Published February 2017 in Quadrant
If Bill Shorten’s response to the Fair Work Commission’s decision to reduce penalty rates was an assignment at the Soviet School of Propaganda, it’s safe to assume he would have taken top marks. Disguising a Labor Party member as an ordinary citizen in order deceive the public into advancing the party line, though reprehensible as a manipulative tool, was a move of slick genius by Labor’s Ministry of Truth. Had Bolshevik Bill got away with it, I’m sure it would have earned him at least a nod, and maybe even a wink, from the likes of Stalin, who might well have wished he had thought of it first.
The revelation that Trent Hunter, a shoppies union delegate and ALP campaign volunteer, equipped with sob story and all, would be unaffected by the decision after declaring he stood to lose $109 a week would have normally left the Inner Party faithful a little red-faced. However, by that stage Shorten and his union colleagues had already deflected attention by denouncing the independent decision as Malcolm Turnbull’s—this despite the Fair Work Commission being Labor’s brainchild. It must have also slipped Shorten’s mind that the head of the Commission is Justice Iain Ross, a former ACTU official appointed to the role by Bill Shorten when he was the Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations in the Rudd/Gillard governments.
Nevertheless, the cyclone of rage moved on.
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