Cue the tin foil hats and black helicopters of a conspiracy theory but I wondered at the time when FWA cut penalty rates, whether, because it is made up of Labor hacks appointed by Gillard and Shorten himself, if the entire exercise was planned knowing that the Libs would embrace the decision while at the same time it would give Shorten something to bash the government.
Below is an extract from Paul Kelly’s column in the Weekend Australian Australian..
“….The Opposition Leader will run to the next election on a double class warfare agenda, declaring: “I will reverse the cuts to penalty rates and I will reverse the tax cuts for millionaires.” It is a heady brew: pledging to increase tax at the top end, punish the better-off and save penalty rates for workers in the hospitality and retail sector. Any notion that the Liberals in their present condition could stem such populism is a pipe dream.
Corporate Australia is just starting to awake from its dreamland. The federal and South Australian bank taxes are the start, not the end. Political power in Australia is shifting. The narrative from McManus is that “the greed of the few” must be met by “more power for the many”. It is essentially British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s slogan of “for the many not the few”, when he campaigned for an end to austerity, higher taxes, more spending, redistribution and an embrace of socialism not seen for more than a half-century — a pitch that crippled Theresa May’s leadership at the recent election.
The union movement, weak in membership, is powerful in campaigning muscle. The radicalism of McManus seeks a new generation of activists. Shorten is smart enough to feed the unions enough red meat to win their legions and their money. “The message from your conference is right — it’s time to change the rules,” he told the ACTU conference.
Shorten seeks to take the Rudd-Gillard settlement and laws further to the left. This is what overthrowing the Fair Work Commission decision means. Shorten calls the next election a choice between Labor and a Liberal Party “offering a tax cut for millionaires and multinationals and a wage cut for workers”. His stance kills the purpose of the penalty rate cut. Why would any small business hire new staff given Labor’s pledge?
Australia is heading towards a turning point election with Liberal and Labor offering alternative directions — but the Liberal alternative is untenable because it is riven with the competing Turnbull-Abbott philosophies. In this situation Labor will win.
The Liberal crisis is not a Rudd-Gillard repeat. Anyone who says this misses the entire point. Abbott has only a handful of backers and lacks the support to replace Turnbull. Indeed, Abbott will not seek to challenge Turnbull. Unlike Rudd, Abbott cannot offer a popularity boost for the government.
Unlike the Rudd-Gillard dispute, this is founded in a policy struggle for the soul of the Liberal Party. That makes it even more dangerous. Abbott is pitching not to the people but to the dwindling Liberal base. His message goes to the party’s identity and survival — he says unless Turnbull parades as a centre-right leader and radiates core Liberal convictions then conservative voters will keep defecting and threaten the long-run future of the Liberal Party.
The same-sex marriage political nightmare falls in the centre of this conundrum. The Liberals are profoundly divided on the issue. But the message from the conservatives cannot be missed — if Turnbull breaches his 2016 election pledge, ditches the proposed plebiscite and seeks to legislate same-sex marriage — as Christopher Pyne implied — then his leadership will be in play.
The destructive logic of the conservatives was revealed in the Gonski funding debate. When Turnbull has a victory, witness Gonski, his conservative critics say it is illegitimate. Turnbull’s victories are depicted as failures and an array of conservative commentators line up to denounce victory as defeat. George Orwell would recognise such doublespeak…” Libs Struggle for party’s soul