Local MP reiterates opposition to penalty rates cut

Greater Macarthur Community Union members Lisa Kremmer, Sophie Callard, George Asciak and Gerry Constantinou present Macarthur MP Dr Michael Freelander (centre) with  a "gift" to present to Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis.
Greater Macarthur Community Union members Lisa Kremmer, Sophie Callard, George Asciak and Gerry Constantinou present Macarthur MP Dr Michael Freelander (centre) with a "gift" to present to Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis.

Members of the Greater Macarthur Community Union have met with Macarthur MP Dr Michael Freelander to voice their concerns over proposed cuts to penalty rates.

Earlier this year the Fair Work Commission announced Sunday and public holiday penalty rates for some workers in hospitality, fast food and retail would be slashed from July.

The decision – made by an organisation that was appointed by the federal government, not voters – was condemned by many people including Dr Freelander.

The Macarthur MP said his stance had not changed and he was “100 per cent” in favour of maintaining the status quo.

“I’ve always supported keeping penalty rates the way they are,” he said.

“Important things in life like paying the mortgage or buying a car depend on penalty rates.

“We know there are significant health effects for shift workers like increased heart disease and smoking rates.

“If you are a shift worker you deserved to be compensated.”

Greater Macarthur Community Union’s vice president Sophie Callard said Sunday and public holiday workers sacrificed a lot to make sure the needs of customers were met.

“They give up time with family and friends so other people can have a good time,” she said.

The meeting came just hours after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull admitted he supported the commission’s decision.

Mr Turnbull and other Liberal MPs – including Hume’s Angus Taylor – had refused to condemn the decision and said they would respect the commission’s ruling.

However, Mr Turnbull told radio 3AW’s Neil Mitchell that “we do support it”.

“I have been very clear about that,” Fairfax Media reported.

“The Fair Work Commission decided to back small business and we back small business.

"It is important to remember this was not a decision from the government, it was an independent considered decision of the independent umpire of the Fair Work Commission, every member of which was appointed by a Labor government, three of whom were appointed by Bill Shorten."