Although Mr Shorten was not allowed within 2,500 kilometres of Labor’s costings announcement in Canberra, he botched the explanation of his fast-unravelling $9.9 billion policy of using taxpayer funds to top up private sector wages.

Initially Labor announced its policy with a media release claiming a pay rise was imminent for “early childhood educators”. One would assume this meant each of Australia’s 195,000 early childhood educators.

But when pressed for detail last week, Mr Shorten revised the figure down to 140,000. Shortly afterwards his policy team apologised on his behalf and admitted the policy only applied to 100,000 educators.

Yesterday he claimed simply that there would be an ‘envelope’ of funding for the policy. Perhaps it was on the back of this envelope that Mr Shorten did his modelling for this policy, the detail of which neither he nor his shadow ministers are able to explain.

Chris Bowen claimed a different reason for selecting only half the early education workforce for this taxpayer funded top up, but even if his explanation that “not everybody in child care is an early childhood educator” is true, Labor has still underestimated the number of workers by about 76,000.

Later that same day, Mr Bowen proceeded, somewhat bewilderingly, to offer a third explanation for Labor’s dramatic miscalculation: that to get a salary top up an educator must “have a level of qualification, and it applies to long day care in the private sector.”

But if this is the basis to receive the payment, how does Labor explain why lower-paid, less-qualified workers miss out, especially when it was the relative low pay of workers in this sector that Labor offered as rationale for this extraordinary and unorthodox policy?

And today Labor appears to be offering yet another explanation! This time that there would be different pay rises to different workers:

"A spokeswoman said the exact amount each worker received would be negotiated with the sector "to account for differences in qualifications."

So much for their original promise of a 20 per cent pay rise for each early childhood educator.

The truth is that Labor has not properly accounted for the true number of workers in the industry. And the harder they spin, the worse it gets. Labor needs to explain:

  • Why educators working in not for profit centres, with equal qualifications, will miss out;
  • What accounting for the total number of early childhood educators, estimated to be 195,000, would cost;
  • What role United Voice had in drafting this policy;
  • What portion of Labor’s $9.9 billion policy will be transferred to the Labor Party via donations – given United Voice is Labor’s second largest donor and has donated $12 million to Labor over the past 8 years?

As always, Labor has failed to properly add up. They are already letting unions write key financial policies, and Australians will pay for their mistakes.