Campaigns versus personal experience

Another poll on WorkChoices today, confirming that opinion on this is extraordinarily stable. In this latest ACNielsen poll, 59% oppose WorkChoices. This is the sixth poll they have conducted on the issue since July 2005, and opposition has ranged from a low of 57% (October 2005) to a high of 60% (July 2005). As I noted in January, Newspoll is also showing little movement on this support/oppose question.

What is changing is opinon on WorkChoices’ personal effects. In the first poll, 31% of respondents thought that they would be worse off. In June last year, a few months after WorkChoices came into effect, 27% of respondents thought that they would be worse off. In early March this year when the poll was taken, 21% thought that they would be worse off.

Given the massive effort that has gone into convincing people that they would be worse off, this seems to support the theory that in matters people can decide for themselves from their general experience neither propaganda nor expert opinion are likely to have a large impact.

The unions and the ALP instantly won the battle over whether or not WorkChoices was a good idea; with a strong economy most people didn’t see a need for change. But on the issue of personal impact, consistent campaigning against WorkChoices hasn’t been enough to overcome the realisation that for most workers nothing has changed.