Penalty rates a challenge for businesses

Federal Member for Fairfax

Media release

With the Easter holiday period almost upon us, the issue of hospitality and tourism industry penalty rates has come to prominence once again, with many local businesses weighing up the viability of even opening their doors during the holidays.

It’s a decision business owners dread with most treading the fine line between modest profits or significant losses when they have to pay penalty rates of up to 250% to their staff.

Federal Leader of the Palmer United Party and Member for Fairfax, Clive Palmer, says a more pragmatic, common-sense approach to the issue of penalty rates is needed to allow businesses to open and avoid the risk of major losses.

“If the weather is good and trade is brisk then these hospitality businesses have a chance of making a profit. However, if consumer numbers are down for any reason they risk significant losses, even after working long hours to provide their product or service to the public,” Mr Palmer said.

“It seems we are caught between a rock and a hard place. We need to have hospitality businesses open so we can support our tourism industry, but under the current penalty rate system we are asking many small businesses owners to absorb all the risk.

“We don’t want anyone to be disadvantaged or exploited, but by the same token we do need to find a workable solution.

“Somewhere there is middle ground to be had; it’s just a case of finding it.”

Mr Palmer said Palmer United’s policy of abolishing fringe benefits tax on business lunches and entertainment to boost trade to the food and hospitality sector was just one of the ideas put forward to assist the industry.