Aug 13, 2014

Another attack on the low-paid the last thing the Coalition needs

The call for the removal of penalty rates is the wrong fight at the wrong time for the government, which is why it was shut down quick smart yesterday.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

The speed with which Employment Minister Eric Abetz shut down another outbreak of speculation on dumping penalty rates yesterday reflects the extent to which, however much it may deny it, the budget has made the government worry a lot more about perceptions of fairness.

The penalty rates issue periodically erupts into public debate when business decides to make a concerted push, or lazy journalists go looking for a story about why their favourite coffee shop isn’t open on a Sunday, or both. In March, regional Coalition backbenchers tried to revive the issue. On Monday, it was Jamie Briggs, whom business has looked to for leadership on the issue given his role in crafting WorkChoices for the Howard government.

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31 thoughts on “Another attack on the low-paid the last thing the Coalition needs

  1. paddy

    Demolishing the facile rantings of Jamie Briggs and Dan Tehan, may well be like shooting slow fish in a small barrel Bernard.
    But at least you’re a good shot.
    Bang and bang indeed.

  2. klewso

    How can it be about “us (rich folk) and them (employees)” when them don’t matter?

  3. Dennis Bauer

    particularly wages of low-income earners, who spend far more of their discretionary income than higher-income earners, Exactly, which is really one good reason, amongst other reasons, the low-income earners should pay a lower tax?

  4. fractious

    Bullseye Bernard.

    One other thing about those working for 3/5th of nowt in the accommodation and food services sector is that many are students. Combine an attack on penalty rates with the significant rises in uni fees on the back of HoJo’s budget (assuming they get it through) and watch admissions plummet and homelessness and suicide skyrocket.

    Clever country my arse.

  5. klewso

    Alas for the Conservative “Age of Entitlement”?
    The Limited News Party can’t rely on Murdoch as much as they’re used, to carry the PR day.
    When it comes to positive PR/policy sell, it’s getting harder for his Limited News to do all that “heavy lifting” (that they used to be able to do when they Con-trolled most of what we got to read) – they’re competing with niche/social media now?

    [Anyway, why should the hoi polloi be able to celebrate an event like New Year’s eve, like “the more deserving”? Someone has to wait on them!]

  6. Robert Brown

    Ooh! Has Briggs let slip that the government about to declare New Years Eve a public holiday????

  7. bluepoppy

    Always a worry when Tories come up with dross like ‘them and us’. It is code for giving employers a free pass while further devaluing the input of labour. Otherwise the argument could equally be used for raising penalty rates and we know that is not Briggs’ or Tehan’s ultimate goal.

  8. Itsarort

    The one thing that can be controlled and is manageable for retailers and restaurateurs is staffing. The two things that are extraordinarily costly and can run wildly out of control are Landlords and Franchises. Why must we have to continually listen to disproportionate claims about staffing costs when some of the main killers of small business are rent and loan repayments.

  9. Dogs breakfast

    “[w]e cannot accept that on New Year’s Eve you can’t attend your ­favourite restaurant because it is impossible for that restaurant to pay its staff to open up””

    Robert Brown beat me to it. Yes, unless New Year’s Eve falls on a Saturday or a Sunday, then they won’t pay any penalty rates, or at least only the rates applicable to an afternoon shift or an evening shift (usually around 12.5% – 15%)

    From what I hear, most Saturdays and Sundays fall on Saturdays and Sundays. That’s a problem that the restaurants and retailers seem to manage around.

    The government is crazy to fight to change the penalty rates regime. All they need to do is to deem that from now on Saturdays will be known as ‘Gerbils’, thus attracting no penalty rates, and that Sunday will be henceforth known as ‘FrogsHollow’, thus attracting no penalty rates.

    Just not enough free thinkers in this government.

  10. Robert Brown

    Saturday could become “Frimorrow”
    Sunday is “New Weeks Eve”

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