by Clair Morton
MORE than 6000 people in the Page electorate will be affected by cuts to Sunday penalty rates, according to new statistics by the Labor think-tank McKell Institute.
But estimates of a $15.1 million loss in income across the region because of the impending changes has been questioned by Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan, who says the research leaves an important economic question unanswered.
According to the statistics, 6197 employees in Page who work on Sundays in hospitality, retail, fast food and pharmacies will lose money from their take-home pay when the changes are phased in from July.
As per the determination of the Fair Work Commission, retail and pharmacy workers' Sunday penalty rates drop from 200% to 150% of their standard hourly rate and casuals will have a 25 points drop in penalty rate from 200% to 175%.
Hospitality employees will have their rates fall from 175% to 150%. Casual hospitality workers' pay will be unchanged.
The McKell Institute says this loss in wages plus further losses as non-local employers shift savings back to their head offices equates to at least $15.1 million being taken out of the electorate a year.
Yesterday Mr Hogan told The Daily Examiner that while he was concerned about adverse affects on local families, the research didn't take into account any economic benefits the changes could bring.
"I'm very conscious that there will be some people who work on a Sunday that may get less than they currently do, and that is a concern," he said.
"But I think we also need to model increased business activity which will positively affect people as a result of the changes.
"(The Fair Work Commission) said they think a lot more businesses are going to open, and we think that's good for small business."
Mr Hogan also pointed out that due to an agreement made under Labor, workers in large chains such as KFC were already paid less penalty rates on a Sunday than staff at a privately owned cafe.
"Is it fair that because Bill Shorten traded away Sunday rates, big corporations pay less than small businesses?"
Labor senator Doug Cameron said the Fair Work Commission made the wrong decision and called Mr Hogan's response weak.
He said he believed the cuts would not have any benefits, but could be the final straw for some businesses.
"This is an economic theory dreamed up by Liberals and capitulated to by the Nationals," Mr Cameron said.
"This is money coming out of the pockets of hard-working constituents; this will affect individual families in Page and the wider economy.
"Businesses will be closing down because people won't have money to spend."
Mr Cameron said Mr Hogan actively voted against a bill that would have protected against penalty cuts in Page.
"If he crossed the floor on this issue, then I'm convinced it would get up."