Penalty Rates and Tasmania’s Tourism Industry

Penalty Rates and Tasmania’s Tourism Industry


Mr Deputy Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity
as we head into the holiday period to speak about the tourism industry in Tasmania, and
the hospitality workers that help to make it happen. The tourism industry in Tasmania directly
and indirectly contributes about $2.5 billion a year to Tasmania’s Gross State Product,
which is the highest economic contributor for any state in Australia. It directly supports 17,500 jobs and directly
and indirectly contributes the highest percentage of jobs to Tasmania’s employment at 15.3
percent of the total in the state. A total of 1.17 million people visited Tasmania
during the year and this does not include the burgeoning cruise ship industry. The tourism industry in Tasmania benefits
from the highly skilled workers in our hospitality industry. Hospitality can be a very rewarding career,
particularly in Tasmania. The opportunity to work on some of the most
pristine coast lines in the world at top class hotels, or in some of the country’s best
live music venues. Of course there are many workers who take
great pride in delivering coffee’s and beers at the local pub. It saddens me Mr Speaker, that there are those
in our community and indeed in this house that would see these hospitality workers that
deliver some of the finest food in the country, indeed in the world, to our tables take a
pay cut! Their ludicrous argument that the costs saved
to businesses would then be shared with other workers in the community, as jobs. The McKell institute produced a study in 2014
that examined the economic impact of penalty rate cuts in the retail sector of a rural
area of New South Wales and found that the retail workers there would lose millions of
dollars per year of take home pay. What effect would this have on this rural
economy? A loss of disposable income to the lowest
paid workers across rural NSW of possibly $11 million and it is precisely these workers
that keep our economy going. While it might be employers who create jobs
in in rural centres it’s the workers who consume that keep the local economies ticking
over. A research paper released last week by Citi
Research found that cutting penalty rates would increase earnings for shareholder by
up to 8%. One of the alternatives to an improved dividend
to the shareholder is a benefit to consumers. Nowhere does it suggest this reduction in
costs of human resources for a business would then be reinvested or spent on other human
resources. It doesn’t take an economic genius to know
that the market is designed to find the most efficient way of delivering services and products. Contrary to the arguments put forward by those
that would see the lowest paid workers in Australia paid less, a reduction in costs
simply goes to profit. As we head into the holiday season, Tasmanian
hospitality workers and their families have no idea as to whether they are about to receive
one of the biggest pay cuts in decades. Mr Deputy Speaker, what do penalty rates mean for
our lowest paid workers? Carol in Launceston works weekends in hospitality
and also is a full time foster parent to her nephew who has chronic health conditions. Any cut to the penalty rates will have a huge
impact on their family and Carol’s capacity to support and provide for her foster child,
it’s something she can’t afford and doesn’t deserve. There’s Lititia in Hobart who works in catering. Weekend rates for her mean the difference
between fresh or frozen vegetables for her family, and the ability to provide dance lessons
for her daughters. Any cut to the penalty rates will be a pay
cut they can’t afford and doesn’t deserve. Lititia knows that if weekend rates are cut,
her employer won’t put on more staff because they don’t need more staff, her employer will
just make a larger profit. Then there’s Kirsty from Hobart, who has built
a career for herself in hospitality. Every weekend she misses out on special events
with her family and friends in order to do her job. When we are out relaxing and enjoying ourselves
on Friday and Saturday nights, it is people like Kirsty who will be serving us and making
our precious weekends more enjoyable. This Christmas Day, Kirsty is likely to be
working again, whilst the rest of us are unwrapping presents and gorging on turkey, hams, prawns
and of course non-CUB beer. Of course, she would like to be fairly compensated
for that and, yet again, any move by the FWC to reduce penalty rates will result in a pay
cut that Kirsty can’t afford and doesn’t deserve. We in Labor understand that penalty rates
continue to be a fundamental part of a strong safety net for Australian workers, enabling
low income workers and workers in highly casualised industries to share in the nation’s economic
prosperity.

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