catallaxy files

catallaxy in technical exile

WorkChoices – the issue that isn't changing minds

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As the stories about workers allegedly disadvantaged by WorkChoices accumulate we might have expected the package to become still less popular. But, as this morning’s ACNielsen poll in the Fairfax broadsheets shows, it isn’t happening. People seemed to have made up their minds on industrial relations reform very early on in the debate, and nothing that’s happened since – the government’s propaganda campaign, the unions’ scare campaign, the release of the legislation, and the initial phase of implementation – has made any significant difference.

In the ACNielsen series of five polls since July last year opposition has varied only in the 57-60% range. Support, which has peaked in the latest poll at 26%, has varied by only five percentage points. In the Newspoll and Morgan Polls we’ve seen slightly larger variation over the polling period – 8 percentage points each between the highest and lowest scores in the most general question, but in the Newspoll with 3 surveys there was only two percentage points between the first and last polls. It’s not much for what’s probably the most discussed and emotional issues of recent years.

This is probably because most people don’t think WorkChoices will affect them negatively. In today’s ACNielsen poll, 27% think that they will personally be worse off, but 64% say it will make no difference and 6% say they will be better off. In an April Newspoll 47% said that they would be neither worse off nor better off with 30% saying they will be worse off and 14% saying that they woud be better off (the difference between the pollsters may not be significant – Newspoll offered options of a little better/worse that probably attracted people who would have chosen ‘make no difference’ from ACNielsen). Also polling in April, Morgan didn’t offer a worse off option – just better off (13%), not better off (49%), and can’t say (38%).

So less than third of the electorate seems personally worried by WorkChoices. Though I still think it involves political risks for the Coalition, it is through the first few months of the reform without obvious additional political cost, and perhaps some modest gain. And luckily for the government, the initial employment statistics were good. If the favourable economic numbers keep coming, the government should be able to keep its supporters onside. And if that’s where they stay, no amount of Labor or union fury will change the 2007 election result.

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Written by Admin

June 19, 2006 at 8:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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