Restaurateur supports review of penalty rates

LONG-TIME restaurateur Don Cameron believes a national review of public holiday wage rates has to occur otherwise more and more businesses would close, leaving holidaymakers stranded.

The owner of Mud Bar Restaurant in Launceston said hospitality businesses were essentially at the point of providing a community service to open on public holidays for tourists and locals to eat because it did not add up for them to do it.

This is despite the 10 per cent surcharge added to the bill.

Mr Cameron said although it was a busy three days of service for the Seaport business, he may only just break even at the end of the Easter long weekend, ``So what was the point?'' he said.

Mud Bar Restaurant closed on Good Friday and closes each Christmas Day as well as the long weekends in June and November, but otherwise operates as normal every other day.

He said this was not only a Tasmanian problem but occurred around the country.

``Tourists are walking around here and they're asking are you open, are you open, when do you open and they're demanding to get in because they can't find anywhere else that's open,'' Mr Cameron said.

``So from a tourism point of view if you're closed, it's a very bad look.''

In line with legal requirements, Mr Cameron must pay staff double time and a half.

He said he was in no way having a go at staff, but at the system that saw a person washing dishes being paid about $54 an hour yesterday.

Mr Cameron said this went beyond public holiday penalty rates but also Saturdays and Sundays _ because if you choose to work in the hospitality industry, it should be obvious that hospitality is not just a Monday-to-Friday, 9-to-5 occupation.

Canton Restaurant manager Noel Chung said penalty rates were always an issue but he ultimately believed it would break even by the end of the weekend.

He said it was well known by its regulars and some tour operators for being open on public holidays and for this, it regularly had groups come through on these days.

On Saturday it had two tour groups, as well as a group of 17, which left it to the last minute to find a restaurant. Every other place the group phoned was closed or could not accommodate it.

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