On complex issues, people often resort to proxy measures to make judgments. At think-tanks, we get it all the time. People often seem more interested in who the funders are than the time-consuming process of working out whether our arguments make sense or not.
So the authors of this week’s Australia@Work report can hardly have been surprised when Joe Hockey focused on the report’s union links. Particularly as it turns out that Hockey made his original comments afer being called by a journalist for comment on a report which he had not seen. The summary the journalist gave probably focused only on negative comments about the government, which generated the predictable response.
The actual report, however, would not immediately give any cause for confidence that it was not just pushing the union line. After all, if as its cover says it is ‘sponsored by Unions NSW’ the conclusion that its content would be favourable to Unions NSW is not exactly counter-intuitive.
In this morning’s Australian, the paper digs up a speech by Australia@Work author John Buchanan, in which he declares himself to be a socialist. Can a socialist view WorkChoices objectively?
Buchanan and his co-authors were also trying to invoke a proxy measure of the report’s worth, citing the Australian Research Council in addition to Unions NSW as a ‘sponsor’ of the research. According to The Age: