MICHAEL SMITH (7-Eleven Chairman): Well I think you’ve come to the nub of the issue. We were on fire when this happened and we needed to act really quickly. We appointed the panel and we’re very grateful that they came to help us to make that as an issue that we didn’t have to spend time on and that it could be done properly and expertly – far more expertly than we could have done at the time. We now have the capability and resources to demonstrate that we’re capable of running this process and our company in a way that’s a real example. The test – the only test that really counts is did we look after people, did we get them paid and did we move quickly? And I think we can do all of those things faster and better now by ourselves – and we should.
7:30 ABC, 12th May, 2016
“We are going to make sure the law is enforced,” announces Malcolm Turnbull, totally misunderstanding the notion of the separation of powers.
For those of you who missed Michael Smith’s performance on the ABC last night, it was one of the most agreeable performances in a long while. He agreed with nearly every criticism put to him, but in the end, he didn’t see the need for an independent panel. After all, it was 7-Eleven who’d been underpaying workers… or rather, some of their franchisees. So who better than 7-Eleven to handle the complaints and give these workers what they deserve?
Yes, Mr Smith wants to pay them back. He wants to give them what their owed. And he wants to do it as soon as possible, because well, it’s the sort of situation where some people might think that sacking the independent panel and taking the matter in-house could be viewed as a conflict of interest, so it’s important that things are done as quickly as possible. After all, some of these workers are foreign workers and who knows how long they’ll remain in the country? They may lose their visas at any moment, so it’s important that 7-Eleven take full responsibility and don’t leave it to some independent panel who don’t have an interest in making sure that these workers who’ve complained get what’s coming to them!
As for the independent panel, why did they appoint one if they were going to handle it themselves? Well, as Mr Smith told us they “were on fire when this happened and we needed to act really quickly”. So there you have it. They had to do it because they were on fire and it had nothing to do with a potential Senate inquiry into the matter. Of course, I am a little confused about the fire. I presume that it’s an analogy and not a literal fire. And if the figuative fire gave them a need for an independent panel, can we presume that the fire’s out? Or is it that neither Alan Fels, nor anyone else on the panel, had any firefighting experience and were therefore liable to let this continue to burn, causing a lot of angst for those people with lots of money tied up in 7-Eleven.
Whateve, when asked about the situation, Mr Turnbull once again demonstrated the sort of decisive leadership we’ve come to expect from our PM. He announced that they intended to make sure that the law was enforced. When pressed on this, he was a little sketchy because it’s not something that they’ve had much experience in. After all, it’s a government’s role to make the laws and it’s the judiciary’s job to enforce it, but Turnbull has told us that he intends to make sure that the law is enforced, so one presumes that he has a plan, because the Liberals often tell us that they have a plan, even if they’re a little reluctant to give us the details.
Which is, of course, understandable. After all, in recent months, Labor have been stealing all their plans. For a start, they announced that they’d do something about negative gearing, and then: Wham! Labor steals it and announces a policy, leaving the Liberals with no alternative but to extol the virtues of a housing boom, which keeps young buyers out of the market. Then there was superannuation. And, of course, the cigarette excise which Labor stole before the Liberals had even thought of it.
No, Turnbull is right to keep his plan for 7-Eleven to himself. Otherwise, Labor might find a way to make it look like they were the ones in government and that the Liberals were the ones who could only keep giving us promises of what they’d do once they were elected.