Autumn 2017

Youth coordinator opposes penalty rate cuts

Michael Walter, a youth engagement coordinator at the St Vincent de Paul Society in Victoria, used an appearance on ABC television’s Q&A program on 27 February to make the point that some individuals would lose up to $6000 a year.

‘How will the government support these individuals with the sudden change to their income?’, Michael wanted to know.

Screen shot of Michael Walter on ABC Television’s Q&A program.

Special Minister of State, Scott Ryan, told him people would still get paid more for working on a Sunday than a Monday, and that he understood tens of thousands of new jobs would potentially be created. ‘Now, if you particularly go to regional areas where you might see a little strip of shops, penalty rates have been keeping some of those cafes and places like that closed. So, we will see some increased employment opportunities.’

Labor frontbencher Clare O’Neil, who was also on the panel, had a different view.

She argued the government was avoiding discussing the impact of reduced pay on some members of the community, by discussing ‘process’ and ‘who did this and who set up which piece of legislation.’

‘That is exactly what the government wants you to be talking about and thinking about right now because they don’t want to talk about the substance of this,’ she said.

‘And that is a very fundamental question about our country. Exactly how unequal are we willing to allow Australia to become? Now, this is a direct pay cut for 700,000 of the poorest paid people in this country. More likely to be women, more likely to be migrants, more likely to be not very well educated.’

Others on the panel included disruptive sustainability advocate Leyla Acaroglu, philosopher and ethicist Peter Singer, and former Abbott Government adviser, Ted Lapkin.

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