COVID-19 Vaccinations for medical services

Tuesday November 30, 2021

Mr BELL: We have this classic case here at the moment. On this side, we are hearing all about workers, and that is very important. I have worked at Coles stacking shelves, my son works at Coles, all my kids work. However, there is also the other side, and that is business owners who have done it tough for two years, who choose whether to open or close over this period.

This is where the competitive tension in the debate should be, and it is good to have healthy debate in this chamber around that. The simple reality—and I think people are forgetting this—is that this is only when Christmas Day falls on a Saturday. It is something I am very hopeful the next government will give serious consideration to and fix once and for all.

We have to get that balance right. In my opinion, Christmas Day is the most important day to have penalty rates, for that Saturday when it falls on a Saturday. Yes, this is a compromise. Some people say they do not compromise and all the rest of it, but the reality is that if this bill is rejected and the numbers stack up so that Christmas Day is not a penalty rate day, a public holiday, workers are going to be left worse off.

We will go from what is the currently proposed four-day holiday or penalty rate period—Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday—back to a 3½ day public holiday penalty rate system—Friday 7pm to midnight, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday. This amendment actually brings us into line with every other state except Queensland. Other people say the Northern Territory, but the Northern Territory does not have the Sunday as a penalty rate day either.

All I am trying to do is make Christmas Day a penalty rate day, a public holiday. That is what this bill achieves. If it is defeated, or a subsequent bill is defeated, those workers will not have Christmas Day as a penalty rate day. That is a very important point to make.

One of the first things you learn in this place is how to count, and I am pretty sure the numbers are going to line up that Saturday is not a penalty rate day; that is Christmas Day, and those workers are going to be worse off. This chamber can do something about that; we can give a surety to business owners as well as workers.

I accept the argument that you should not be taking something away to give something else. That is true; however, we are at this point with 38 days to go before Christmas, and this amendment gives balance to both the business owners and, of course, the workers.