26 October 2021
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I also rise in support of this bill. In doing so I want to begin by praising my colleague the Hon. Tammy Franks MLC for her leadership on this and for her long-time efforts here in this parliament advocating for the rights of working people. I also acknowledge the leadership of the union movement in running this campaign, in particular the SDA and the good work they have done in bringing this to the attention of people in this parliament.
As has been stated, over the last 18 months essential workers—that is, people working in our supermarkets, in our petrol stations, our fast food and hospitality outlets, allied health services, our medi-hotels, our aged-care homes—have been working incredibly hard to keep South Australians safe. They have been doing that during this once-in-a-century pandemic and during a once-in-a-century economic crisis.
What do they get in return for their hard work? A piece of coal from the Liberals this Christmas. I am not referring to the climate change policy, the woeful policy that Scott Morrison has announced, but rather the incredibly—
The PRESIDENT: The Prime Minister the Hon. Scott Morrison.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: The Hon. Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
The PRESIDENT: Thank you.
The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I am of course referring to the Grinch-like behaviour of the state Liberal Party and the appalling way that they have approached this issue, and their refusal to recognise the rights of workers and recognise the fact that Christmas Day should be a public holiday for everybody.
There has been a lot said about the benefits of this bill. I will only speak briefly, but I want to read into Hansard some of the stories of people who will be directly affected. There have been some open letters sent to the Premier, talking about the benefits that will flow from this bill for families. I will start with one from Amber, who is a healthcare worker. She writes to the Premier:
I am an essential worker at a regional hospital. Throughout all of COVID, I and so many others have gone to work to keep normality and services open.
As life continues to be hard for all families, we essential workers still go to work on public holidays. Like Christmas day. A day when we essential workers would LOVE to be home with our families after everything Australians have endured [over] the last 18 months. But we have jobs to do, and part of what makes our lives a little more worth going to work [for], is the public holiday pay.
That pay helps alleviate a little of the financial burden with the extra pay from working the public holiday. But you don't want to give SA families that. You don't want to help out those families. You don't offer any incentive to hard working people who have gone to work still.
No reward for medical workers, or any workers. No thanks, we know you can't be with your families here is compensation in your pay.
The writer asks:
[Mr Premier] Will you go to work on Christmas Day, while thousands of us do? No, you won't. Will you stand up for the SA people you serve, and give them the public holiday pay they deserve, while you sit at home?
Beth, a Kmart worker, has written:
I would…like to know your reasoning for not declaring Christmas Day public holiday, as it should be. Thousands of workers are going to be working that day, and missing out on valuable family time on what is one of the most special days of the year. At a time when we should be at home with our loved ones, and showing them what they truly mean to us, you're more than happy to allow workers to miss out on that time with no compensation.
No amount of money can…compensate for lost family time, but having to go to work and get paid like it's [just another] day of the year is [an absolute] disgrace.
I cannot help but agree with those sentiments; it is a disgrace and it is one that the parliament should put right and we have an opportunity to do that today. It is really disappointing that we are in this position. The Liberals are creating a nightmare before Christmas for South Australian workers and it is time for this parliament to put that right.