Pressure to axe penalty rates

PRESSURE is building on the Abbott government to axe penalty rates after Liberal backbenchers renewed calls for quick change.

Launceston Chamber of Commerce's executive officer Maree Tetlow.

Launceston Chamber of Commerce's executive officer Maree Tetlow.

The debate was reignited by federal Liberal backbencher Alex Hawke on Thursday when he said that Sundays were no longer "sacrosanct".

He added it was not a big deal for people to work nights and weekends anymore.

Despite Prime Minister Tony Abbott's pre-election promise of no changes to penalty rates within his first term, Western Australia's Dennis Jensen reiterated Bob Alex Hawke's comments and said penalty rates were standing in the way of job growth.

Youth unemployment in Australia is at an all-time high of 14.1 per cent, with Launceston and North-East Tasmania higher than the national average at 17.7 per cent.

With unemployment rates continuing to rise, Launceston Chamber of Commerce's executive officer Maree Tetlow said "penalty rates have gone too far" and that they were standing in the way of business employing more young people.

Unions Tasmania secretary Kevin Harkins said the argument that penalty rates prevented businesses from hiring more workers was complete nonsense.

"Business will hire the workforce required to meet consumer demand for their products," he said.

"End of story."

Mr Harkins said young people working low paid jobs in hospitality and retail relied on penalty rates to make a decent income and the way to create jobs wasn't by cutting penalty rates but by building the economy.

"The best thing we can do to grow jobs in the economy for young people and all workers is to ensure we have strong consumer spending," he said.

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