Last Monday’s Newspoll created excitement on both sides of politics. It had Labor and the Coalition running neck and neck, each with 50 per cent of the vote after preferences.
The hardheads - the professional numbers men - didn’t believe it, of course. Their own polling, which they have every reason to trust, still has Labor well behind - though with the Coalition lead gradually narrowing.
But the headlines - “Gillard climbs back into the game” said The Australian - were useful to both Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.
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John Howard’s reported calls to bring back individual contracts has brought cries that the conservatives have a sneaky agenda to bring back WorkChoices. This holds about as much credit as Mr Abbott’s Carbon Tax “wrecking ball” analogy.
Individual agreements have been common place before the 1996 Workplace Relations Act, a full decade before Workchoices. So anyone that calls individual contracts a product of Workchoices, is either being tricky with the facts or is grossly ill informed.
Individual agreements are contentious because they undermine collective bargaining, which is a principle at the core of union values. The Fair Work laws,as they sit today make it near impossible for “individual flexibility” to work in a practical sense. This leaves collective agreements, negotiated with the union and the employer as the only real path to tailor working conditions with the specific needs of the workplace.
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If you applied the Belinda Neal test to Bill Shorten today he’d be at risk of being sent off for anger management classes.
The Workplace Relations Minister has been caught up in an embarrassing stink over whether he abused a staff member in a shop when she told him she’d run out of pies. She says she told him she could microwave one but it would be soft, he says he thought she said Julia Gillard was “soft”. He stormed out, and now he’s apologised.
At first blush it looks like yet another example of a Labor MP getting too big for their boots and taking it out on a hapless worker, a la Iguanagate.
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Welcome to ICB, The Punch’s weekly column where we call bullshit on matters owed the honour of being metaphorically described as fecal matter.
This week we’re taking a look at gaffes - verbal slip-ups. I’m calling bullshit on the way other politicians blow the tiniest of their opponents’ public stuff-ups into a big deal.
Let’s start with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, who “gaffed” on Tuesday. Talking to the media he said: “Should the Reserve Bank lower interest rates today, that will be welcomed, but that is obviously a matter for the bank”.
But the Reserve Bank chooses whether to adjust interest rates on the first Tuesday of the month. This Tuesday was April’s fourth. Dun-dun-DUN!
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Labor MPs now feel condemned to an unhappy routine of Gillard Government advances crashing into the roadblock of the leadership standoff with Kevin Rudd.
Many are also despairing over the prospect that the only way to end instability caused by Kevin Rudd’s ambitions is to gratify them.
For many, that reward for all the trouble caused is unacceptable. Which means the next leadership change—and the odds of one happening are growing stronger—is likely to be from Julia Gillard to Bill Shorten or Stephen Smith. Not Kevin Rudd.
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Despite it being the dawn of the Sunshine Parliament, Julia Gillard is going to have to make some decisions about her cabinet based very much on the darker and drearier realities of the last Government.
Between former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, former Prime Ministerial backstabbers and powerbrokers in Mark Arbib and Bill Shorten and Robb “this could go on for a while yet” Oakeshott, Julia Gillard is faced with political equivalent of a surgical face transplant in a NSW public hospital.
Heres are a few people and portfolios that are going to leave the Prime Minister with some headaches:
He’s not so much the elephant in the room as he is an erudite 200 kilogram, opera singing multi lingual gorilla in the room that regularly supplies analysis for the six o’clock news. Queensland was apparently upset that he got dumped as PM, but as he never really seemed to disappear so it’s unclear why they were so upset.
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