It led to an ugly scene in Question Time in parliament on Tuesday but the dust is far from settling on Gilmore MP Ann Sudmalis’s description of the Fair Work Commission’s cuts to weekend penalty rates as a “gift” for young people.
Labor spokesperson for Gilmore Fiona Phillips called the comment “insensitive”.
“It showed a complete lack of compassion for young workers in the electorate,” Ms Phillips said.
“We have people out there doing it so tough. Ann Sudmalis should come out and support local workers.”
Ms Phillips said far from being a “gift”, the cuts to penalty rates would impact workers immediately they can came into effect on July 1.
Referring to a McKell Institute report which suggested 6333 workers were employed in the retail sector in Gilmore, she said the penalty rates reduction would have a flow-on effect in the local economy.
“The report estimates it will take $1.9 million out of the local economy,” she said.
Mrs Sudmalis’s comment – and subsequent outburst in Question Time during which she was several times by the Speaker to stop interjecting – led to a flurry of unflattering memes on social media.
More importantly, however, it briefly put a serious local issue on the national agenda.
Defending Mrs Sudmalis yesterday, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull acknowledged the high youth unemployment rate in Gilmore. He was followed up on ABC Radio on Wednesday morning by Treasurer Scott Morrison, who also referred to the youth unemployment rate in the Shoalhaven.
Gilmore has been held by the Coalition since 1996 but is now one of the most marginal seats in the country.
Local Liberal Party sources said they were “embarrassed” by the “gift” comment.
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