Bill's Speeches

SPEECH - ADDRESS TO PENALTY RATES RALLY - CABOOLTURE, QUEENSLAND - SUNDAY, 2 JULY 2017

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First of all I just want to say to all of you, thank you for giving up your Sunday.

You've made a choice to be here because you want to stand up for all the other workers in this country who give up their Sunday.

So we can enjoy the quality of life, so we can still have a weekend.

I want to thank in particular Selina and Rachel.

And I've got to say Selina, when you spoke and you talked about why you work, you remind me of what's important in this country.

Selina and her husband, they're trying to make ends meet.

They actually have dreams and they work very hard.

And they might not be the millionaires who are getting Malcolm Turnbull's tax cut.

They might not be the CEOs of multinationals getting billions of dollars in tax cuts.

But this country is built upon hard work.

Not of the top end of town, not of Malcolm's banker mates.

This country is built on the hard work of Selina and her husband and hundreds of thousands of other people.

And we won't let them down, will we?

Now there's this big debate these days in politics.

The poor old Treasurer, they’ve let him out of witness protection, and he goes out and says it's all about being authentic.

Well if Malcolm and Scomo and the rest of that group in Canberra want to discover authentic, they should be out here in Caboolture listening to the voice of the people, because that's authentic.

And I want to acknowledge the campaign of the unions. United Voice doing a great job in the clubs. The SDA fighting in retail.

I want to acknowledge the job of the weekend warriors.

You're all doing a great job.

But it's only just started.

And I also want to acknowledge another group.

That is employers who say they are not going to cut penalty rates on the weekend.

Now these penalty rates cuts, when people ask you what's all the fuss about.

Cuts come in today.

And then in 12 months time - further cuts.

And then 12 months after that in 2019 - further reductions in people's pay on Sunday and public holidays.

And then in 2020, a fourth round of reductions in people's penalty rates.

That is what we are up in arms about.

We don't accept that the way you take this country forward is by cutting the pay and conditions of some of the lowest paid, but hardest working Australians.

And we are going to oppose the cuts every day, from now until the election.

And I want to make you all a promise.

I promise you, that if Labor is elected at the next election, within 100 days we will restore people's penalty rates, full stop.

The reason why we do this is people like Rachel and people like Selina.

And let's understand Rachel's circumstances too.

Good employers won't cut penalty rates.

But what happens when they have to compete over time with other employers who pay legally, less.

Sooner or later the pressure goes upon the good employers.

That's one reason why we have to stop the cuts.

But there is another reason why we have to stop the cuts.

Not just the individual hardship which happens, but we have got to look at what it means for the whole of the economy.

This government loves to say that penalty rates are unaffordable.

Oh, it's too expensive, they cry out. Unaffordable, they say.

The fact of the matter is that most people who depend upon penalty rates earn $30,000 and $40,000 and $50,000 and perhaps if they are lucky $60,000 or $70,000 a year.

But what this out of touch, elitist Prime Minister does not understand, is that when you earn that amount of money, you don't save.

The bills keep coming in. The fees keep coming in.

The dream of a better life requires you to invest in your own study.

The dream of a better life still has to deal with the fact that the gas and electricity bills under this Federal Government keep going up and up and up.

People who rely on penalty rates spend every dollar they get.

And the problem with this cut, is that all you do, is when you say it's unaffordable, what becomes unaffordable is going out.

What becomes unaffordable is the basics in life.

When you start to starve workers’ wages, when the wages are flat lining, when the wages get cut, the whole economy shrinks.

And the crazy situation is that these right wing economic rationalists, these elitists from the top end of town, they don't understand that when workers don't do well, then no one does well.

This discredited theory that Malcolm Turnbull has about economics that says that if you give millionaires a tax cut, if you give large corporations a tax cut, that somehow the crumbs from the rich man's table will fall off and help everyone be better off.

That is wrong. That is wrong.

What instead happens is that when the money is not there in the pay packets of the workers, everything goes backwards.

