The Hodgman Liberal Government had an opportunity today to support workers who are facing cuts to their penalty rates. Once again, they have let Tasmanian workers down by refusing to support a Parliamentary Inquiry into the social and economic cost of the Fair Work Commission’s decision to cut rates in the retail, hospitality, fast food and pharmacy industries.
The motion put forward by Labor and supported by the Greens was voted down by members of the Liberal Party.
“It is hollow for the Treasurer to state that the Liberal Government in Tasmania backs penalty rates but then do nothing to actually fight for the wages of low paid workers in our community,” said Jessica Munday, Unions Tasmania Secretary.
“A parliamentary inquiry would have allowed us to gather the many local stories of workers and highlight the impact cuts to penalty rates would have on families right across Tasmania”.
It is not enough for State political leaders to shirk responsibility to their Federal counterparts.
“If the State Liberal Government were about supporting penalty rates, they would be lobbying Malcolm Turnbull and the Federal Coalition to stop these cuts. They would have backed a Parliamentary Inquiry so they had the best and most accurate information with which to argue the case for penalty rates for Tasmanians.”
“Protection of penalty rates is an issue for all levels of Government,” said Ms Munday.
“We know the economic consequences for Tasmania are substantial. Research from the McKell Institute* shows that Tasmanian workers will lose $56 million dollars per year due to penalty rate cuts. This is a cut that these workers can’t afford and don’t deserve.”
The Hodgman Liberal Government had an opportunity to make a submission to the Fair Work Commission before the decision to cut penalty rates was handed down. They didn’t. They had another opportunity to stand up for penalty rates today and again, they chose not to.