Tony Abbott is niggling Malcolm Turnbull again, this time on penalty rates

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Getty Images

Backbencher Tony Abbott has found another reason to attack the man who deposed him as prime minister, this time criticising Malcolm Turnbull for his response to the Fair Work Commission’s penalty rate cuts decision.

Abbott ally and former employment minister senator Eric Abetz, told Fairfax Media yesterday that the cuts should give existing workers a fair go.

Abbott is calling for Turnbull to promote a stronger “pro-growth” case for jobs.

The former PM says he is concerned not enough is being done to discredit Labor, which is arguing workers will be worse off.

Speaking to The Australian, Abbott said: “The issue is not higher wages versus lower wages. The issue is businesses that are open on Sundays and public holidays or businesses that are closed. It’s about making it possible for more businesses to stay open because if the business is shut no one gets paid anything.”

Abbott said Abetz’s proposal to “grandfather” the changes was a “sensible practical way forward”.

Yesterday Abetz said while he supports the reduced rates for new employees, the new scheme should be “implemented in a fair and equitable manner.

“In order to protect existing workers, the Fair Work Commission should use the powers it already has to grandfather current employees’ salary rates so that only new employees are covered by these new rates,” he said.

“This approach would ensure that ‘no worker is worse off’ while allowing new opportunities for the unemployed and especially for young unemployed people.”

Abetz’s proposal was later dismissed by Turnbull as out of favour with the industrial umpire.

It’s unlikely Abbott comments will be taken on board by Turnbull, who blamed the former prime minister for the Coalition’s poor performance in recent polls.

The Australian has more.

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