Four-day working week up for discussion

Proposing a four-day working week: Greens leader Richard Di Natale. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen
Proposing a four-day working week: Greens leader Richard Di Natale. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

There are more important things to discuss in parliament than a shorter working week, according to the Dubbo Chamber of Commerce and Industry president. 

Matt Wright said his initial thoughts on the discussion put forward by Greens leader, Richard Di Natale, last week was that a four-day working week isn’t viable. 

“I get what they’re saying but I think there’s more important things to discuss right now than shortening the work week, the example being the current consideration of penalty rates,” Mr Wright said.

I get what they’re saying but I think there’s more important things to discuss right now than shortening the work week.

Matt Wright

“Considering the majority of the rest of the world see Monday to Friday as a work week, how would that work with finance, banking, the stock market or so many industries who are exposed to international-type activities?”

Senator Di Natale addressed the National Press Club in Canberra on Wednesday to attempt a fundamental re-imaging of daily toil. The speech came as many Australians complain that either unemployment or under-employment leaves them unable to buy into the housing market, or otherwise socially advance. 

Mr Di Natale believes the answer lies in greater balance buttressed by a Scandanavian-style "guaranteed income" model where all citizens are paid a generous minimum wage if they cannot earn.

He said it would allow people to spend more time on the important things in life. 

"A four-day work week, or a six-hour day might actually make us happier and create more opportunities for others, not to mention reducing the costs of full-time childcare,” Mr Di Natale said.

Mr Wright questioned the value for families with children who attend school between 9am and 3.30pm. 

“To be able to spend time with family between those hours is probably impossible in that respect,” he said. “Across the board I question its value, but there may be some merit in it if different types of industries were considered.”