All the reports last night ran much like PM’s:

He’s yet to be sworn in as the Federal Government’s new Workplace Relations Minister, but already Joe Hockey has claimed a win in his new portfolio.

Mr Hockey was dispatched to Sydney car parts manufacturer, Tristar today after reports that a man dying of cancer was being denied a $50,000 redundancy payment from the firm.

This afternoon Mr Hockey announced that Tristar had backed down, and the terminally ill man, who’d served the company for 43 years, would receive his payment…

But what did Joe actually do? He went to the Tristar factory. Afterwards, sans tie, he told the media “I’ve had robust discussions with the directors of Arrowcrest and they have agreed to pay Mr Bevan his full voluntary redundancy.”

This morning, he was still at it. He told Macquarie Radio he will consider reviewing the case to prevent companies avoiding similar payouts:

My conversation with the directors has not finished.

I left them in no uncertain terms to an understanding of what the Prime Minister and myself think about the matter.

Now, if they simply put their head in the sand then we will have to look at a range of different options.

When I say companies have both a legal and a moral obligation, it’s true.

Now, Joe is a big bloke. A rugby player. Is he going to travel round the country, knocking down the doors of bastard bosses?

He said this morning that he had been very explicit with the company. “I’m sure they will be in no doubt that we are very serious about seeing a resolution in this matter,” he said. “I want to see an outcome.”

But what exactly did he say? The PM told us at his reshuffle press conference back on Tuesday that “Joe’s an avuncular sort of bloke”.

Joe Hockey, a cuddly uncle? We imagine that the conversation went more like the little bit of family history outlined by Michael Corleone to his WASP fiancé at the start of The Godfather :

Michael: Well, when Johnny was first starting out, he was signed to this personal service contract; with a big band leader. And as his career got better and better, he wanted to get out of it. Now, Johnny is my father’s godson. And my father went to see this band leader, and he offered him $10,000 to let Johnny go. But the band leader said no. So the next day my father went to see him, only this time with Luca Brasi. And within an hour, he signed a release, for a certified check for $1,000.

Kay: How’d he do that?

Michael: My father made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

Kay: What was that?

Michael: Luca Brasi held a gun to his head, and my father assured him that either his brains – or the signature – would be on the contract.

Come to think of it, Joe even looks like Luca Brasi…

Peter Fray

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