Local, Independant and Effective

Penalty rates information

Posted June 23, 2017


There has been a lot of interest in my position on penalty rates, and some confusion and misinformation. Here are some answers to frequently asked questions.

What is your position on penalty rates?

I understand the deep and real concern people have about changes to penalty rates. My position has been consistent – I don’t believe politicians should set rates of pay. I don’t think people’s interests are well served by having Parliament override individual decisions of the Fair Work Commission.

Did you support cuts to penalty rates?

To clarify – the Parliament hasn’t passed any legislation to cut penalty rates. 

What’s all this about “pairs”?

A number of Private Members Bills have been introduced to Parliament that would change the rules about how the Fair Work Commission operates and could, I believe, undermine the FWC’s independence. On Tuesday 20 June these bills were brought in as amendments to another bill. Independent Member for Denison Andrew Wilkie was unavoidably called away from Parliament and asked me to form a “pair”. Pairing is a common convention that is observed by members of Parliament that allows the positions of each to be reflected in the outcome when members intended to vote in opposite ways. I would not have supported the amendments, and Mr Wilkie would have.

There is value in exploring the ways Parliament can improve confidence in the system for setting wages and conditions without undermining the independence of the FWC and I’m interested in people’s ideas. I am more than happy to talk through my position so please call, email or write.

I have encouraged the unions to take their argument back to the Fair Work Commission and continue to engage with the positive process that led to the recent rise in the minimum wage.

- Cathy