One Nation’s Pauline Hanson believes the cut in Sunday penalty rates for retail, hospitality and fast-food workers will help small business owners.
In a wide-ranging interview on ABC TV’s Insiders program on Sunday, Ms Hanson also weighed in on her support for Russian President Vladimir Putin and again raised the debate about the safety of Australia’s vaccines.
The One Nation leader accused Labor and the unions of hypocrisy in the rate cut, saying in her fish and chip shop she had to pay $34 an hour in wages where the McDonald’s down the road only paid $26.
“Where is the union jumping up and down about that with the battlers?” Senator Hanson asked.
“This government is doing nothing about addressing this whole issue and Labor are a bunch of hypocrites,” she said.
The Fair Work Commission has ruled that Sunday penalty rates for workers in retail, hospitality and fast food should be dropped to bring them closer to Saturday pay levels.
Asked by host Barry Cassidy how she felt about the low-paid people who voted for her taking a cut after this decision, Senator Hanson said: “They are getting their wage.”
“If you look at penalty rates and why it was brought in, because people had a full-time job through the week and they worked weekends,” she said.
“You went out to dinner on a weekend, that was something special. Now it’s become a way of life.”
She believed the wages cut would give small business owners a helping hand, making it more likely they would open on a weekend, give staff more hours and possibly employ new people.
Hanson ‘respects’ Russian President
Barry Cassidy asked Ms Hanson whether she was an “admirer” of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Smiling, and then pausing, she said she had listened to a speech he gave in Parliament “and even people here in Australia were saying I wish we had a leader like that here.”
“I wish someone would actually stand up and fight for this country.”
“I think he’s a strong man. I respect the man.”
— Insiders ABC (@InsidersABC) March 4, 2017
Mr Cassidy put it to her that Russia was partly to blame for the MH17 crash that killed 38 Australians after it was shot down over eastern Ukraine in 2014.
“That is disgusting what’s happened…do I hate the man for killing people? If he was, have you got the proof that he did it?”
“Did he push the button?,” she asked.
PM Malcolm Turnbull responded by pointing out Russia was subject to international sanctions over its role in shooting down the Malaysian Airlines flight.
“Vladimir Putin’s Russia is not and should not be an object of admiration in any respect,” Mr Turnbull told reporters in central Queensland town Barcaldine on Sunday.
“It should withdraw from the territory it’s occupied in the Ukraine and it should provide the information that we know they have on the identity of the people who shot down the MH17 airliner and in doing so murdered 38 Australians.”
Hanson questions vaccines
Barry Cassidy asked the One Nation leader about her comments on the links between vaccines and autism.
“What I have said is I advise parents to go out and do their own research with regards to this,” she said.
He then put it to her that vaccination saves lives: “There is enough information out there…make an informed decision,” Senator Hanson said.
“What I don’t like about it is the blackmailing that is happening with the government. Don’t do that to people, that’s a dictatorship and i think people have a right to investigate themselves.”
Meanwhile, Treasurer Scott Morrison has warned Labor is putting the nation’s wage arbitration system at risk by opposing the Fair Work Commission’s decision.
Mr Morrison says Opposition Leader Bill Shorten is behaving irresponsibly.
“Any decision the unions don’t like, he will reverse, that’s madness,” Mr Morrison told Sky News on Sunday.
“He should be abolishing the Fair Work Commission if that’s what he thinks is the way it should be.”
Labor’s employment spokesman Brendan O’Connor said that was “nonsense”.
“We support the commission but not in this instance,” he told Sky News.
– with AAP