And we see in the country, for the first time, a prospect I never thought imaginable.

We see the prospect of this generation handing on worse standard of living to the next generation.

And we in Labor will not be part of betraying a generational contract to our young people and to the next generation.

In Labor, we are DNA hardwired to lift the standard of living for working and middle class Australians.

In Labor we recognise, in the house of Labor we recognise that the very top end of town can look after themselves.

They always have, they normally do, and they will in the future.

But what they don't need from the government of the day, and what we won't give them, is tax cuts for the top end of town.

How on earth did we get to this state of affairs where yesterday if you earn a $1 million in the next year, you will get a $16,400 tax cut?

But today, if you're one of 700,000 workers covered by awards in pharmacy, fast food, hospitality, retail, your penalty rates are being cut.

This country cannot afford the economics of Malcolm Turnbull and his out of touch band.

And one particularly repugnant feature of the current political debate is that Mr Turnbull has attacked Labor.

And he said, well the fact that the Labor Party want to keep a two per cent deficit levy on the top tax bracket - I mean after all there still is a deficit under Mr Turnbull, it just got worse.

But the fact that we want to keep that two per cent, asking millionaires to pay an extra two per cent, he says that somehow Labor is envious of success.

He somehow feels that we are putting a tax on success.

As if the only measure of success in this life according to him is how much money you make.

But what I want to say to you is we have a different definition of success in Labor.

When I see Selina standing up here, I do not see someone who is not successful.

I see a very successful member of our society.

I see a child care worker in Caboolture.

She might not be earning a $1 million but I see a very successful person.

Giving back and looking after our kids.

When I see a police officer doing their job.

When I see a teacher in the classroom.

When I see a nurse at the hospital, when my family might depend upon that nurse.

What I look at when I see those people, I don't judge their income and by the amount of money they have, determine if they are a success or not.

I see people every day who are a good people.

Who don't want a lot out of Malcolm Turnbull.

Who don't want a lot out of society except to be able to raise their family.

Perhaps one day afford a home, form meaningful relationships, be good neighbours.

Make sure there's enough saved so that when they retire they have got a little bit of comfort.

Friends, there is a very clear choice in this country at the moment.

We stand on the side of defending penalty rates.

We stand on the side of ordinary people.

The government on the other hand, has made a choice. It's had its chance.

Yesterday, a classic day in the life of the Turnbull Government.

Today is another classic day.

They have decided that they want to be the government and the prime minister for millionaires and multinationals.

Well Labor and I - we want to be the government for working and middle class Australians.

This government can only do one thing which is fight amongst themselves.

A year ago today, you had a new Member of Parliament in Longman - a real Member of Parliament elected in Longman.

And I promise you that every day we go from here, we will not give up.

Mr Turnbull said today in an interview, he says if he can't be Prime Minister he'll take his bat and ball and go home.

He better a buy a bat and ball, hadn't he?

For all he does, even today I was curious to see if there was any repentance, any contrition about the cuts to penalty rates.

Any awareness at all in the gilded world of which he lives, that people are having a pay cut today.

But no, it's about him. It's about Abbott.

Its two silly older blokes having an argument about themselves.

And I think the public watch this government, and they wonder will these two ever get the message.

It's not about them.

I mean it's great to be in Brisbane today - it's fight Sunday day here.

You've got Pacquiao and you've got Horn.

All the rest of Australia has got is Abbott versus Turnbull. And that's a very boring fight.

Our Party, our movement. Unions, rank and file, Members of Parliament.

We are conscious that our obligation is to make sure that life in this country is better for middle and working class Australians.

So we promise that we will restore the penalty rates.

That we will wind back the tax cuts for millionaires.

And we promise you, and I promise Selina and I promise Rachel, I promise their families, and I promise everyone working today.

We will not allow the unilateral cutting of penalty rates on our watch.

Be it from opposition and if we get to government we are going to right a wrong.

Because we are the party which will put people first.

Every time.

Thank you very much.


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