Propaganda failure

The WorkChoices campaign – for and against – must be the most expensive in Australian political history. But how effective was it?

Last month I argued that perhaps the government’s ‘fairness’ test change and subsequent advertising helped ease concerns among Liberal voters. But the polling data I have been analysing over the last week for a Policy article I’ve been writing on WorkChoices tells us something, I think, about the limits of political propaganda.

All along, the polling on for or against questions about WorkChoices has been stable. Three Morgan Polls between July 2005 and April 2006 found the proportion of voters against the reforms varied by just 0.8%, after taking out those not expressing a view. Just under three-quarters of Morgan respondents with an opinion were against WorkChoices. In five ACNielsen polls, of those offering a for or against opinion, the proportion against varied from 69% to 74%, a very similar result to Morgan.

This suggest that the outline of WorkChoices triggered reactions based on stable aspects of public opinion, and nothing anyone said or did after that changed the basic yes/no position of the electorate.

On more specific aspects of WorkChoices, we do see opinion changing. Continue reading “Propaganda failure”