Unions and the Labor Party rushed to tell us just how many people would be affected by yesterday’s penalty rate changes: 650,000 would be worse off, according to the front page of The Sydney Morning Herald. So why couldn’t Labor leader Bill Shorten find just one worker who would actually be worse off to stand up at his press conference and talk about how much money he would lose? It didn’t take long for the media to work out that Trent Hunter, who stood up and told everyone how hard done-by he would be, was covered by the enterprise bargaining agreement at Coles, and thus unaffected. As a bonus, he’s also a union representative and has campaigned for the Labor Party. Shorten defended Hunter on Studio 10 this morning: “There is nothing wrong with being a union rep. He is a keen young fellow. He does depend on penalty rates, at the moment he is under a union agreement.” Not only was it a political failure, but it was damaging — Ms Tips is aware of a scared Coles employee who rushed to assure colleagues that they would be unaffected by the announcement.

Peter Fray

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