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As Peter Van Onselen points out, the dopey Libs, in full knowledge that the Fair Work Australia decision was going to be delivered and might go in the direction it has with respect to penalty rates, were too dumb, stupid, brain dead, frightened or just plain lazy to workshop and war-game what their response might be one way or the other.
So now the tide has gone out, the Libs are left totally naked, literally caught with their pants down, bereft of any ideas and with no plans as to what they should do or which way to jump.
They’re all over the place and so totally clueless it’s embarrassing.
The obvious response would be to grandfather the conditions for those working under the existing arrangements
And where Van Onselen mentions a “no disadvantage test” it’s also worth remembering that it was the singular absence of such a basic and fundamental clause that allowed Labor and the unions to run their successful campaign against John Howard and Work Choices in 2007. That is, whatever deal an employee signs up to with his boss, he can’t be worse off than his current arrangement. Such a clause would have cut the legs out from under Labor’s campaign.
The interesting thing in this is that at the time the only person around the cabinet table arguing for a no disadvantage test was Tony Abbott.
They didn’t listen to him then and they’re not listening to him now.
They are seriously slow, slow learners and they seriously deserve the total existential destruction that’s coming their way.
An extract from the PVO column below
“….And we must remember how good Labor has become at mounting scare campaigns. Indeed how suited modern politics is to such a strategy. The “Mediscare” campaign was brazenly inaccurate but cut through at the last election, almost delivering Bill Shorten an unlikely victory. It was half-hearted compared to what’s coming on penalty rates. Labor and the unions will be well funded, united, disciplined and pervasive.
Hundreds of thousands of workers will lose thousands of dollars each year in penalty rates, without compensation, and a scare campaign will convince millions more that they could be next.
With trust in the government so low, combating Labor’s campaign will be nigh on impossible.
The Coalition had plenty of options had it bothered to strategically plan for what has eventuated. Build a case from long ago for wider industrial relations reform. Take its time responding to the decision, imposing a no disadvantage test on how changes might be implemented. It could have grandfathered the changes so that existing workers weren’t affected. Eric Abetz has argued for some of these modifications, making it less likely Turnbull will consider them.
If the Prime Minister walked away from the FWC, condemning its decision, not only would business donations completely dry up, Turnbull’s right flank (in parliament and the commentariat) would use the move to white-ant him further.
The reason this government has so little feel for how serious a political problem this is comes down to how out of touch it is with ordinary voters. Most of its members haven’t worked in small business, the constituency they claim needs the FWC decision. Hence they struggle to articulate good arguments beyond undergraduate debating points.
Yet because political operatives, especially in the Liberal Party, have by and large gone from private schools to university to political staffing to a corporate affairs gig to help flesh out their CVs, and then on into parliament, they wouldn’t have the first clue how this decision will be seen by millions of voters. A right-of-centre government incapable of articulating the need for tax or federation reform has little chance of mounting a viable argument for reducing workers rights. The constant reference to enterprise bargaining agreements, which either protect existing penalty rates or have seen them negotiated away by union representatives, as though that proves something, only highlights how little they understand the policy space.
The FWC decision provides absolutely zero no-disadvantage provisions at the same time as cutting Sunday penalty rates.
To put the icing on the cake, the latest economic data highlights that businesses are doing better than expected, yet wages remain depressed.
It’s not a great set of circumstances in which to cut shift workers’ pay for up to a million voters…” Clueless Coalition cornered by Labor’s penalty rates wedge