The election has become a fight over the best plan for the economy and who will put more cash in your wallet. But different policies on penalty rates have worried workers and bosses alike.

Dominic Elsome reports.


Bill Shorten, Opposition Leader: “People had their public holiday pay rates cut, their Sunday rates cut. They weren’t compensated during the week, it was just a cut is a cut is a cut.”

Scott Morrison, Prime Minister: “I think it’s dangerous when politicians tell you they can set your wages.”

For the past five weeks, voters have heard again and again, each leader claiming their party alone has the skills and policies to manage the economy.

This election has become a referendum on economic policy.

But what does any of that mean for you? Well, it turns out quite a lot.

Let’s take two key issues: penalty rates and wage growth.

When Sunday and public holiday penalty rates were cut in retail and hospitality business welcomed the move.

But workers were outraged and Labor has made their reinstatment a key election promise.

Brisbane cook Dale Hodgson said penalty rates were more than just a weekend top-up.

Dale Hodgson, Cook: “You would have lost two, three, four hundred dollars over a weekend, depending on where you work and the hours that you’re doing. So it can cause a fair bit of stress financially to someone that’s used to getting that.”

But the chamber of commerce says the rates were too costly for many small businesses.

Dan Petrie, Chamber of Commerce: “The sunday rate has been harmonised with the Saturday rate, which is consistant with what happens everywhere else around the world.”

Small business owners like Dom and Rita agree.

Dom and Rita Pedata, Cafe owners: “I will have to cut down the staff, because it’s going to affect my income. So, it’ll be hard to make ends meet basically.

But, is the answer focussing on wage growth as a whole?

Dale Hodgson, Cook: “I think there’s a lot of little things that need to work together to improve it, and taking away penalty rates is definitley not one of those.”

The penalty rates issue shows the difference between the economic policies of the parties.

Labor takes a bottom up approach, benefit the lowest paid workers and that flows through to the rest of the economy.

Where as the coalition favours a more top down approach, help the big end of town, and it filters down to the rest of the economy.

Labor says everything is going up except worker’s pay packets, and that has to change.

The coalition says it’s about building a stronger economy which will bring wages growth back.

Workers and business will find out which approach the next government will take soon.

Dominic Elsome, QUT News.