Drilling down into penalty rates

Judy Bamberger writes: Re. “Productivity Commission fails to deliver for WorkChoices fans” (yesterday). The Productivity Commission proposes two significant changes to working conditions based on assumptions of questionable validity. Assumption #1:  Workers believe Sundays are no different from all other days. “Australian society expects to be able to shop, go to a pharmacy, and eat at cafes and restaurants on weekends.”  [PC Chairman Harris, 4 August]  Until medical offices, banks, government departments, plumbers, schools, etc are open on weekends as they are weekdays, and until voting and sports contests, including Grand Finals, are scheduled for weekdays, “Australian society expects” weekends to remain “special days.”
Assumption #2:  Workers will keep a job for a year while they’re being disadvantaged by their employers. The Productivity Commission recommends cutting Sunday penalty rates for hospitality and retail workers. A new Enterprise Contract includes a so-called “safeguard” where a worker could revert to her/his previous conditions after 12 months if the contract left the worker worse off.  Does the PC really believe any worker rendered disadvantaged would work a full 12 months and then try to change future conditions? What about the 12 months of disadvantage? Sunday workers often sacrifice family and personal time; they should be compensated accordingly. Perhaps Australian society needs to change its expectations of what’s available Sundays, or pay- up for disrupting people’s lives.

Someone else! Someone else!

Tony Timmins writes: Re. “Libs want Turnbull, Labor want anyone but Bill: Essential” (yesterday). My preference is for Malcolm Turnbull to be Prime Minister whilst leading the Labor Party. Do you think we could convince him to change sides if we guaranteed him the gig.

Speed cameras

Chokyi Nyingpo writes: Re. “Speed trials” (yesterday).

Quoting the Atlantic = mph
quoting AFR.com = mph
quoting the NYtimes = mph
quoting BBC.com = mph and kph
quoting news.com.au = kph

I converted nothing, merely cut and pasted from OS articles to illustrate the method so he’s got me. As I was raised under the imperial system and would not ever wish to cut and paste from a Limited News article, I unfortunately showed both my age and bias in only quoting from overseas journal reports.

On Cilla Black’s death

David Havyatt writes: Re. “Media briefs” (yesterday). I know the main story was the one about Ted Heath but I couldn’t help but like “Cilla knew she would die” headline. Does anyone NOT know that they will?

Benefits of spelling bees

Edward Zakrzewski writes: Re. “Do spelling bees teach L-I-T-E-R-A-C-Y?” (Monday). Elizabeth Griffiths made the comment that “recall was the lowest form of understanding”, suggesting it is of little or no importance. I would add that without recall we would be unable to comprehend, clarify, interpret, analyse or extrapolate. I suggest that recall is a little bit like petrol to a car — we can’t run without it.