On the leaders debate

John Boyd writes: Re.”Fizza” (yesterday). The debate may have been tedious, but what can you do when all the vacuous press can do is pick up on what colour tie you are wearing, or simply criticise a lack of ‘charisma’ for want of a better term. Les fairly categorises Turnbull as “the hollow man”, but then says they “have not a skerrick of conviction between them”. Fair comment on Turnbull given his switch on so many key positions. I doubt whether he really even believes that the central plank of the coalition “plan” to cut corporate tax rates will actually create “jobs and growth”. Moreover, I doubt that he cares, as long as the 1% to which he belongs, can continue to cream off 50% of the wealth.  On the other hand, you can question without evidence to the contrary, whether Shorten really believes what he is saying. But he has been consistent from his first day as leader, and has led a process presenting serious policies, worked out in detail over the last two years, and finalised at the national conference last July. You can criticise his presentation skills, but not his conviction. Disclaimer: I am a member of the ALP because that party best reflects my views: not the other way round.

John Kotsopoulos writes: Les Heimann should be aware that indulgent a “pox on both houses” attitudes are what allowed Tony Abbott to flourish smashing  any chance of  rational policy in so many areas. That and Labor’s death wish. Sometimes a bit of something is better than all of nothing.
On penalty rates

Retailer Don Wormald writes: “Enshrine penalty rates in law”, “penalty rates are sacrosanct” goes the mantra but it appears the union stance is smoke and mirrors. For the past couple of years, we small retailers have been well aware the big end of the retail town has been paying less than the rest of us on Sundays and public holidays but we couldn’t prove it. Until now.

A week and a half ago the Sydney Morning Herald led with a front page article alleging companies like Coles, Woolies and Maccas had struck a deal with the SDA — the “shoppies” union — for an enterprise agreement where, in return for an extra few cents an hour on ordinary pay, the union signed off on a deal providing for $30 per hour penalty rates compared with the over $50 per hour we “mums and dads” retailers have to pay. Yesterday came the confirmation when a Coles casual employee won his case before Fair Work Australia having proved he — and thousands of others like him — have been underpaid due to the deal between his employer and the SDA which has not been ratified.

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For the SDA the prize for striking the deal was more union members and fees thus more power to pursue its agenda within the Labor movement. Not to mention the “contributions” from the big end of town. For the big retailers the prize was dramatically reduced wages bills on holidays and an advantage over every other retailer in the country, as if this wasn’t enough with Wesfarmers and Coles between them controlling over 80% of all grocery sales, over 70% of all petrol and retail hardware sales and over 60% of all alcohol sales. Meanwhile the SDA continued to spew out its mantra maintaining its hard-line stance against the rest of us retailers in a stunning display of rank hypocrisy. Apparently we small retailers who lack the clout and funding of the big end retailers don’t count at all. Other than totally destroying the SDA’s credibility the Fair Work Australia ruling will now provide sport for all the class action lawyers around the country as they desperately solicit employees of the big retailers to capitalise on the underpayment ruling.


As a Crikey subscriber and someone who began working as a journalist in 1957, I am passionate about the importance of independent media like Crikey. I met a lot of Australians from many walks of life during my career and did my best to share their stories honestly and fairly with their fellow citizens.

And I never forgot how important it is to hold politicians to account. Crikey does that – something that is more important now than ever before in Australia.

North Stradbroke Island, QLD

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