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Some choice pars from Nick Cater’s column in the Oz today. Federal election 2016: deals make unskilled best paid.

“..Shorten’s reply to the budget was a class-war classic: “From Tony’s Tradies to Malcolm’s Millionaires — this is a budget for big business over battlers. Tax cuts for high income earners — and nothing for families. Not one cent for ordinary working Australians.”

That last bit isn’t strictly true. The condition of the Australian working class is not as precarious as Shorten implies, particularly those on CFMEU enterprise bargaining agreements. Last week we learned that concrete pourers on government-funded projects in Melbourne are earning around $3000 a week — twice the wage of the average police officer, firefighter, soldier, teacher or nurse. Shorten’s “millionaire tax cuts”, the ones that kick in at $1538 a week, have no doubt brought joy to construction sites from Melbourne to Darwin..”

“..Labor’s obsequious deference towards its union sponsors is the reason Australians are going to the polls to elect both houses. Labor, in cahoots with the Greens — who also accept CFMEU donations — refused to support the re-establishment of the watchdog that might have kept this surly syndicate in check.

Comradeship apart, Shorten can ill afford to get the CFMEU offside. Doing so would knock a seven-figure hole in Labor’s election fund. If the CFMEU was a listed company that bunged a lazy million to the Libs in return for legislative favours, the ICAC sleuths in Sydney would be on the case in no time with the ABC in hot pursuit..”

“..Still, what’s a paltry $40,000 between longstanding, transparent and historical friends? The AWU gave more than $2.7m to the ALP when Shorten was national secretary and, since his election to parliament, it’s given almost $4.5m more.

Total declared union donations to the ALP since 2007-08 add up to $53.8m.

A cursory scan of Labor’s 100 Positive Policies shows how unions bearing gifts have virtually bought the party. Labor is opposing modest changes to weekend penalty rates in accordance with the wishes of the SDA, the comrades who slipped the party $2.3m to fight the last election..”

“..Labor promises to bring back the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, the anti-competitive, quasi-judicial body that looked set to put 35,000 single-truck operators out of business before it was abolished. The tribunal was the bastard child of a tawdry union between Labor and one its biggest donors, the TWU.

The brazenness with which Labor strikes these shabby deals is astonishing given the damage they do to the economy. Labor and its acolytes would like to draw a moral distinction between horse­trading with the unions and trading with other rentseekers but the result is the same. Vested interest gets its way while Australian taxpayers and consumers get dudded..”