Another 90,000 Australians could lose their penalty rates because Scott Morrison refuses to protect the pay and conditions of ordinary workers.

Up to 700,000 retail, fast food, hospitality and pharmacy workers have already had their weekend and public holiday penalty rates slashed under the Liberals.

There is no evidence these cuts have produced any jobs, like the Liberals promised. Even the Council of Small Business admits the new jobs have not materialised.

Nonetheless, the penalty rates of hair and beauty workers are now in the firing line.

If these cuts go ahead these already low-paid workers – the vast majority of them women – will find it harder to pay the rent, cover the bills and look after their families.

It will also embolden employers in other industries to seek further penalty rate cuts. This should worry every Australian.

If this tired third-term Government wants to stimulate the economy the last thing it should be doing is standing idly by while people’s pay and conditions are cut.

But it is what we have come to expect from a Government that admits low wages are a deliberate design feature of its economic policies and a PM who has voted eight times against restoring penalty rates.

Penalty rates are not a luxury – they help people put food on the table and petrol in the car.

They can make the difference for people struggling to pay the electricity bill, the private health insurance premiums or child care costs – all of which keep soaring under the Liberals.


Tony Burke