Senate builds pressure on government over minimum wage and penalty rates

The Senate today backed a Greens push to remove the minimum wage and penalty rates from the Productivity Commission’s workplace relations review, building pressure on the Abbott government to declare its hand on the issues, said Greens Deputy Leader and spokesperson for workplace relations Adam Bandt MP.

“Last week, Minister Abetz declared the government would not touch the minimum wage or penalty rates after the next election and that he was ‘surprised’ the Productivity Commission was looking at the issues,” said Mr Bandt.

“Minister Abetz can’t feign surprise at the Productivity Commission inquiry into the minimum wage but then let that part of the inquiry continue.”

“The government now has a clear choice, to take the minimum wage and penalty rates off the table or let the Productivity Commission develop a blueprint for future Abbott government attacks.”

Greens Senator Janet Rice, who moved the motion in the Senate, said: “Rallies of tens of thousands of Australians across the country show real community concern about the fate of the minimum wage and penalty rates.”

“The government must now listen to the Senate and the people of Australia and remove reviewing the minimum wage and penalty rates from the Productivity Commission’s inquiry,” said Senator Rice.

“The Greens will always fight to protect people’s rights at work, including a decent minimum wage and proper rates for working unsociable hours,” said Mr Bandt.

Media contact: Adam Pulford, 0429 109 054

Motion (co-sponsored by The Greens and Labor):

We give notice that on the next day of sitting we shall move that –

That the Senate notes:

1. The Productivity Commission has indicated it would examine penalty rates and the minimum wage in its inquiry into the workplace relations framework;
2. The Employment Minister has expressed surprise at the Productivity Commission examining penalty rates and the minimum wage and has ruled out any changes even if the inquiry recommends them; and
3. The Employment Minister has at Estimates subsequently refused to rule out a review of penalty rates;

Calls on:

1. The Government to provide certainty to workers and businesses by directing the Productivity Commission to exclude the minimum wage and penalty rates from its inquiry into the workplace relations framework.

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