$46m wage cuts to North Coast a ‘beat up’: Kevin Hogan

"THIS is a Labor beat-up."

So said Page MP Kevin Hogan after his party was accused of pushing to abolish penalty rates.

"The government's position on penalty rates has clearly and consistently been that penalty rates are a matter for the Fair Work Commission to determine, not government," he continued.

Member for Richmond Justine Elliott has launched a parliamentary attack on the Productivity Commission's recommendation for a two-tier system that would slash hospitality and retail workers' penalty rates.

She quoted a McKell Institute study which found Richmond and Page workers combined would lose between $24 million and $46 million a year under the cuts.

The lowest estimates had Page workers missing $12.2 million, with Richmond staff suffering $11.8 million in lost income.

"These effects would be felt throughout the nation by wage earning employees, but felt disproportionately in rural and regional NSW," the report stated.

"The pay gap between city and country that currently sits at $5300 per worker would be exacerbated by this change."

Ms Elliott told parliament the cuts would pull up to $6.5 million from businesses in the Richmond electorate. The highest estimate for Page business losses sat at $7.2 million.

"Many locals are employed in the hospitality and the retail sector and they and their families rely on penalty rates to make ends meet," Ms Elliott said.

"The cutting of penalty rates of thousands of workers in my area would have a devastating effect.

"If the government is successful in cutting the penalty rates of hospitality and retail workers, we know who they will be after next: the nurses, the firefighters and the police."

But Mr Hogan was adamant the talk was part of an Opposition scare campaign.

"The government has no plans to change the way penalty rates are set," he said.

- APN NEWSDESK



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