Release type: Media Release


Federal Court upholds Fair Work Commission's penalty rates decision


Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash
Minister for Employment
Minister for Women
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service
Senator for Western Australia

Today the Federal Court upheld the decision of the independent Fair Work Commission on penalty rates.

In the same way the independent Reserve Bank sets interest rates, it’s the job of the independent Fair Work Commission to set award pay and conditions, including penalty rates.

In making its decision on penalty rates for some workers in the hospitality and retail industries, the commission looked at all the evidence over a two-year period, held 39 days of hearings, received almost 6,000 submissions, and experts, unions and employers all had their say.

The independent umpire made it clear at the time of its decision on penalty rates that it would help small businesses open their doors, serve their communities and create more employment on Sundays.

Today’s Federal Court decision once again highlights the hypocrisy of the Labor Party and the unions.

The action in the Federal Court was brought about by the very same unions that have made numerous deals with big business which reduce Sunday wage rates to below award levels for some of Australia’s lowest paid workers.

By bringing this action, these unions were trying to stop small businesses being on a level playing field with big businesses. The hypocrisy of these unions has been breathtaking.

Both Bill Shorten and the unions simply cannot be trusted when it comes to penalty rates.

They have no problem when big unions combine with big business to do deals that reduce Sunday penalty rates, but then pretend to be outraged when the independent Fair Work Commission reduces penalty rates for small business.