In a move likely to displease small businesses, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has announced this morning she will legislate to protect penalty rates, as she attempts to win the support of unions in the lead up to the election.
Speaking at an Australian Council of Trade Unions jobs summit in Canberra, Gillard said Labor would make provisions in the Fair Work Act to ensure higher penalty rates for things like weekend, overtime and public holiday work.
“We will ensure that penalty rates, overtime, shift work loading and public holiday pay are definite, formal considerations for the Fair Work Commission when it sets award rates and conditions.
“We will make it clear in law that there needs to be additional remuneration for employees who work shift work, unsocial, irregular, unpredictable hours or on weekends and public holidays,” Gillard said in her speech.
NT gets a new leader
For the second time in a week the Liberal Party has had a leadership upheaval, with the Country Liberals giving the former Northern Territory Chief Minister Terry Mills the boot, replacing him with Adam Giles.
Giles, the former transport minister, is now the first indigenous Australian to become a state or territory leader, following his election on Wednesday afternoon.
Mills had led the party to victory just six months ago and was in Japan on Wednesday afternoon, meeting with business leaders to promote the gas and education industries in the NT, when he received a phone call informing him of his usurping. He was beaten 11 votes to five.
Unemployment steady in February
Australia’s unemployment rate has remained steady in February at 5.4%, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released this morning.
The ABS reported the number of people employed increased by 71,500 to 11,628,300 in February. Part-time employment figures were up by 53,700 jobs to 3,510,800 and increased full-time employment was up 17,800 to 8,117,400.
The number of people unemployed increased by 400 people to 660,000.
Australian shares opened flat, despite the Dow Jones recording its longest positive streak in 16 years.
At midday the S&P/ASX200 benchmark was down 17.6 points to 5074.8.
Shares in Myer had risen 2.76% to $2.98, but reached as high as $3.04, following the department store’s positive half-yearly profit results.