A recent article in The Conversation discussed the claim that restaurants were closing on Sundays due to the huge 200% mark-up of penalty rates in employing people. The claim was made on the popular Q&A program by Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg on Monday 10 August.
This was the quote: "Now, what the Productivity Commission has said is when it comes to Sunday penalty rates, they are being prohibitive, about at 200% sometimes of the base wage and the feedback from businesses is that they're not opening because of those prohibitive costs... We've got a particular problem that a lot of cafes, restaurants are closing because of the high prohibitive costs on a Sunday." – Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg,
This article from The Conversation explores the ins and outs of that claim and although there is some dispute as to what statistics were utilised, by and large, some restaurants have closed with the key component being penalty rates. In many eating houses the wages bill is 43% of the entire cost of business operation. That is not a small percentage.
We know quite well the owner of the one of the local come spa come facial come look-good, feel-good businesses - they close on weekends, even in a booming tourist centre, simply because they cannot afford to open and pay the additional penalty rates. We know this is out there - and it is real.
In Australia the weekends are sacrosanct. You work on a weekend you get additional financial benefits for making that sacrifice. The weekend is recreational time. Saturday's the nation turns to sport or the arts (in its various forms). Sunday was seen as a day of recuperation and family and the majority of religious affiliation.
It's a very different society today. In reality few people attend church and in areas where Sunday's are a problem, worship is held on a Saturday evening or a week day night. This happens in our local area here. So the religious thing no longer holds sway.
When I was a locomotive engineman in my early working life, we regularly worked Sundays' as trains run every day. But we got a day off mid week. The response to having Sunday a recreational and family day – even that is questionable now.
The push for maintaining the weekend penalty rate are both a family and a a trade unions thing! They are well and truly struggled for entitlements – so when entitlements are somehow given away - questions are asked – the Royal Commission into Trade Unions h ave delved into this with some startling revelations.
The other push to retain penalty rates are the electorates where a voter back lash would be heard all the way to Canberra with minimalist family time exists now, but to entrench the idea of even less family time in this fashion would create an uproar. Can you imagine Parliament sitting on a weekend?
Churches and Missions
Do churches and missions in their spiritual and community welfare endeavours - get penalty rates - or is there something else at play.
I wonder whether a minister might say to his congregation leadership body, yes my salary package is x$ along with a car allowance, a housing allowance, a library allowance, an IT allowance (computer and such like), now – can we negotiate my Sunday peaching penalty rate.
Traditionally, the ministry has been divided into two quite different spheres. In many parts of the world even today, there are chapels with private annual salary contributions that have nothing to do with a 'calling'.
The estate chapel
These were very common in those generations past where the landed gentry had such private chapels and often the third son was assigned the Chapel. The first continued as the land holder, the second into the military and the third the private chapel.
As strange as this may seem, our documented family tree has such roots from Northern Ireland. Four Tronson sons migrated to Australia for the gold rush. The family tree 'partridge' which I possess lists several generations of Reverend Tronson's. I can trace it back - my father Seymour, his father Walter, his father Thomas Blakeley, his father Edward and then the Reverend, Richard Tronson. Five generations.
The English period television pieces, indeed many highlighted from Jane Austen's pen, illustrate such clergy incumbencies with set incomes and comfortable surrounding. Such roles included the garden fetes, the balls and other social mores of life around the estate. Evidence that this was the norm goes back to the Romans and the foundation of Christianity in England. As such, this model went a great way to holding society together.
A very different model grew from the genuine hearts of men who believed they heard God's voice and served in parishes quite uninvolved with the estate experience. More so with the industrial revolution and men of the Word grew impatient to be able to offer this Word to the masses that flocked into the cities for work.
Great examples can be readily found in the William Grimshaw's on the 17th century whose preaching in such communities became renown. By the time a century later of John and Charles Wesley and that whole evangelistic period that criss crossed to the new world and back time and time again, the call of God upon a minister's life gad become paramount within this paradigm.
The call was pre-eminent, not money, not fame, not fortune, rather evangelistic fervour that saw ministers and their wives and families either installed into a congregation or through mission frontiers work grow congregations and start up new ones wherever and whenever.
Sadly in many situations congregations were unable to provide enough financial welfare that many a minister and his wife and family found themselves in dire straights.
Today it remains a mixed bag. Denominations have set salary and package rates for the clergy. Many today work in employment part time and the church for the other time as tent makers (a reference to the Apostle Paul who was a tent maker). Some churches pay very handsomely. Some have independent incomes and give their time and leadership to their congregations.
There is a breed amongst the Pentecostals today to make their incomes from the sale of books and videos, on the speaking circuit and such like, so as to not to take one cent from the congregation as income – the congregation's monies can then be spent in the extension of the kingdom.
So, no, never has been, and looks very likely never to be, penalty rates for the clergy and missions. Although, personally, I feel I could fit right in to one of those estate chapels - when my youngest daughter was at school, she agreed with her friend that ministers were 'fuddy-duddies'. I'd fit right-in!
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html