ABOUT FACE: Nats MP backflips on penalty rates
PAGE MP Kevin Hogan has changed his mind on penalty rates since the Productivity Commission first recommended cutting Sunday double time penalties at the end of 2015.
Earlier this week Mr Hogan said young people should welcome cuts to penalty rates because that opened up more job opportunities for them.
The comments, which attracted criticism from political opponents and the union movement, reflected a shift in sentiment for Mr Hogan since December 2015.
"I'm very cognisant that penalty rates are very important to many people who don't earn a lot of money," Mr Hogan said at the time.
"For a lot of people, any extra benefit they get is very important to them.
"I'm yet to be sold there is an economic benefit in cutting penalty rates."
Mr Hogan said he now stood by his statement this week that the penalty rate cuts set by the Fair Work Commission would "provide more jobs on Sundays".
"If you are a family-owned cafe or takeaway shop you have to pay $8 per hour more for your workers on a Sunday compared with large corporations like KFC," he said.
"Many of our small shops, pharmacies and takeaways find it too expensive to open on Sundays and can't compete against the giant retail chains."
The unions say there is no evidence penalty rate cuts encourage jobs growth. Unions NSW secretary Mark Morey said research released by the McKell Institute earlier this week forecast that workers in Page will lose $18.5 million over the next three years due to the cuts to penalty rates.
"That's a huge hit to the local economy, and a huge burden for workers who rely on penalty rates to make ends meet," Mr Morey said.
Mr Morey has challenged Mr Hogan to meet with local workers who have lost their penalty rates and explain why they would benefit from cuts.
"Mr Hogan's attitude is an insult to young workers and shows that he's completely out of touch with his local community," Mr Morey said.
"That's why I'm challenging him to meet directly with workers in the retail, hospitality, fast food and pharmacy sectors tomorrow.
"He can choose the time and place, I'll bring the workers."
Mr Morey said there was no evidence that cuts to penalty rates had created a single new job in the electorate of Page.
But Mr Hogan had a different view.
"The Fair Work Commission made this decision on penalty rates so small businesses could afford to open on a Sunday. This will provide more jobs on Sundays," he said. "A number of small businesses have told me they will employ more staff on a Sunday because of this."
His stance received support from NSW Business Chamber regional manager Northern Rivers Jane Laverty, who said the cuts would help 'mum and dad small businesses' stay open.
Ms Laverty said the changes were an "important decision supporting the sustainability" small business, like cafes and restaurants.
"The new penalty rates still compensate employees more for working Sundays than Saturdays and more again for working public holidays," she said.
"The Commission reduced the penalty rates because they were not fair or relevant.
"This decision by Fair Work is supporting the mum and dad small business operators who if not given this support may have shut their doors.
"Many of those business operators walk out the door on those Sundays and public holidays with less than the people they employ."
According to AEC data, there are 18,008 registered voters under 30 in the Page electorate, including 2,923 aged 18 and 19 who will be voting for the first time.
Who will you vote for in Page at the 2019 Federal election?
This poll ended on 17 May 2019.
FIONA LEVINY - Independent
ALISON WATERS - Animal Justice Party
PETER WALKER - Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)
JOHN MUDGE - United Australia Party
DANIEL REID - Greens
KEVIN HOGAN - Nationals
PATRICK DEEGAN - Labor
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.