Julia: full-time worker or part time spinner?
Over the last couple of weeks the Deputy Prime Minister has been plugging two developing holes in a massive dam wall.
The first has been caused by the waste and mismanagement associated with the Julia Gillard memorial halls debacle. A programme wasting so much money that a school in Sydney is going to refuse free money.
The second hole in the dam wall is growing quickly and relates to her changes to the industrial award system and her promise that neither workers nor small business would be worse off with her changes to the industrial award system. A promise she knew couldn’t be kept.
A fortnight ago this trickle became a torrent when the Industrial Relations Commission said that the award modernisation process will lead to ‘potential disadvantage for employees’.
The Prime Minister then attempted to mitigate this flood by suggesting that the ‘no worse off’ promise was an ‘objective’.
But it was Lindsay Tanner who called Julia Gillard’s promise for what it was - a fib.
On the Sky News Agenda programme last week, the Finance Minister said that the ‘no worker will be worse off’ promise was given for ‘comfort’ - not meant to be taken too seriously.
Comfort for whom exactly? The worker? Or the Government?
This is a Labor Party who spent three years screaming about workers rights, their political spin machine from New South Wales could hardly turn around and admit that their own changes were going to make many thousands of workers worse off.
After all these workers had believed Julia Gillard and even voted for Labor because of it.
The truth is that Julia Gillard’s modernising of Australian awards is bound to lead to some workers being worse off and employers facing higher labour costs.
A report conducted for the Federal Government in 2006 by a Senior Deputy President of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission made exactly this point. It said that you could not guarantee that both workers and employers would be better off after this process was completed.
In fact it said that if inappropriate industries were married together in the new award, the results would be disastrous.
But not according to our Julia.
Flood, what flood?
Even her comrades in arms, the big union bosses are willing to admit that this is the case.
Union bosses don’t come much bigger than Joe de Bruyn who said last week that keeping this promise was impossible.
Paul Howes, the new Bill Shorten of the union movement, said that it was an open secret in the union movement that this promise could not be kept.
But the fact is that over the past fortnight the Deputy Prime Minister has been exposed as no better than the political class that has infected the New South Wales Labor Government.
Making promises that she knows couldn’t be kept.
Arrogantly dismissing criticisms of billions of dollars of waste as ‘nitpicking’.
Refusing to answer legitimate questions in the media or in Parliament and above all putting spin above substance.
The real problem here is that the flood that threatens to engulf Julia Gillard will not just sweep her away; it will wash away the hopes of thousands of working Australians through higher unemployment, higher interest rates and higher taxes.
A leading journalist Ross Fitzgerald recently described Julia Gillard as ‘all foam, no beer’.
He could very well be right – we should never forget her efforts with Medicare Gold.
However you describe it, the time for her to drop one of these vital portfolios is now.
You should expect that these important issues will get full time focus, not just a part time spinner.
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