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Issue #1779      May 31, 2017


“Wages growth is at an all-time low and any cut to penalty rates will simply exacerbate cost of living pressures, particularly for low wage earners who will bear the brunt. I would recommend Clubs Australia consider the fact that less money in workers’ pay packets is less money spent in their clubs,” said ACTU secretary Sally McManus. She was commenting on union United Voice protests aimed at protecting penalty rates for workers in Queensland’s licensed Clubs Australia venues. Unions call on these community-based Clubs to put the interests of their local community, and therefore their workers, first by committing to supporting penalty rates. There is strong support behind this campaign with 81 percent saying employees required to work outside normal working hours, should receive a higher hourly rate of pay and 63 percent saying those working Sundays should get higher rates of pay than those on a Saturday, according to a recent Essential Poll. “Clubs Australia shouldn’t be surprised that after pushing for penalty rate cuts they’ve received a backlash by employees and unions. Workers have the right to be angry and have been peacefully protesting. We won’t stop speaking out against these unfair wage cuts just because Club Australia don’t want to hear it,” said McManus.

Former Federal Treasurer Peter Costello urged Australians to go forth and multiply, so to speak. His call to have one child “for Mum, one for Dad and one for the country” is still well remembered. We also remember Bob Hawke’s pledge that “no Australian child will live in poverty by the year 2000”. It’s 2017 and things have not gone according to plan. In the past two decades the number of children in care has risen from 14,000 to 43,399. It’s a huge increase in disadvantage that can have long-term effect on the children and their families. Bond University academic and paediatrician Professor Peter Jones threw the proverbial cat among the pigeons by suggesting that disadvantaged families should be encouraged to have fewer children by having their welfare benefits cut if they have more than two. It is already being discussed that welfare payments be capped at a certain number of children. It’s easy to whip up a loud campaign against people on welfare – there are enough loud-mouthed radio shocks to do that. Provocative statements and simplistic “solutions” do not address the causes of poverty. Lack of jobs and training, and health issues, the housing crisis – these are just a few reasons people may find themselves in dire financial circumstances and cannot cope.

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