Have the WorkChoices ads made a difference?

For weeks now we’ve been hearing complaints about the level of government advertising, much of it on the changes to WorkChoices. It isn’t having any obvious effect on the two-party preferred. But today’s Newspoll issues survey (pdf) suggests that it is perhaps having some impact.

On the question of which party would better handle industrial relations, the Coalition on 34% is now 7 percentage points above its low point of February this year. As The Australian pointed out, that’s taken them back to where they were before WorkChoices.

So why isn’t it showing in the two-party preferred? Partly, perhaps, because industrial relations is ranked the least important of the nine issues Newspoll has asked about in recent surveys. But the main answer, I think, is that the extra 7% are mostly Liberal voters now less worried about WorkChoices than they were before. Labor has kept the 7-8% WorkChoices advantage it acquired from WorkChoices, with the recent Liberal gains coming from the ‘uncommitted’, ‘none’ and other party columns.

With the Coalition primary vote looking so sorry, the ad campaign may have had a useful political impact for the government (the same can’t be said for the environment ads; the government’s numbers have been flat all year). But it is not a vote changing impact, just firming up Liberal-leaning voters who might be tempted to stray.