Penalty rate reform calls
MURWILLUMBAH'S struggling CBD could be revitalised if weekend penalty rates for retail and hospitality were cut, the town's chamber of commerce president said.
Toni Zuschke's support for workplace reform comes as an inquiry examining WorkChoices-style agreements was announced by the Coalition.
A newly released Productivity Commission paper has also flagged an examination of whether the minimum wage should be varied region by region.
Mrs Zuschke said small businesses, typically closed at weekends, could reopen if changes to enterprise bargaining agreements went ahead. They have the potential to lower the hourly rate of workers at weekends.
Juice Art and Haven in Murwillumbah owner Andrew Price agreed.
"As business owners, the cost of wages means it is not worth opening our shop as the wages are simply too high," he said.
"Being able to reduce penalty rates would encourage shop owners to open over the weekend or for extended hours and give tourists a reason to come into the region."
But Unions NSW said the minimum wage should be boosted, not reduced.
"Despite a push from the business lobby to scrap penalty rates on weekends, this is an unfair solution to the problems for the Tweed CBD," spokesperson Saoirse Connolly said.
"Penalty rates are extremely important for the economy in regional areas because most of the money earned goes straight back into the local economy and keeps it healthy.
"Low-paid workers are struggling."