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Stop bagging 'fat cat' bosses; this is the national debate we need

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Australia’s industrial relations landscape has been the scene of many a pitchfork battle between bosses and workers over the years.

But compared to both the 1970s heydays of industrial disputes and the following decades of major policy reforms to decentralise wage fixing, today’s industrial battles are, by comparison, mere skirmishes.

Illustration: Dionne GainCredit:

That's not, of course, what Labor leader Bill Shorten would have you believe, having declared the upcoming federal election a "referendum on wages".

Vote Coalition and the business 'fat cats' will keep plundering your pay rises!

Vote Labor and get set for a wages bonanza!

Or something like that. It's the vibe of the thing, after all.

It is true, however, that Labor has assembled a sizeable package of wages-related policies, including restoring Sunday penalty rates, targeting sham contractors and, perhaps most significantly, finding a way to "encourage" the independent industrial umpire to award an oversized pay rise to the nation’s 2.2 million minimum wage workers to bring them up to a "living wage" – defined by the unions as 60 per cent of the national median wage, or about $852 a week in today’s dollars.

The Coalition, for its part, promises jobs and pay rises aplenty as its pro-business reforms kick in, including cuts to the company tax rate for smaller businesses.

So, who to believe?

Bill Shorten has declared the upcoming federal election a "referendum on wages".Credit:AAP

In reality, there’s not........

© Canberra Times