Rupert Murdoch is visiting Australia for an “operational visit” and
Nicole Kidman’s wedding, so his loyal troops will be on edge for the
next few days trying to impress the Sun King with their dedication to
all that he believes in.

A senior journalist at The Australian told me last year that the
paper has an editor for the people, Michael Stutchbury, and an
editor-in-chief in Chris Mitchell who specifically shapes the paper to
comply with Rupert’s agenda. This might explain The Australian’sferal attacks on Kim Beazley
for vowing to abolish AWAs – something that News Ltd has embraced more
than any other Australian company but still not disclosed in any of its coverage.

Andrew Bolt and Terry “His Master’s Voice” McCrann joined the fray in
the Herald Sun today and Rupert would have been mightily impressed with
these lines from McCrann:

The resources industry is the goose that lays Australia’s
golden egg. Kim Beazley is prepared to slaughter it – mindlessly,
cynically, and almost casually irresponsibly. Let there be absolutely
no mistake. If Labor won the next election and if it delivered on its
promise to abolish AWAs, it would seriously hurt every single current and future Australian.

McCrann went on to talk about “mass destruction of jobs”, “devastating
consequences” before asking the profound question: “Do we sincerely
want to be the next Romania or Argentina?” We haven’t had this sort of hyperbole since 2004 when McCrann declared
News Corp’s abandonment of Australia was “a great and exciting day for
Rupert Murdoch and all the family” and “an
important day for Australia, for all Australians”.

It is complete bollocks to suggest IR has been the key to the resources
boom when the world knows it is China-driven record commodity prices.
Besides, under the current system, project costs in WA are now said to
be the most expensive in the world having surpassed Siberia. Tradesmen are
earning four times the award because we have the tightest labour market in
living memory.

I’m in favour of further labour deregulation but a far more
important issue in WA is the skills crisis and the need to
alleviate spiralling costs by importing cheaper labour – something
Beazley and his union string pullers are also opposing. Australia is
also held back by policies that have delivered us the lowest workforce
participation rates by women in the OECD, but that’s another story.

Laurie Oakes delivers a completely different perspective in The Bulletin
this week, pointing out that Beazley is on a winner, and even Alan
skewered Peter Costello when it came to the detail of how hundreds of
thousands of Australians will finish up worse off under WorkChoices.
Why can’t McCrann just say that it’s good for business, especially the
multinationals which dominate our resources sector, to cut pay packets?

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey