Tuesday, 08 December 2020
DAVID BEVAN, HOST: Amanda Rishworth, she’s squeezing us in between various appointments. She’s the Shadow Minister for Early Childhood, but she’s the Labor Member for Kingston. She joins us now. Good morning, Amanda Rishworth.
AMANDA RISHWORTH, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT: Good morning, great to be with you.
BEVAN: Well, can we ask you the same question we put to Sharkie and Patrick. Do you have any concerns about what’s been flagged by the government regarding casual employment changes?
RISHWORTH: Yeah look, David, in terms of not seeing the legislation, we haven’t seen the legislation, so it is hard. But our test will be does this create secure, well paid jobs? Because that is what people tell me that they want. And we do have some concerns about what’s been dropped to the paper. Like I said, we have not seen the legislation. But what’s been dropped to the paper is effectively, well, it sounds good, there’s going to be a definition for casual work. At the moment, if you have been deemed a casual but are effectively working permanent hours, there was a court case to say that you can then access leave, you can get leave, sick leave and long service leave. This looks like on the face of it that that would be taken away, that sort of right and replaced with a right in which effectively a casual can go and ask their employers to say they have been working permanent, but the employer can say no. And there’s no final arbitration, recourse for that casual employee to push it. So we are a bit concerned that this could water down the rights of a casual employee that is being treated like a permanent. I must stress that, treated like a permanent employee for all other purposes, being rostered like permanent employee, but doesn’t have that security. So we are concerned about that. The government has said that it might be open for discussion. And so we’re really hopeful, we’ve got to see what else is in the bill as well. This isn’t just going to do with casuals. But there is some concerns that this could water down casuals’ rights.
BEVAN: Yeah. But is it clear that reform needs to take place on both sides? Because workers we know have been ripped off by a lot of employers, including the ABC, you know there was a case of the ABC underpaying, I think it was up to $20 million its employees over many, many years and it had to pay it all back. And we know that the supermarkets and various other chains are big, big employers have been caught up in this. So is there need to reform on that front, but also for the employers that there needs to be something? Because a lot of them would be thinking well hang on, I employ somebody as a casual, that means I shouldn’t have to pay you all of this other stuff that this court case is now telling me I have to.
RISHWORTH: Of course if you are genuinely engaging a casual as the casual purpose is, then there’s no problem with that. But we have very, very high rates of casualised employment here in Australia. And for many people, they are working for many years, called a casual, but it’s really permanent work. But because of that label of a casual, they can’t go and get a loan, they could get their hours cut at any time. And so this is about making sure that casual employees have a recourse, a way to get permanency. Now, under what we’ve seen, and like I said, it’s just been leaked to the papers so we haven’t seen the legislation, at the moment it looks like an employee could go and ask their boss “can you make me permanent, I’ve been working as a permanent”, they can say yes or no, but it’s up to the employer about that decision. As opposed to a genuine “yes, you have been permanent” as an objective test. So that’s what we’re concerned about. Of course, we need to see the legislation, that’s a critical part of it. And this is what’s really hard when the government drops stuff out and hasn’t meaningfully engaged clearly with Labor and clearly with the crossbench either.
BEVAN: Okay, that’s Amanda Rishworth, Labor MP for Kingston in Adelaide’s South and a lot of her constituents would be casual employees. Amanda Rishworth, thanks for your time.