Television Interview with Natalie Barr – Sunrise – Friday 31 March 2023

FRIDAY, 31 MARCH 2023 

SUBJECTS: Working on public holidays; Review of the RBA

NATALIE BARR: Bosses will now have to ask employees whether they want to work on a public holiday before rostering them on. It follows a federal court decision which found that mining company BHP breached the Fair Work Act by requiring staff to work on Christmas and Boxing Day and it could have a big impact on industries such as resources, retail, hospitality and health. Let’s bring in Education Minister Jason Clare and Deputy Opposition Leader Sussan Ley. Good morning to both of you. Jason, is this manageable for workplaces, especially where operations run around the clock like a mine or a hospital?

JASON CLARE, MINISTER FOR EDUCATION: I think it is. I think it’s just common sense, Nat. There’ll be a lot of people that will want to work on public holidays. I know when I was a young fella I’d leap at the chance to work where I was working, at Sizzler, at a restaurant, where you wait tables and wash dishes, because it meant extra money. But now as a parent, Christmas means something different to me. I’d hate to think we get in a situation where mums and dads are going to miss out on seeing their kids open their presents because a boss forces them to work. We’re talking about religious public holidays as well, days that are important to people of faith. I’d hate if we were in a situation where people miss out on going to church either and I’d hope that Sussan would agree.

BARR: Yeah. Sussan, what do you think? What happens if all the employees say no though?

SUSSAN LEY: Well, a clear conversation between the employer and the employee is vital. But Nat, as we come up to the Easter holidays I’m thinking of all those workers who are out there keeping the country going, whether they be in mining or nursing and just thinking of them and their families because while some of us take that break, some of us just keep going. But as I come back to – clear conversation between the worker and their employer is always the best way to go. And I too remember those early days working at McDonald’s and looking forward to the public holidays on my roster. So it’s always a balance, but protections for workers are important.

BARR: Yeah. Certainly puts workers in a stronger position, doesn’t it?

Okay, the Reserve Bank is facing its biggest shake up in three decades with an independent review into the bank set to be handed to Treasurer Jim Chalmers today. Jason, should Philip Lowe be feeling nervous about what’s to come after this big review?

CLARE: I don’t think so, Nat, it’s not about a person, it’s about the Reserve Bank. It’s about one of the most important institutions in this country. The decisions the Reserve Bank make affect all of us, whether we’ve got a mortgage or not. The decisions it makes affects our whole economy. And so this is an important report. As you said, the Treasurer gets it today and he’ll release it in a couple of weeks. It’s important. This is the first time we’ve had a big and broad review of the Reserve Bank since I was at primary school. So a long time. It’s important as we respond to the recommendations, that we get bipartisanship from the two major political parties. And I welcome the comments overnight from Angus Taylor, because the reforms here that come out of this report have to last and have to outlast the government.

BARR: Yes. So, Sussan, some of the report’s recommendations are expected to be fewer meetings, press conferences so they can talk to us, so we all understand what on earth’s going on, and interest rates are to be set by an expert panel of economic experts. Isn’t that a bit of a reflection on what’s been going on in the Reserve Bank?

LEY: It’s all part of the discussion, Nat. And while this review may sound a little bit dry to people at home watching, it does affect everyone, whether you’re a shopper, whether you’re a homeowner, whether you’re a renter, in fact, everyone in the economy. And we do need a strong, independent, consultative and capable Reserve Bank, which is why the opposition is working constructively with the Government so we get it right. But meanwhile, I mean, the subject matter of the Reserve Bank is interest rates, and interest rates are too high. And it’s vital, I know Jason would agree, it’s vital that we get inflation under control for every single household.

BARR: Yeah, that is sure affecting everybody. Thanks, guys. See you next week.