A NEW HOPE: Ben Riches understands concerns but sees potential in the penalty rate cuts.
A NEW HOPE: Ben Riches understands concerns but sees potential in the penalty rate cuts. Renee Albrecht

Jury's out on whether penalty changes will help Gympie

SOLD as a boost to the economy, opinion is divided on what effect the new cuts to penalty rates will have on the Gympie region.

Workers in the retail, pharmacy, hospitality and fast food industries will see their Sunday rates and, for some, public holiday rates reduced by at least 25% after the Fair Work Commission's decision on Thursday.

While he understands why workers are upset by the changes, Gympie Chamber of Commerce President Ben Riches is hopeful they will be good for Gympie.

"I think it could be a positive thing for small businesses in town," he said, highlighting their potential to provide more employment and help stores open on weekends.

"I feel for those who could miss out but it could lead to more opportunities.

"It's very quiet everywhere on a Sunday."

Kitch'N'Things owner Andrew McIntosh shared the view the cuts would reduce costs for small businesses and help them grow.

 

Business owners, Andrew and Elaine McIntosh of Kitch 'n' things, Mary Street, Gympie.
Photo Patrick Woods / Gympie Times
Andrew and Elaine McIntosh of Kitch 'n' things. Patrick Woods

"We only have one employee so it does cost us more on Sundays if we (himself and his partner) don't work," Mr McIntosh said.

OPINION: Young, eager workers hurt by penalty cuts

For Toyworld manager Lorraine Broadley, however, the unviable nature of the economy made adding extra staff difficult, even with the cuts.

"The penalty rates wouldn't induce me to open Sundays, except in busy times prior to Christmas."

 

I'm a bit optimistic, seeing the new businesses coming into the street. - Lorraine Broadley, Toyworld Gympie
Lorraine Broadley. Donna Jones

PC Place owner Nick Greene cited a different reason why the changes would not lead to him opening on Sundays, believing the day should remain "family time".

While business opinion was divided, members of the public were less supportive of the changes.

Lois Freiberg, whose nephew owned a cafe in Brisbane, said there was valid arguments whichever way you looked at it.

"I feel for both sides, businesses that have to pay those rates and the workers who do rely on them," Ms Freiberg said.

Amy-Lee Melvin, on the other hand, said the changes would likely create worse problems as people declined to work weekends. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."