retail, hospitality, fast food and accommodation services are facing unprecedented cuts to their take home pay as a result of the Fair Work Commission’s decision to cut penalty rates.

This morning I would like to take the opportunity to highlight the impact these cuts will have on those working in the clubs and accommodation services industries.

We know these people work tirelessly for long hours to be able to provide for themselves and their families.

A reduction in their take home pay will have lasting impacts on their health, wellbeing and their financial position.

There are many workers in this industry who have shared their stories of how cuts to weekend and public holiday rates will affect them.

I would like to share a story from one Canberran who will be impacted by the unfair changes to penalty rates.

David is a young man working at the Hyatt. He has been a hard working and loyal employee there for five years and he works every weekend, taking pride in his work. 

The Hyatt is not a small employer, it employees approximately 400 workers.

The majority of staff at one time or another will be rostered to work on the weekend and they will be hurt by this change.

These workers, like David, have come from all over the world to make Canberra their home.

What have they done to deserve to have their wages cut?

David cannot understand why the Fair Work Commission has decided to make his life so much harder and why the Federal Government won’t introduce laws to protect hard working Australians.

This is just one example of the thousands of Canberrans who will be faced with no other choice than to work more hours, or find a second or third job just to make ends meet from July 1 this year.

The cut to penalty rates is already starting to affect the future of wages and conditions in awards in a variety of other employment sectors.

Canberrans working in local clubs are facing an attack from business groups and potentially even their employers.

While this first decision of the Fair Work Commission doesn’t have an impact on workers in our local clubs,

the Commission has called for Clubs Australia and “other interested parties” to lodge submissions to assist in the determination of the future of penalty rates in the award.

Workers in this industry are now vulnerable to losing a significant amount of their take home pay just like those in the retail and hospitality sectors.

Local clubs need to stand up for their workers and show that clubs are still operating in the interests of our community. 


We cannot stand aside and allow Canberrans to be treated in such a cruel and unfair manner.

I note the work that United Voice is doing to protect the wages of these workers and the important actions they are taking to ensure employees’ rights at work are protected.

Without strong union representation in these industries, employers and big business will have the power to slash the wages and working conditions of their hard working employees.

I strongly commend United Voice for continuing to fight for their members and workers in the hospitality and other affected industries.


Labor and the union movement will always stand up for workers in our community.

In contrast, we see a divided Opposition with several Canberra Liberals at odds with one another on this issue.

Claiming that this is an issue for the Federal Parliament and therefore we should not be discussing the rights of Canberra workers is absolute nonsense.

We as elected representatives have a responsibility to stand up and advocate for our constituents and especially for low paid, vulnerable members of our community.

At a time when the Liberals both locally and federally are running their anti-worker agendas, the ACT Government is doing all that it can to fight these brutal cuts.

Canberrans can trust that Labor will always stand up and fight for their working conditions.

We have a strong track record in doing so and I know all of my colleagues are passionate to continue this work.

This motion is of significant importance to the lives of Canberrans and I urge all members to support it.