Jacqui Lambie on why she believes a penalty rates cut would hurt small business in the long term

Jacqui Lambie outside parliament

Slashing Sunday penalty rates would hurt small businesses in the long run because shoppers would have less disposable income to spend at milk bars and local chemists, according to independent senator Jacqui Lambie.

The Tasmanian senator – who is fighting to be re-elected on July 2 after the Coalition and the Greens teamed up to reform Senate voting laws – said she is sick of politicians wanting to give tax cuts to big business and throwing the little guys under the bus.

“What they’re doing is paying their big mates out, and that’s crap,” Lambie says.

On last night’s episode of Q&A, Lambie said she will not support a cut to penalty rates because consumers would then have less disposable income to spend at local stores.

“Those people are the locals, the pensioners,” Lambie told SmartCompany.

“You want to stimulate the economy for small business? Don’t take it off those already sitting on or below the poverty line. Because they spend it in their own economy.”

Lambie says while she has never run a small business, she’s done her “fair share” of bar work.

“I know where that money goes back into,” she says.

“I was buying stuff for my kids. I think that’s just common sense.”

When asked what types of things politicians should focus on to help small businesses instead of penalty rates, Lambie supports tax cuts for businesses earning less than $5 million as well as reducing energy costs.

The Coalition could be doing more to encourage the use of renewable energy, Lambie says, and in doing so help SMEs slash their electricity bills.

“Small businesses are really struggling,” she says.

“Those really small ones turning over under $5 million, they’re the ones that need help. Once you lose your local chemist, your local area begins to die. It’s all over.”

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