Two of Tasmania’s federal MPs joined forces with the chair of the Australian Jobs Taskforce in Launceston on Friday to discuss the impact of penalty rate cuts on regional workers.
Member for Bass Ross Hart, Member for Lyons Brian Mitchell and their labor counterpart Susan Lamb, who heads the taskforce, said the Tasmanian economy will be hurt by “these unfair cuts”.
“We heard from a hospitality worker today who felt that she was lucky she didn’t have a family she had to support because in six weeks time she was going to be getting a pay cut,” Ms Lamb said.
“The sad part of that story is that she is not alone … we are hearing about people [nation-wide] and the impacts that a penalty rate cut will have.”
Mr Hart said there were real consequences for the Northern economy.
“The data I have seen suggests that there is $12 million worth of potential economic activity lost in Bass if there are cuts to penalty rates,” he said.
“There are real consequences to people in Bass.”
While only hospitality and retail workers will be affected by cuts from July 1, Mr Mitchell said there are real fears for those in the health, cleaning and security sectors.
“What we are hearing is that while those workers are not subject to these cuts in the future when their EBAs come up, with these awards being cut, they know that employers will start saying that this is the new normal,” he said.
“It will flow though the entire economy and that’s bad for business.”
Mr Mitchell said cuts to penalty rates were bad for small businesses because it would lead to a reduction n the disposable income of consumers.
Underemployment also featured during the hearing.
“We heard in particular about the failure of Gunns and the consequential flow-on effect in regional communities, people lose their main breadwinner and it has an effect on the local supermarket and local stores,” Mr Hart said.
The taskforce will continue its tour of the country in Western Australia.