Pharmacist pollie condemns pay cut

Emma McBride

Emma McBride has taken aim at cuts to penalty rates, describing the PM’s decision to support cuts as “unconscionable”

Ms McBride, a registered pharmacist and the Labor member for the NSW Central Coast electorate of Dobell, posted on Facebook the tale of a single mother constituent who relies on penalty rates to get by.

“Hundreds of thousands of Australian workers rely on penalty rates,” Ms McBride told Parliament.

“Penalty rates are there to recognise workers for making the sacrifice of working when others are not. They are also often the only thing helping workers make ends meet.

“The Prime Minister made an unprecedented call over the weekend, saying that he supported cutting penalty rates. It is unconscionable that a Prime Minister would commit to making it even harder for families to make a living.”

She reiterated Labor’s claim that up to 770,000 Australians will lose up to $77 per week. Coalition members of parliament have previously dismissed this as a “minor” reduction.

“I was at Lake Haven Shopping Centre in Gorokan, and a young single mum I spoke to works nights and weekends in retail to make ends meet,” Ms McBride said.

“Penalty rates mean she earns just enough to pay the bills for her and her young daughter. Working nights and weekends, with the help of her family, means that she does not have to find extra money for child care, which would see her moving backwards financially.”

Women will be disproportionately affected by the penalty rates cuts, as will people living in areas such as the Central Coast which have significant pockets of disadvantage, Ms McBride said.

“They are cruel cuts which will hurt the most vulnerable in our community. As a health worker, I know that uncertainty at work can have drastic health impacts.

“As someone who has worked in mental health for most of my life, I know how severe the consequences of uncertainty at work can be to individuals and their families.”

And other industries will also be affected down the track, she warned.

“Cuts to Sunday and public holiday penalty rates will not end with the hospitality, retail, fast food and pharmacy awards. This is just the beginning, and it is being ideologically driven by this government.

“Nurses, firefighters, aged-care workers and others will be the next to face these drastic cuts, and others can also expect no support from the Prime Minister or the government for having their wages slashed as well.”

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