Apr 7, 2015

The dirty secret of penalty rate opponents: business is booming

Far from being "crippled" or "killed" by penalty rates, Australia's cafe and restaurant sector is growing so fast it will soon overtake manufacturing.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

The inconvenient truth of the penalty rates debate is that, far from being destroyed by penalty rates as employers and right-wing lobbyists claim, Australia's cafe and restaurant sector is booming and in recent years has been one of Australia's fastest-growing sectors and employers. The Easter break brought plenty of wild rhetoric from business groups penalty rates, echoing long-running themes from the Coalition and the Right generally about the destructive nature of penalty rates -- that they are "crippling" businesses that want to open on public holidays and weekends, that they are "killing" restaurants, that penalty rates "cost jobs"; that penalty rates are "out of touch" with community values. Alas, hard data shows that's wrong, wrong and wrong. If, as the Institute of Public Affairs claimed in 2012, penalty rates are killing the cafe and restaurants sector, it's lately undergone an Easter-like resurrection, because it is now one of the fastest-growing business sectors in the entire economy. ABS data on business numbers released in March shows that the net rate of growth in businesses in cafes and restaurants is far higher than in the overall economy.

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21 thoughts on “The dirty secret of penalty rate opponents: business is booming

  1. Chris Hartwell

    Indeed, it must be asked if penalty rates are in line with community expectations.

    Because apparently, there’s a sizeable number of folks – on both sides of the political spectrum – who think they’re too low.

  2. MJPC

    BK, good comments on the Tele, which purports to be the volkspaper yet, in reality, is the mouthpiece of any effort to screw the lowest paid in society.
    As for M/s Carnell, you missed out that she is also a staunch advocate for getting rid of the minimum wage. No one has yet asked her if penalty rates are eliminated will there be a corresponding lowering of the costs paid by customers…not on your nelly!
    Capitalise the profits, socialise the losses is Kate’s credo.

  3. jmendelssohn

    What these dummies complaining about penalty rates don’t get is that the only reason people agree to work unreasonable hours is because of the pay. Cut the pay and the quality employees won’t be available (skilled baristas can name their own rates and good chefs are priceless). Then Kate Carnell etc can endlessly complain about how good help is hard to find.

  4. Fred Drebb

    Dead on jmendelssohn, also I am only too happy to pay a surcharge for out of hours service to cover penalty rates, people have to have a decent life unlike the sort of society Carnell envisages as long as she and her IPA ilk are at the top of the feeding chain of course.

  5. klewso

    Carnell carries on as though she’s still a Liberal Chief Minister.

  6. SirDougless

    I wonder what percentage of the “cafe and restaurant sector” pay award rates, let alone penalty rates. I suspect more than 50% of these businesses pay ‘cash in hand’. No award, no tax, no super.

  7. Bill Hilliger

    Just saw stand up comedienne for the umpteenth time on ABC News 24, same old routine, and completely out of touch with reality.

  8. Liz Connor

    Don’t forget that most permanent, ie non-casual, workers get paid for public holidays without working at all.

  9. sang-froid

    Maybe it’s an opportunity – a rural country market last saturday, a baker selling artisan bread for cash added £1 per loaf to cover the higher easter wages.

  10. Hugh (Charlie) McColl

    sang-froid, who pays £1 for anything? Are you in a time warp (ie. pre-1966 Australia) or another country?

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