Shorten calls for a 'radical' bipartisan bargain for workers

Bill Shorten (Facebook/Bill Shorten)

Labor leader Bill Shorten says unions, business and the federal Parliament should come together and strike a "radical" grand bargain that would deliver a much-needed pay rise for ordinary Australians, the Canberra Times reports.

Mr Shorten's call to arms on the need to address low wage growth was delivered in the inaugural address to the John Curtin Research Centre dinner in Melbourne on Wednesday night.

It comes two weeks after treasurer Scott Morrison delivered a significant speech addressing the issue, in which he said that "increasing what Australians earn is one of my most important objectives".

In the speech, the opposition leader argued Australia is in danger of having growth without prosperity, and there has been a growing divide since the global financial crisis between wage earners and people who derive wealth from assets such as property portfolios.

But people earning a weekly pay cheque are paying more for doctors, childcare, electricity and at the supermarket checkout, and "far too many of our fellow Australians don't have enough to make ends meet on a continuing and regular basis", Mr Shorten said.

Australia faced an "unprecedented challenge" to fix this problem, he said, and that required "business and unions and Parliament to do something drastic, something radical, something profoundly different: co-operate. And I believe this can be done".

"Right now – for one of the very few times in Australian history – we've got union leaders, business leaders, economists and analysts of every stripe on the same page," he said.

The call for unions, business and the Parliament to work together echoes to some extent the grand bargains, or accords, former Labor prime minister Bob Hawke struck with unions and business leaders in the 1980s.

It was delivered on the same day the Federal Court dismissed a union challenge to the independent Fair Work Commission's decision to cut Sunday and public holiday penalty rates.


'Australians need a pay rise': Bill Shorten calls for grand bargain on wages (Canberra Times)


Penalty rates: Unions lose court appeal against cuts to public holiday, Sunday pay (ABC News)

Fair Work president Iain Ross intervenes on penalty rate deals (The Australian)

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